It’s no fun when your child doesn’t feel well, especially if it’s been a while. When Miss O was around 1, she had 11 ear infections in 4 months. It seemed like as soon as she got over one, along came another one, and with a new round of antibiotics. Finally the decision was made to have ear tubes put it. Surgery.
While I wasn’t too crazy about the idea, I knew it was better than endless rounds of antibiotics.
The fact is there are lots of ways kids end up in surgery these days, from minor issues like ear tubes to major deals like… well, I’d rather not go there. If you have some notice, and the luxury of being prepared, here are some tips for helping your child through their procedure.
Talk about it. Tell your child that they’re having surgery, and why. Be honest that they’re going to feel icky and sore for a while afterwards, but remind them that after that they’ll feel much better.
Allow her to ask questions. Sometimes the reason for the surgery isn’t as obvious, like with Miss O’s adenoids. She wanted to know why she needed to have it. Others, especially older children will want to know more about the procedure and recovery. Allow them to ask questions of you and, more importantly, the medical professionals.
Bring a lovey. Many surgical centers will allow kids to bring a blankie or lovey in the operating room with them. At that moment when your child has to let go of your hand, it’s nice for them to have something familiar to hang on to.
Bring a sweater. And socks, and even a hat and gloves. Hospitals and surgical centers tend to be cold places so have warm clothes on hand for before and after the procedure. And don’t forget a sweater for yourself.
Eat. A very kind nurse reminded me that they don’t need another patient, so I’d better make sure to eat while Miss O was in surgery. Take care of yourself.
Ask for help. If more than one parent can attend, that’s great. If not, maybe grandma or a friend can go. Especially if your child is going to want to be on your lap during pre-op and recovery. You don’t want to bother the nurses to adjust blankets and pick up dropped lovies.
Stock up. Depending on what procedure your child’s having, they may be required to be on a special diet for a while. Ask for that info up front so you can be sure to have everything on hand when you get home. No matter what, juice, gatorade, and ice pops are always a good bet.
Breathe. Watching your child go off into surgery sucks. There’s no way around it. Bring something to do while they’re in there, and try not to watch the clock.
Relax. Throw on some movies, boot up the iPad and let your child take the lead as far as what’s okay. If she feels like laying around all day, fine. If she’s up to a little bit more, don’t force inactivity. I mean, don’t plan a wild party or anything (I missed my 20-year high school reunion because of Miss O’s adenoidectomy), but if she wants to go for a walk or play hide and seek, go for it.
At the end of the day, every kid is different. Go with your gut and just be ready for lots of snuggles.