“I remember thinking that it may be simply because of my overexertion during winter, and that I was in the cold outside, doing laundry for too long.” At the time, her youngest child named Fatima was only 2 years old and living with Hirschsprung disease (HD), a condition characterised by the blockage of the large intestine (colon) so that stool cannot pass through. Imrana recalls having constant pain, as she cared for her children, especially Fatima, during her ailment. What she did not realise initially was that this pain will be the reason of a bigger health concern, which will set her on a long journey of healing.
“It had not been too long since the pain had started when one day, while walking, I suddenly crashed. I could not stand, let alone walk. The pain was excruciatingly unbearable, as if I had lost my leg.”
Her husband immediately took her to the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), where Dr. Pervaiz Hashmi, an Orthopaedic Surgeon assessed her knee joints and diagnosed it as Arthritis. Her left joint had been completely damaged, so much so that her leg could not bend at all, while the right joint was also becoming severely painful.
At first, Dr. Hashmi prescribed medications to manage Imrana’s condition, so she could start walking again without pain, return to her routine life, and remain active. Though these medicines helped and her pain reduced slightly for the next few years, the feeling of having a frozen leg did not subside. It massively hampered her mobility, and her life in general. She remembers Fatima getting admitted in the hospital for her surgery, and how her maternal instincts fought with her own pain as she cared for her child.
“I am a mother after all. I was taking care of her before and after the surgery, at the hospital. But all this while, my pain was constantly there. Walking even a small distance would feel like a task.”
In 2014, when medications stopped helping her with her pain and Imrana decided to have a knee-replacement surgery for both the knees. Her trust in Dr. Hashmi had prevailed through the last several years, and she chose him for the surgery as well. She was not disappointed. Her surgery, performed by the skilled and experienced Dr. Hashmi, was a success.
After the surgery, she stayed at the hospital for the next nine days of post-surgery recovery and rehabilitation, including physiotherapy sessions. Imrana was standing on her own two feet on the third day of the surgery, with the help of her care team. After returning home, her daughter, Rabia took charge of providing her home care.
“God bless Rabia, my daughter. She helped me change my clothes, bathe me, and even help me clean myself in the washroom. My sons would also help me walk with my walker. With their support, I started recovering, but it took me a year to fully recover.”
While Imrana’s surgery was a success and she recovered, her journey of healing were paved with more challenges she had to overcome. She had developed fear and anxiety of damaging her knee joints again, and would avoid walking long distances, exercising, and other physical activities. Eventually, she gained 10 kilograms that hindered her mobility even inside the house.
“I thought to myself that I will be home bound forever. I must do something about it, or I will start losing my health”, recalls Imrana while thinking of the time when she had become tired of being fearful.
At last, with the constant support of her husband and children, she made a firm resolution to take charge of her overall health and in 2019, she decided to join a professional workout routine to not only lose weight, but also for her physical and mental well-being. Since then, Imrana has not only lost 20 kilograms, but also enjoys living a healthier and physically active life.
Today, she truly believes in the saying “tandurusti hazaar naimat hai” – health is a big blessing. Her message to all those who have received knee replacement is: “DO NOT give up on your physical activity and exercise after your surgery. If I can get back on my two feet and workout regularly, then so can you!”