Mary Anderson is considering paying for a second operation to help ease her suffering due to Northern Ireland’s hospital waiting list shame.
Mary (64), from south Belfast, has osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, and has been waiting for an operation on her ankle since 2019.
It comes after her brother and sister-in-law gave her money so she could pay for a hip replacement after spending three years on a waiting list without a date.
“I’m living in a painful limbo at the moment and I have no idea when it’s going to end. I’m only able to drive because I bought an automatic car,” she said.
“If they would even write or ring me and let me know where I am on the waiting list, at least they would be treating me with some dignity, like I’m a human being living with a painful condition.”
Mary was told she needed surgery on her left ankle in June 2019 and was supposed to have a pre-operative assessment three months later. However, this didn’t happen until March 2020. Mary explained: “The point of my consultation in March was to determine how high up on the list I need to go. But as this was done over the phone due to Covid, an X-ray could not be taken, and a proper assessment couldn’t be made.
“If this appointment had happened when it was supposed to in September 2019, I wouldn’t be waiting in pain like I am today. My ankle is constantly sore.
“Any pressure I put on it causes searing pain, even if I’m just standing still. So, what’s happening now is that I can’t exercise or walk, which is causing other joints to become more painful. My overall health is deteriorating because of this one joint, so it needs to be operated on now.
“Nothing takes the pain away and I’m reluctant to go onto heavy duty pain killers. The cost isn’t just physical — it’s emotional too. It affects relationships and my desire to do things. But there’s no indication of when surgery will resume, so I’m just stuck in a painful limbo.”
For more information and support about living with arthritis, visit www.versusarthritis.org or call the charity’s free helpline on 0800 5200 520.