Hi, I’m Beth and I’m new here. I was eight years old when I was diagnosed eventually with RA. This was in 1948, so a considerable time ago. First of all, they had the diagnosis down as growing pains, and apart from keeping me in hospital for a year, laying on my back, I received no treatment at all. On returning home I was very weak and I was home taught until the age of 15, when I went into remission and spent a year at Secretarial College. I suffered a bit from bullying as I’m barely five feet tall, and have very small deformed hands and feet, but I decided I was not going to hide away and began attending the local dance hall. I was working as a Legal Secretary and my confidence grew gradually. I met my husband at the dance hall, and we have been together now for fifty-three years. He thinks I’m great and has been very supportive. We have three grownup children and nine grandchildren. RA returned in my fifties, and I eventually had two hip replacements. I was fine for quite a few years, then my left shoulder began to hurt and I was booked to have replacement op. However, upon visiting the RA clinic, I fell out with an aggressive consultant, as he wanted to put me on steroid drugs. I refused and without my permission he injected into my thigh, just next to my scar. That was when the problems began. I developed an abscess in that area, which was not diagnosed believe it or not until my leg was so swollen I had to go into hospital to have it removed.
Despite antibiotics and changing the dressing every day, the wound would not heal, and my surgeon decided to remove the prosthetic hip affected.
Unfortunately, during the nine-hour operation my femur was badly broken, so I had to remain in hospital, laying on my back without a hip or a femur, for six weeks to allow the infection to be eradicated. The new prosthetic hip and femur was then inserted and after a lengthy recovery period I was able to get around, though with a walking stick. After a period of time, I began to limp and my left hip and leg were painful when I walked. My GP arranged some X-rays to be carried out and to our astonishment they showed the prosthetic femur to be bent, and so I contacted my surgeon again, who couldn’t believe his eyes. Yet another operation to remove the femur and of course the hip, as they had fused together. After a time and loads of more X-rays, bone was not growing, so another major op including new prosthetics, was carried out to attach a piece of bone to hopefully encourage bone cells to grow. Unfortunately, this did not work, the bone had died. My surgeon was by now striving to find a solution. A further hip and femur fitted and a long bar from the top of my hip to just above my knee was also fitted and some donated bone cells added. This has worked, but I am now registered disabled as I cannot walk or even stand for longer than ten minutes. My lower back has been badly affected by the numerous operations and my left leg is now of not much use, I cannot put any weight on it and because of the cut nerves, it feels numb. I did in fact seek legal advice when the bent prosthetic femur was discovered, and I am now in the process of suing the American firm who supplied the prosthetics. My surgeon has been very good in supporting this claim as he has never come across anything like this in all the years of his career. The bent prosthetic femur is in my possession as I felt that it could “go astray” if parceled to America. It’s my only proof.
The claim is now into its fourth year with Zimmer not replying to my solicitors letters or asking yet more questions, already answered, just avoiding the issue and no doubt hoping I’ll either get so fed up and cancel, or actually die. I have no intention of doing either. They have taken my life away from me, my husband is now my caretaker and without him I would be unable to cope.
I am bright and bubbly when my family visit, or indeed friends, but it’s a mask, as I am depressed and angry, but keep my tears to when I am in bed at night. I will be 77 next month and I take a cocktail of drugs every day to cope with pain and depression. Sorry this is lengthy but it feels good to just share with others. Weather permitting, I sit in my garden every day. I love it, the only place I’m happy. I dress every morning in pretty clothes, put on some makeup and do my hair. Just makes me feel better. My husband bought me an iPad which is my link with everything, I order clothes, presents and send emails. I couldn’t do without it. Anyway, I will now close this ‘novel’. Thank you for reading it. Beth