children to the hospital is a scary experience, and the sudden onset of
illness or injury necessitating hospitalization can be a nightmare. This
situation, as difficult as it can be, worsens when you enter a foreign
world; a world that contains multisyllabic jargon, complex rituals and
unfamiliar high tech equipment. A world where you feel like an outsider.
The hospital is often such a place. And to make matters worse, Jeffrey
is watching you, sensitive to your reactions, and importing them into the
texture of his own. Consider these tips:
him in advance if at all possible.
will help you to do so.
that the nurses and physicians are there to help you. Don't hesitate to
ask for that help.
Keep a journal
of your experiences, reserving a section for questions and another for
explanations. Ask for diagrams, if they will help you to understand what's
going on inside Jeffrey's body.
is power, and one of the best ways to reduce fear. Make sure that you have
enough medical information to relieve yours. This Internet medical
search has helped thousands of parents in similar situations.
your concerns to your nurse. Nurses are in an excellent position to help
you access the resources that you need, and to help you "get things off
support groups of parents dealing with similar issues are the most effective
avenue of fear reduction. Caring Parents is such a group. To join this
electronic listserv, send a message to
and leave the subject area blank. In the body on the message, type subscribe
caringparents, then type your first name, leave a space, and type your
last name. Send it off, and you will immediately get a response.
have chaplains on call 24 hours a day. Even if you don't subscribe to an
organized religion, you can receive a great deal of support from this resource,
especially if the going gets rough.
Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468
updated: November 14, 2004