I am lucky enough to live just 10 minutes away from the sea in Whitby.
Back in June 2016 my son was here and we decided to take the dogs for a walk to the beach on the way back my left knee felt quite painful. It never really stopped ‘bothering me’ after that day the niggling pain was there all the time to a lesser or greater degree.
In November I slipped on some black ice and the pain become much worse and almost constant. I visited my GP who prescribed strong pain relief. Early in 2017 I found it very difficult to walk any distance without the use of a walking stick so went back to the GP who arranged for x rays on both knees as the right one was starting with the same albeit milder discomfort.
After some time during 2017 it was decided that I would need to be referred for knee surgery as my joints were close to showing ‘bone on bone’ and I was walking with a lean to my right to protect my left knee but this was causing pain with the right knee.
I was initially referred to a local general hospital and after some months went for the initial assessment which took almost 5 hours having to see a different nurse in a different department for each part of the assessment. They couldn’t do the x ray as the facility had stopped working so said they would arrange if for a future date.
Time dragged on and my mobility was getting more and more compromised I rang the assessment team where I had been referred and was told it could be another 12 months before I was seen.
At the beginning of 2018 I was recommended to ask for a referral to Clifton Park Hospital by a client (I had a domiciliary care company and this lady told me that in her mid-eighties she had both knees replaced at the same time at Clifton Park and they were wonderful to her). She had very very high standards so I knew she was a good source of information and would not recommend anything that was not up to her standard.
I consequently asked my GP to refer me which she did and I very soon had an appointment booked with Mr Gibbon for my initial assessment. This took approximately 1 hour as one nurse did everything, I then had an x-ray and a consultation with Mr Gibbon who agreed both knees should be replaced at the same time as they were both as badly damaged. At that time, I was struggling to walk a few steps without being in agony and for a month prior to my surgery I was using a wheelchair.
I was given a date for surgery to be carried out just a few weeks later. Sadly, I had problems with being anaemic and my iron levels were very low so the surgery had to be delayed to sort this out with iron tablets and then an iron infusion.
Finally, I had a date for my operation 12th August 2018. I could barely stand unaided by the time I was admitted.
The staff were so kind to me and on the day of my admission to Clifton Park, my GP surgery had not sent my recent blood results across so I had to have some more done. Mr Gibbon came in to see me and asked me not to look so worried and I said I was only worried that if my iron levels were not high enough I wouldn’t be able to have the surgery he said ‘you have nothing to worry about I would not let you leave here in this condition’. I felt as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders and he would do the surgery no matter what. I would get my life back.
Everyone was so good at explaining what would happen, the approximate time the op would take, what to expect when I first got back to my room. I was in hospital from Monday through to Friday and nothing was too much trouble from a nurse passing me clean underwear to the HCA’s topping up my water or passing me a book when I couldn’t get out of bed on the first day.
The physio was wonderful at giving me the confidence to ‘literally stand on my own feet’ the day after surgery which I was nervous of and it was painful but I was supported by the nurses and HCA’s giving pain relief when requested and slowly managed to walk again. I left Clifton Park that Friday and felt like I had won the lottery… I could walk virtually pain free for the first time in 2 years.
Soon I was driving again and working again which was simply wonderful.
Towards the end of 2018 my right elbow became very painful to the state where I couldn’t put any pressure on my hand to cut anything or even holding a pen or using a keyboard became really uncomfortable. Once again after having some x rays my GP said she could refer me back to Clifton Park as my left arm was also feeling quite painful I was using it more to compensate for the right one.
In early 2019 I received an appointment with Mr Williams who arranged a CT scan and was very good at showing me the results and explaining the options of what he could do. He initially performed an arthroscopy on my right elbow hoping that it would help but sadly it did not give me much improvement. So on the 19th November 2019 I had my right elbow replaced. It was an overnight stay in hospital and once again the kindness and patience and support from the staff was wonderful absolutely nothing was too much trouble. Everything was explained to me and I was totally relaxed, feeling confident I would be looked after. I was given pain relief when I needed it and was given the information about how to manage at home and not to hesitate to contact them if the were any problems post op. I recovered really well and Mr Williams agreed to replace my left elbow early in 2020.
Mr Williams gave me a date for my left elbow replacement surgery quite soon but due to the COVID situation this had to be delayed. Clifton Park were very good when I rang them for updates and a possible date for surgery and always kept me involved which is so important when you are in pain you begin to feel that nothing is going to get better so just to know that they were very supportive and understanding meant such a lot.
Earlier this year I was given a date for my left elbow surgery to be carried out on the 2nd March 2021. This has now been done and as I write this now in May 2021 I am driving again, sorting out to go back to work again, I literally have my life back again.
I had been taking eight strong pain killers each day since 2016, since my surgery in March I take zero pain relief. This to me is amazing I can just live my life albeit the Rheumatoid Arthritis will not go away but thanks to Clifton Park I can have a quality of life I was beginning to think was lost to me forever.
I have Mr Williams to thank for referring me to the Rheumatology specialist at York Hospital as he felt it was more likely that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis and not Osteoarthritis as was previously thought. This was in fact correct, and I am now on medication for this thanks to his knowledge and decision to refer me. I am now under the care of the excellent Rheumatology team at York hospital my condition will be monitored and supported going forward.
Clifton Park Hospital is a wonderful small hospital and I am personally not nervous of hospitals or operations but for anyone who is, Clifton Park would give them enormous confidence to have any procedure and know that they would be cared for in a very professional but personal way that only a small hospital can provide.