child having anxiety about surgery — The Bump
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child having anxiety about surgery

My DS is 7, and we found out recently for sure he will be having spinal surgery soon. He has always been very nervous and anxious in general, and is extremely worked up about the surgery. We go to the surgeons office on the 12th of February and we will schedule surgery then, so I he has at least a few more weeks of fretting.

Is there anything I can do to mentally prepare him? He will be in the hospital for at least a few days and is afraid of that, the pain, being put to sleep, ect.

Re: child having anxiety about surgery

  • I also have an anxious DD who was very nervous about her surgery when she was 5.   One thing that really helped was that our Children's hospital offers a surgery tour with a Child Life Specialist.  She was taken step by step through what would happen on her surgery day.  She got to see and touch all the equipment that would be used on her the day of surgery.  They talked about the "flavors" she could choose for her gas.  She got to be wheeled around on the gurney in a fun way.  It really helped her a lot.  

    We also planned something fun for the second weekend after her surgery (a trip to see her cousins and go to a football game).  That way the surgery was a marker for something that was fun happening a week and half later.  Obviously, with spinal surgery, he may have more restrictions about what he can do than my DD following surgery.  But maybe a special visit or a special toy to "reward" him following surgery, might make it easier.

    All this said, my DD did well in the weeks leading up to surgery, but completely freaked out the morning of surgery.  It was a tough morning because she was so scared.  But at least the anxiety was relatively short lived.  Also, the hospital offered a Xanax type drug for her when she arrived at the hospital, but we declined because we felt like we didn't want to put any "unnecessary" drugs in her body that day.  In hindsight, we totally should have taken the hospital up on it offer.  =)

    Best of luck to your son. Both with the anxiety and the actual surgery.  
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  • Thank you! I will definitely ask if our hospital offers any kind of tour like that. I think it would help a lot. He does much better when he knows what is coming and what will happen.
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