Childhood Cancer

Some hospitals allow parents to be present when a child is sedated or anesthetized, others don’t. Many parents feel strongly that they should be present until their child is safely sedated and also when their child wakes up. If you feel this way, talk about your wishes in the first meeting with the surgeon.

I told the staff that I needed to be with Christine when she was sedated and when she woke up. Parents going into the recovery room was not standard practice, so the surgeon made the arrangements well before the surgery. When they gave Christine the pre-op meds, she got very goofy and giggly. She smiled and waved to me as they pushed her gurney into the operating room. After the surgery, I was the first thing she saw when she opened her eyes.

Your child may be frightened when an anesthesia mask is placed over his face. Many anesthesiologists will give the child a choice of gas flavorings to make the mask more acceptable. If you are present, you can comfort your child by holding his hand, singing to him, telling stories, or simply making sure he can see you until he closes his eyes.

As much as you’d like to, you cannot follow your child into surgery. The wait may be difficult, but this is a good time to get a breath of fresh air, eat something, make a telephone call, or take a quick break from hospital routine. Your child will need you when she wakes up and the more relaxed and comfortable you are, the better both of you will feel.