The Parent’s Guide to Holiday Surgery

Posted on 11/12/12 by Dr. Paul Yost, M.D.

The holidays are an anticipated and exciting time of year for children. It is a wonderful opportunity to make lasting memories and celebrate family.

However, many parents choose to take advantage of school and work holiday schedules and year-end savings on insurance to schedule needed surgery for their child. In addition to the fear and anxiety a child has about their surgery, they may also feel left out and angry, especially if they miss celebrations with friends and family.

No matter what the procedure, the physicians at Allied Anesthesia in Santa Ana, who provide anesthesia and pain management services at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), are committed to ensuring every pediatric patient is as comfortable and unafraid as possible. To help parents with their child’s experience, we have complied a list of tips that will be especially useful during the holiday season.

Helpful Tips for Holiday Surgery

Keep a Positive Attitude

  • Children take cues from their parents; with that in mind, it is important to remain calm and reassuring.
  •  Focus on the outcome instead of the surgery itself. For example, “After knee surgery, you can play baseball again”

Keep Your Child Informed

Bibliotherapy can be very useful. There are several age appropriate books that help children prepare for their surgery.  Wrap the book in gift-wrap and give it to the child before their surgery so you can read it together.

  • Curious George Goes to the Hospital –H.A and Margaret Rey 
  • My Brother Needs an Operation –Anna Marie Jaworski
  • Goodbye Tonsils -Craig Hatkoff
  • A Visit to the Sesame Street Hospital

Younger children might want to become familiar with what a doctor does by playing with a toy doctor’s kit. They can learn how the instruments work by using the tools on stuffed animals and dolls.

Older children may want to tour the hospital facilities prior to their surgery date. They can meet the staff, and become familiar with the equipment and procedures.

Include Your Child As Much As Possible

For children staying overnight at the hospital or longer:

  • See if Santa makes bedside visits or if the hospital offers special holiday meals and events.
  • If the hospital allows, bring some festive items to decorate the room.
  • Should a holiday gathering happen while your child is away, take lots of photos or ask everyone to write a little get well note.
  • Although it’s the holidays, hospital space is limited. Keep that in mind when you bring gifts. Also, check with your doctor about special diets that may restrict candy and baked goodies.

Above all, be honest and reassuring.

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