Patient Mike live tweets hip operation

Release Date: 14/03/2018

Patient Mike live tweets hip operation

People turn to social media these days to share all manner of details about their lives.

But Mike Hamlyn went a step further than most when he took to Twitter to share live tweets DURING his hip replacement operation at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) in Oswestry.

The 55-year-old from Whitchurch opted for a spinal anaesthesia rather than the traditional general anaesthetic for his procedure following discussions with his anaesthetist, Dr Ruth Longfellow.

Click here to read Mike's tweets - and some of the replies he received - on our Twitter Moment

That was combined with a mild sedative that helped him relax but did not render him unconscious.

It meant he stayed awake throughout his procedure and was able to listen to a podcast, as well as share details of progress on Twitter and interact with other Twitter users.

“I discussed the anaesthetic options with Ruth and opted for a spinal block with minimum sedation,” said Mike.

“I had my headphones on listening to a podcast to block out some of the noise and then started sending Twitter updates off my iPad and replying to messages that were coming in.

“I could smell burning from the drilling but I couldn’t feel anything, so it was like the smell was not connected to me – I was disassociated from it. Talking to people on Twitter was a distraction too. I was glad I did it.”

Why a spinal anaesthesia?

A spinal anaesthesia involves having 2-3mls of local anaesthetic injected through a very fine needle into the fluid that nourishes the spinal cord and nerves (cerebrospinal fluid). This is done in the middle of a patient’s lower back, to numb the nerves from the waist down to the toes for two to three hours. . Its benefits are that a patient will tend to experience less pain immediately after surgery and will be able to return to drinking and eating more rapidly. It also tends to enable an earlier start to post-surgical rehabilitation.

Those were benefits that Mike, who is currently training to be a physics teacher through a PGCE at Keele University, certainly experienced for himself.

“The whole operation only took around 45 minutes and before I knew it I was sat up in Recovery having a cup of coffee,” he revealed.

“The next day (Sunday), Will the physio got me up for the first time. That first walk was a struggle and I felt faint after.

“But Sunday night was the first time I’ve slept through the night in six months because of the pain I’ve been in. It was incredible.

“And when I got up on Monday morning, I could walk. It was still a little sore, but I felt so much more confident. I’ve got to take it easy, but I’ll be back to work in six weeks.

“By Wednesday morning, less than two days after leaving the hospital, I was able to walk into town for my morning coffee.”

Dr Longfellow, who is Clinical Lead for Acute Pain at RJAH, said: “We use spinal anaesthesia for the majority of our hip and knee replacements here. Patients are invited to attend a Joint School before their surgery, where they have the opportunity to learn more about types of anaesthesia, particularly spinals, so then come in for their operation fully informed about what to expect.

“General anaesthesia can make patients feel very groggy afterwards, particularly if a lot of opiates are required during the operation; this can be avoided by using a spinal anaesthetic,” she added.

“Some patients choose to have a spinal anaesthetic and stay awake in theatre. If a patient does not want to be awake in theatre, they can still have a spinal anaesthetic, and combine it with sedation, so they sleep through their operation, but then quickly wake up when surgery has finished, ready for a cup of tea in recovery!”

Mike’s route to RJAH

Mike had been experiencing pain in his hip for a number of years and had made a number of trips to see his consultant, Mr Sudheer Karlakki, at the specialist orthopaedic hospital.

He had not let this stop him leading an active life, including indulging his passion for cycling. He even did the London to Paris bike ride last year.

But he noticed a significant deterioration over the Christmas period and came back to hospital in January, where the decision was taken to refer him for a hip replacement.

“I’ve only got positive things to say about the care I had at RJAH,” said Mike. “My pre-op appointment was great and the Joint School session I came to was so valuable because it gave me a real insight into what to expect. I felt as prepared as I could be.

“The first date I was given for my operation was actually 11 February so I could have been in within five weeks of referral, but I couldn’t come in that quickly because of commitments I had with a teaching placement so I opted to wait a little longer.

“My experience on the day of my operation and after on Powys Ward was also fantastic. From my consultant, to the nurses, the ODPs (Operating Department Practitioners), the catering team – everyone – they all looked after me so well. I’m very grateful.”

The response

Reaction to Mike’s tweets ranged from admiration to surprise that it was even possible to stay awake for an operation of this nature.

His tweets, and some of the responses, were grouped together in a Twitter ‘Moment’ on the hospital’s Twitter account. This can be viewed here.

The Moment was also shared on the hospital’s Facebook page, in a post that was viewed by almost 11,000 people. Many people also commented to share their experiences of similar procedures at the hospital.

Joanna Hayes, in a message directed at Mike Hamlyn, said: “Wow, this is really helpful. I’m having a Total Hip Replacement on 5 April with Mr (John-Paul) Whittaker, who is just brilliant but I am really so very frightened. This has been fantastic, thank you. Wishing you a very speedy recovery back to health.”

Stephanie Jones said: “I had my hip replacement with a spinal block in The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital two years ago. I was chatting to the anaesthetist throughout the operation and was even shown my shiny new hip by the surgeon Mr (Niall) Graham. I can't praise the staff enough.”

Christine Smith said: “I had the spinal anaesthetic with sedation for a hip replacement. Was awake for part of it but felt no pain, just rocked around a bit. (Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon) Chris Evans is wonderful and I can’t praise all the staff at this hospital enough. Brilliant.”

Carole Hill said: “I had a spine block at RJAH when I had a plate removed from my leg. (Surgeon) Simon Hill performed the op. Amazing. Hearing the hammer chipping away was a bit disconcerting, but brilliant. Instant recovery. Coffee and a sandwich in the recovery room. I was so well looked after by absolutely everyone. Home the same day. Why can’t all hospitals be this good?”

Pictured: Mike and his trusty iPad on Powys Ward after his operation with Staff Nurse Mandy Reeves and Healthcare Assistant Julie Beardmore.


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