You and your child are taking a journey that will bring your child a happier and healthier future. Your devotion to your child will continue to be the most important support he will need. We in turn will provide support for you as our Rotarians and your host family will help make you as comfortable and safe as possible in your new temporary home. You will also be assisted in contacting your family back home.
We hope these guidelines for traveling and surgery will make things go more smoothly.
PREPARATION FOR TRAVEL
One week before you leave, give your family this information: Name and number of the Rotarian (in your country); host family’s name, address and phone; name, address and phone of hospital and doctor if you have it; your cell phone.
With your family, describe your child’s medical problem, your travel schedule, date of surgery or appointment with the doctor, when you think you will return with your family. Tell them your child will return happier and healthier.
Ask Rotarians about visas, passports, airline tickets and what you have to do to travel.
Pack wisely – bring as few clothes as possible
BRING WITH YOU ON THE PLANE FOR YOUR CHILD IN A SMALL CARRY-ON LUGGAGE:
- Toys, books, favorite stuffed animal, food and drink, blanket, pacifier
- Comfortable warm clothes for you and your child (the airplane is cool)
- Medicines and their prescriptions
- Familiar bottle and/or nipple
- Personal items for you like watch and eyeglasses – it is a long trip
PREPARATION FOR SURGERY
You will stay with your child before and after surgery. Ask the doctor and nurse about:
- Pain medicine
- How your child will go to sleep and wake up
- Eating before and after surgery
- Playing with other children after surgery
Explain to your child what is happening to your child depending on his/her age. Tell him/her that the doctor will fix the problem and he has fixed lots of children’s problems before
FOR 0-12 MONTHS OF AGE
Bring a familiar pacifier, to stuffed animal, bottle and nipple, cup and blanket to the hospital.
FOR 1-3 YEARS OF AGE
Tell your child a day before surgery that the doctors will fix their heart so they will feel better. Your voice will calm them calm. Let your child ask questions – Ask which toy or shirt they want to bring? Take them to the hospital the day before surgery if you can. Ask the doctor to show on you what they will do: like take your heartbeat.
FOR AGES 3½ TO 5
Tell your child 3 days before surgery that the hospital is a safe place where lots of kids are helped by the doctors and nurses and
- A stretcher is a “bed with wheels”
- Blood pressure cuff is an “arm hug”
- Anesthesia is “sleepy air” (they will go to sleep and wake up)
- First room to get ready is the Sleepy air room
- Recovery room is the “Wake-up Room”
- Injection is a “little stick to make you feel better”
Play doctor with your child with a doctor kit and a stuffed animal – temperature (thermometer); blood pressure (Kit);listen to the body (stethoscope); drink medicine with a cup. Tell them they will get medicine if they have pain and you will be there for them …to reassure them so they feel safe and not alone.
FOR AGES 5½ TO 12
Tell your child a week ahead of time about the surgery, hospital, doctors and nurses. Answer their questions honestly and simply. Give facts. Their fears may be worse than what is real. Ask them if they are afraid…..what they are afraid of? Prepare them for stitches and bandages. Ask what toy they would like to have. If they fear needles or knives, tell them the problem will be fixed, no new ones will be made.
FOR AGES 12 ½ TO 18
Teens want to make their own decisions – and ask questions. Answer their questions honestly. They may be shy, or afraid to say they are in pain or shy about being touched. Tell them that everyone feels that way, and that the doctors or nurses or are the only ones to touch them and that they need to do this to see how they are doing. Tell them they can ask any questions of the doctors or nurses.
TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS
Your child may be worried about surgery or that something bad may happen to them. Tell them what they can understand, that they will be taken care of, that you will be there when they wake up, and they will have medicine if there is pain. Your child may feel that he/she caused their heart problem or feel guilty and are being punished. Tell your child that this medical problem is NOT because of anything they did. The operation is to FIX, NOT a punishment.
BEFORE AND DAY OF SURGERY: WHAT TO DO
- Day before – visit hospital with your child. Bring toys and cuddle with your child a lot. You will have a translator if you need one.
- Day of surgery – bring toys, books for your child; you will have visits by your host family and Rotarians. You will be taken to the “wake-up room” – your child will be connected to medicine tubes for pain and food.
- Be prepared to stay with your child and bring personal items like a robe, clothes, book, cell phone
- Doctor will tell you how your child is doing; ask any questions you want.
FOLLOWING SURGERY – WHAT TO DO
The doctor and nurses will tell you what your child needs. Ask for a translator whenever you need one. You can stay with your child day and night. There will be a bed or chair for you.
- Have toys for your child to play with. He/she may not feel like playing right away. Ask the doctor or nurse your child needs and when he might be up and walking.
- .Your host family and Rotarians will arrange for others to visit and see what you need.
- In meetings with doctors, write down information. Ask for a translator the day before.
- If any problems arise in the hospital or after you leave, ask your host family or the local Rotarian for help
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Website information;
Montefiore Medical Center surgery information