How quickly things change

George Athwal Behind the Mask

The past six months have opened George’s eyes to how beautiful and precious life is – and how it can seemingly change in an instant. “We live in a fragile environment,” he says. “It’s incredible that a virus 50 times smaller than one of our red blood cells can bring the world to a complete stop.”

George is an orthopedic surgeon at the Roth McFarlane Hand and Upper Limb Centre (HULC) where he provides surgical care for those with upper extremity trauma, degenerative conditions and sports injuries. While the team at HULC have been able to continue providing care for people with emergent and urgent conditions, George feels for those whose elective surgeries were postponed due to COVID-19. “It’s obviously disappointing as people are living with pain and dysfunction. Fortunately, our patients have been understanding that the decreased elective surgical activity is for everyone’s safety.”

And it’s not just his patients who have been understanding. The outpouring of support from the community has been an important source of motivation for George. “Lawn signs thanking health care workers for their service have inspired me. Also, the convoy visits from the police, fire department, EMTs, construction workers and many other groups made me feel emotional and proud.”

George and the team at HULC have done their best to adapt to the changing circumstances. George credits teamwork, respect, resilience, and the leadership of Dr. Graham King for keeping up the team’s morale during this period. The team have switched certain appointments, such as discussions around diagnosis and treatment options, to be held virtually over the phone and video conference.

Although the virus can only be seen under a microscope, it has ushered in sweeping changes to the way we live. George can’t wait to get back to normal. He misses handshakes, fist bumps and hugs from the people he loves. But until then knows we need to remain flexible and open to change.

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