I had always been sporty – from junior rep teams in football, badminton and tennis, to a brief foray in first class rugby, then triathlon, skiing and mountain climbing. So when I first felt hip pain in my late 30s, any thought of chronic change brought denial. I saw physios for piriformis syndrome and redoubled my stretching and gym. When my brother had a hip replacement at 50, my denial continued – won’t be me, I’m too fit!

By mid 40s I was limping regularly, couldn’t sit comfortably through a flight, and flinched running across a road; pain killers were my way down a mountain. My doctor tried to stretch my groin, but the joint blocked – something more than soft tissue. Finally I was recommended to Dr Burwell, who scanned the joint and said “what are you doing on Tuesday?”

The question wasn’t whether I needed hip surgery, it was whether I wanted it, and Matthew talked me carefully through the process. He explained that I could go on as now, or make a decision to change, and showed me the degradation of screen. My denial continued though, as I tried to minimise the fate – yes, partial surgery will do for me! Matthew empathised – I think understanding my sporty persona – right up to sharing a second opinion and telling me the risk of failure was too high: Hip replacement it would be.

Fortunately I had private insurance with Aviva, and I was booked straight in to the Circle Hospital in Bath. Both Aviva and the Circle were great – efficient, calm, and greeted by piano playing in the lobby. Surgery ticked comfortably through the next day, followed a day later by standing up. I actually couldn’t believe it, other than surgery aches, immediately no joint pain. Small steps and crutches, but no deep grinding.

I was discharged after 2 days, with an exercise routine for rehab. Essentially, I would strengthen and learn to walk again without a limp. I made it back to work within a week, and back on a bicycle within 3 months. I was diligent about my rehab, built this in to light gym, and continued to feel freedom. Gentle cycling gave way to training, then mountain biking, and hill walking. A winter later, I put my skis back on – gently at first, then back to black runs; notably without nurofen. A mental test followed in summer – a friend’s water ski boat – was I willing and/or still able?

Apparently both, and I’ve never looked back. I look after myself with regular conditioning and stretching, and feel there is nothing I could do before that I can’t do now – and pain free. I keep in touch with Matthew as a precaution – but the only time I really think is when I’m passing through those scanners at the airport!