If your child has had surgery/serious illness… need your advice, please.

posted 3 years ago in Parenting
Post # 3
1965 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

what you are doing is great. They are so lucky to have your support.

If it were me, im not sure i would actually be able to eat something rich like a brownie however the gesture is nice. I would prefer a big flask of coffee and some crisps (oops chips). Buying coffees at the hospital can mount up. Bring some squash (what do you guys call it ??, cordial?) too. 

Word searches and cross words would be good for me. Not sure if i would be able to think about sudoku if my daughter were having surgery though, but im a bit mathmatically challenged!

Post # 4
446 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I don’t have kids yet, but I have had multiple 12-hour surgeries as a kid, so I thought I’d weigh in!

First off, you’re a really great friend and I’m sure they’re so thankful for that. Definitely bring GOOD coffee, since the stuff at hospitals usually sucks. The magazines/crosswords are a good idea too, but chances are the parents will just pace or stare off into space for the entire surgery. That’s what mine always did, anyway. There’s just no distracting from what’s going on.

I would definitely focus on things for their younger daughter, who will need a distraction. Games (quiet ones), toys, snacks, or even just the ability to take her for a walk when she gets fussy.

Post # 5
11668 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I think anything you bring is a nice gesture – even if it isn’t used.  If the younger daughter is going to be there, I’d focus on bringing some things for her mostly.  I think you can be most helpful in the days after surgery with helping around the house/with the younger daughter.  You’re a really great friend for caring so much! Just your presence there will be more than enough I am sure.

Post # 6
9412 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

@Miss PumpkinPenguin:  My dad is really sick and things that helped our family were visiting (like you planned to) and cooking freezable meals. They have another kid to take care of so making a casserole or something would be very helpful for when they go back home. The last thing they will want to do is cook. 

Since xmas is coming, maybe you could offer to do some of their xmas shopping for them. I’m sure that is a tedious chore that they don’t have any time for at the moment. Magazines and puzzles are mindless and I am sure they would at least flip through them – I think both of those are good ideas. 

Your story is so sad. I feel terrible for that family 🙁

Post # 7
6173 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

@Miss PumpkinPenguin:  i am 3 years older than my brother.  he was born with spina bifida.  for the first seven years of his life, he was in and out of hospitals.  i was bounced from parents’ friends house to parents’ friends house if my grandparents were not able to come into town. 

from a sibling perspective, it is important that the parents don’t neglect the other sibling and are able to spend time with them.  i would suggest that after the child with surgery comes home to offer to keep that child company to that parents can spend time with the other sibling.

my parents always found a way to make sure i didn’t feel neglected because my brother got a lot of attention.


Post # 8
3677 posts
Sugar bee

Nutritious stuff that will be more appealing than the vending machines/cafeteria fare is always good. You could bring a veggie tray with hummus, a bunch of fresh fruit, etc.

Post # 9
1666 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2015

@Miss PumpkinPenguin: My sister was a living organ donor a few years ago. I wasn’t at the Hospital until after the surgery was over – long story, but I was stupid enough to listen to her say she didn’t want me taking the day off from work – but my parents told me that they were able to sit and wait with the family of the young man who received part of her liver. Some of their extended family brought sandwiches and stuff at lunchtime and they pretty much just sat around talking most of the day (the surgery lasted a full 11 hours).

I would suggest bringing something filling for them to eat, like sandwiches. Will their 2 year-old be with them? If so, bring coloring books and activities for her to play with. With any luck her parents’ minds will be a bit distracted when they play with her.

I think crossword puzzles and Sudoku could be good as well, but mainly focus on keeping the little one occupied.

After the surgery, I would suggest focusing on different ways to help out. One thing that really helped my family that first week was having people cook dinner for us – we were all constantly going to the Hospital to spend time with my sister, so no one really had time to cook. Dad setup a cooler on the front porch and a different family dropped off a meal each night (they were all family or friends of the organ recipient). It was awesome not to worry about what we were going to eat that night and it gave us a bit of privacy at a very emotional time.

You could also offer to watch their daughter while they go back and forth between the Hospital – it could get boring or scary for a 2 year-old. Try to do some fun stuff, while trying to stick with the nap schedule she’s already used to. You could even see about doing Arts and Crafts with her – for instance, you guys could make a card for her big brother.

And you can also offer to help watch their son as well when he comes home. As much as their son needs them, their daughter needs them as well. It’s important that she gets special time with them – even if it’s just for an hour – to let her know that she is still important and that they love her very much.

The best thing you can do is to just listen to them though. If they get overwhelmed and just want family time then you can always take a few steps back and give them that privacy for a bit.

No matter what you do, I think it’s wonderful that you want to help them somehow. I hope their son is feeling better soon (he sounds like a little trooper)!

Post # 10
1392 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2011

When my daughter was in the PICU, I just wanted familiar faces. Any time she had a procedure where I couldnt be with her (sedated MRI and multie EEGs) I sat in the waiting room like a nervous wreck. No way I could have read or done anything that required focus. We had friends bring food and that was great too because my husband and I never wanted to leave our daughter. Just knowing that our friends and family were supporting us was really great. 

Post # 11
7281 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast

The first time DS was that sick (emergency surgery and a week in the PICU) it was nice to just see a friendly face and have someone new to talk to. Oh, and since we were snowed in at the hospital (18 inches of snow), it was nice to come home to a shoveled parking pad and walkway. I literally did not leave the hospital for a week, so I needed people to bring me clothes and toiletries, too. Parents staying at the hospital had access to a washer and dryer for clothes, so little packages of laundry detergent and fabric softener came in handy as well.

The second surgerty was planned ahead of time and it was easier because I had time to mentally prepare for it. I remember just staring out the window in the waiting room. My Mom was with me that time. She tried to talk to me, but I wasn’t really interested in conversation. I just wanted quiet to stare out the window. That time we went home a bit sooner than the last, and I found it helpful when people brought over home cooked meals and things to make DS smile. Just having someone sit with him so I could take walk outside for fresh air or take a long shower was wonderful.

Post # 12
1355 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013 - Vine Street Church

I don’t have a child, but my mom had a brain tumor removed from the base of her brain back in February and she’s recovered amazingly — in fact, she was back to work a month later. She ended up having a benign meningioma and had to have the tumor removed, the nerves stripped and her spine reconstructed because the tumor was pressing the spine against her foramen magnum, so she’s unable to turn her head thanks to C1 and C2 fusion.

On my mom’s surgery day (which was 13 hours long), my dad just wanted to keep as busy as humanly possible so he didn’t have time to worry. We ended up just spending the entire day building shelves in my garage so that we could be close to Vanderbilt if we were needed (they live about 40 minutes south of town, so my husband and my house is a lot closer). We just stayed busy and talked about non-cancer topics (hard for me because I’m a cancer research nurse and usually like to discuss science with my dad because of his molecular biology background), only stopping every now and then when the surgery team called to give updates.

Each person is different though — we just didn’t want to hang around the hospital all day to be reminded of what was happening.

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