Nichola's Hip Replacement Surgery
Nichola's son discusses his mother's hip replacement surgery
Orthopaedic surgery can be life-changing, not just for the patient but for their loved ones too. We spoke to Nichola's son regarding their experience and how the family has found the whole surgery process with Medbelle.
What was Nichola’s day to day life like prior to the surgery? How did this affect you?
I’ll be honest, I came home from the Netherlands because of the Covid lockdown and because we share the same birthday, I came home in March and I saw a huge deterioration. I saw her bending down to get something out of the cupboard and I saw her in pain and I said, "this has to stop, we’re going private." I thought I'd rather have my foot in the door privately because we cannot afford to wait for 6,9, 12 months for something to come up with the NHS. But obviously, with Covid, we didn’t know what might happen.
She was in an incredible amount of pain, not sleeping well, pain killers were her lifeline. It was very “keep calm and carry on” and just bite your lip and just wait for the NHS system. But I think for her it was "let’s not bother anyone", it was that kind of generational thing.
She had had one hip done in August 2019, so we knew the ins and outs, so for me, it was just us looking at the timeline and I said to her, "I don’t think you’re living your life, I think you’re letting life pass you by". And that's when we spoke with you.
Why did you choose Medbelle?
I called three people and straight away I found it reassuring that you called me back and I felt so at ease with Ann. We were taken seriously and the problem with the “system” you are seen as a number in a queue rather than a human in pain, but you didn't do that and we were given a lot of reassurance.
How did your Patient Care Adviser help you and your mum? What was your relationship like?
Ann became part of the family. She was giving us regular updates as to when mum could have surgery and when we could get to London to see the surgeon. And we just couldn’t stop talking about Ann. Ann offered us trust, faith and decency.
What was the relationship like with the surgeon?
Even though we couldn't make the appointment at the end of March, the surgeon agreed to have video consultation as we were all housebound, I think it was to put some connectivity to it all. We were all doing our bit to stay home, but mum put on her makeup and did her hair and sat behind the computer. It was her moment. I found him very decent, nothing was promised, but it put some humanity to it. You read about the surgery online and you at Medbelle have these great supporting processes, but at the end of the day he is the man in the operating theatre and he was great, a real gentleman and some humour in there too and mum speaks very highly of him too.
At what point were you confident in moving forwards?
Our only worry was the drive to your surgeon, it was a 3.5/4hour drive from here. It was a bit of a panic button and it came from my mother and father. They pulled the handbrake because another hospital was offering surgery closer, about an hour away. They talked and my parents told us that they are going for plan B (the closer hospital), and they were happy to lose the deposit we'd paid Medbelle when we booked with you.
Unfortunately, the second hospital wasn't as transparent as you were and there was a lot of confusion. We had a family get to together and decided we weren’t happy with what they were proposing especially with the threat of a 2nd lockdown. We felt we were treated like a number and this was a private clinic and it lacked humanity.
We then came back to you and talked through everything, we found ourselves back at square one again, but you responded so quickly and basically in 2 weeks we were given a date at the end of August for the surgery, and then it was full speed ahead, she was quickly into theatre. The speed and efficiency/ The 2nd hospital were looking for someone who could perform the procedure because of the 2nd hip and it needing a specialist whereas Doctor Michael had said it’s not a problem and he gave her the confidence that she wasn’t a problem case whereas I found the 2nd hospital almost blamed her for being complicated. Which is why were are singing your praises and we appreciate honesty but also you present this idea that anything is possible and that you’ll do all that you can.
We felt we were treated like a number and this was a private clinic and it lacked humanity.
What was the run-up to surgery like?
For all of us, it was just keeping mum safe. She’s over 70 and with the whole covid situation, it was stressful. I came back from Holland and isolated with her so I could be her driver and go with her down to London. In the build-up there wasn't really have time to think, it just happened, it was so quick.
How was the hospital experience?
I remember dropping off mum early in the morning and I could see that she was ready for it. She just let the process happen. She spoke very fondly the care she received and she spoke very fondly of the guy who looked after the food. I think she felt bad as she wasn’t feeling well, but I called a couple of times and spoke to this woman on reception and she gave honest and positive updates. I spoke to my mum after the surgery and she just sounded like my mother, she didn’t sound like a scared woman on her own in London. I think she had a bit of a rough road of sleeping in a strange bed and different food, but I know that the staff and especially the night staff took extra care with her.
How were you prepared for the post-op recovery?
Oh complete support, I already knew there were talks about the physio and appointments booked for the follow-up appointments. We weren't able to drive 4 hours back and forth all the time, we did it once, but we have agreed to do the next one via video and Ann said we can find someone to support locally, but we said we know someone and we’d like to use them. Then Ann said, "well as part of the fee physio is included so we can sort that out for you" and Ann said that would mean Medbelle would pay for the 4 or 5 sessions". Which was fantastic.
How was your mum after surgery?
I cannot explain quite what would you say to a family member who is supporting transformation. Her 1st hip was done in August 2019 and she struggled a bit. However, she’s been highly motivated because we did fuss and she’s quite a modest woman, so she doesn’t really like that. Nonetheless, because we fussed she felt like she wanted to prove it was all worth it. She had a good chat about Nordic walking sticks with the specialist and a lot of it is her mental barrier has been paced, for the first time there was fear. But she’s really motivated now to be out and about and with the world the way it is she’s taking the best as she can. She’s a changed person, and if anything she could do with slowing down. She’s only 9 or 10 weeks post-op but everything has healed deliciously well.
How did Medbelle support your mum and your family?
There was a little bit of sadness when Ann left to continue her studies, but there was a lovely transition over to you. You were very on it introducing yourself. In addition, the little package came from the post and it wasn't the usual corporate "thank you", it was handwritten and it goes back to not being treated like a number, it was a gesture that was personal and made mum smile.
The aftercare is very much dependant on the patient and not you guys and relies on her doing the exercises and taking it slowly, but being sure to get out and about and she’s been given the green light to drive the car again now. The panic button was pressed because of covid and travel, and you refunded the deposit which was amazing. We cancelled 4 weeks before and there are terms and conditions, but you understood the situation and I thank you and Ann and Medbelle for that. There’s a lot of emotions, and I put it all on Trustpilot.
We could see the emotional struggle with mum, her being in pain and on painkillers and she really opened up on the way down in the car about just how much pain she had been in.
What would you say to someone whose family member is considering surgery?
You've just got to be open and honest, talk, talk, talk talk, talk, put your faith in the knowledge and the expertise and try and avoid the panic button. Talk as a family and make sure you’re all in and remember it’s about supporting that family member. My father is grateful and said she is a changed woman and they can enjoy an improved quality of life together now. I’ve said we shall get her some rollerskates for christmas now.
Nichola is a different woman now