Patients scheduled for surgery in the Capital District Health Authority are scrambling to learn if their procedures will go ahead after thousands of nurses started an illegal strike Tuesday morning.

John Demoss spent three days preparing for a colonoscopy to see if he has cancer.

"I don't know what's going on, whether the nurses are there or not. It's freezing rain — should I take a chance getting in there?" he asked Tuesday.

'It's a three-day preparation to do it and I'm ready to go, but I don't know what's going on.' - John Demoss, patient

Demoss, 63, said nobody from the health authority has contacted him and when he attempts to reach them he can only get a recorded message.

He told CBC News he doesn't know if his surgery counts as essential or not. He was scheduled to have the procedure at 9:30 a.m.

"I understand the position of the nurses perfectly. Unfortunately for me, I've been waiting for a while to have this test done. It's a three-day preparation to do it and I'm ready to go, but I don't know what's going on," he said.

"I'd like some answers from somebody."

Demoss lives in Duncans Cove, a community that's about a 30-minute drive away from the Queen Elizabeth II Health Science Centre in Halifax. 

120 surgeries scheduled for Tuesday

Chris Power, the chief executive of the Capital District Health Authority, told CBC News she doesn't know about cancelled surgeries and procedures either.

"We're looking at everything on a case-by-case and depending on how many of our nurses show up," she said.

"If the nurses are on site, then that would go ahead. If not, then we would be contacting the patients to cancel them."

The Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre has 120 surgeries scheduled Tuesday. It said most services at the hospital are restricted to providing care when lives are in danger.

It says it will post updates to its website and Twitter feed

The Capital District Health Authority said some surgeries will be delayed. 

"We have many more patients currently in the QEII than we can safely care for without the staff who have walked out, and NSGEU Local 97 has refused to offer adequate emergency staffing levels to ensure the safety of the public during either a legal or illegal strike," Power said.

She said she was "grateful" to the union members who showed up for work and urged striking nurses to return to their posts.