Aaron had day surgery today at our children’s hospital. In an effort not to be a ‘secret shopper,’ I try to take off my family centred care hat when I’m in the hospital with my boy. I focus on him as opposed to critiquing every single interaction.
Yes, the experience wasn’t perfect – the clerk calling me to confirm Aaron’s time didn’t mention that the entrance to the day ward had been moved in the midst of renovations (so I got a bit lost), I was called ‘mom’ an awful lot, one of the nurses said: it is so good he’s so high functioning (!?) but overall, the clinical care was exceptional, everybody was respectful towards Aaron, and we were able to go home five hours after we arrived. That looked like success to me.
My youngest son has had four surgeries in his life, and this was the first time I did not push the pre-sedation request. Aaron was relaxed and joking with the nurses, so I thought – let’s just see what happens if he doesn’t get sedation before he goes into the OR. I warned him there would be lots of people and bright lights in the OR, and he was perfectly fine. (I now wonder if the pre-sedation request was more for me? Mom needs sedation). It is fortunate that our hospital has parental presence at induction, which means I was able to go into the OR with him until he was asleep. I teared up a bit when he was put under, as I always do – and the kind anaesthesiologist said to me: we will take good care of him. And that they did.
What is more interesting about this brief experience in the hospital is Aaron’s perception of it:
He was annoyed that he had to wear a dress (see photo above). Apparently the hospital switched to gowns for kids and don’t use pajamas anymore. He had to wear a mask because he had a cough. Sensory-wise, that was not great – it was scratchy and bothered him and he kept taking it off.
Despite the fact we explained the going to sleep thing, the first thing he shouted when he woke up after surgery was: I AM NOT DEAD! I’m horrified he thought he might have died – I am constantly in awe of how this kid’s mind work.
The day surgery unit was BUSY and unfortunately, some of the kids didn’t wake up well after surgery, and some children were crying. There was also a considerable amount of construction noise – hammering and drilling. I don’t like hospitals, Aaron told me. I asked why.
I don’t like these screaming kids! he explained. He added, the food is disgusting. I want to go home. Ask him about his own patient experience, and this is what you get – he is a fountain of truth.
I’m grateful for his uneventful experience. I’m also thankful for the folks at the hospital who cared for him: the clerk at reception, the LPNs, the RNs, the porters, the surgeon, the OR nurses, and the anaesthesiologist. They all had smiles on their faces, spoke to Aaron directly, and did their jobs quickly and competently. I feel fortunate that Aaron’s experience included such caring health professionals, and that he is home safe and sound.