Arm surgery gets gardener Debbie out of pain

For professional gardener Debbie Zappa, 50, from Stoke in Plymouth, the pain she experienced in her arms not only caused her agony, but made it difficult for her to work too.

But after two successful operations to shorten the ulna in both her arms, Debbie is now on the mend and looking forward to getting back to work in time for the busy spring period.

Debbie and her partner Rob Hampton run a gardening business looking after beautiful private gardens at local country cottages and barn conversions. They started the business 19 years ago at a cottage in Holbeton and it has grown since then. Debbie started experiencing pain in her arms several years ago and initially put it down to wear and tear from her job.

“Even simple actions like reaching into my handbag were excruciating and felt like my bones were breaking. In fact they were clicking together and gradually crumbling away.”

It became so bad that Debbie has been unable to drive for five years and Rob had to drive her to work. She had to wear ice packs on the way, put them in their customers’ freezers while she worked, and then put them on again on the way home.

“I was also taking lots of painkillers and using painkiller creams, which were costing me a fortune and not really helping.”

Eventually Debbie went to her GP who referred her for an x-ray. That identified the problem and the consultant advised operations to shorten the ulna in each arm. Debbie was offered Practice Plus Group Hospital, Plymouth (formally Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre) as part of her choice, and that was where she chose to have her treatment.

“I had my first operation last January and the second last November, which was great timing for me as the business tends to be a little quieter in the winter,” said Debbie. “I can honestly say that they have changed my life and I am so pleased to be normal again.”

Debbie is full of praise for the care she received at Practice Plus Group Hospital, Plymouth.

“It was absolutely wonderful and the staff were so caring night and day, bringing plenty of cups of tea and stopping for a chat. I’m telling everyone to go to Peninsula if they need anything doing.”

Practice Plus Group Hospital, Plymouth 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.