Patient Story

Dr Lucy King

Dr Lucy King underwent surgery for a slipped disc back in early 2020, just before the COVID-19 lockdown. Prior to her treatment, Lucy was unable to do much of her work as a Zoologist.

Lucy is a Research Associate at the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. She is Head of the Human-Elephant Co-Existence Program for Save the Elephants.

The Elephants and Bees Project is based in Sagalla, Kenya, next to Tsavo National Park. This award-winning project explores the use of Beehive Fences as a natural elephant deterrent, helping protect farmers and farmland. You can read more and help support this incredible project

As you can tell, Lucy leads a very active work life involving travel and physical activity, and so an injury like a slipped disc really impacted her ability to continue her work.

Fortunately, Mr Hess and a team of colleagues were able to provide a prompt diagnosis and surgery to get Lucy back on her feet quickly.

Lucy tells us her fascinating story of recovery and getting back to the work she loves…

Lucy’s story

“I am writing to you from lock-down in South Africa to send you greetings from the other side of the world and hoping you are all well and surviving this horrendous “new world” that we are in. You have no idea how many times I have verbalised my gratitude for the fact I was able to have my slipped disc spinal surgery just a mere few weeks before the world closed down around us. You were all so instrumental in my diagnosis, preparation, surgery and recovery and I just wanted to email you all 4 months on to thank you all SO much for the expert recovery work you did on my back.

I had a pretty tough first week post surgery, managed to fly back to Kenya 3 weeks after surgery when it was stiff and a challenge to walk more than 20 minutes. To avoid going back into fieldwork, I decided a week later to fly on a flat bed to South Africa to recover here fully for another 2 weeks. Who knew that I would get locked down here and would still be in SA three months later! In fact, its been a total blessing for my spinal recovery. I have been able to walk 5-7km every day in the game reserve I am living in, no bouncing rough roads, total perfect opportunity to recover my back strength and physical fitness. I am now walking 1-2 hours every day with zero problems whatsoever with my back and no pain down my legs at all.

I am still being cautious (as advised!) but I have to admit that I have already helped with translocating two giraffes and two blue wildebeest from here to another reserve which I don’t think was recommended on your recovery plan…. don’t worry! The back held up!

Yesterday I got to meet one of the very rare Cape Pangolins – one of the critically endangered species at the center of the Covid-19 crisis as they believe this coronavirus jumped from a Bat to a Pangolin at the gruesome Wuhan wet market in China. This pangolin was rescued from a trafficking ring here last month and is being rehabilitated for release next month. I thought you would appreciate a photo of it and me (both looking fit & healthy and back in the wild!)

THANK YOU all so much for your expertise and for giving me my life back. I know you do so many surgeries a week but I hope you realise what a massive impact you have on each and every one of your patients.”

Mr Hess says…

“I’m so glad to hear that Lucy’s back complaints have resolved and that her spine seems to be stable again so that she can continue her work helping these wonderful animals and get back to enjoying what she loves most.

Such a positive patient outcome is what we aspire to for all of our patients, and I am very grateful to hear about Lucy’s experience and recovery”.