Preparing for surgery during a pandemic

Like many people across the country, I’ve had a lot of questions for the government during the pandemic. A question I’d never thought to ask though is ‘What does a major surgery during a pandemic look like? ‘ Two weeks ago, I received a call that means that it’s not a question I have to ask. I’m going to find the answer out for myself. On the ninth of July I will be on the operating table for the third (and hopefully final) time.

So, what does a major surgery during a pandemic look like? I’ve been shielding since the middle of March so the two weeks leading up to my surgery aren’t too different to the last fourteen weeks. Stay at home, don’t go near anybody outside your household and wash your hands regularly. The major difference is that my parents now have to shield with me. Whilst they were previously allowed out of the house to get supplies, that is no longer the case. The only time any of us are allowed out of the house is to visit the hospital for my pre-op covid test.

That’s another thing you have to consider when preparing for surgery during a pandemic. The typical pre-op assessments are now completed by post and have been replaced by a covid-19 swab seventy-two hours pre-op. Friends who have taken a test have told me that it’s a horrible experience. I’ve convinced myself that after everything I went through last year, I’ll be okay.

The other preparations I have to undergo prior to surgery are primarily mentally preparing myself. The one constant throughout my whole brain injury & hearing loss journey has been my family. The realities of surgery during a pandemic hit home when you realise your family can’t attend the hospital with you. My parents will drop me off outside the hospital and I’ll put on my facemask. Then, I’ll walk in to the hospital to go it alone.

Whilst the huge number of differences to all my hospital experiences so far are somewhat scary, they’re not all bad. It’s not safe to open the doors of the hospitals for general surgery yet, so the NHS are sending me to a private hospital. If I have to go through the trauma of major surgery, I certainly won’t complain if it’s in a shiny private hospital!

The overwhelming advantage of the surgery is, of course, the prospect of getting my hearing fixed. Whilst my hearing aid does an incredible job, the idea of having my natural hearing back in a matter of weeks is quite exciting! Whilst fixing my hearing isn’t the primary goal of the surgery, and the chances of it being successful are slim to none, the slither of hope there is something to look forward to.

That slither of hope does however mean that I had to make a difficult decision last week. After training for the marathon for ten months, I’ve decided that it’s not possible for me to run in October. The Headway team are in contact with the marathon organisers to try and get my place moved to April, but I won’t be running this year. It’s a difficult decision to make, but going from surgery to marathon in twelve weeks is too much of a challenge for me to take on. This is also my last chance to get my natural hearing back. That means I’ve got to do everything I can to stay infection free for as long as possible post-surgery.

Nobody knows what the outcome of my surgery will be. I might wake up with a clean bill of health and perfect hearing. I might wake up to the news that there’s still an underlying problem. I might wake up with worse hearing than I do now. That’s not worth worrying about though. It’s only worth thinking about the things that I know. When I wake up, I’ll put my all in to my recovery just as I have for the last eighteen months. When I wake up, I’ll take it slow to keep myself healthy. When I wake up, I’ll do everything I can to be on the startline of the April 2021 London Marathon. When I wake up, I’ll keep up my efforts to raise vital funds for Headway Oxfordshire.

Im taking a break from 26 Miles from Brain Injury for a few weeks so that I can focus on my recovery after next Thursday. Make sure to follow me on twitter or instagram if you want updates while I’m using my laptop for netflix instead of writing!

Amy x

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