Sask. man waiting for hip replacement 'broke down' as COVID-19 pressures delay surgery

Elective procedures, like the hip replacement Steve Turnquist was waiting 13 months for, were paused earlier this month.

Elective surgeries were part of health authority slowdown earlier this month

Steve Turnquist, who has been waiting for a hip replacement surgery for over a year, said he's now going to have to wait at least one more year thanks to the strain COVID-19 is putting on Saskatchewan's medical system. (Omayra Issa/CBC)

Elective procedures — along with organ transplants and cancer treatments — are now on hold in Saskatchewan due to COVID-19, and those in limbo are suffering because of the delays. 

The Saskatchewan Health Authority announced earlier this month it was slowing down the aforementioned services to focus its efforts on combating COVID-19. 

"For at least three to five years, I've had some amount of hip pain. But you just, you take a little bit of Tylenol occasionally when it's starting," Steve Turnquist from Stony Beach, about 38 kilometres west of Regina, said. 

"Beyond that, over the years, you get to taking as much Tylenol as you can every day and as much naproxen as available for the body to take." 

Now he deals with that pain on a daily basis. Sometimes he said he feels a stabbing pain in his hip, while other times it's an agonizing pain that limits his ability to walk or even stand and feels like it won't leave him.

After numerous visits with various doctors, Turnquist said he was referred to a surgeon in Regina, who after seeing an x-ray of his left hip, decided a replacement was necessary. 

The wait for the procedure, he was told then, was about eight to ten months.

That visit was 13 months ago. In the meantime he was told to see his general physician to manage the pain as best he can through medication or physiotherapy. 

Turnquist said he already takes a lot of medication to manage his pain and said he will explore physiotherapy going forward. But he hoped his hip would be replaced soon, as he was told the procedure was doable and the best route to end his pain.

'I just got so hopeless'

Roughly two weeks ago he was told he would have to wait up to another year due to delays within the health-care system, which is burdened by COVID-19's fourth wave in the province. 

"I kind of fell apart on that day entirely and just broke down, I just got so hopeless because of it," Turnquist said.

Due to his medication regime, which includes cannabis and other medications, Turnquist said he can't do much in a day on his own anymore and he feels there's nothing he can do to help himself. 

Those feelings, he said, were not something he said he was prepared to deal with, and trying to cope with not knowing when his hip will be replaced is tough to handle. 

"I deal with depression and anxiety at the best of times but now with this, I'm very hopeless," Turnquist said. 

"Our hospitals are right full right now and everything's getting pushed off all over the place and we're not getting the health care that we need." 

On Saturday Saskatchewan reported a record number of hospitalizations and patients in intensive care units.