birthdays and hospitals

Thankfully not all at once.

Poet is 4! On Saturday afternoon we had a little celebration with the family; tea, cake presents (all wrapped in pink) and lots of chatter and dancing. Apparently all a little girl needs is some helium balloons and a butterfly cupcake (strawberry jam and cream mandatory) and she’ll be happy for days. Just look at her little face! I’m a firm believer in “simple is best” for children’s birthdays…we only do parties every second year and when we do I outsource a lot of the cooking and baking so I can actually enjoy myself instead of spending all day in the kitchen (thank you grandmas and family friends of the catering kind).

Poet’s celebration was much needed after we discovered that she needs surgery for her ongoing ear and nose issues. When we saw the ENT on Thursday I went in presuming that she would need grommets (she has glue ear in both ears) but I wasn’t expecting him to be adamant that her adenoids and tonsils need to be removed, too. The poor wee thing has had a constant runny nose since March and regardless of the blend of natural medicine, diet and antibiotics, we haven’t been able to fix it. It turns out that her adenoids and tonsils are enlarged and inflamed and it’s best they come out now to prevent infection and subsequent antibiotics in years to come. Poet is incredibly resilient and robust; I have no doubt that she’ll recover quickly and it will be so, so good for her to hear and breathe clearly again. But of course, Daniel and I are anxious about the surgery and sad that she has to go through it at all. In the scheme of things it is very minor but still…

So, how do we best prepare her for her hospital visit (she’ll be staying overnight and Daniel will be with her). We think it’s probably best that we don’t tell her about it till a week beforehand (surgery is scheduled for early September) and I would love to have some books/advice on hand to comfort her in preparation.

Recent Posts
Showing 22 comments
  • Mother Down Under

    I worked briefly in paediatric operating theatres and getting new jammies for the procedure and hospital stay seemed to be popular (kids don't have to change into gowns like adults do).
    Other than that I always think honestly is the best policy…they should put Emla cream on a few sites which might feel a bit funny and numb, Daniel should be able to go into the OR with her and stay until she is asleep, from memory they generally put kids to sleep with gas so she will have a funny smelling mask put over her face (they will put an IV in once she is asleep), when she wakes up she might feel a bit sore but Daniel will be there, and she will be home soon.
    Plus tonsils out means lots of smoothies and ice cream!

  • Laura Bowler

    When my daughter had to go to hospital for a gastroendoscopy, I found a picture ebook on the hospital website taking you through all that would happen. It was spot on, so much so that Lily even commented a couple of times what was going to happen next, much to the surprise of the staff! It was great for me too as I also knew what was going to come next x

  • Amanda K.

    poet is darling.
    happy birthday to your little one.
    i don't have any experience, but i do hope this will put her on the road to wellness.

  • Silver

    Hi there, my son has spent far more time in hospital than I wish, and he has to have blood tests every month. I buy EMLA patches from the pharmacist (don't use the cream at the hospital it doesn't work, seriously – go and buy a couple packets). Put the patch on 30-40 minutes before she will need to have a needle, and she really won't feel anything. Also if Poet is particularly scared have a chat to the staff before, and agree on how they will sedate Poet, and what words to use/not use. I once had a doctor tell my son he would have blood taken (he was hysterical after a botched lumbar puncture and three botched cannulas the night before!) and then he waited until my son would calm down – but of coarse he didn't he just got more an d more nervous. It took five adults to hold him down. It was awful – an hour later he was hysterical and 5 staff had to hold him down while he screamed! The quicker the staff are to just do it the better! And nurses are the best – remember their names! Oh good luck, I wish you the very best. (my son noticed that doctors do not have shoelaces on their shoes – we loved trying to imagine why).

  • dear olive

    Oh, Jodi, that is huge. You poor things! I'm really feeling for you, and sending my love. Along with plenty of birthday wishes too. Kellie xx

  • Lucy W
    Reply We used some of the books in this link to prepare our son when he was having grommets. He was very disoriented after coming to from the anaesthetic but cuddles and ice-chips helped. We only told him the night before as he's quite an anxious little one so the less notice the less he had to dwell on. It's a distant memory now and he's such a healthy five year old now! Best of luck to Poet. I was heartbroken knowing my little man had to have surgery but looking back it was such a good decision as he hasn't been on antibiotics since. Thinking of you

  • Veggie Mama

    Happy birthday little sausage!
    We haven't done an overnighter, but my four-year-old had a dental procedure earlier this year which required general anaesthetic. I didn't tell her until the night before when I explained she was going to have a sleep at the hospital (she thought I was insane). We packed her a little bag and she took her doctor's kit, ready to help teddy through the procedure. She was required to fast, which I was most worried about because I hate anybody being hungry! I did warn her about that too, that she couldn't have breakfast but she could eat later. We were pushed back in the queue which meant she did mention something about being hungry around 10am but we were next in the queue so she was easily distracted. The anaesthetist came and spoke to her prior, and told her she was going to smell some ice cream flavours and she was to give a thumbs up or thumbs down if she liked it or not and that's all she had to do. I went into the OR with her and helped her up onto the table. They explained about the ice cream smells and going to sleep to her, and held the gas mask over her face, and she gave a thumbs up or down to the smells she could smell. It only took a few seconds and she was asleep. They explained to me also what would happen so I wouldn't be concerned (the child's limbs jerk around a bit so it can look like they're fighting it off but in fact its just them settling down in sedation). I left her in their capable hands! She did take an extra long time to come out of sedation and I had to stay in recovery longer than anticipated, but on the whole it was a very simple and stress-free experience (as stress-free as it can be in that kind of setting!). I have no doubt Poet and Daniel will sail through and I'll be sending good vibes! Especially as someone who should have had her tonsils out a lonnnnnng time ago x

  • Jess B

    Happy birthday to dear Poet! I agree about children's birthday parties: simple is best! They just need friends/family, cake and a present or two. On the surgery front, our daughter Rosie had to have a small surgery on her finger a few months before her 5th birthday as a result of an accident (car door vs finger!), and apart from dealing with the pain (which hopefully Poet doesn't have?), she saw the whole hospital stay as a big adventure! (We stayed one night.) She didn't want to be discharged. The children's ward at our hospital has a play room down the hall, plus a kindy-type set up upstairs that you can visit at certain times, as well as movies to watch on your own screen, so there was plenty to do to keep Rosie entertained. We read books (borrowed from the play room, but you could bring your own) and coloured in pictures that the nurse brought (and you could also bring your own!). The theatre staff were really good and I was able to stay with Rosie right up until she drifted off to sleep. Just like the first commenter up there ^^ says, there'll be a mask with funny smelling gas, they put the IV line in after she was asleep (though I did ask for that). She woke up pretty grumpy and out of sorts – the recovery nurse explained that kids wake up from GA and feel so strange that they don't know how to react and they often are grumpy and out of sorts for a time. All the best!!

  • Naomi Bulger

    Poor little Poet. Poor you! Will you be at the Children's? Perhaps after you tell her about it, you could take a non-threatening visit? Make it a fun day out: visit the meerkats, look at the fish, play games on the huge interactive screen, and there is an incredible new outdoor playground with water play. Then you treat her to something yummy from one of the cafes, and go home. You could talk about how she'll get to stay the night (with Daddy!) and do this all again next week. We have to go for regular check-ups and some overnight stays, and all those incentives make it a LOT easier for my very anxious 3yo to cope. Also after you've told her about it, perhaps some fun Dr role play games too? That also helps us in the lead-up. Good luck, you guys are troopers. xx

  • Happy Bandits

    Oh Happy Birthday pretty pretty girl! I love hearing you say that simple is best. Our son will be turning 2 in a little over a month and some friends are already asking what kind of party we'll be throwing when really, really, I don't feel like throwing anything big at all. 2 years old com'on! It is a big day for us, celebrating him in our lives but I doubt he wants to see a bunch of grown up drinking beers around him all afternoon! haha. So simple it will be and you make me feel stronger about this and following my instinct, thank you! I won't give you advices regarding the surgery since I haven't had to go through such a scary experience (fingers cross I won't ever) but I like what Naomi Bulger said. A non-threatening visit sounds great, making it a fun day even better! Good luck, no doubt she will recover really fast and like you said, life will be so so much better for her and for you all after. Aloha!

  • islandfairy

    My eldest had the same procedure done when she was 3. We read Miffy goes to Hospital for a couple of weeks before the big day. In it Miffy gets her tonsils out too. On the eve, she had to sleep in hospital, so we got her new pyjamas and she had it packed in a tiny suitcase she had, plus her toothbrush and toothpaste. The day after, we gave her a toy doctor's set (which is still going strong, 7 years later). I know exactly how you're feeling, but her life (and yours) will change for the better. Focus on that. x

  • michelle

    Interesting as my 7 year old daughter tested below average for her hearing test in kindergarten early last year. After taking forever to see an ENT specialist and a couple more hearing tests along the way, they think she has sleep apnoea and want to have her go to a sleep clinic. As she has large tonsils (like me) the ENT specialist wants to have them removed. They are not concerned about her hearing. It worries me a little that without any initial concern from us that this is the treatment identified…

  • Meagan W

    Jodi… My nephew has had the exact same procedure. Had it when he was 5. I will ask his Mum what advice she has coming from the other end. He recalls it happily as an adventure- got spoiled and got to eat lots of fun things he wouldn't normally have. Will grt back to you! Love to you all! Xx

  • Lisa and Matilda

    One of the best snippets of advice I can give, came from our specialist is to perhaps get her a mask – like a nebuliser one – to add to a drs play kit at home. My daughter had three mouth surgeries between 3 and 5. The mask helped so much as this is what they use for the gas to put her to sleep. Also, you can make her , her own little book or movie on the computer – with a social story explaining it all. That way it is super personal and about her. All the best, Lisa x

  • Kirsten C

    Oh dear, tonsil surgery is very hard. I had mine out a few years ago and my daughter had hers out several months later and both experiences were miserable. It's definitely a lot of pain, but both of us had bad sleep apnea partially caused by very large tonsils and adenoids – and post-surgery, we both sleep marvelously better than we did before, so it was very worth the pain and difficulty of surgery. My daughter was 5 at the time and it was so sad to see her in so much pain that she didn't want to even drink the pain medication… or anything else. When she came out from under the surgery anesthesia, that was the roughest part – she was crying, bubbling bloody spit, and completely disoriented from the drugs, inconsolable until they wore off enough for her to understand what was going on.

    My best advice is to get through the hard days of recovery (my daughter was out of the hardest part within 3 or 4 days) with lots of cuddles, lots of distracting books and movies and gentle in-bed or on-the-couch activities, lots of patience, lots of popsicles and juices to try tempt the palate, and with the knowledge that they'll feel so much better once they've healed and have those nasty tonsils/adenoids out.

    Oh! Also, the surgeons let my daughter bring in a stuffed animal to snuggle with while they wheeled her in to surgery (I assume they removed it from her bed during the actual surgery, but have no idea). The surgery team was very sweet with encouraging her and telling her she was being so brave and generally making her feel that it wasn't a scary thing that was happening; she didn't seem to feel any fear going in, just excited curiosity.

  • halfadayaway

    Hi, I'm writing this both as a Mama and a paediatric nurse… my 3.5 year old daughter had to go into hospital recently for a double hernia repair and we had just 1 weeks' notice to prepare her. I totally agree with what Naomi Bulger says about a pre-visit to the hospital for a look around, a play and a treat. Luckily for us my Mum works at the hospital Indi went to and so she was used to going there to meet Grandma for coffee and to play with the toys in the outpatients department!

    Secondly, we talked to Indi a lot about what was going to happen and why, letting her lead the questions, repeating them as many times as she needed to and did some role play too (with her doctors kit!). Also we watched a couple of short videos on You Tube about going to the hospital for an operation (I'm pretty sure that one of them was from an Australian hospital (we were in the UK)) and they raised more questions.

    The one thing that I don't think I did very well was to prepare her for after the surgery. With Indi, honesty is definitely the best policy and she was upset that I hadn't told her how sore she would be and that she wouldn't be able to be as active as usual for a few days afterwards due to the pain. She kept asking if her legs would ever work again bless her (she had a nerve block as well as a GA).

    The other thing is to prepare Daniel. My husband came with us (he is non-medical) and wanted to know exactly what was going to happen so that he could support Indi if he needed to. He was very upset at random times and was unprepared for just how upset he would be. In my experience as a children's nurse it is often the anaesthetic room experience that parents, particularly Dad's, find the most upsetting. They often hold it together until their child is under anaesthetic and then are really upset seeing their little one unconscious. As a parent I found this really hard too.

    In a nutshell, empower yourselves with as much info as possible, talk to Poet lots and let her ask lots of questions. Be very honest with her in an age appropriate and Poet appropriate way! A favourite toy to accompany her is also a great idea-it too can have a name band, bandages etc for solidarity.

    In the UK we tend to use a local anaesthetic called Ametop for numbing before the cannula is put in (Indi had hers put in when she was awake in the anaesthetic room and was anaesthetised with IV medication rather than gas). It's similar to Emla but better in my humble opinion. Indi watched some of what they were doing with interest while reading a book with the play specialist and literally didn't bat an eyelid when the needle went in.

    Regular pain relief post-op is really important as it can be very sore for a few days. How is Poet at taking medicine? It's probably a good idea to talk to her on a few different occasions about the importance of this at times when she is feeling amenable and open to discussion!

    I could probably go on at length…but I wont! Hope this is of some use. And good luck…the long term benefits will definitely outweigh the stress of the preparation, operation and recovery for all of you, though it may not feel like it now!


  • Margaret

    Happy Birthday Poet,looks like a fun celebration.
    Kids pick up on parental anxiety, so try to keep it all low key, explain and answer questions and mention the the soreness afterwards. …but….all kids are different, my grandsons had theirs done with day surgery and it didn't seem to bother them too much, they were hungry post op for a few days,so have soft cool foods sorted.
    The boys were outside playing on the swing set the day after with supervision and overall breezed through the whole thing,
    If you feel she won't handle the waking up very well, just explain that it is like when she is sleeping and you wake her up for a reason, her body wants to stay asleep and her mind is mixed up because it is not ready to think properly while it is so sleepy and it will only be this way until the medicine wears off.
    Be calm, deep breaths, and if Poet gets anxious, distraction always works best.
    Hope it all goes well.

  • ick and ooo


    My son had a similar procedure when he was five. He is quite anxious so I told him straight away what was going to happen so we had many weeks to talk about the procedure and the hospital.
    For him it was important to understand about fasting and that he may feel quite grumpy once he had woken up from the surgery. I also went through about the anesthetic – but the hospital staff were great.

    I gave him a little present (lego) once it was over and he was more himself – 6 years later the present is all he can remember – and of course it was wonderful that he stopped getting so many colds and blocked noses!

    Hugs to Poet.

  • FairieMoon

    My daughter had her tonsils out at 12 and it was hard for her, I think primarily because we waited so long to do it. But it has made her so much healthier. I've never had mine out and I have had strep so many times I think it permanently resides in my bloodstream and the amount of strep and antibiotics I've had, I believe, has triggered auto-immune stuff which is NOT good. I really think it is best for some people to get rid of those things. I wish I had when I was young. Now I am 47 and scared to death of the hard recovery for older people. My daughter liked mashed potatoes more than ice cream. Cold and thick did not seem to appeal to her. Warm was better.

  • Carie

    I had my adenoids out at 7 (and could finally breathe through my nose for the first time!) but they didn't do my tonsils. Only when I was 18 after 7 bouts of tonsillitis within the first two terms of university did I get well shot of them. I only wish they had taken them at the same time as the adenoids. Scary as it is, Poet may well be glad in later years that she got it over and done with. And from what I can remember of both, warm and mushy food was the order of the day – cheesy mash was a serious favourite!!

  • Marian Hazel

    Sorry that Poet (and you) have to go through the surgery, but I hope it improves her health and hearing. The girls seem to have had a cold since early May so I am looking forward to a snot-free month at some stage!

  • Kate

    Hi Jodi, we went through a similar situation with my daughter who is a little older than Poet – she had her tonsils and adenoids removed in October last year. She snored and was starting to have apnoeas so we saw the GP and ENT one week and she was booked in for surgery the next! I found the surgery a little traumatic – especially the being anaesthetised then waking up bit, she was so disoriented and in pain – and the first night was tumultuous. But it really has been the best thing for her. She is happier – she is getting better sleep – and she is eating more. She is sick less and sleeps so much more soundly now. I'm sure Poet will feel so much better overall afterwards. I've also heard that the earlier you have it done, the easier it is on them. Good luck! x

Leave a Comment