Nobody likes having surgery, but understanding the process helps make the experience a positive one – especially for children. Whether inpatient surgery or ambulatory (same-day) surgery, children and their parents can tour the hospital to gain an understanding of how things will proceed. If your child requires sedation, surgeons work closely with dedicated pediatric anesthesiologists and a child-life specialist is available too.
The child-life specialists play an important role in developmentally appropriate terms for your child. They make use of teddy bears and special dolls to explain what will happen. Monies from the Radiothon have gone directly to provide some of the specialized toys that help ease a child’s worries about surgery and equipment for pediatric patients. On our website we have instructions and suggestions for parents and children, check them out here. Below are some of the suggestions for a child who is about to have ambulatory surgery:
A Child’s Guide to Surgery
No bears were harmed in this enactment.
The best way to find out about your surgery is to come visit TMC. You can see the different rooms you’ll be in. You can find out what to expect. And you can ask questions.
Even if you can’t come visit, you can find out what the day of your surgery will be like. Just keep reading.
On the day of your surgery, you’ll travel to TMC, to Ambulatory Surgery. You’re expected to arrive at TMC one hour before your surgery starts.
In the reception area, your parent will sign in for you. Then you’ll wait in the reception area while some paperwork gets done. What are you going to do while waiting? Because waiting can be boring, bring something to do. Read or have someone read to you. Color in a coloring book. Play a quiet game, like a card game. Ask your parent to bring an activity bag, or pack one yourself.
When the time is right, you’ll go to the pre-op room. “Pre-op” means before surgery. In pre-op, you and your parent(s) will be in a room by yourselves. Pre-op is where you get ready for surgery. A nurse will take your temperature and blood pressure and weigh you. You’ll change into hospital pajamas (a hospital gown). You’ll be able to change back into your own clothes later.
You’ll have a clip put on your finger or a heart monitor attached to your chest with sticky pads. These tell the staff about your heart rate. It doesn’t hurt. Remember, ask questions whenever you want to!
When the surgeon is ready, you’ll get a ride on a bed with wheels (it’s called a gurney) to the operating room. Before the surgery starts, a doctor will give you anesthesia. It’s a gas that makes you sleep during your surgery. You get to choose your own flavor! You breath in the gas through a mask the doctor puts over your nose and mouth. The flavors you can choose from include bubble gum, strawberry and more.
Next, you wake up in the recovery room. The nurses there will make sure you are doing fine. In a little while, your parent(s) will be there, too. After a while, you’ll be able to change back into your own clothes. Then you can go home. When you get home, you’ll need to rest up. For one thing, the anesthesia takes a while to wear off.
Surgery almost always causes some pain. If you hurt, be sure to tell your parent(s). There will be medicine that should make most the pain go away.
You also need to follow the instructions your doctor gives you. That way, you can get back to normal as fast as possible.