Tuesday 17th November 2020
COVID-19 has placed a huge strain on the NHS and led to the delay of thousands of appointments and heart valve disease treatments. But behind every number is a story, and this is the story of Patient 564. All patient's identities have been kept anonymous.
"I am a 47-year-old woman on the treatment path for a bicuspid aortic valve and an aortic aneurism. In the summer of this year, my cardiologist ran a series of tests and determined its time to transfer me to the large hospital that specialises in heart surgery.
I have had fantastic communication from my surgeon's secretary informing me of the date my surgeon will see me and that he will do a preoperative assessment on the day - which will include full-bloods, chest x rays, echocardiogram, meeting a specialist nurse and then meeting him to discuss my current heart health. I’ve been lucky that my appointments haven’t been affected too much by COVID. However, it is putting into doubt if the operation will take place - which is what I desperately want.
My heart health has massively affected my life. At the moment I am unable to drive due to medical conditions, unable to work as I’m on the CEV list and have been shielding since March, and I am also struggling with home life and looking after my daughter.
I am looking forward to, even excited about, my operation - which may sound odd but when your life is so affected and the impact is so huge, to see the light at the other end of the tunnel is something I cling to daily. People who have had open-heart surgery say the waiting is the hardest part, waiting and wondering through a pandemic is even worse as the uncertainty is hideous, its tough to cope with mentally as you just can't switch off.
Even when I am given my date, I can’t be sure if it will go ahead. If the ICU need beds for COVID, then I worry my treatment will wait longer. Of course, I understand this and in fact would not have it any other way, if someone is more in need than me than I will happily step aside for them. But I also don’t want to get to a stage in my heart health that puts me in a worse position, and where things are more complicated, I would rather have it sorted now to give me the best chance of a good outcome. Then I can get back to work and back to my family, and giving my daughter the care she needs."