Today Zach overheard me telling my mom on the phone that we had to go to the hospital on April 6th. His little brow wrinkled up with worry and he said, "We goin' to da hopital? Who gonna lay down?" (I think he was asking who was going to get poked and prodded?) He was obviously starting to get anxious about it and he put both his hands over his eyes. I reassured him that Mommy and Daddy were going to be right there with him and that it would be a lot like when he goes to see Dr. Raunikar (our cardiologist). I told him that they would check his oxygen and blood pressure and weight and listen to his heart. I promised that we would get to see some old friends --- Dr. Bradley (maybe) and Dr. Bandisode. I told him that we would meet some new friends, as well. I told him that maybe we would get to meet the same people that had taken care of Derrick and Zeb and Anna Grace, our local heart zipper friends.
My heart breaks to think about what he will have to go through in just a couple of weeks. I get nervous as I think about talking about the procedure more with him as the time draws nearer. At the Palmetto Hearts conference that we attended in February (which was wonderful!), the Child Life specialist from MUSC spoke about this very topic. I was surprised to learn that it is best to begin preparing your preschool child only about 2-3 days prior to the procedure/surgery. Because preschoolers have no concept of time --- Zach's famous for asking, "Am I gonna take a nap tomorrow or later?" --- talking about surgery that is weeks away will only cause them anxiety. Makes sense. On the other hand, she told us that it is not a good idea to spring it on them, either. She knew of one family that told their child that they were going to McD's but took him to the hospital instead. Not a good idea.
Of course I have other pictures that I wouldn't dare show him for fear of scaring him.
For those of you with older children, how have you prepared them for procedures/surgery? What worked and what didn't with your child? I love that we can learn from one another!