A Darlington woman and recipient of a double knee replacement has conquered all the odds to climb a mountain in America.
Helen Armstrong, a retired social worker, completed the feat while holidaying in the USA – six months after her second total knee replacement surgery, which replaces both sides of the knee joint.
Helen’s quality of life and mobility was suffering as she had great discomfort in her right knee. After seeing her GP; she was referred to Mr Anwar Jafri, a Consultant in Lower Limb Replacement and Trauma, at Nuffield Health Tees Hospital, and underwent surgery in 2013.
It was then noticed at her one year check-up that she had severe symptoms of osteoarthritis in her other knee and after discussion about the pros and cons of surgery underwent knee replacement surgery.
Six months after the second operation, while on holiday in America, Helen hiked a trail on Shenandoah Mountain.
Helen said: “It was a fantastic personal achievement as I was determined to do a walk of some kind, on top of taking in the sights of Washington D.C., which involved a lot of walking. We were staying at a hotel at 3,500ft, so I decided to hike the rest of the way, which was very challenging and difficult, but I was so proud when I reached the summit.
“I was in a lot of pain prior to my first knee surgery, mainly in my right knee, which made it uncomfortable to walk any distance and it was difficult to do the simplest of tasks. The surgery went well and I thought nothing more of it as my recovery was going well, so I was shocked to find out that I would need another replacement operation.”
Knee replacements run in Helen’s family as her mother received one at the age of 85.
Helen added: “I was restricted by what I could do following the two surgeries, which meant that I put on some weight, but now I have so much more confidence as I am able to move freely and have lost over four stone in the process. It really has given me a new lease of life, as my legs are now straight for the first time in years. I can’t thank Mr Jafri enough for his ongoing support and physiotherapy, and the mountain climb was for him. The quality of care by all the Nuffield staff was excellent.”
Mr Jafri said: “I am delighted that Helen is no longer in any pain or discomfort and is able to enjoy a good standard of living once again. Knee replacement surgery is a common procedure today with tens of thousands of operations taking place each year”
“Helen’s case of having osteoarthritis in both knees is not unusual, her progress has been excellent, culminating in this mountain climb, which is a fantastic achievement. I am delighted that her knee replacements have really improved her quality of life, general health and allowed her to get back to the hobbies that she loves.”