New hip for local cycling enthusiast!

Geoffrey Bragg is a retired aircraft engineer from Southwater, who had a left hip operation on the NHS on November 24, 2016, and was under the care of consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Khalid Drabu at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Horley.


With a big month ahead of him, the 65-year-old will soon be crossing the Channel to cycle two days to watch the Tour de France with some friends, clocking up a total of 160 miles. Then, at the end of July, he is taking part in one of the `must-ride’ events of the summer, the Dunwich Dynamo, a mad cap night-time ride of about 115 miles, from London Fields in Hackney to Dunwich on the Suffolk Coast.
“In the months before I had my hip operation, I could never have imagined doing these rides,” said the retired aircraft engineer, “Back then, it was painful just getting on and off my bike and, by the time I had the op, I could only do short rides.”
The restricted movement in his hip, and the pain, also impacted his volunteer work. A well-known face in Southwater, Geoffrey volunteers at his local church, at an after-school club, and drives elderly people to a social event in Horsham twice a month. Yet getting in and out of a car was proving more and more difficult.

He also uses his engineer skills to volunteer with Jubilee Sailing Trust, which enables people with disabilities to go to sea, and regularly drives to Southampton to help maintain the tall ships: “You have to be a contortionist to do some of the maintenance work, crawling around in the engine room. Without the hip operation I wouldn’t have been able to continue.”

Geoffrey is convinced his hip problems started when he had a cycle accident about seven years ago, falling off his bike when it hit black ice. Over time, arthritis took hold, reducing his mobility and causing pain.

By Easter 2016, following x-rays and MRI scans at Horsham Hospital, Geoffrey was told he needed a hip operation: “I was the one that said `whoa! let me think about this’. You worry that something manmade is not going to be as good as what God gave you. It took me a few days to get my head around it.”

As an NHS patient, he was able to choose his surgeon and plumped for Mr Khalid Drabu at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Horley. Despite the pain, he was still doing short cycle rides right up until his operation on November 24, as he was determined to keep his muscles in the best condition to aid recovery.

A thankful Geoffrey explained: “The whole thing was unbelievable. I am grateful to the NHS and the staff at Spire Gatwick Park – I couldn’t speak highly enough of them. I even got to choose what level of anaesthetic I could have – something I didn’t expect. When I woke up in recovery, the nurse told me my actual operation only took about half an hour – how Mr Drabu and his team did that, I don’t know!”

After his operation, Geoffrey was so keen to get back on his bike that he followed physiotherapy advice to the letter, and even paid to have extra sessions.

“You have to be prepared to follow all the instructions and do everything the physio recommends,” he said.

His perseverance paid off… a note in his diary on January 16, 2017, just a month and a half after his operation, says “First ride today. Very short, very cold and wet.” It was the beginning of his road to recovery and back to doing the sport he loves.

Geoffrey gradually built up the distance and, by last summer, he was joining friends on 100-mile rides to East Wittering and to Beachy Head: “It’s not just about getting the hip working again, but about building muscles and stamina. Cycling is perfect for that, as it is low impact. I want to keep cycling as long as I can.”

Now with his new hip, Geoffrey could be doing just that for at least another 20 years, well into his mid-80s.

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