A little over five weeks ago, I had surgery.
Yes, I had surgery during a pandemic. I was initially scheduled earlier in the year, then Covid-19 hit and I was told that we would just “have to see” when I could be rescheduled. My surgery was considered elective and only life-threatening surgeries were being performed.
I have often been asked why I would choose to have surgery when so many sick people are currently hospitalized and there doesn’t seem to be a handle on how to eradicate this virus. My answer is simple. I was in pain. There was nothing other than surgery that would make me feel better, so I put my needs above my fears.
What was it like?
It was terrifying at first. My mom was able to take me to the hospital and stay with me until I was wheeled off for surgery. We were given specific instructions on where to park and enter the hospital. It wasn’t the regular hospital entrance. We took an elevator to the designated floor and immediately upon exiting, our temperatures were taken and we were given new masks to wear inside the hospital. The chairs in the lobby were distanced at least six feet apart, so I couldn’t sit next to my mom while we waited.
My surgery ended up being delayed four hours because the surgery before mine took longer than anticipated. This was a horrible wait. I was hungry. My mom is a diabetic and was only planning to be there an hour. The staff was amazing and gave her something to eat. Then turned her chair around so I wouldn’t have suffer watching her eat while I couldn’t have anything. She wasn’t permitted to leave the room due to Covid-19 restrictions.
I had to stay overnight for observation following my surgery. I was told ahead of time that I would not be able to have visitors, and that I had to stay alone. This was the hardest part.
Usually, you are encouraged to move around after surgery to help prevent blood clots and to help the gas used during surgery “escape,” but I was not able to walk the halls. I really felt like we are living in some post-apocalyptic movie and we just need a super muscular hero to come and save us! Where are you hero?
I was anxious. I was nervous. The hospital staff eased my mind. If I’m being honest, this was the cleanest I have ever seen the hospital. My decision to go ahead with my surgery during a pandemic was a good decision for me. However, the number of cases at the time were not nearly as high as they are right now.
Here are my tips for anyone having surgery during a pandemic:
You don’t want too much clutter. Less things, less exposure. I packed necessities such as a throw away toothbrush, travel sized toothpaste, travel size soap, and travel size lotion. I also wore the same outfit to and from the hospital.
Bring something to help ease your anxiety.
My anxiety was high. I wished I had taken something that would help like a coloring book or a word find puzzle. I ended up downloading a word find game on my phone that helped keep my head clear.
Be kind to the hospital staff.
Remember that the hospital staff is probably under an insane amount of stress! My nurses were so amazing. They literally are risking their lives to take care of others. Be nice to them!
Follow the instructions of your doctor AND the hospital.
These rules were separate, but equal.
Show yourself some grace.
We are living in difficult and uncertain times. Be kind to yourself. Allow your body and mind to heal. Rest!