Minor surgery for your child is still a major undertaking

By Steven W., busy dad and our family blogger

Recently our two-year old was scheduled to have minor surgery to correct a tendon problem in his hand, “digital tenovaginitis stenosans”, or more commonly, “trigger finger”.

This is just a quick surgery with local anesthesia for a cooperative adult, but for a toddler, they use general anesthesia, which is a whole different ballgame.

Given you’ve selected your hospital and become familiar with some of the “dos and don’ts” when at the hospital (visiting or otherwise), here are some quick tips on what to expect and how to prepare when your child undergoes general anesthesia:

1) Your child probably can’t have food or drink after midnight the night before, as a precaution for the general anesthesia. But after the surgery, your child will be quite thirsty and may be hungry too. Pack a thermos of milk or water, a spill-proof cup, and a bag of bland snacks and have them in the car for the trip home after the surgery.

2) Your child will probably be given a mild sedative to drink prior to the general anesthesia. This will relax your child as they get ready to be wheeled away to the surgery room. But as a parent, brace yourself — seeing your child on a gurney being wheeled into the surgery room is far from a relaxing experience.

3) If your toddler uses a pacifier, be sure to bring one or two with you into the post-surgery recovery room. Both parents will be needed for the post-surgery recovery – one to comfort the child and the other to listen to the instructions from the nurse.

4) Brace yourself when your child wakes up from the anesthesia — your child may start screaming and thrashing as the general anesthesia wears off. Immediately try to calm them by holding them, giving them a pacifier, rocking them — whatever it takes to calm them down. Our boy screamed and cried for over 30 minutes — he was frightened, disorientated, and probably a bit dizzy.

5) Once your child is released from the post-op recovery, head to your car, and offer them that cup full of milk or water and the snacks that you packed ahead of time.

6) Once you get home, watching some favorite videos would probably be a great activity for the first couple of hours. Keep offering fluids. One parent will probably need to pick up some prescriptions for pain medication and antibiotics, so be sure to plan on a trip to the pharmacy that same day.

Of course, ask your surgeon and anesthesiologist about any questions or concerns you have, and follow their instructions for a safe surgery and a quick recovery.

Our two year old was outside running and playing with his friends that same afternoon after the surgery. Kids are amazing in their ability to bounce back.

Do you have any additional advice or tips?   Comment or e-mail us!

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