‘I’m finally pain-free thanks to my new hip’

“I can’t believe the difference my new hip has made to my life.”

These are the words of Julian Anyan, whose rather unique Christmas present to himself – a new hip – has become one of the best gifts he’s ever had.

We’ve caught up with him a few months after his hip replacement surgery to see how he’s faring… and it’s very, very good news. He’s walking pain-free for the first time in five years.

“I can’t tell I’ve had it done. Everything is going well and I’m back, free from pain, to doing what I was doing a year ago,” he said. “I am amazed at the difference the new hip has made to my general freedom of movement and ease of walking.

“It’s literally got better every single day – I notice a difference each day.”

Julian, who’s 55, is a keen cyclist. A few weeks ago, he ventured out onto the roads for the first time since the operation, that first time clocking up 35 miles in a circular route local to his home, and then over the course of the week, cycling 100 miles altogether.

“I stayed near to home, just in case it ached, but it didn’t at all – so I just kept going!” he said.

It’s no surprise he’s back in the saddle so quickly; Julian’s follow-up appointment with his consultant at St Hugh’s took place in late February, and the very next day he was in the Lake District for three days, walking 11 miles each day.

“The cycling and walking are very nice to be doing again with no bother. I literally can’t feel that I’ve had the surgery – I am so impressed!

“I am walking pain-free for the first time in five years. It’s just great. I’ve gone back to how I felt before.”

Julian underwent a right hip replacement at St Hugh’s Hospital just before Christmas last year, opting for private treatment because of the short waiting time. He runs an arable farm near Market Rasen – it’s been in his family for three generations – and needed to be well enough to begin work again in February.

Having been sporty all of his life, the difficulties he was experiencing with his hip meant he didn’t hesitate about undergoing the procedure.

A rugby player of 30 years, keen marathon runner, and cyclist, Julian’s issue began while running the Paris Marathon in 2015. He felt a jabbing pain in his hip, only for a split-second, and his knee gave way. It happened again towards the end of the marathon, and then this happened progressively during runs.

Time passed and he competed in more marathons, taking painkillers to dull the ache. Thankfully, he had it checked out – an x-ray showed up a hip spur (smooth, hard bumps that form on the end of bones) and arthritis.

It was when the pain began to affect his knee  [pain from hip problems can often be felt in the knee] that he came to St Hugh’s to see consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Rohit Rambani, who specialises in hips and knees, and sport surgery.

Ten days later, Julian had a new hip – “in time for Christmas,” he says – and couldn’t believe the whole operation took just 40 minutes. He was home the next day, walking to build up his strength, before moving onto his indoor cycle, taking it easy in January and getting back to work on the farm in February. Now he’s training for the RideLondon cycle race taking place in May, and another charity race in June.

The only thing he’s given up is running; his marathon days are over. “It was always my intention after the hip replacement to never run again,” he said. “This is to preserve what I’ve got.

“I had a brand-new pair of running shoes and I’ve sold them – I’m not going to do it. That’s really the only thing I’ve had to stop. Work-wise, everything’s back to normal and I’m back driving the tractor and teleporter, and other vehicles.

“I was also told to steer clear of Pilates or yoga for six to eight months, but that’s no problem because I’ve never done them anyway!

“I’m sad to see the running go but I’ve done plenty of marathons and 10ks in my time, and I understand that this is the one compromise I’ve got to make. I’m more than happy to do that.

“I’ve been walking every day since coming home from St Hugh’s, doing 2.5 miles in the mornings and 2.5 miles at night initially, but the holiday in the Lake District was my first real test and it was great. It felt fine.”

The new hip was a hot topic among his friends and colleagues for a while, especially for a pal of his who has a hand-held metal detector. He couldn’t resist giving Julian the once-over.

“The thing went ballistic!” Julian laughed. “From a foot away, it was bleeping and beeping at him. It was very funny.

“It was a very weird experience seeing my ‘after’ x-ray, with what looks like this alien object inside my body. And seeing it blown up to full size on Mr Rambani’s computer screen at the follow-up appointment, him doing measurements and examining it… that was surreal.

“It’s amazing what can be done these days, and in such a short timescale as well – 40 minutes, that’s all! A bit of banging and crashing and drilling and grinding, and it was all done. I chose to have an epidural and it was the best decision – strangely enough, that was the most unnatural-feeling part of the whole process.

“I’m so relieved everything’s worked out. There’s always a bit of apprehension about how things are going to turn out with surgery, naturally, and you can’t help but listen to other people’s stories of what happened to them… the best advice is to not Google it! But for me, for the first time ever in my life, I’ve done everything I’ve been told to do, followed the advice and guidance, and it’s working out just great.

“Even now, I still don’t bend down to put my right sock on. I have a device that helps you pull it on instead. I don’t want to squeeze it too hard. I can tie my shoelaces now, when in the first couple of months I didn’t bother.

“Basically, I’m not being daft – like not jumping about, for example. Before I’d jump out of the tractor off the bottom step, but now I go backwards down the steps and do it properly. The farm isn’t manual now, it’s all mechanised, so it’s mostly about sitting on big machinery that steers itself. The biggest thing, really, would be having an accident, like falling, and damaging things.

“I should think I’m still healing a little, but it’s mostly to prolong what I have. I don’t want to be in the position of needing another one – I’m a tight farmer and don’t want to shell out again! But joking aside, I am so glad I went for it. I’m lucky that it’s taken really well and that I have a lot of bone density, and that it would knit in well. Now I’m not running on it, I’m hoping it’ll see me out.”

Julian and his wife Louise own a camper van, so they try to get away most weekends, and they have more walking breaks planned in.

“It’s pretty much business as usual,” he added, with a happy laugh. “I’m thrilled with how it went, with Mr Rambani, and everyone at St Hugh’s. I can’t praise the hospital enough.

“It might sound daft but I’m taking such great pleasure in just walking, pain-free. It was something I took for granted before and then this thing snuck up on me over the years and all of a sudden, it wasn’t good. Now, I’m appreciating every single step!”

Find out more about hip replacements at hmtsthughs.org/treatment/total-hip-replacement