Read about our pioneering study with South Tees NHS Foundation Trust here.

Participant Spotlight: Frances

Surgery Hero
July 8, 2024

Frances is 76 years old and was referred to Surgery Hero while awaiting a total knee replacement.  In this spotlight, she shares with us how working with her health coach helped her to appreciate her own mental strength and the “inner workings” of her body.

Could you tell us a bit about your health journey so far?

I developed knee problems approximately 5 - 6 years ago and the pain gradually led me to visit our GP who referred me to see a physiotherapist. I was asked to do exercises but eventually I had to have a steroid injection in my knee, followed approximately 6 months later by another.

Unfortunately, the effect didn’t last as long as I had hoped and I was then referred to an Orthopaedic surgeon. When I eventually saw him and following x-rays, he asked me if I would like/consider a total knee replacement operation. Due to my inability to walk more than 100 yards without being in a lot of pain, I discussed it with the surgeon who gave me all relevant information and I decided that was the best thing to do.

While awaiting my surgery, I was referred to Surgery Hero by Dudley Russell’s Hall Hospital. I knew my fitness level was poor and I wanted to improve this before going for surgery. Surgery Hero covered a whole range of topics that are necessary to know before surgery. I now feel much better placed physically and mentally to have my surgery.

What did you like most about the Surgery Hero programme and why?

The most important part of Surgery Hero was my weekly interaction with Hannah, my coach. The weekly videocall kept me motivated: each week little improvements were discussed, and I now attend a weekly aqua-aerobics class at a local leisure centre, my husband got me a pedometer to wear, and I have increased my steps and walking distance outside from 5000 a week (that was the aim to do in the first week with Surgery Hero) to 22,500 this week. I have been given exercise programmes to help strengthen various parts of my body in preparation for surgery and all along been supported by Hannah.

The group leaning sessions have also been a great help, “Managing your mindset”, “Your relationship with food”, “Managing your pain” and “Move more, recover faster” put forward different ideas from each participant and quite a few were a help to me personally.

I looked forward to the weekly session with my coach Hannah, she supported and encouraged me to improve my fitness, set targets after discussing them with me for the following week, and I felt that she was always there to help. I was provided with exercises to help with my breathing which has really helped.

What have you learned about yourself throughout the process?

I have learned quite a few things about myself during the programme. I’m stronger mentally than I thought I was, I can exercise, and my pain will not get worse if exercise is done sensibly and daily.

I’m more informed about the “inner workings” of my body after surgery with pain medication. I eat sensibly incorporating a healthy balanced diet with sufficient protein in it. I just feel better about myself in general.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining the programme?

For anyone who is offered the “Surgery Hero” programme I would encourage them to take it up and take on board the useful information the service provides and the weekly coaching session. It really has made a difference to my approach to my surgery.

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