Sunday, May 15, 2011

How To Prepare a Child for Outpatient Surgery

Recently I learned my four and-a-half year old has sleep apnea! Crazy, huh? For a while now, we have noticed she holds her breath in her sleep and somewhat during the day as well. A trip to the ENT showed us that her tonsils and adenoids are both enlarged and need to be removed. We have scheduled surgery for our daughter in t-minus two weeks. Aggggghhhh!

My husband and I know we need to broach the subject with her before the surgery to let her know (in terms she can understand) what is going to occur. But when is the right time? We don’t want to tell her too early because of the undue worry she will have about going to the hospital, but we also don’t want to spring it on her either!
We know she needs some time to prepare psychologically for her surgery.

After some research, here are some tips from the experts on how to prepare your child for outpatient surgery.

- Kids of all ages cope better when they understand what type of surgery is going to occur and why it is necessary. Explain in children’s terminology why the surgery must happen and what she is going to experience.

- Allow your child to ask questions and answer them in a way that they can understand. Don’t over explain!

- Most children fear the surgery itself will hurt and this is their main concern. Explain to your child that there is a special doctor- an anesthesiologist- that will help your child go to sleep so they won’t feel a thing during the surgery. Reiterate that mommy and daddy will be with her as soon as she wakes up.

- However, do not lie about the discomfort she may feel after she awakens from anesthesia. Say, “It may be a little uncomfortable when you wake up, but mommy and daddy will make sure you get plenty of medicine to make any uncomfortable feeling you have go away and feel better.”

- Find books about hospital experiences (that are appropriate for your child’s level) that explain surgery and hospital visits. Children often learn best through examples and books are a wonderful way to help explain the difficult concept of surgery, anesthesia, and other hospital procedures.

- Have your child practice surgery on his or her stuffed animals with a toy doctor kit. This will help them become more comfortable with blood pressure, temperature taking, and other routine hospital procedures that must occur before surgery.

- Consider setting up a pre-surgery visit to the hospital so your child can become acquainted with the hospital. This will make it seem like a less scary place.

- Remind your child that having this surgery will make their bodies healthier and stronger. Keep reminding them it will make them feel better.

- On the day of the surgery, pack your child special stuffed animals, toys and books that will make them more comfortable while they wait for surgery.

Have you had any hospital experiences with your child? What helped them (and you) relax before the surgery? Leave any tips you have in the comments section below.

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