For many people, recovering after knee surgery means looking forward to regaining their essential mobility – to be able to walk and drive once again.
However, for Karen Lovatt, that was not quite enough. She plans to participate in heart-pounding, life-affirming activities, which include kayaking down the Norwegian Fjords and driving a pack of huskies across the Tundra.
Karen, 52, a medical rep for GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) pharmaceutical company, returned from a skiing holiday in 2016 suffering pain and swelling in her knee. She had partial knee replacement surgery at Spire Leeds Hospital in May 2017 under the care of consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Mark Emerton.
“I asked the surgeon if he could give me my life back and that’s exactly what he’s done,” she said.
An MRI scan and X-rays showed she did not have any problems with her ligaments and Mr Emerton suggested that a partial knee replacement would be a better option and more suited to Karen’s active lifestyle.
A few years ago, Karen took a close look at her life – not married and without children, and realised life had turned out a little differently than expected. Karen decided to make the most of the opportunities this unique position presented and start doing things that she would otherwise have been unable to do.
After looking at websites featuring voluntary work overseas, she booked to go to Zimbabwe in 2011 where she worked at a lion conservation project for three weeks taking care of the big cats.
Since then she has continued her adventures, sometimes as a missionary for her faith, as well as doing voluntary work and taking holidays in far-flung places. Her travels have taken her to Guatemala, Mexico, California, Niagara Falls to name a few.
Then when she found out she needed surgery to her knee it stopped her in her tracks.
Although she was in some pain initially after surgery she says it’s the best decision she ever made. Six weeks after surgery Karen was completely pain free, she regained full mobility was back in her beloved high heels and returned to work.
Mr Emerton said, “In suitable patients a partial knee replacement treats the worn area of the knee by resurfacing the bone with metal and a plastic bearing. However it does not disturb any of the ligaments. This means that, in contrast to a total knee replacement, the knee can function normally afterwards and allows almost unlimited activity. Up to 40% of patients with knee arthritis are candidates for a partial knee replacement and it offers significant advantages to all patients, not just young and active patients like Karen.”
“I would have it done again in a heartbeat. It’s a miracle,” said Karen.
Despite having a well-paid job and a nice house Karen says, “For me, life is not about money but it’s about making memories and having experiences. Mr Emerton has given me the opportunity to do just that.”