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Life Beyond Arthritis - Kath's Story

When pain holds you back from the life you love, it can be incredibly difficult to remain positive. Kath knows this feeling all too well, with the effects of Osteoarthritis in her hip impacting her daily life. Kath was treated at the Woodlands Suite – Private Care at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. Here’s her story.



Kath had always been active – a PE teacher until retirement. The things she absolutely loves are walking, going outdoors into the countryside with her dog, swimming and she has a garden that she adores. But arthritis was getting in the way.

Everything that made me a person was being steadily ripped away. It was a combination of two things really, severe pain and an inability to move.

My quality of life had been steadily tumbling down a hole for probably many years actually, but the steepness of the curve of the troubles got that much more difficult. I just felt my life was being taken away from me and it’s only in retrospect I can say that. All the things that were my life were just becoming more and more impossible. I just felt like I was at a dead end.

Kath had been referred to a local physiotherapist to help manage her pain and improve her mobility, but it became clear she needed more help. Following an x-ray that showed her osteoarthritis had worsened considerably, her doctor advised surgery was the only option with the need for a total hip replacement.

I chose the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital because when I spoke to a few of my friends, I’ve got a few fairly athletic friends, they all had very good outcomes at the Royal Orthopaedic. I’d also spoken to my partner who found that by actually making more of an intervention in the selection in this process you can feel more in control and that you’re determining your own outcomes. I thought I really should put my perspective in right in the beginning and I’m so glad I did. 

Kath chose the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital and following a review of her options, she opted for the Woodlands Suite – Private Care at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. She shared with us how she prepared for her surgery.

Meeting my surgeon, Mr Yuvraj Agrawal, well it was an amazing experience. I mean he was so clear and so definite and so reassuring that this could all be resolved. So that took a bit of absorbing, I had to get on the phone to my partner and I was so pleased at the response I got, as I was told, you just can’t live like this Kath, and it was so caring and so helpful and it gave me the confidence I needed at that time.

I had a lot of pre-operative assessment which were great, went into every aspect of what could possibly happen, was incredibly thorough and well-organised. And then with the documentation I was given, a lot of it was focused on preparing. It was immensely important to get everything in place for when you return home, and what that return could be like if you take the advice in the documentation you’re provided. And I’m so pleased I did. 

It took months to recover, but I got a life I never lived before, a life where I was free to garden, exercise and swim pain free. I had forgotten what that was like. And the joy of being able to do those things, that were my life. It was a treasured gift is all I can say. 

Photo caption: Kath and Mr Yuvraj Agrawal 

Now that Kath has fully recovered, she’s back to going on long walks with her dog, Molly, spending time in her garden with her plants and her chickens, and she’s even gone out and competed internationally in swimming – bringing home six world titles at the World Masters Swimming in 2023. She won four personal gold medals and two more gold medals for her part in the GB relay team.

Picture credit: Graham Gough

This was a really unexpected positive outcome for Kath. 

It was just amazing really, when I did go back into the pool it took several months building back, but I was able to do so much. These world championships were the first time I’d ever won Masters swimming individual gold, and that completely blew my mind. To do it and do it under such circumstances completely flabbergasted me.

So what’s next for Kath?

I love my life, I enjoy it tremendously, with my dog Molly we tend to go on British holidays where we can take her. I do a lot in my local village, keeping everything smart and litter free and helping with community organisation, to make our community as vibrant as it really is. And I’ll never give up my swimming – it’s helping me so much to grow older really well. And that’s why I love my swimming and my exercise, and those things are my life as they are helping me to live in a really positive way. 

Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common forms of arthritis and can affect any joint in the body. To learn more about OA Versus Arthritis has lots of resources here: Osteoarthritis (OA) | Causes, symptoms, treatments (