Preparing for Surgery
Eye cancer care involves multiple surgeries. Children need thoughtful preparation to help them cope well.
Children have repeated examinations under anaesthetic to monitor their eyes. Many have surgery to remove one or both eyes. They may also have surgery to insert or remove a central line or ommaya reservoir,
Preparing your child for these surgical experiences greatly aids their well-being before, during and after the procedure, and will help reduce your own stress.
Preparing for an EUA
Our Child Life Specialist, Morgan Livingstone, has created a picture book with the help of her medical play doll and the team at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. This is a particularly valuable resource to read through with siblings, especially those who may require screening EUA due to their brother or sister’s diagnosis of Rb. The book explains in very simple terms what will happen before, during and after the EUA.
Download Preparing for an EUA as a PDF direct from our website.
Some hospitals offer pre-surgery tours. These can be a good way for a child to explore the things that will happen on the day of their procedure. They are often able to visit the operating room and participate in some facilitated medical play. These tours are valuable for children undergoing surgery or EUA, even if they have had the procedure before.
Many hospitals have pre-surgery colouring books that prepare children for what they will experience at the hospital. Many of these books discuss the sedation mask, the operating room and the recovery room. Ask someone on your medical team or a child life specialist if a preparation book is available.
Child Life Specialist, Jaime, created the following video during the COVID19 pandemic, to help children prepare for surgery when pre-surgery tours are unavailable at their hospital.
Mask Preparation for Anaesthetic Induction
Mask play familiarizes children with anaesthetic induction, and equipment used in the procedure. Your child will learn the mask does not hurt, and will master the different steps of the process, giving him more confidence and reducing anxiety.
Going Into the Operating Room
Many hospitals allow a parent to be present during anaesthetic induction. Typically, you will be given a sterile suit to wear over your clothes. You can either walk or carry your child into the anaesthetic room to hug and hold him while the anesthaesthetist administers the sedation. Once your child is asleep, you will be asked to leave.
At hospitals that do not allow a parent to be present, a nurse or doctor will collect your child from the waiting room or ward. Many hospitals allow a child to choose their mode of transport into the operating room – walking, being carried, riding a wheelchair and sometimes a large plastic car, wagon or ride-along toy.
Stay positive. Greet the nurse and let your child know you are comfortable about him going with the nurse. Remind him to show the nurse/doctor how he can use the mask. Many children are so keen to show off their mask skills that fear of separation is avoided totally as they strain to go to the OR and find the mask.
The Recovery Room
After the procedure your child will be taken to recovery. Some hospitals allow parents to be present while their child is waking. Others do not allow parents to enter until the child is awake. Wherever possible, advocate to be present when your child wakes up, if this is important to him.
Some children are confused, upset or restless on waking. This is a normal effect of the medicine as it wears off. Crying and deep breathing actually helps the child’s body remove the medicine. Comfort your child with gentle words and positive touch.
The nurses will offer clear fluids – juice and sometimes popsicles. Not all hospitals offer a variety of juices. If your child has a favourite clear drink, consider bringing it as a special treat for him to look forward to.
Ask For Child Life Support
Find out what child life, play specialist or other preparation and support services your hospital offers for your child who will have surgery, and for their siblings. Ask for all support to help ease stress for your children and for yourself as you prepare and await the surgery. A little preparation and effective support can radically change everyone’s experience.