Preparing a Child for Surgery

Being in the hospital can be upsetting for your child, as well as for the whole family. Recognizing the common fears that your child has at each stage of growth and development can help you in preparing him/her for the experience ahead. Being that FEVR can sometimes lead to many surgeries, this preparation becomes ever more important.  Previous tramas can make future surgeries more difficult to deal with.  Here are some of the ways you can help your child cope.

  • Become as knowledgeable as possible about the surgery planned for your child.

  • Be truthful with any information. Answer your child’s questions truthfully, according to his/her age and developmental level. Be honest and say you’re not sure if the surgery will hurt. If you tell a child a procedure won’t hurt and it does, you’ve lost their trust.

  • Explain where they will be when they wake up from anesthesia.

  • Use age appropriate terminology instead of complicated  medical words

  • Read books about hospitalization with your child.

  • Take your child on a scheduled hospital tour.

  • Give your child choices, when possible.

  • Make an appointment for pre-operative preparations with a Child Life Specialist

  • Reassure them that surgery is not punishment

  • Get them a present so they know at least one good thing is going to happen

  • Bring their favorite blanket, pillow and soft toy to make the hospital bed less scary.

  • Try to stay calm when with them.  Young children  are only  afraid when adults around them are.

  • Don’t let the doctors talk to you about scary things with your child present.

  • Make an appointment with your child’s anesthesiologist before the surgery date.  While you doctor has your child’s vision in his or her hands remember that your child’s anesthesiologist has your child’s LIFE in his/her hands.  Learn more about how your child will be put to sleep and what drugs they will be using.  In some surgeries three drugs are given to put them asleep, take the pain away and "paralyze" them so that no muscles can move.  If this paralysis drug is going to he given insist that they use BIS or other brands of brain activity monitors.  If these monitors are not used, there will be no way for the anesthesiologist to tell whether they are awake or asleep.  See more about this subject on the Anesthesia Awareness Campaign websight.  THIS IS NO JOKE!  IT HAPPENS AND DID HAPPEN TO ME

Links on the web of interest

The Importance Of Preparing Children For Surgery

 

DisabilityInfo.gov DisabilityInfo.gov
Comprehensive Federal Web site of disability-related government resources
 

Preparing the Infant for Surgery 

Preparing the Preschooler for Surgery

Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery

Preparing the Teenager for Surgery


Reducing Your Fear May Reduce Your Child’s Fears

The first ingredient of stress is lack of control.  Becoming as knowledgeable as possible about the surgery planned for your child may help you retain a feeling of control.  Children, especially in the first three years of life, take their cue from the adults around them.  If a child sees that his/her parents are afraid then they will pick up on that fear and become afraid themselves.  Staying calm can help reduce your child’s anxiety.  Reducing your own stress by taking an active role rather then a passive one may help your child cope.  Some ways you can take an active role might be:

1. Reading and learning about FEVR,

2. Asking your doctors questions,

3. Getting second opinions,

4. Joining a support group

5. Talking about it with family & friends

6. Getting involved with research,

7.  Talking with a therapist


Putting Medical Terms in Simple Words – (From Bostons Childrens Hospital)

Words that are new to children or have different meanings can be confusing. Medical expressions should be explained in simple terms, so children can understand them. The following are a few examples of ways to help your child understand medical terms.

  • Shot – A poke or prick. How medicine is given. Not a gunshot.

  • Stretcher – A bed on wheels. You are not stretched.

  • X-ray – A picture of bones.

  • Anesthesia – Medicine to make you sleepy during your operation. When the operation is over, the doctor stops giving you that medicine and helps you wake up.

  • Take your vital signs – Measure your temperature, see how fast your heart is beating. Nothing is taken away from you.

  • IV or Intravenous – Medicine that works best when it is given in your arm. It’s the quickest way to help you get better.


Suggested Reading for Your Child


Ask about child Life Specialist

A hospital can be a frightening place for children. That’s why many Children’s Hospital have a special service called Child Life. The Child Life Services staff helps children cope when they are in the hospital.  You can make an appointment for pre-operative preparations with a Child Life Specialist who can provide age-appropriate explanations of what will happen in the hospital using medical teaching tools.

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