Thursday, January 11, 2018

How to plan for your child's surgery in 5 easy steps

Hospital stays, no matter the length of time, can be unpleasant and nerve racking. You are already having to deal with stress and worry surrounding your child’s surgical procedure, so the last thing you want to be worried about is something you forgot to pack or plan for. Being prepared will help ease your mind and make your stay a little bit easier. 

In this post I will break down the 5 easy steps you can take when planning for your child’s next surgical procedure. These steps apply to both outpatient and inpatient procedures.  


Step 1.  
Plan child care for other children.

Be sure to have a plan in place for someone to watch your other children, whether this is at home or at the hospital. I suggest having a relative or friend watch your other children at home so you will have less distractions and worries the day of surgery. So much will be going on already, that having to stop and deal with a tantrum, could be overly distracting. Your child that is having the surgery needs your full attention, both before and after surgery.


  • Helpful tip:
Expect to be waiting there for HOURS before surgery even starts. You will have to wait in two or three different waiting areas, and a few different rooms before they take your child back. 


Step 2.  
Plan your arrival time. 

Know the exact address and location of where the surgery will take place. If you have never been there before, be sure to know the best route to take and the time it will take to get there. Plan ahead for travel time and consider weather conditions, traffic, and parking. It is important to know exactly where to park and if there will be any construction work going on in that area. Call the hospital in advance for this information. 

Plan for the time it will take to unload everything from your car and walking to the registration desk. Be sure to give yourself enough time for this. 


  • Helpful tip: 
Get gas the day before so you don’t have to stop early in the morning. Overestimate the time you think you will need by at least  30 minutes. It’s always better to get there early rather than late. Be sure to get your parking validated before leaving. Every hospital is different about how they do this, so be sure to ask when you check in. 


Step 3.  
Packing your bag.

Pack your bag a day or more in advance. Include your clothing items, hygiene products, something to keep you busy while you wait, such as books, iPads, movies, crossword puzzles, etc. Don’t forget any electronic chargers you will need. Also, be sure to pack snacks to save money. Eating at the hospital can get costly. I recommend eating from the cafeteria rather than the fast food restaurants, if they have any. 

Be sure to pack all of your child’s vital information, such as insurance card, medical records, labs results, X-rays, letters from the doctor, or anything that the doctor’s office told you would be required to have on the day of surgery. Pack these items where you can get to them quickly if needed. 


  • Helpful tip: 
Expect to be waiting there for HOURS before surgery even starts. You will have to wait in two or three different waiting areas, and a few different rooms before they take your child back. 


Step 4.
Packing your child’s bag.

Pack your child’s bag a day or more in advance. Pack any comfort items they will need, such as pacifier, favorite toy, iPad with movies to calm them, favorite stuffed animal, blanket and pillow from home. You want to make them feel as comfortable as possible. 

Be sure to pack any medical supplies your child will need, such as medications, tube feeding supplies, and other medical supplies or devices. Pack extra in case the hospital doesn’t have your child’s specific formula in stock. Be sure to pack extra in case you have to stay overnight. 

The night before, be sure to follow any guidelines the hospital or doctor’s office gave you regarding what and when your child can eat and drink. This also applies to any medications they take. 


  • Helpful tip:
These comfort items will be needed most after surgery when your child starts to wake up from anesthesia and when they are able to call you back. Be prepared to see your child in pain and crying. This can be very hard to watch and I truly hope your child gets through this phase quickly. Depending on the type of surgery your child had, the pain level will vary. Be sure to talk with your child’s doctor about pain management methods. 


Step 5.
Expect the unexpected.

It is always scary to think about your child’s surgery not going as planned and turning into an overnight stay or extended stay, but it does happen. This is why it is important to be prepared for this by packing an emergency overnight bag with extra clothes and hygiene products. Be sure to do this for both yourself and your child. Have extra money for spending as well. Cash and change will be useful for times when the cafeteria is closed and you want a midnight snack. 


  • Helpful tip:
Be prepared to sleep horribly. Most hospitals only have “beds” for one parent, so be prepared for this. You may want to plan to have one parent stay with your child at night and the other stay at home with your children, or stay with a friend/relative that lives close to the hospital. Or if all else fails get a hotel room. Check to see if the hospital has a program in place that helps with providing discounted rates on hotels or a complimentary stay. Also, be prepared to be woken up every few hours throughout the night when nurses come to check your child’s vitals. 


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