There is nothing easy about it when your child needs a medical procedure performed. It’s not only a traumatic experience for the child, it’s difficult on the parents as well. My daughter, Bethany has been through hundreds of intrusive and extremely painful medical procedures ever since she was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age two. Now almost fifteen years later her only required medical tests are getting a bi-annual anesthetized MRI and an EEG when ever her Neurologist orders one. To be totally honest with you, even after experiencing hundreds of medical procedures with my daughter, I still become overwhelmed with anxiety the second I am informed that another one has been ordered. Medical tests are so hard on Bethany and her behavior during these procedures can be oh so difficult!
One year she flipped out in the parking lot before we ever even made into the hospital to get her MRI. Security had to be called. She was sedated, but unfortunately, radiology would not wait for her to get her act together so we had to re-schedule it! I’m sure you can imagine just how high my anxiety level rose at the thought of going through that horrible experience again! Well I can assure, it went straight through the roof! I was determined to try and prepare Bethany better for her next MRI!
She has been through so much pain and suffering in her life. I want to do everything in my power to make her life as happy, stress free, pain free, and trauma free as I possibly can! With a little research and creativity I came up with a plan! So far every MRI after implementing my plan has been much less traumatic and stressful for everyone involved! I would like to recommend the following tips that have helped our medical procedure appointments go much smoother thus making them much less traumatic for Bethany and mom!
1. If your child can read, I highly recommend writing a social story explaining what he or she can expect to happen during their medical procedure. Bethany can’t read so I made her a wordless picture book and explained the procedure using simple language that she could understand. I googled all the photos I needed. I even photo shopped a picture of her lying in the MRI machine so she would know exactly what would she would be asked to do!
2. If your child will not be allowed to eat before their procedure make sure they know this and if needed, hide or even lock up all foods that might be a temptation for them.
3. Get out of the house as quickly as possible on procedure day to avoid eating accidents. Plan a fun, distracting activity and promise a special food treat for your child to enjoy after the procedure!
4. Promising a special reward for good, cooperative behavior during the appointment is always a good idea in my opinion!
5. Plan to visit local children’s museums, science museums, zoos, or other preferred destinations as a fun activity to do to counteract the effects of the unpleasant procedure.
6. Bring diversions like iPads, DVD’s, Books etc… and be sure to remember favorite blankies, teddy bears or other objects of comfort.
7. Bring a helper with you. An extra set of hands to help out and another friendly, familiar person that your child loves and trusts might turn out to be your greatest asset! My husband has always attended every appointment and procedure Bethany has ever endured and I am very grateful for that! I could not do it without him!
8. Leave the hospital as soon as possible. Get that treat and reward that your child so richly deserves and enjoy the remainder of the day! Although it is my greatest desire that no child should ever need to have a medical procedure performed again, sadly that is an unrealistic notion. If you ever find your special needs child in the unfortunate situation of needing a medical procedure performed I do so hope that implementing these simple suggestions will help the appointment go as smoothly and as pleasantly as possible while keeping the trauma and anxiety down to a minimum!
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