Saturday, 11 March 2017

Helping Your Child Deal With A Hospital Stay

We are no strangers to the hospital of late, between Oscar and I we've spent the equivalent of 2 months in the place.  On Monday, Emelia was admitted, we were so shocked. She hadn't been herself for a couple of days but I thought she had a cold, possibly something brewing, but she was still playing, wanting to swim etc. so I thought she must be ok (major mum guilt now).  We went to collect her from nursery and I could tell by looking at her she wasn't right, her face seemed slightly swollen and her cheeks were bright red.  Her key worker said she hadn't spoken or eaten once all morning and they'd just taken her temperature which was 38.  I took her straight to the doctor, to be honest, by now I thought she had tonsillitis, she has had it before and her symptoms were very similar.  The doctor examined her for what seemed like ages, her heart rate was up, she was dehydrated and sugars showed in her urine. The doctor was concerned she had developed diabetes so referred her to hospital for urgent assessment.

When we arrived at the hospital we were taken to a room (which we've become very familiar with) where they do the admission tests.  It was horrific watching them try and fail to take blood, then try and fail to put a cannula in her arm.  Emelia was hysterical, I will never forget the fear she had in her eyes when she was being restrained, calling out to me saying it hurt and asking to go home. She was sent for a chest X-Ray, following which we were given a room, this time the children's ward was full so we shared with a Cypriot family.  Thankfully the tests for diabetes came back negative, she did however, have a serious case of pneumonia.  They finally had the cannula in place and started intravenous antibiotics and fluids, Emelia was also given a nebuliser.  It wasn't long before I noticed her hand was swelling, I called the nurse and they removed the bandage, her arm was absolutely huge.  They had taped it up too tight which had broken the vein and the medication was now causing the swelling, meaning they had to take it all out and start again.  She was going to have to go through the whole process of having the cannula put in again, we just couldn't believe it, I was so angry. Her temperature was at 40 by now despite paracetamol.  Over the next few days it would drop and then peak again, she had to be 24 hours clear of a temperature before they would consider discharging her. 

I thought seeing Oscar in hospital was the worst thing ever, but of all the times he was admitted he never seemed in pain or overly distressed.  Whenever he had bloods taken he would cry but was easily comforted, babies forget as quickly as it comes, but a toddler is so different.  Trying to explain what was happening was extremely hard, Emelia was hysterical most of the time and absolutely terrified whenever a doctor or nurse came near her, even to take her temperature.  This did get better by the end of her stay but she still has nightmares about it.

Having gone through this experience with Emelia and it being vastly different than it was with Oscar, I have put together some tips that might help your child deal with a hospital stay should they be faced with one.

You're the best person to help your child 

Although it is extremely difficult for us as parents to watch your child go through it, try to stay calm and reassure them constantly.  Give your child lots of cuddles and praise, if you're able to, hold their hand while they undergo tests and procedures.  I spent a lot of time cradling Emelia's head because she had to be restrained. 

Be patient 

Children can react in all sorts of ways, Emelia spent most of the time hysterically crying but we did witness other children whining, having tantrums and acting out in frustration.  The doctors reassured us that all these reactions are completely normal and usually pretty short lived.  It was easy for us to stay patient with Emelia because she wasn't really acting out, she was just really upset.  I could see how difficult other parents were finding it to remain patient, it's so important though, ultimately your patience and reassurance will help comfort and calm them down.  

Help them understand 

Keep talking to your child about what is happening, even if they aren't really listening or they are upset.  We kept telling Emelia that she had to have the tests so she could get better, and it would be over soon.  

Talk about feelings 

If your child is really young this may not be appropriate, Emelia is definitely more aware of things now so I tried to talk to her about how she was feeling and comfort her when she seemed worried.  My friend reminded me young children are often better at expressing themselves through play, drawing or story telling.  These might be ways you can get your child to open up if they aren't able to verbally explain how they are feeling or if they're worried.  

Hospital staff are there to help 

After she was admitted Emelia would become upset every time she saw a nurse or doctor, she was so traumatised by the tests that she was terrified she was going to be hurt again.  We kept reiterating that they were lovely people who were there to help make her better. We encouraged her help with her care where possible. Holding the thermometer and nebuliser gave her back a sense of control and helped her to relax a little. 

Occupy them 

I went to our local toy shop and bought Emelia some new colouring bits, a puzzle, book and a couple of little toy figures (she's obsessed with miniature figurines).  I put them in a gift bag with a new teddy and blanket, she loved having some new things to play with and it took her mind off of what was happening.  I didn't get expensive things, everything except the teddy and blanket was under £2. You don't have to buy new things, you could always pick up some bits from home for your child to play with.  

Take care of yourself 

From our experience of looking after a sick child, I can confidently say if you're upset and not getting some rest you will find it much harder to look after your child.  Living abroad we didn't have family around to help us, but if you do, don't be afraid to ask for their help.  Talk about your worries with other adults, away from your child and try to remain positive when you are around them.

We are now home and Emelia is slowly on the mend, she had a check up yesterday (Friday), because of how poorly she has been, we've been told it'll take her 5 to 6 weeks to recover properly.  However, on the whole, she's certainly brighter than she was. 

Hopefully you won't need to use any of these tips, but in the event you do, I hope they help make it a little easier. 




  1. Some excellent tips. I'm sorry you had to go through that. Poor mite. I'm glad she is on the mend ox

  2. Oh bless you, i cant even begin to imagine how horrible it must of been seeing your daughter so distressed. I hope she is back to her usual self soon.

  3. Oh bless you guys! I remember when Lucas had to go to hospital poorly. It's so heart breaking. Wishing you guys all the best and sending love!

  4. Bless you, you're having a tough time of it x

  5. Gosh what a hard thing to go through. It's so hard seeing them poorly at all but this sounds so awful. Fingers crossed you don't see the hospital again for a while! Xx

  6. Oh lovely it sounds so traumatic for all of you. It's so hard when you have to watch them go through pain you wish it was you.

  7. Oh dear how scary, two things have upset me, of my child was not eating or talking all day the nursery should if notified you both. Secondly how can the nursery , I'm assuming here be so silly as to wrap a bandage so tight. Poor thing can not express her discomfort being so young and poorly. Sending you guys all love and positivity xx

  8. Oh bless you how scary for you all: our youngest was admitted for 2 nights in feb and I was terrified. There are some great tips here to help parents and little ones.

  9. So sorry about your situation. You're one tough mama to go through this and sharing your story is really inspiring and brave. Wishing you all the best!!
    xx Shannon /

  10. Such a good idea with the little treat bag, especially as it can be a really scary time for them! So glad everyone is doing better now!