Today our 6 year old will have a myringotomy procedure, aka ear tubes. This surgery will be number six. Some not so serious, this is actually his second go around with tubes. Some have been down right scary. Born at 30 weeks, weighing just 3.3 pounds, he came out fighting. At some point we went to bed his first night knowing that he was resting comfortably in the NICU. A few hours later, we were awakened by a pediatric surgeon, a neonatologist, and a neonatal nurse. Our son, who had been breathing on his own, was now on a ventilator and being prepped for surgery. Heading to surgery, we touched his tiny hand, and listened to a surgical laundry list of “it might be…”. Hours later, we see our first born with a name for his maladies, NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis). The result was an ileostomy. Subsequent surgeries and 57 days later, home.
My point is not the surgeries, others have undergone more intense, frequent operating procedures, but rather the preparation. Whether it is routine shots, outpatient surgery, or an intense procedure, how the parents act towards these events will inevitably be the child’s reaction. Shots are a part of most childhood visits. Freaking out, telling the child “it’s a big needle”, etc. adds to a child’s anxiety or confusion. Have you been to the pediatrician’s office and seen a parent just as frazzled and upset as the child? I have. I’m not saying that it is always easy, it’s not. But we do our best to stay calm and be the example.
Earlier this year this same child, required surgery after breaking his arm in two locations. While not a serious surgery, it is surgery none the less. When the nurse came to take him back, he said “that’s okay mama, I’ll go”. The nurse later reported that once in the OR, he hopped up on the table and was the epitome of calm. Five at the time and getting this comment, made for a few proud parents. Calmness, serenity now – whatever works to have children relaxed and tranquil in the face of pain. As I am typing this, he keeps asking when we can go have his “ear thingy” so he can eat.
Recently a friend’s son sustained a serious eye injury. The parents shared with the 3rd grader the seriousness of his injuries, but also researched with him others living with one eye. Their openness and honesty, I believe lead to a well-adjusted elementary student living the prime of his childhood without his eye injury slowing him down. (To read more here)
Our children reflect our actions, emotions. Do yourself and your child a favor, remain calm.