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Reconstructing the Norm

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

Okay so I’m a doctor, but more specifically, a plastic surgeon. I mostly work on ‘reconstruction’ with patients who’ve had cancer or trauma or an injury to the hands or face, and try to make them look back to normal again. I work in the NHS hospital in London, which is a government hospital. At the moment, because of what’s going on, all of the elective cases and prosthetic procedures are cancelled, so nobody can do anything unless absolutely necessary.

In the beginning, I wasn't worried about whether or not I would get the Coronavirus. I think I go through stages— sometimes I’m always thinking about it and other times I’m not at all. But every now and then I do hear news that quite a lot of doctors and nurses are contracting the virus and getting very sick. In some other countries, there aren’t enough PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), like masks, goggles and gowns. Sometimes, hospitals are even changing their requirements for seeing patients based on what PPE is available to them. If there’s no supply anywhere, what are the options? It does create a bit of anxiety.

We are still doing reconstruction procedures in the hospital right now, and I haven’t been asked to cover in the ICU— but my junior staff have been taken away from us. They have been asked to cover in the ICU with minimal experience and training, so it’s quite stressful for them. I haven’t been asked to join the ICU yet, but if the Coronavirus gets worse, I might be asked as well. It makes me feel a bit anxious and a bit uncertain. But everyone has to chip in, to be flexible. I mean what else can we do?

At the NHS, we’re generally in good spirits. Everyone looks after one another and knows that we have to do a bit extra right now. But when there are high levels of stress, people can snap too. It’s understandable, though.

Thankfully, the general public has been very kind and supportive. We have food donated quite often, and the staff is quite well looked after. They have this thing now in London— every Thursday at 8pm, people will come out of their houses and clap for around 5 minutes to say thank you to healthcare workers. You can’t miss it! It’s everywhere. It’s quite a nice feeling— to be appreciated.


Written by: Natasha Leong

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