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how best to prepare a toddler for surgery?

(5 Posts)
MamaChris Wed 01-Jul-09 20:55:02

we found out today that ds needs keyhole surgery to close a duct to his heart. after panicking (quite a bit) I'm now thinking about what we should be doing to prepare ds for it. he's 17 months now, it will be in a couple of months time, will involve a 2 hour general anaesthetic and at most 1 night in hospital (hopefully none).

ds is normally quite clingy in unfamiliar places. he's too young to understand what doctors/operation/anaesthetic are. what can we do to make this as easy and un-scary as possible for him?

whomovedmychocolate Wed 01-Jul-09 21:16:13

Visit in advance and show him where everything is and explain what will happen. We had a Topsy and Sodding Tim book about it and also a sticker book about operations which DD put all the stickers in. I assume you will be staying with him? Reassure him about that. And also don't worry too much because a few months is a long time in a child's life and he will be less clingy by then - but be prepared for him to be upset.

Try and focus on it as 'this has to happen and the following will happen and afterwards you'll be able to ......'

And buy him a special present for afterwards and take it with you on the day - one you have to assemble is good - gives you something to do with yourselves - so he leaves it in the box and comes back to find it done.

Also it is heartbreaking to see them when they come round from anaesthesia - try not to take it to heart it is just the drugs and they look so ill but generally are fine just drugged.

snickersnack Wed 01-Jul-09 21:21:23

17 months is very very young. ds had an operation under GA (quite minor) aged just 2, and we didn't do very much to prepare him, as I think he just didn't have the frame of reference for it to make sense. We looked at pictures of hospitals in books and talked (well, I talked) about how the doctors would make him feel better but he'd feel a bit sad for a while, but Mummy would be there.

Check if the hospital has a play specialist - the one at our hospital was fantastic, we played "put the mask on the teddy until he falls asleep" for ages on the morning of the op. Ahead of going to theatre he was having a lovely time playing with all the new toys. I took some favourite books and toys for afterwards - I think I found it much harder than he did, I was absolutely drained by the end of it. I was there when he woke up, he was grumpy and clingy but cheered up quite quickly. They let him wear his own pyjamas which helped.

Take a rubbishy magazine and some chocolate to distract you during the operation. And take some chocolate for him when he wakes up if the nurses say it's ok - that was definitely a highlight for ds!

MamaChris Thu 02-Jul-09 07:14:08

thanks - all good suggestions.

he's going to Great Ormond Street in London, so I'm hoping they'll have expertise in helping us help ds. actually, I just thought to check their website, and they've got lots of useful info too.

the idea of a toy to build while he's under is great - I have no idea how we'll manage the time - and role play with a teddy and mask too.

ilovesprouts Thu 02-Jul-09 07:51:28

awwwwwwwwwwwwh hope hes ok ,ds1 had his tonsils out at 4 [not same thing i know],but the hosp had an open clinic for the kids who was having ops etc and gave them things like pics and charts for being brave etc hope all goes well and they have a play nurse too that comes round

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