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Arthritis Fund Helps: Shantabai

Shantabai’s story :

Arthritis Fund (AF) recipient Shantabai is unequivocal, “Knee surgery changed my life, and I have AFM to thank for that. I was walking with the aid of a walking stick, I could not climb stairs, could not squat, and could not use the toilet. Painkillers did not help with the pain, I was a total wreck.”

Today, almost 3 years after her bilateral knee operation, Shantabai says, “My life is pain free. I am amazed at how fast I can walk, each day, I can do more.”

Shantabai’s knees were replaced in 2007 on the advice of a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in University Hospital. She was told she was 10 years too late in seeking medical help, her osteoarthritis had developed to the stage where bones in her knees were virtually fused together. Her condition was complicated by the fact that she was a polio victim.

Her neglect of her deteriorating physical condition was a result of financial pressures. As a single mother of three school-going children after the sudden demise of her husband, putting food on the table and providing for her family took priority over her own aches and pains. Nor could she believe that she could suffer from osteoarthritis, she was only in her early forties when the symptoms began. They coincided with the heavy workload as the family breadwinner, and she put the exhaustion, aches, and pains, down to overexertion..

But as pain reduced her mobility, Shantabai knew something was wrong, she just did not have the money to seek help for it. “As a food seller, I had customers who were drug company reps and they gave me supplements. I tried Viartril, there was no change,” she recalls.

Shantabai credits her surgeon, Dr CC Tai, for smoothing the path to surgery. “He got me to the Welfare Department at UH, and they paid for the surgery fees of RM 4,500, and to the AFM, which, through the AF, gave me RM 9,300 for the knee replacements.” With some effort, Shantabai’s children raised RM 4,000 for her hospitalisation and medical charges.

AF made it possible for Shantabai to have her life-changing surgery sooner rather than later, giving her a chance to regain her life.

She is mindful of her new knees. “I understand that they have a lifespan of 15 years, that will give me till age 70, and that is more than enough, I am grateful,” she laughs. As such, she is careful – “I make sure I sit on high chairs, with my knees no lower than 90 degrees, I drive with a cushion under me to raise the height of the car seat, I don’t kneel, nor do I ever carry heavy things.”

These minor restrictions are minor in comparison to the freedom the knee replacements have given her, and in conclusion, Shantabai says: “I only want to say, from the bottom of my heart, Thank you, AFM.”

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