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“The question that I didn’t want to answer”

Late last year (2011), I was sitting on my back deck at home being interviewed by John Taylor from the ABC’s 730 Report, this was a couple of weeks after the ‘revision of my revision’ of my Johnson and Johnson De Puy ASR XL Acetabular hip implant. We had discussed many issues around my situation, the surgeries, my thoughts on the TGA, De Puy and Orthopaedic Surgeons, and then he asked me this: “Do you think that this has ruined your life?”……..

If we haven’t met, I am a 42 year old nurse, father and grandfather, who had my ASR implant put in at the age of 37 in 2007. Like so many others things went tragically wrong, ranging from the Cobalt/Chrommium poisoning, increasing amounts of pain and eventually severe metallosis causing a catastrophic failure of the De Puy product. This was not to mention the systemic symptoms of a rare form of anaemia, fatigue and tiredness, memory loss and kidney and liver damage. Johnson and Johnson graciously paid for my revision in November 2010 and this subsequently failed in September 2011, when due to the presence of metallosis ‘left over’ in my femur, my ‘new’ prosthesis snapped in half when I stood up from sitting in a chair. In early October 2011, this was then revised again including an Osteotomy, or splitting of the femur to remove the stem and clean out the metallosis debris that was still present within the bone. Again Johnson and Johnson, after initial resistence, agreed to fund this surgery, which involved the last hip replacement I can recieve under current technology and the ‘putting back together’ of my femur using a series of metal bands somewhat like cable ties. These are now lifting or failing and my surgeon wants to go back in again. It has been an ordinary week with more pain, great difficulty standing, sitting or lying and sleep is pretty much out of the question. I AM VERY AWARE THAT I AM NOT ALONE IN SUFFERING THIS, I FEEL FOR ALL OTHERS IN THIS SITUATION AND MY THOUGHTS ARE WITH YOU!!

Anyway, back to that question! I answered as best I could without crying in front of the camera, I can’t even recall what I said, however if I was asked again right now, this is what I would say:

I have always enjoyed a loving relationship with my family and friends, we as a family have always been active, enjoyed many sports and outdoor activities and most of all have enjoyed the ability to get out and use the bodies and physicality that was provided to us. I can no longer even consider this.

I have also enjoyed a level of good health that was reflected in my active life, I did suffer from Osteoarthritis from an early age, however this didn’t stop me. Since receiving the Johnson and Johnson De Puy ASR device, I have been on a never ending merry-go-round of doctors, xray and imaging tests, pathology tests, surgeries and drugs. So, I suppose I have lost my health as well.

I have been fortunate to have been in the Nursing profession for the last 15 years, during which time I have achieved a Master’s degree in the field, become a respected educator of nurses in the hospital that I work in and been accepted as a valued voice in how we provide the best care for our patients. My boss has asked me to sit down and seriously consider if I am physically able to continue in my role and whether or not I should consider my employment options. So I guess that is not looking too positive either.

I have been involved as the head trainer for a semi-professional football club here in Brisbane for the last 10 years. During that time I have been priviledged to work with and care for the fitness and health of some fine young men. This has always required me to be able to run on to the field to tend to injured players, carry a stretcher or physically assist a player when required and also to participate in injury rehabilitation of these men. I guess that is also out the window now as well!

As a family we have always owned and operated Jetski‘s, bred Siberian Huskies, played Touch Football and Netball socially and been very fit and active as our lifestyle has demanded. So, again thanks to the delights of the ASR and it’s associated issues, this too has gone by the wayside as I can’t risk doing any further damage to my hip and now leg.

So I suppose as I sit here and consider when it is time to take my next lot of narcotics, so that I can attempt some sleep tonight, hopefully be able to move in the morning to go to work and thanking god, or whoever you choose to follow, that my family are still putting up with me, I could simply say this to John Taylor.

“You know John, I think that this has ruined my life, but I swear I won’t let this beat me and I will do everything in my power to make sure that every other person in the world who has had the misfortune of receiving an ASR or any faulty hip device will always have a voice in me and someone who can say ‘I do know how you feel’.”

Stuart Cain