Childhood Cancer

You can expect lengthy waits for everything from routine tests to surgery. Many parents find themselves getting nervous or angry in large teaching hospitals while waiting for the doctors to appear during rounds each morning (i.e., when attending physicians, residents, and interns move from room to room in a large group), then feel let down when the visit lasts only a few moments. If you have questions, write them down and tell the doctors when they come in that you would like a few moments to talk with them.

Some young children become upset when large groups of doctors or nurses come in during rounds. If this bothers your child, request that only your doctor and assigned nurse be admitted. You have the right to refuse to have student doctors in the room if you feel that their presence is not helpful for your child.

Even if your child is in a community hospital, you may have to wait for your doctor or the doctor employed by the hospital (called a “hospitalist”). If you become frustrated, call your doctor’s office to get an estimate of when he will arrive or ask a nurse when the hospitalist is most likely to come by.

It seemed like we spent most of the years of treatment waiting to see a doctor who was running hours behind schedule, so I came well prepared. I always carried a large bag containing an assortment of things to eat and drink, toys to play with, coloring books and markers, books to read, and Play-Doh®. My son stayed occupied and we avoided many problems. I saw too many parents expecting their bored children to sit still and be quiet for long periods of time.

The hospital might have TVs, DVDs, and games available in recreational therapy rooms, or you may need to bring your own things. Have your child pick out favorite card games, board games, computer games, drawing materials, and books.

You don’t have to go too crazy. Make sure you watch the videos or eat the popcorn or flirt with the nurses or taunt the residents or leave notes for the cleaning lady or chat with the security guard or make coffee for all the parents or pretend you like puking or show the nurses how to hack into the hospital mainframe or paint your face with Butt Paste. Or, all of the above, if you like. Just do something.