I’ve been watching a programme about problems with medical implants – I usually avoid such medical things, but I rather felt I should.
Those of you who have known me long enough may remember, some 20 months ago, I enquired about hip resurfacing as an alternative to a full hip replacement. The surgeon to whom my GP referred me was very off-putting, saying that there were a lot of problems with metal-on-metal implants and, in addition, hip resurfacing had its own dangers, especially for women – this being because, post-menopause, most women lose bone density and the less invasive treatment of resurfacing can leave the femur more at risk of fracture. I’ve got a socking great porcelain spike in my femur, which adds stability rather than lessens it. I quizzed him pretty sceptically and straightforwardly (for example, I asked how many hip resurfacings he had done, and whether his reluctance was because he hadn’t done enough of them to become fully adept) and I am appreciative that he took me seriously and explained without patronising or being offended. Every time he has seen me since, he’s asked if I’ve seen the latest findings, which, thanks to Hip Headlines, I have.
I asked him why, if there were good hip replacements, new and untried ones were being used, and he frankly said, because of the money in them. Something new can be sold for a lot of money. He didn’t for a minute suggest any corruption or malpractice, but simply that it’s a massive industry and that companies doing research need to sell their devices, and surgeons can be convinced to try them. At Norwich, they had watched what was going on, were not comfortable with the number of problems thrown up and had made the decision to stop doing any metal-on-metal implants. Since then, there have been a lot of recalls of specific devices and many people have had to have further operations to replace their artificial hips.
Today, we went to view a sale at B0nh@ms in London. The Sage is going to the sale on Wednesday, but I won’t go then. We had plenty of time to look and handle all the china we wanted to – if you have never been to view an auction, you can ask to see and hold anything you want to (actually, I’m not sure if it works the same for delicate stuff worth millions, but it certainly does for the thousands-worth). It’s brilliant. It’s good to hold a lovely item that you will never own, and handling it adds a lot to just seeing it. I have ambivalent thoughts about museum pieces – of course, some things are so rare and precious and of such historical significance that they should be kept in museums, but they will never be loved and appreciated again in the same way. Lovely things should be touched, if they’re not too fragile, and so much in museums is kept in store and rarely seen again. Especially now, when a museum is meant to be a viewing experience rather than a historical record. It’s laid out very artistically, but there’s not room to show much of the collection, even the really beautiful pieces. They might as well be sold on for people to enjoy and appreciate again.