You have just been told that one of your children requires a major, medical procedure. How will you ever get through it? I learned a few survival tips, the hard way, when I was told my twenty-year old daughter needed to have a shunt placed inside her brain.
She was likely born with the defect, aqueductal stenosis. That’s a fancy medical term for a blocked tube in the brain that would not allow the fluid to drain properly. The doctor could label it any way he wanted my heart still screamed, “My baby needs brain surgery.”
I felt helpless, medically ignorant and more frightened than I had even been. My emotion overruled my intelligence and I made the absolute worst of the situation, at least for myself. No one ever really tells you how to handle such trauma. Your common sense disappears as soon as you hear the word surgery. Once you have gotten a second opinion and the operation is imminent; here are a few things you can do to reduce the stress for you and your child:
- Get informed – Talk with your child’s doctor. Ask that he recommend specific resources for information, regarding the procedure. Avoid random Internet searches; they can be frightening.
- Spend good, quality time with your child – Don’t waste valuable time re-hashing medical jargon that neither of you are likely to understand, fully. Do something you both enjoy, health permitting.
- Get a good night’s rest – This is probably the hardest advice to follow but it is imperative that your mind is rested and clear. If this seems impossible, speak with your own doctor about possible medication.
- Do not neglect your own personal needs – It is only natural that you wish to spend every possible moment helping your child. However, you must be certain to eat, bathe and dress comfortably the day of the scheduled surgery. You will not be hungry and probably don’t care whether or not your socks match. However, your child will feel more at ease if you are calm, collected and well put together. Normalcy is critical in this situation.
- Do not go to the waiting room alone – You need the emotional support of a close friend or family member. Even a quick, routine procedure will seem to last a lifetime.
- Focus on tomorrow – This, as is all things, temporary. Imagine your child in perfect health. Relive a fond memory and make mental plans to repeat it. Ask yourself what you might like to do for their next birthday or what you will cook for them when they are well.
My daughter recovered beautifully, after the stunt was in place. She had a wonderful team of experienced health, professionals to see her through the entire process. That is likely true of your child. It is up to you to maintain your own health and mental well-being so you will be in great shape to aide in their recovery.