Preparing a young child for surgery
In the past two weeks we have had two children have surgery. One a minor, emergency surgery, the other a planned eye surgery. The emergency surgery was to have a loop put into an abscess on my 7 year old. After it was all said and done I noticed a huge difference in how well my four year old did, who was a hundred percent prepared than how my seven year old did who was not at all ready. I hope this post helps parents prepare young children for surgery to make things easier on both the child and the parents.
A couple days in advance of her surgery (Young kids have short memories so we waited few days before to start talking about it) we began talking about what was going to happen. We explained to her what the surgery was for: Taryn, the doctor is going to fix your eye that doesn't work so well. We told her we'd be going to the hospital and her doctor would be there and he would take very good care of her like he always does. She was only concerned with the fact she'd have to ride an elevator. She is so scared of elevators! We assured her it was a short elevator ride and we'd hold her. We explained as simply as we could to make her understand each step we'd go through. Mind you I asked a lot of questions so I'd know. We told her she'd go with the nice nurse and they'd put a mask over her mouth and nose and she'd go to sleep. When she woke up her eye would be fixed and mommy and daddy would be there with her. We told her we'd have surprise eggs there waiting when she woke up. We also got her a plush My Little Pony to take in with her. She seemed to understand and we kept reminding her of everything all the way up to the morning of.
We were thrilled when she was in great spirits the morning of her surgery. She was excited to see each nurse and doctor that got us through all the processes of checking in and prepared. Our Children's Hospital is amazing and really helped her feel comfortable and happy. She was given so many stickers I thought I'd have to buy a album for them. Her procedure was on Halloween so everyone was dressed up that made her even happier. Things went just as we had explained them to her so she had no fear as the nurse led her off to the OR and away from me and her father. I think I suffered more through that than she did.
Two hours after she left us we were taken back to the recovery room to wait for her to wake up. I was thrilled she woke up just as happy as when she went in. She drank juice, played with her eggs, and watched TV until it was time to go. I am happy to say that her surgery was a success and her eyes are fixed!
So in the end I highly recommend explaining everything to your child, even if they are very young. Make sure the understand and are ready because after all us adults want to know about any procedures we will get as well.
Side note: Taking pictures and videos when kids are still a bit stoned afterward is perfectly acceptable and encouraged ;)