Tips for preparing your teen for surgery
Surgery or medical treatment may evoke many fears in teens that go well beyond those of younger children. They may fear pain and disfigurement, but also fear losing control. Teens also want to fit in and may resent the fact that they're "not normal."
Akron Children's offers these guidelines to help teens prepare for a medical procedure:
- Explain the procedure using correct medical terminology, and provide the reason for the procedure.
- Use visuals to better illustrate the part(s) of the body or organ that will be involved. Videos that show peers explaining, demonstrating and undergoing the same procedure also helps for this age group.
- Stress the benefits of the procedure and anything your teen may find pleasurable afterward, such as feeling well enough to participate in favorite activities.
- Suggest ways for maintaining control, such as counting, deep breathing and thinking of pleasant thoughts. Let her know that it's ok to express fear.
- Include your teen in the decision-making process, such as the time of day the procedure will happen, if this is possible. And if your teen doesn't want you present during the procedure, respect his wishes.
- Encourage your teen to ask questions, not just to you but to the doctors and nurses. This will give you an opportunity to correct misconceptions she has about pain and disfigurement.
- Many adolescents are worried about waking up in the middle of the procedure. Assure your teen that this won't happen, but that he will wake up when the procedure is done.
- Find a support group that will help your teen meet others who've had similar experiences.
- Encourage your teen to develop a hobby or special talent, such as art or model airplanes, to help cope during hospitalization and/or rest at home.