#19 Pre opp during a pandemic

When you have surgery there are three main steps you take, the pre opp which is what I’m going to explain today, the surgery itself, and then the post opp. People’s experiences will vary however this is my experience having a laparoscopy during a pandemic.

A little bit of background

Just a bit of background before we get into it, originally I was supposed to have surgery in March this year but was then fast tracked to have it done in February instead. I was sitting nervously with my mum in the waiting area of the hospital ready for my name to be called at any given moment. Then the surgeon popped his head round the corner of the door and it was my time. I went in to have a chat with the surgeon about the operation and what would happen. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it before, with the surgeon dismissing my radiology reports, dismissed the fast track as she was in his words ‘a junior doctor who didn’t know what she was talking about’ claiming my stomach isn’t big enough to be cancer and told me I don’t have endometriosis because my pain was also outside of my cycle. The list went on really. The only thing he said he would do was put a coil in which can be done at the gp instead. Therefore, completely distressed I decided there was no way I was going to go through this surgery just for that. I had zero trust in him as a surgeon and quite frankly didn’t feel safe for me to have the operation under his care.

This then led to me getting referred back to the gynae department at the hospital which he requested and ordered a repeated scan. Fast forward some months, I had my scan both abdominal and transvaginal which confirmed again my complex cyst was still there on my left ovary, that the radiologist reports were right and that I was told it could be either an endometrioma, caused by endometriosis or a germ cell type tumour. (I have more information on what complex cysts are in a previous post in the health menu) Combined with this I had the CA125 test (which I’ll explain in a later post) which also came back abnormal. They weren’t able to say for definite whether the complex cyst on my ovary was benign or cancerous. Therefore surgery was needed.

I decided to go private for my surgery and I’m forever grateful for that, as I was under the best care during my time in hospital and the operation itself.

Now lets get down to what the process of pre opp is like? This is obviously specific to the current global pandemic we are facing so things in the future may be different but this is a breakdown of the steps I went through.

1st Pre Opp – Blood Tests + General Health Checkup

The very first thing I had to do before anything else was attend my pre opp appointment, in person, at the hospital. My dad would pull up at the test centre drive through of the hospital, and wait till a nurse came to take me inside. I was wearing my mask as did the staff as well as PPE.

The staff were so lovely here, both the nurses and the doctor made me feel completely at ease about my surgery coming up. If I had any questions they were able to answer them. No matter how scary or nerve wracking surgery can be, it does wonders to have such lovely nurses and doctors looking after you in the process. You have trust in them that everything is going to be okay.

So here at my appointment I just answered some questions in regards to my health, had my blood pressure taken as well as some other general checks by the nurse and doctor and then I had blood tests done.

There was quite a lot of blood drawn at this part as one was for a general blood test to check for pretty much everything, and that took a few tubes of blood, one being a lot more than the other, and then the other one was for the CA125 test. As I had an abnormal result a few months ago, this needed to be repeated before surgery to see if it has elevated anymore, and if so to what extent.

Blood tests shouldn’t really hurt, and usually they don’t but this one was slightly painful as I had to have it in my hand this time as they can never find my veins in the arms. Anyone else have this problem? A nightmare lol and I always promise them I definitely have drank enough water this time, but still no luck.

2 week isolation period

After my pre opp appointment, which didn’t take long at all, it was time for my 2 week isolation period to begin. This came into effect as soon as I left the hospital for my bloods. This didn’t just apply to me but also my parents as we all live in the same household.

This meant that we weren’t allowed to go outside at all during those 2 weeks including to the supermarket for food shopping. We tried our best to get as much as possible before our isolation period so we didn’t need to buy too much online for delivery later on.

We were thankful during this time that we had a garden to relax and enjoy. The weather was beautiful as well so this really helped and kept my mood up during a nerve wracking time.

What did we do during this period? Watched a heck of a lot of Netflix lol Dad became obsessed with watching the old Waterloo road series whilst me and mum were on to a good thriller. We also played tennis in the garden, did what little exercise we could and developed a new sense of energy to be productive in terms of creating classroom resources for the coming academic year.

As the days went on I started to think about the surgery more and more, as anyone would. I really didn’t know what to expect as I hadn’t ever been through this before and I certainly did not expect this pandemic to hit.

2nd Pre Opp appointment
+ Covid Test

Coming towards the end of the isolation period, it was time for my 2nd and final pre opp appointment at the hospital. This was to have a repeat of bloods as well as the dreaded covid test. This has to be taken a certain amount of hours before you go into hospital for your surgery!

Now lets talk about the covid test! There seems to be so much online about how horrendous it is, and also somewhat confusing information as people seem to be administrating the test slightly different to others. For example you see some getting only the throat swab done, some only the nostril swab done. To be honest I’m not quite sure what that is all about but for me I had one throat swab and one nose swab.

I stayed in the passenger side of the car, whilst my dad in the drivers seat had to put his mask on as the nurses came to my window to do the test. Again wearing full PPE and a visor over their mask. Before they got straight into it they explained very well what it will be like, passed me a sick bucket type thing which wasn’t as reassuring lol but explained some people can get nose bleeds from it. She also said, which really helped me a lot, that she will stop at any time if it is too uncomfortable. Reassuring me that she will take her time and go at my own pace if it got too much made everything so much better. It then didn’t feel like such a forced thing happening to me.

So what did it feel like? I definitely preferred the throat one more than the nose one which is surprising because I was fearing the throat one more. I have a huge phobia of swallowing tablets and thought it was going to be horrendous. But in actual fact it was completely fine! I did gag quite a bit which was slightly embarrassing but it wasn’t painful at all. It was also done very quickly so maybe it took like 10/15 seconds maximum? so there really is not enough time to panic and you know it’s going to be over very soon.

Now the nose swab! I’ll admit it was uncomfortable and I didn’t exactly enjoy it but it definitely wasn’t painful and I didn’t bleed. That one seemed to last slightly longer than the throat swab and it does go really far back but it won’t cause any harm to you.

I know people have different experiences of the covid test and it all comes down to who does it and how well trained they are at it. But for me personally, it was completely fine! I had mine done at the drive through hospital test centre not a drive through car park one as this was to make sure I don’t have covid before I go into hospital. She also explained to me about the test centres in the car parks set up that not necessarily they are from a medical background so aren’t being done correctly as such. So that was slightly nerving to know but grateful that mine was being done by trained medical professionals. The results of the covid test should be back within a day or two and I was told if there is no news then thats good news!  Thankfully there was no news 🙂

After this I then went inside to have my bloods done again. I think this is to check that nothing is going on in my body since the last time they checked. Just to keep on track that I’m going into the surgery okay and to reduce the risk of any complications.

All I had to do now was go back home, remain in isolation and wait for the phone call of instructions on how to come into the hospital on the surgery day. Whenever I have entered the hospital before my surgery, you always have to have your temperature checked, wear a mask, and hand sanitise.

Hope you found this interesting or helpful for anyone who is due to have a laparoscopy surgery soon. Although things have relaxed now in England, I would think this is still the procedure in place.

My next post on health will be the surgery itself 🙂 which I had on July 1st!


One Comment Add yours

  1. A. Rinum says:

    I studied biochemistry and I was on the pre-med track. Working in a hospital made me realize medicine wasn’t for me. It takes patience and a whole lot of guts!


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