Angie Dixon has lost most of the feeling in her left leg and foot. Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night with her foot twisting by itself, causing her pain and sleep loss.
For around two years she has been suffering from compressed nerves in her spine, and it's been getting worse, Dixon said.
She had been getting ready for a back surgery when this week, just one day before the appointment, her surgeon's office told her it had to be postponed.
"Of course I was upset," said Dixon. "I have been stressing out over it, getting ready for it. And I mean, nobody wants to really go for surgery, but I [would] really like to … have my mobility back."
Dixon is not the only Saskatoonian who has to accept a delay in medical treatment.
Ninety-seven non-urgent or elective surgeries have been postponed in the city since Oct. 9, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Last week, Saskatoon's local medical health officer declared the city an area of "elevated activity for COVID-19," according to a written statement from the SHA. One of the reasons was that a larger amount of the new cases could not be connected with a known source of virus transmission, the statement said.
"There was no planned slowdown of surgical procedures for Saskatoon associated with this," said the statement, which was issued on behalf of Dr. Susan Shaw, chief medical officer at the health authority.
"However, as a result of that declaration, a geography-based COVID activity screening criteria was activated," which resulted in the postponement of the 97 surgeries in Saskatoon.
Another 470 surgeries in the city did take place as scheduled this week, according to the SHA.
Patients, visitors, staff must be screened
Everybody entering a Saskatchewan Health Authority building, such as a hospital, gets screened. Additional safety protocols then kick in to reduce the risk of transmission, the SHA statement said.
If a person screens "positive," meaning flags are raised — because of travel or contact history, for example, or because they are showing symptoms of COVID-19 — the decision might be to delay the surgery, according to the health authority's protocol for managing surgical patients.
With the increased COVID-19 activity in Saskatoon, the city's residents automatically screen positive under that assessment, said the SHA.
"As a result of protocols, some residents have had their non-urgent, elective surgery postponed this past week," the health authority said.
While the SHA says postponed surgeries are supposed to be rescheduled as soon as possible, Dixon is worried that the damage might get worse the longer she waits.
"My whole leg and my foot are just messed up," she said.
"It's been a long wait and my legs aren't getting any better. Now it's waiting again."
When she received the information about the postponement, she was also told that she is at the very top of the list for rescheduling, she said.
The "geography-based" COVID screening process was already established in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the SHA. Physicians and infection prevention leaders have been reviewing this strategy, the health authority said, and the review is supposed to be completed soon.
Waiting for rescheduling
Dixon said she was told that if she lived outside the city — in North Battleford, for example — she could come in and have the surgery. She feels the postponement is unfair.
"I was a bit shocked because I have been doing all the things, getting ready for it and being careful and not letting anybody come around," she said.
Until her surgery is rescheduled, Dixon will have to continue living with the challenges the pinched nerves in her back cause.
The health authority said people who have surgeries scheduled in the city will be contacted by their doctor or Saskatoon's surgical scheduling office if their appointments need to be rescheduled.