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Joan

Age at interview: 68
Brief Outline: Around 2004 Joan started having an aching pain in her knee, which worsened with time. She was diagnosed with arthritis. She took anti-inflammatories for a while and then had a steroid injection into her knee. Joan had a partial knee replacement in 2014.
Background: Joan is a housewife. She is married with 3 adult children. Ethnic background / nationality: White British.

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In 2004 Joan started having an aching pain in her knee which she put down to wear and tear. As the pain got worse, her daughter encouraged her to see the GP, who diagnosed arthritis and prescribed anti-inflammatories. When these had little effect, Joan was recommended a steroid injection into her knee, but eighteen months later she was in pain again. In 2009 Joan was sent for an x-ray by her GP and it confirmed that she would be suitable for knee replacement surgery in the future. However, her doctors felt that she was too young to have the operation at that time. When a letter eventually arrived confirming that she could have the operation and a date for surgery, she remembers crying – she was so relieved that something was finally being done to ease her knee pain. 

Joan only had to wait one week to have her pre-op assessment, and she was put on the waiting list in February 2014. She remembers the pre-op assessment being very informative but would have preferred to have less waiting time between seeing the different health professionals. During the assessment Joan had an x-ray, saw the physiotherapist and watched some information videos. She found the videos useful and said it was good to know what was going to happen to her at different stages. She was also given leaflets and read them on several occasions. Joan doesn’t use a computer, and explained that she would have liked to have seen more information about the equipment and implants used during surgery and how the operation is done. 

Before the operation itself Joan remembers being given the anesthetic and watching the clock; it was 1.30pm. The next thing she remembers is waking up in the recovery room. She explained that she didn’t feel too bad after the anesthetic but recalls wanting a cup of tea. Joan was pain free when she woke up but remembers her leg feeling very heavy. The physiotherapist visited her on the ward and helped her to do some exercises. She was also given a frame and crutches to help her walk. When she was discharged from hospital she was given an exercise leaflet, painkillers and 13 days’ supply of injections (which are used to thin the blood and prevent blood clots). 

The first two weeks Joan was recovering at home, she slept downstairs in a reclining chair because she found it more comfortable than the bed. She felt a bit tearful and down at times because the pain was so intense. The support of her two daughters and husband, though, was very helpful. One of her daughters hired a wheelchair for two weeks so that the family could take Joan out, without her needing to walk. 

Six weeks after the operation Joan attended the follow up appointment and was asked whether she would like to have her other knee operated on. She found this quite a shock and feels that it is important for the first knee to heal and become stronger before doing so. Her knee is now feeling a lot better and she has been able to take fewer painkillers. Despite the pain that she had, Joan recommends the operation to people who are eligible. She also recommends that patients to do as the health professionals advise and not to expect a miracle as the knee will take time to recover.
 

Surgery is painful and recovery takes time, but it’s important to listen to the doctors. Joan wished someone had told her this beforehand.

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Surgery is painful and recovery takes time, but it’s important to listen to the doctors. Joan wished someone had told her this beforehand.

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So if somebody was thinking about having this operation and they're not sure, what would you say to them? 

I would say it is painful but give it time and it'll be alright… Just go by what the doctors tell you. Don’t be stupid, just do what the doctors tell you, or the hospital, and then just go with what they say. Don’t expect a miracle straight away; it just takes time...

So if someone was thinking about having this operation, they’ve got very painful knees, what would you say to them? 

Well, go ahead with it. If everybody said it to me I would have felt better.
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