From painkillers to pain-free: Michael’s hip replacements

Michael Klaber profile.jpg

“At parties these days, I’ll ask people if they'd like to dance.” Michael smiles, pauses, and breaks out into a laugh, “but I'm actually not a very good dancer, so it's a hollow invitation.”

The 83-year-old former physician is talking about the new lease of life he’s found following three life-changing joint replacement surgeries, all within less than three years. Michael’s journey to pain-free living, however, has been a longer one than this suggests. It started many years before.  “My first operation at The Princess Grace Hospital was probably in about 2000,” Michael says, referring to surgery he’d previously had on his spine. “But my first hip operation was in 2002.”  

The operation in 2002 was a hip resurfacing operation carried out by Sarah Muirhead-Allwood, founder of HCA UK’s London Hip Unit. To this day Michael remains incredibly impressed by the results.  “The hip they gave me is a fantastically well-engineered piece of kit,” he enthuses. “It’s like a fine car. The pieces match each other to within a few microns, and it felt perfectly normal afterwards. Well, not normal exactly as I was pain-free,” he laughs, “but it was exactly like a normal joint.” 

The impact on Michael’s quality of life was both huge and immediate. “It didn't enable me to become a champion tennis player,” he says with a smile, “but the results were excellent.” The relief, however, was short-lived, because although his left hip was now pain free, his right hip and knees were not. While it was to be nearly two decades before Michael’s next surgery, those years were marred by increasing pain that impacted his mobility

Putting up with pain

A keen skier, Michael found himself side-lined while on holiday, and taking anti-inflammatory painkillers to keep on top of his day-to-day routine. “I just put up with the pain,” remembers Michael. “I was slightly renowned for it amongst my friends and family. I don't know why I put up with it. I just didn't fancy more operations… I'd had so many.” For years his reticence reigned, until the influence of his long-term physiotherapist proved the catalyst that got him back into surgery. 

She told Michael about the huge leaps that were being made in the field of robotic surgery, particularly with the Mako robotic arm. And, after looking into it himself, Michael was sufficiently impressed to take action. 

First, he had both knees replaced by Mr Neil Bradbury, again at The Princess Grace Hospital. This was 2020 and Michael was thrilled with the results, and not just because his knees were now pain-free. 

“I was tremendously bow-legged,” Michael says. “It was a long-standing joke – I was like a cowboy. I always used to say I could pass an Alsatian between my knees! Since the surgery, both my legs are completely straight now which is, to me, quite miraculous.”

A new lease of life

His quick recovery, and newfound enthusiasm for what could be achieved with this new advance in surgical techniques, meant Michael was keen to take the final step that would put pain behind him for good and have his right hip replaced. 

This meant a return to HCA UK’s London Hip Unit, this time under the guidance of consultant orthopaedic surgeon William Bartlett. No longer content to carry on in pain and manage as best he could, Michael was more than happy to put himself in Mr Bartlett’s capable hands. 

“It was the final piece of the puzzle,”
 Michael says. “The pain had been creeping up again – I was having to take painkillers, and didn’t want to drive or walk any distance.” This was particularly difficult for Michael, a dedicated driver, as he volunteers at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, where he helps people pass their advanced motoring test. 

The operation proved a resounding success. Mr Bartlett’s use of the Mako robotic arm helped Michael make a quick recovery. “These techniques are so much less traumatic, they’re really suited to older patients,” he enthuses.

“I asked when I could return to driving, and Mr Bartlett said as soon as I felt like it,” remembers Michael. “And when I did get back to driving, it all felt so normal… so good.” This was a wonderful relief, but it was far from the only benefit he’s been feeling. 

“Since the replacement from William last year, people have said I look 10 years younger. It’s my posture I think, because I’m not going around in constant pain,” Michael says.
And it’s revitalised his social life too. “At parties,” he continues, “I was always looking around for a seat. It’s easy to feel ostracised, sitting there staring into thin air. And while I'm lucky to have a lot of kind souls in my life who’ll come and talk to me, the risk is they’ll end up trapped.” 

Find out more about our orthopaedic services

More patient stories

Yvette's story: From back pain to hip replacement surgery

Yvette's story: From back pain to hip replacement surgery

Yvette (54) a journalist from Kent, started experiencing pain in her hip seven years ago in 2015. An ex-national gymnast who had been incredibly active and flexible her whole life, Yvette felt concerned about the growing discomfort impacting her quality of life, and so sought help from her GP.

A new hip and straight back into the spin of things

A new hip and straight back into the spin of things

Michael's MAKO hip surgery to treat his arthritis

Michael's MAKO hip surgery to treat his arthritis

73 year-old Michael, an avid walker and charity worker, was diagnosed with arthritis in January 2021. After facing long waiting times and increasing pain that was becoming more frequent, he started to look elsewhere for treatment.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.