New Hip, Hooray!
From living with pain to taking a million steps for charity, this patient had her life transformed by a Blackpool hospital, writes Kate Ford. Photography: Roger Moore
Valerie Wilcox leads a full and active life, spending lots of time with her grandchildren and volunteering at a Blackpool drop-in centre providing meals for the homeless and people in need. So, when she found herself in pain, three years ago, she wanted to do something about it quickly before it stopped her doing the things she enjoyed.
The pain was at the top of Valerie’s right leg and was affecting her ability to walk comfortably. After trying several solutions without success, she was persuaded by her daughter, Sue, to contact Spire Fylde Coast Hospital.
“Sue works at Spire and was convinced they’d be able to help,” says Valerie, 73. “Very quickly, she was able to arrange an appointment for me to see a consultant at the hospital.”
Valerie’s appointment was with consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Amit Shah, in the summer of 2019, and she recalls that first consultation: “He is such a lovely man and so easy to talk to. He asked me about my lifestyle, general health and, of course, all about the considerable pain I was feeling.
“He told me that as soon as I walked through the door, he was sure he knew exactly what was wrong with me.”
The problem was with Valerie’s hip and, after studying her condition in detail, Mr Shah recommended a hip replacement operation, but further complications then arose because of Valerie’s diabetes. Mr Shah’s team wanted to ensure her blood sugar levels were right before he undertook the surgery.
“Under his direction, my diabetes medication was adjusted, and at the same time, I changed my diet and made sure I took regular exercise,” says Valerie. “Three months later, I was ready for the operation.”
Valerie had surgery early on a Saturday morning in November 2019, she was out of bed the following day and left the hospital on the Monday. She went to daughter Sue’s house for a few weeks before returning to her own home just before Christmas.
At her first post-operative appointment in January, Mr Shah was extremely encouraged by her progress, and since then Valerie has made a remarkable recovery. From struggling to walk 18 months ago, she has just completed the One Million Step Challenge, organised by Diabetes UK, walking 10,000 steps a day for around three months. She is also back on the school run and has been reunited with her fellow volunteers at the drop-in centre.
“I couldn’t have asked for better treatment,” she says. “Mr Shah was so attentive and meticulous, performing the surgery only when he knew I was ready. Throughout my treatment, everyone was friendly, pleasant and thoroughly professional. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Spire Fylde Coast to anyone.”
Spire Fylde Coast Hospital
St. Walburgas Road, Blackpool FY3 8BP