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Former national runner of the year looks forward to pain-free exercise

Company news

A visit to Barlborough NHS Treatment Centre’s open day has helped a former runner and squash player get back on his feet following surgery at the hospital.

Retired teacher Derrick Walker, who was Running magazine’s runner of the year 1984 and a former organiser of the Retford half marathon, was diagnosed with arthritis in his right knee.

He explained: “Years of playing competitive sport had taken their toll. For many years I played squash four or five times a week and that high impact, quick turning movement added to the damage.”

Derrick’s GP had identified the issue and referred him to Barlborough NHS Treatment Centre in Derbyshire. His surgery date was already booked when he noticed the centre was holding an open day designed to show the community behind the doors of the operating theatres and wards.

Derrick added: “Like anyone, I had some trepidation about surgery. The centre use epidurals for many of their procedures and I wanted to know more about how that worked. As the open day happened just a week before my surgery, it was perfect timing. I met a surgeon, the theatre staff, ward and physiotherapy team and I was very pleased and reassured when they recognised me from the day when I arrived at the ward a week later.

“We toured the centre, watched a video on the procedure and listened to a talk on what we could expect. I spoke to him afterwards and he was very reassuring. As a patient, I was given lots of very clear information on what to expect from my recovery – and how I could support my own recovery by building up my muscle, in both legs, before the operation.”

The operation went well and Derrick, who was sedated throughout, said: “I was aware of movement around me but then I was surprised that it was all over. I had been calm and comfortable throughout and I had had the reassurance of seeing the theatre and recovery room during the open day.”

Derrick, who is a keen walker, cyclist, crown green bowler and sequence dancer, was already fit but he worked to strengthen his muscles and followed the recovery programmes set by the centre’s physiotherapists: “They were understanding and encouraging with lots of tips and strategies on how to manage. The whole centre’s team were like a family that had been together a long time. Everyone had extensive knowledge and they were able to address any queries.

“I was surprised to find that they were not going to send me home until they were satisfied with my mobility and ability to manage with crutches up and down stairs. When my wife came to pick me up for home, a nurse demonstrated how to change the stockings and wash and cream both legs every three days.

“All in all, I am making good progress with the exercise routines clearly explained in the comprehensive literature. I was offered a three-week follow-up physiotherapy appointment, so I can be sure I am doing the right things and progressing satisfactorily.

“I am due for a six-week follow-up appointment with the surgeon and physiotherapy in December. I am looking forward to an arthritis-free knee and complete recovery over the next 18 months or so. I would like to express my appreciation of the organisational management that allows for such an effective, efficient and professional centre.”

Hospital director Steve Booker said: “It is very rewarding to hear the impact both the team and the open day had for Derrick’s experience, treatment and recovery. If patients work with our physiotherapist, do their exercises before and after surgery and follow the consultants advice, they are usually delighted with the results. And I am delighted that Derrick is looking forward to returning to crown green bowls as soon as his knee is fully recovered.

“I would recommend anyone who feels nervous about medical procedures or who feels they may need surgery in the future to come along to one of our open days to meet the team, ask questions and look at how nice the centre’s wards and consulting rooms are. I think they will be pleasantly surprised.”

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