As we are getting ready Rory’s first pediatric surgery we are trying to prepare her as much as possible. I know there isn’t a good way to prepare a two year old, she isn’t going to know what is going on. She is going to go on an airplane, go to a hospital, get poked and prodded, take a nap for 7-9 hours, wake up in pain and in a body cast, and be extremely fussy that she can’t move. It is all going to be very confusing for her. So I am trying to do little things to help with everything.
We spend time talking about her leg. She knows which one is her little leg and which one is her big leg. I will tell her that we are going to the doctor to get it worked on. I have been telling her that it will hurt a little bit but she needs to be strong. Usually when she does this, she will show me her muscles too!
Most hospitals also have a employee called a “Child Life Specialist.” This is a person who helps children get ready for the surgery, helps them after the surgery, and tries to make things more enjoyable for them during the whole procedure. After our pre-op appointment with Rory’s doctor, we are meeting with her Child Life Specialist. She informed me that she has puppets with casts on, special games, and will show Rory the special play room where they can play when she starts doing better with her therapy. Call your hospital, see if they have a Child Life Specialist on staff and then schedule a meeting with them. It is their job to make your child’s life more comfortable during this crazy time.
Preparing Your Child
Another way I am preparing her is showing her pictures of her doctor, Dr. Paley. Rory loves to look at my phone, and as much as I try not to let her play with my phone, I will often give it to her if she is acting crazy or if she is trying to get out of her car seat in the car. She will scroll through my photos and look at them pointing everyone out.
It may sound completely creepy, but I downloaded some pictures of Dr. Paley online and put them on my phone. There are the typical smiling shots of him and then several of him helping kids. We have started looking at them together and when she sees them we said, “There is your doctor, Rory, he is a nice man.” Now every time Rory scrolls through my phone she will say, “That’s my doctor. Working on my little leg. What a nice man.”
I don’t know if it helps or not, but she will be seeing a lot of him and is not that good with strangers, so we are trying it. Although, she also knows that her little leg will be getting “worked on,” I don’t think she knows exactly what is going to happen. Hopefully it will calm her down a bit! I guess I will try anything to help prepare her!
Pediatric surgery is scary for a child. But preparing your child for what to expect and who they will see can make it a little less stressful for them.