In the News

About: Knees up mother Brown

The Weekender - April 2006

When your knees give way, don't give up.

Pam Bayfield is unstoppable. Having decided to be a writer she has now self-published her fourth book. Having discovered she needed a new knee she had two, both done at once.

Having decided she would play tennis again she has done just that, by dint of a lot of pain, conscientious exercise and hard work and support of friends.

Her new book is aptly subtitled How to Get New Knees and Survive. Lots of horror stories tend to circulate about knee replacement operations. Pam gives us a blow-by-blow description via a diary she kept daily for the first three months and monthly thereafter.

Not only does she describe her own experiences: she placed a notice in The Daily Telegraph asking for other people's stories and received many letters which she has quoted here (with their writers' permission).

She also researched the subject, talking to medical specialists, surgeons, manufacturers of knee prostheses and physiotherapists.

While the experience was undoubtedly painful Pam leaves us in no doubt that a positive attitude conquers all.

The operation is no cure-all and she admits to many moments of discouragement. Weeks of concentrated rehab, including lots of bending exercises and warm water aquarobics (bliss) were followed by months of more bending, stretching and walking.

At the end of 12 months Pam was able to walk, enjoy travelling, even play tennis, but her knees don't feel like her own and one feels better than the other. Making up for that is the absence of pain and the greater mobility she now has.

Of all the advice she received she makes a big point. Getting fit, doing exercised to strengthen the muscles for the 12 month before the operation is nearly as important in helping recovery as is being conscientious about all the exercises afterwards.

From her correspondence Pam learnt that while 98% of patients enjoy a successful procedure life can be very disappointing for the 2% who don't.

Many people recover at different rates so prospective knee replacement candidates can read a variety of experiences in Pam's book. As she says, if she had read some of these before her operation she doubted if she would have had the courage to go through with it.

But being forewarned is forearmed. Pam Bayfield's earlier books include family histories and a refugee's story.