New hip gets national top 10 swimmer back in competition

Vicki Buck, 67, from Looe in Cornwall, is a nationally-successful competitive swimmer and a member of Caradon Swimming Club. So when she found out that she needed her right hip replacing her first question was “why me?”

But hip replacement surgery at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre in Plymouth has got her back in the pool winning medals – and looking forward to the National Masters competition in Sheffield at the end of this month.

Vicki said: “I’d been in pain for about a year. My doctor prescribed injections and physiotherapy but nothing seemed to help. Eventually I had an x-ray which showed I had osteoarthritis which, despite having a healthy and active lifestyle, is genetic.”

While the pain was alleviated when she was in the pool, it became so bad that it kept her awake at night and made walking really difficult. “I can walk from Looe to Polperro, about five miles, with no problem at all – but before my operation I could barely use the stairs and my posture was becoming very stooped.”

Vicki had her hip replacement surgery at Peninsula NHS Treatment. After two weeks she was off her crutches and after six weeks was back in the pool. Just a few weeks after that, she took part in her first competition since surgery and won a silver medal for backstroke.

“I feel like I’ve got my life back. I’m back to training for six and a half hours a week with Caradon Swimming Club at both Saltash Leisure Centre and Lux Park Leisure Centre in Liskeard, and building up my strength with long dog walks and land-based exercises.

“The care I received at Peninsula was really impressive. Everyone was so kind and I never once felt that I was being talked down to. I had an arthroscopy at Peninsula two years ago so I had experienced day surgery there, and as an inpatient the experience was fantastic.”

Vicki’s surgeon was Tomasz Wudecki. He commented: “Vicki has made a superb recovery, and much of this is down to her positive attitude and excellent levels of fitness – she is careful about what she eats and takes regular exercise. While we don’t expect all our patients to be winning national sporting competitions, we do advise everyone to work on their general fitness before they come in for surgery – it really does aid a speedy and total recovery.”

Vicki took up swimming with the Masters Swimming Club 30 years ago when she took her children to their local pool in Norfolk and she noticed adults taking part too.

She added: “I’d never swum competitively before so I asked all about it and joined pretty much there and then – and the rest is history. My husband Bernie and our children are all involved, and as a former coach Bernie is also involved in running the national competitions. The short course competition takes place in Sheffield at the end of October, but the long course will take place in Plymouth next June – we’re really excited that it’s coming to the South West.

“Age should be no barrier to keeping fit. Not everyone needs to be taking part in competitions, but exercise that pushes you a little and which helps with bone density really does make for better quality of life – I thoroughly recommend it!”

Vicki’s tips for a healthy older age include:

  • Be careful about what you eat
  • Try to stay slim
  • Find a form of exercise that you enjoy and stick to it
  • Use your body all the time
  • Don’t forget to stretch
  • Do strengthening exercises to help bone density

Mark White, hospital director at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre, said: “We are delighted that Vicki chose us for her surgery and that it has had such a positive impact on her life. We wish her every success at the forthcoming National Masters competition.”

Watch an interview with Vicki here.

Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre offers a range of care options including orthopaedic, cataract and general surgery and endoscopic investigations. If your GP agrees that you need treatment you can ask them to refer you to the hospital for treatment – it is part of your choice as an NHS patient.