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My 3 1/2 yr old son likely will need surgery to correct a problem with one of his kidneys. He's a sensitive kid, and I'm not sure how to talk to him about the surgery to lessen the trauma of the experience. I feel like I need to prepare him, but I *don't* want to scare him. Any advice? I'm also thinking that some ''gifts'' (bribes, distractions, whatever you want to call them) might help. Any suggestions there? Any ''been there, done that'' stories appreciated. I'm trying really hard to hide my fear, to be as ''natural'' as possible, but this is hard for me, too. (And any advice on how to successfully fake ''natural'' in this situation appreciated, too!) Freaked Out Mom
I highly recommend that you make sure the hospital will allow you to be at your child's side when they go to sleep, it was really hard for me to see her go under the anesthesia but great for her to see me right there. Also, make sure the hospital is consciencious about making sure they come get you BEFORE your child wakes up after surgery. That was really important for us.
All in all, a good hospital team and communicative surgeon really make a big difference. We found it really important to just be up front with our daughter ahead of time about what they needed to do and why they needed to do it. It helped her to know about other people she knew who had also had surgery for various reasons so she could see that people came out of it OK. Before her operation, whenever I brought it up she would say ''I'm not going!'' and we would just acknowledge her fear and reaffirm that we would be there with her and we'd all do our best to make it as fun as we could.
Afterward she was mostly unphased (I was emotionally exhasusted however). She spent a lot of time (months) doing surgery on her animals, trying to reinact it and continue to process the whole experience but it was very matter of fact. I would also warn you that general anesthesia tends to knock out the immune system somewhat so she caught a lot more colds for about a year after the surgery.
I would also advise that you are VERY careful what you say in front of your son about the surgery. My daughter would get really upset when I would talk about it to other people in front of her. She doesn't mind so much now but it used to really bother her.
I wish you a safe and smooth experience. It will be full of strong feelings for all of you, but your son (and you) will come out just fine! Best wishes, Sarah
My three and a half year old son is going to have surgery in a couple of weeks (minor -- ear tubes and adenoid removal), and he always does better when he understands in advance what is going to happen. I don't want to freak him out though. About how long in advance should I bring the subject up? And how specific should I get about what's going to happen (he's been through this once before, at 2, and the worst part about it then was waking up from the anesthetic)? In addition, any advice for books that might be useful? Karen
My 8-year-old daughter has recently been diagnosed with tethered cord. She will be entering Children's Hospital in Oakland in a week or two to have surgery to correct this defect in her spinal cord. Her neurosurgeon is Dr. Nagle. If anyone has any experience with this condition, or with surgery at Children's, or any advice on how to make this as untraumatic as possible for her, me, and her 3-year-old sister I would be most grateful. You may email me directly. I am a single parent with no family in the area, and have recently used up all my sick leave and most of my vacation leave because I have been out with pneumonia, and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by it all ... Melinda
Preparations: There are children's books about going to the hospital--I don't know what's currently on the shelves, they seem to come and go, but they all say "here's what you'll find and it won't be all that bad." If it's not too babyish, one of those would probably help both your daughters; or you may need two age-appropriate books. (My guess is that the 8-year-old is going to want some babying, too--she'll probably resent being treated like a 3-year-old, but maybe not being treated like a 5-year-old.) Both of them, especially the 3-year-old, may have to be told more than once that the 8-year-old is going to the hospital to get better, not to die! 3-year-olds often have vague and unpleasant ideas about sickness and hospitals. They're kind of funny, from a distance. For both your daughters, I think the crucial factor will be your take on things--if you're upbeat and optimistic, or if you can at least make a good show of it, they'll do the same.
I expect your 8-year-old will want to take some mementoes of home along--stuffed animals, dolls, books, whatever. I know I would. You would be wise to clear them with the hospital staff in advance, of course--if they need to bend a rule, they're more likely to do it that way than when the child is checking in; or at least your daughter can be prepared and have an acceptable substitute ready. And you do want to have a good relationship with the nurses.
(3a) Regarding the leave business: I think your situation falls under the Family Medical Leave Act: you should be able to take time off to deal with this without any harm. See http://hrweb.berkeley.edu/BENEFITS/Fmla.htm. But don't delay: timely notice is required.
(3b) Also, UC Berkeley has a Catastrophic Leave-Sharing Program, under which employees who have lots of vacation leave can contribute some of it to employees who are in need of it due to serious health conditions. See http://hrweb.berkeley.edu/POLICY/Catlvshr.htm for the draft policy, or ask your department's personnel officer for the real policy, which came out in July in a Deans & Directors memo. I haven't done a word-by-word comparison, but the draft policy and the real one look the same to me. Best of luck, John
Anyway -- despite the many awful aspects of hospital visits, there is something to be said for the novelty of it all. Definitely stay overnight with her, and she will probably appreciate the time spent with just her and no sibling.
Having visitors is fun, too -- Our older daughter came to visit with my husband. They let us meet them out in some neutral room (since she was too young to come into the hospital room) and she was unspeakably jealous (the slippers, the tiny oxygen-on-wheels). I think it was probably reassuring for them to see each other.
I think we also had a good book to read, which was good to avoid boredom. I don't know if you still read to your eight-year-old, but she might like the luxury of having a parent free to read chapter after chapter -- best of luck --
It's looking like my husband will need surgery to help repair a rotator cuff injury, after which he might need to stay in hospital overnight or so. I would sure appreciate any advice you might have in how to best prepare our very verbal 2 1/2 year old son. He's used to spending the night away from one or both of us and we have lots of very supportive family and friends nearby, so I'm not particularly concerned with that aspect of the situation. I'm more interested in things I can do to help him understand and prepare for what's going to happen. I've checked the website and only found one repsonse on this topic and it focused more on ways to get the rest necessary for a full recovery. Thanks again for your help! Kerri
You could explain that it will take awhile for his shoulder to get all the way better so that your son won't expect his father to be able to immediately lift him up or play ball. If he's curious to know more details, present information in a positive way. He'll probably ask if what the doctor did hurt, so his father can tell him that it didn't (or very little if it did- be honest), that doctors always do their best to make sure that they don't hurt people even though sometimes you feel a little worse before you feel better. You could tell him that our bodies are amazing and wonderful and know how to heal themselves, but sometimes need a doctor to help. Sounds like your kid is very inquisitive and you'll probably get a lot of questions, but this is a good opportunity to help him learn.
I am having surgery soon. I will be in the hospital for 3 to 5 days and at home for about a month. I am not supposed to lift or carry during that time. I have two sons. One is 6 and the other is nearly 4 years old. (They are in school/daycare during the day.) I have a couple of questions.
Any helpful hints for preparing the boys for my absence during the surgery? My youngest son weighs 44 pounds and loves to run and jump on anyone in a sitting position. We have started explaining that he won't be able to do that when I get back from the hospital but we know he will not remember. I hope to "barricade" myself behind pillows and maybe a TV tray or two but I'd love advice from others who have dealt with a highly energetic child after surgery.
The most important thing is not to return to your normal activities too soon!!! I'm guessing this will be a tough one for a mom of two. Depending on your situation (partner? is partner helpful?, $ to spare?), perhaps you could consider getting a little outside help. Maybe some of the previously posted suggestions for house cleaners/keepers could provide a few hours of work for your family? TWICE the estimated recovery time was what it took to get my husband back to semi-normal. And even with only one child, I was really tired at the end of it, because he does a lot for our family. So please, if it's at all financially possible, consider getting a little outside paid support for yourself. It will pay you back in good health. Best wishes. Catherine
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