A child about to have surgery - whether it is minor or major - will experience some form of discomfort or fear. Will I feel pain? Will I be alone in the room? Will I recover fast enough so I can play with my friends again? How long am I staying in hospital? These were some of the questions my nephew asked my sister and I when he was about to have surgery on his left leg at the age of 6.
As nervous and heartbroken as my sister was, she managed to ease his worries. My sister briefly explained why he needed the surgery and rehabilitation. She promised him as soon as he recovered, he would be able to play with his friends again. The doctor took time to speak with him as well, which was a plus.
The doctors were gracious. They were prepared to answer all questions and concerns. They even allowed us to tour the floor where the surgery and recovery would take place. The recovery room had tons of fun toys and electronics. The hospital made sure the child and parent were comfortable with the entire process.
As long as there is a strong support system from family and hospital staff, your child will fear less.
Below are 6 ways to prepare your child, as well as yourself, for the surgery:
Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally
Surgery is frightening and hard to accept. My family was anxious and vulnerable when each surgery took place. However, we were able to remain calm after doctors recommended meditation or yoga to help with our anxiety.
Speak to the doctor
Ask the doctor as many questions as you can. No question is a silly question. Doctors and nurses are there to assist you and your child.
Discuss the surgery with your child
Briefly explain why the surgery has to take place, but with assurance that everything will work out. Depending on the child's age, you may not feel comfortable discussing full details. Therefore, a brief explanation is sufficient. If by chance you feel uncomfortable discussing the matter, it is not a bad idea to ask the doctor to step in.
Tour the children's hospital
Ask the doctor if it is possible to tour the areas where the surgery will be held and the location of the recovery room days prior to the surgery. Perhaps the tour can ease your child's fears and yours as well.
Be supportive and encouraging
Let your child know you and other family members will be with him every step of the way, and you will be by his side the moment he opens his eyes. Explain that he is in good hands and everything will turn out wonderfully.
Provide your child with a comfort toy
Depending on the age, bring your child his or her favorite stuffed animal or an electronic device. Bring something that will take their minds of the surgery.
Even though you are concerned and nervous about your child's surgery, remember to stay calm. Of course it is easier said than done, but the calmer you are the more at ease your child will be. Maintain faith and the rest will fall into its rightful place.