SOME of you may have noticed that when I’m out and about I’m hirplin a bit. And for the last few weeks, I’ve been using a stick. I have succumbed to that widespread Scottish curse, arthritis.

It was first diagnosed when I was in my mid-20s. My doctor sent me off for x-rays and when they came back, he asked if I’d ever been a professional sportsman. Err, no.

But my early wear and tear were consistent with a professional football player. He said that if I kept fit and relatively thin, I could fight it off for a few decades.

I took his advice. I followed a mostly sensible diet, drank moderately, and hit the gym frequently. And to be honest, I pretty much forgot about the diagnosis.

But a few years back, a steady pain seemed to be seeping into the bones of my legs and up my spine. It got worse and worse. And I complicated matters with a gym injury.

A London NHS pain clinic advised me I might have to live with it. And I self-medicated with painkillers with disastrous results.

Last year, on holiday I contracted sepsis and had a very close call. I have much to thank the Spanish NHS for, not least the doctor who looked after me in A&E – Angel, and my recovery nurse – Jesus. Well, it was Madrid.

Back home and several scans later I got some definitive results after an MRI scan. I have advanced arthritis in both hips. Bone rubbing against bone. It’s extremely sore and my new painkiller regime scarcely scratches the surface.

I know I’m not alone. I have much to thank my Mum for but suspect this is inherited from her side of the family. She had arthritis as did my granny.

Estimates suggest 1.5 million people live with varying degrees of the condition in Scotland. And our damp climate doesn’t help.

I am now on the waiting list for a double hip replacement. I had my first surgeon consultation before Christmas. Dr Happy warned me of the dangers, including the possibility that one leg might end up shorter than the other. He didn’t put me off. I know he needs to explain worst-case scenarios.

I’ve become one of those tedious people who, when asked, ‘how are you?’ gives a truthful answer. But as a result, I’ve found myself in a lot of arthritis conversations. Everyone I’ve spoken to has had an operation or knows someone who has. Everyone tells me the procedure has incredible success rates and is transformative. The surgeon tells me that the scar will be so small that it won’t affect my Speedo line.

Anyway, I’m not letting any of this hold me back. My constituency and Commons staff have been wonderful as have staff in the airports and stations I travel through each week for work.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress. But the thing I’m most looking forward to is a long walk on the hills.