Pensioner waits nine years for hip replacement

A Collinstown grandfather who has been practically confined to his home for the past year as he waits for his arthritic hip to be replaced has spoken of his frustration at how slowly the wheels turn in the health system.

Jim* (75) had his first left hip replaced ten years ago “the summer Westmeath won Leinster” and was initially delighted with the improvement to the quality of his life.

“I said that once I got my hip done me and Sarah* (his wife) would climb Croagh Patrick as we spent a lot of time in Westport. It took us almost five hours but we did it,” he said.

After the operation he noticed that his right leg was shorter than the left but initially thought it was because “it was at the end of a 65 year old hip, while the other was brand new”. It was following a visit to his physiotherapist that he realised that the difference was anything but normal.

“She had two visiting physiotherapists in with her and they measured my legs and told me that the right was one and a half inches shorter than the other,” he said.

In order to redress the imbalance Jim has inserted lifts in all his right shoes. While far from not ideal, he was told that the problem would be rectified when he was brought in to have his right hip replaced - that was nine years ago.

Although the pain gradually increased in his hip and began having an impact on his quality of life, Jim says that he was still able to do most things that he enjoyed doing, such as going for walks with Sarah, playing with his grandchildren and working out in his garden. This all came to an abrupt end in January of last year when his condition reached a tipping point.

Since then he has been in constant pain and can barely walk a few yards without having to stop. If it wasn’t for the fact that Sarah is able to drive, he says that he would never leave the house.

“I used to love gardening. I have a sit-on lawnmower but I can’t use it any more, I will have to get Sarah to mow the grass this summer....We also used to love going away to hotels but there is no point now as we will only be stuck in the room.”

Jim says that overall he feels very healthy and has a positive outlook but the chronic pain from his arthritis is taking its toll physically and mentally. It is making him feel old.

“I don’t know what it’s like to get a full night’s sleep, I am always twisting and turning trying to get relief,” he said.

While he acknowledged that he should have pushed for his second hip replacement sooner, Jim, who is currently on a waiting list and hopes to be seen by a consultant by the summer, says that after more than 50 years of paying taxes he is frustrated at having to wait so long.

“We seem to have money to send around the world to other causes but can’t seem to fund our own health system...I have looked into going private but it would cost between €15,000 and €20,000. If it cost around €3,000 or €4,000 I would get it done but we couldn’t afford that.”*Not their real names

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