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Rebecca Barnard

2016-11-10 10:25

Bob’s Story

I am a retired headteacher, and so most of my working life was spent on my feet, and until five years ago I was relatively active, playing golf and cricket weekly. I first started to feel a pain in my left hip when out bowling. Within three months this had deteriorated to a pain so bad I could not lift my foot off the floor; walking was like wading through treacle. I also started to get pains in my right shoulder and left thumb joint which became swollen. My GP diagnosed osteoarthritis after a lot of blood tests to rule out anything else.

I was put on naproxen (an anti-inflammatory), omeprazole to counter the effects of naproxen on my stomach and pain relief through tramadol and paracetamol. I was staggered at how quickly I had succumbed to it. Gradually the pain on my left side subsided from an unbearably sharp pain to an ache in my hip that varied from agony to bearable without rhyme or reason.

However, over the next four years the hip arthritis deteriorated to the point that I found sitting in an upholstered chair too painful and sleeping on a mattress was unbearable. From autumn last year I was sleeping on a rug in the bedroom, this was the only place where I could get comfortable enough to sleep. I could not go for walks without seizing up.

Eventually, I returned to my GP because my quality of life was suffering and I was starting to get depressed by it. The GP wanted to continue with drugs, and so I asked for a referral to a consultant.

In December last I had x-rays taken and a scan. The consultant saw that there was virtually no cartilage in my hip and said I needed a new one. I was called in for the operation early in March 2016, was in hospital for four days and then released. For the first two weeks after the surgery I cursed the world! However, gradually my hip recovered and I built up my strength. I did exercises as advised and by nine weeks didn't need a crutch. Since then, apart from the very rare odd twinge my left hip has been wonderfully pain free. I have full mobility in it. My shoulder and hand arthritis still exists, and they do have an impact - for instance this week I spent two days painting a room, since then my left hand and right shoulder have been very sore.

On release from hospital I gave up all of the medication apart from tramadol. Unfortunately, I have not been able to completely stop tramadol, which despite getting down to a low dose has me hooked. If I try stopping I get terrible calf and thigh cramps in both legs and restless leg syndrome stops me sleeping. I now have paracetamol throughout the day and 2 X 50 mg of tramadol nightly.

I had always thought that my aches and pains were linked to weather. I felt that when I holidayed in warmer climes my pain was much less and that it got worse the wetter and colder the weather became. I decided to sign up to the Cloudy study after seeing it referred to on TV. I thought it would be useful to see if there was any evidence for my beliefs about the weather.