If your child has to undergo pediatric surgery, the most important thing before preparing for him is that you prepare yourself. Pediatric surgery is any surgery performed on a patient under 18 years of age. While the definition of pediatric surgery is simple, the reality of having a child who needs surgery is very different.
Raising a child who is sick or needs a surgical procedure can be very challenging. The questions can be difficult and you may not know what to say or how to explain what will happen. Your child may fear surgery (and you too), but your child will need comfort and reassurance. You will need to take time to understand what treatment your child needs, why he or she needs it, and what alternatives are available. You will have to be well informed at all times.
HOW TO EXPLAIN THE SURGERY TO YOUR CHILD
Your child will need information to understand what will happen to him, this will keep him calm before and after surgery. Explain the procedure as exactly as possible and what you don’t know tell him that you will find out and then do it.
A normal part of surgery, like saying goodbye in the pre-surgery area, can be traumatic when goodbyes are expected to occur after being taken to the operating room. It is better to tell your child that you do not know something than to give him incorrect information since this can generate anguish for your child, creating different expectations than what he will really be.
Some hospitals offer a pre-surgery tour, which helps prepare your child for surgery by showing them where they will be and introducing them to the hospital. This can be of great help when trying to prepare your child for the experience of being in the hospital and undergoing surgery. All the doubts you have you will have to ask the doctor to be informed of everything.
WHAT YOUR CHILD SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SURGERY
Children are very cautious and may have questions or concerns that they will not tell you. But before your child undergoes surgery, you will have to talk about it, modifying the conversation depending on his age and reasoning ability. Some things you will need to talk about with your child are:
-Anesthesia will allow you not to feel pain
-The surgery is not a punishment, it is to improve your health
-If there is pain after surgery, there are medicines that will help you feel less pain
-After surgery you may have bandages or stitches
-When he wakes up you will be by his side
-Doctors will wear funny doctor clothes (hats, masks, etc.)
-With anesthesia you will fall asleep and will not feel any pain during the surgery
-Will wake up when everything is over
-If after surgery you feel unwell and you feel like vomiting. No problem. It will pass with the hours but he will have to notify the doctors and you to be able to help him.
-If something hurts you will have to inform the doctors.
THINGS YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TELL YOUR CHILD BEFORE SURGERY
Children are very sensitive to the words used to explain what surgery is, what will happen, and how it is done. Here are some key phrases to avoid using, as children are prone to misinterpreting what is said in these circumstances:
-Using the word ‘anesthetize’ sounds like ‘euthanasia’ and if your child knows this last word he may be scared. Explain what anesthesia is so she is not afraid.
-Don’t tell him that the doctor will make him take a nap because if he is afraid of surgery later, he could also be afraid to sleep.
-Don’t tell them: ‘you will not wake up’, it is important to note that they will sleep during the surgery without feeling pain, but that they will wake up after the surgery is completed. Children fear that they will never wake up afterwards.
-Never say to him: ‘Be a big boy and don’t cry’. You need to be motivated to talk about your fears before surgery and your pain after surgery. Surgery is terrifying for adults, and also for children. They have the right to talk about it.