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An outdoor pursuits enthusiast is back climbing mountains after two successful operations at Sheffield’s Claremont Private Hospital gave him a ‘new lease of life’.
Father of three Simon Hill had struggled with pain in both knees for about a decade - and realised he would need to seek more effective treatment - while struggling to scale a rock face with his daughter in Italy.
The 54-year-old retired head teacher said: “Outdoor pursuits have been a major interest of mine all my life and I am very fond of mountaineering, trekking, caving and climbing.
“About a decade ago I was climbing when I experienced some pain in both my knees. I was able to complete the climb, but saw my GP when I got home and was diagnosed with arthritis.
“I have had various treatments including arthroscopies but was warned that my knee joints were wearing out and at some point I was going to need new knees.
“The decision came after I was up a vertical rock face climbing in the Dolomites with my daughter and realised I was struggling to move one of my legs into a foothold. We scaled the mountain safely, but on my return I knew I needed to do something now the pain had started to restrict my climbing hobby.
“The level of pain - which was already significant - was increasing, bordering on constant, and was particularly difficult at night, interrupting my sleep.”
Simon, who lives in Bamford, Derbyshire, went to see his GP in the Hope Valley who ordered some scans and recommended both knee joints were replaced.
“My GP showed me a list of hospitals which carried out the treatment I needed,” said Simon. “This was under the previous healthcare system of Choose and Book which meant patients could pick where they wished to be treated. I am a big advocate of the NHS and my doctor explained that I could be seen as an NHS patient at Claremont. I chose Claremont because of this reason and because it was so conveniently located – the hospital is just a ten-minute drive away for me.”
“The team at Claremont were fantastic,” he said. “My consultant was always professional and reassuring without ever being patronising and the theatre staff were cheerful and thoughtful.
“The cleaning staff were sensitive to my comfort and needs as a patient, while the catering staff in particular were stars – the menu and choice was excellent and I sent my thanks to the chef on numerous occasions as the food definitely played its part in speeding up my recovery. The physiotherapists were knowledgeable and worked hard to ensure I made good progress.
“I’m absolutely delighted, not just with how the two operations went at the time but now, some months on as it’s given me a new lease of life.
“It’s hard to measure, but I would say my knees feel just about identical to how they were before the pain begun.
“My level of fitness is considerably higher than it was before and I have lost weight, about four stone, simply because pain affects your mobility and I wasn’t able to exercise as much before the operations.
“Kneeling on the floor is no longer a problem, nor is playing with my children – previously even getting them to the local primary school and back was painful and I would often have to sit down on the settee to rest after walking.
“I don’t think anyone would even know I had artificial knee joints unless they saw the neat scars from the surgery - that is the only indicator. I am a Peak Park Ranger and am on patrol regularly, but I can go as far and as fast as anyone else on the team.
“I’m told my new knees should be good for 20 years and I like the idea that I have at the very least two decades of mountain climbing in front of me.”
Claremont Hospital, on Sandygate Road in Sheffield, is celebrating 60 years serving the city this year.