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What to Expect on Your Child's Surgery Day

A hospital visit or surgical operation can be an anxious time for children and adults. Your care and comfort is our top priority during your inpatient hospital stay. Here are some resources you may find helpful when talking to your child about their upcoming hospital stay or medical visit.

  • What to Expect on Your Child’s Surgery Day

    Hi!  My name is Adam.  Today I'm going to have surgery at Boys Town National Research Hospital.  Do you know what kind of surgery or procedure you are having?  Follow me and I'll show you exactly what to expect on your surgery day!

    The first thing we are going to do is check-in at the check-in desk.  The receptionist put a paper bracelet on my wrist with my name and birthday on it.  This way everybody knows who I am.

    Next, a nurse walks my mom and I to a room so she can check my height and weight. 

    Then the nurse walks my mom and I to a hospital room.  Wow, I have my own bed, TV and bathroom.  I unpacked all of my fun things from home.  I brought my teddy bear, blanket and my DS player.  What are you going to pack from home?  Then I change into my cool hospital pajamas.  All the kids that come to the hospital wear these pajamas so they don't bring germs into the surgery room.

    In my room I get to meet a lot of new people.  They all like working with kids and will do everything to help make your surgery day comfortable and happy.  First I meet my nurse for the day.  She asks my mom and I important questions so I'm ready for surgery and puts all our answers into the computer.  She makes sure I haven't had anything to eat or drink today.  She also checks my vitals.  This means she wants to make sure my body is ready for surgery.  She listens to my heart and lungs with a stethoscope and slides a thermometer across my forehead and behind my ear to take my temperature to see how warm by body is.  She checks my blood pressure with a machine that gives my arm a little hug.  Then she puts a pulse-ox on my finger.  This clips right on my finger and has a red light inside it.  Nothing hurt and she says my vitals looked good for surgery.

    Next, a Child Life Specialist comes to say hi!  She shows me pictures and answers my questions about my surgery day so I know what is going to happen while I am at the hospital.  I get to practice, touch and play with real medical equipment.  This stuff is really cool!  This is like the mask I'll wear in surgery.  It feels soft and squishy like a balloon.  The Child Life Specialist has so many fun things to do while I wait for my turn to go to surgery.  I think I'll go to the play room.  

    While I am playing my nurse brings in a drink of medicine that kids take before surgery.  This medicine helps me relax before surgery.

    I get to see my doctor.  My doctor makes sure my mom and I don't have any questions.

    My anesthesiologist comes to my room too.  The anesthesiologist is the doctor that gives you special sleepy medicine in your mask for your surgery; just like the Child Life Specialist showed me.   Can you say anesthesiologist?  I just call them the "sleep doctors."  The mask fits right over my nose and mouth.  When I breathe into the mask today it will help me take a special nap so I don't feel anything at all during my surgery.  The sleep doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to my heart and lungs and has me open my mouth really big. 

                If I was older the doctors will want me to get the sleepy medicine through an IV. 

    Well it's my turn to go to surgery!  Sometimes it's cold in the operating room so my nurse gives me a warm blanket.  I grab my teddy bear and blanket and sit on a bed with wheels.  How cool, I get to go on a ride to the operating room.  I give my mom a big hug and the anesthesiologist and operating room nurse say they'll take very good care of me.

    In the operating room the nurses and doctors wear special pajamas kind of like mine.  They wear a hat and a mask to make sure everything stays clean.

    In the operating room I see big bright lights so the doctor can see better, a computer and some medical equipment.

     Just like I practiced with the Child Life Specialist the anesthesiologist put the mask over my nose and mouth.  I take a few breaths and then I fall asleep so the doctor can do my surgery.

     I wake up in the recovery room or I call it "the wake up room."  I didn't feel anything while I was sleeping.  There is a nice nurse by my side to make sure I feel good after my surgery.  When I wake up, I have a small straw on my hand called an IV.  It doesn't hurt, but it has to stay in my hand until it's time to go home.  She even lets me pick out a prize for doing so well on my surgery day. 

    She gives me a ride back to see my mom in my room. I get to have some juice or even a Popsicle.  After I rest and the nurse checks my vitals she takes the IV off my hand and says I can go home today.  Some kids have to stay the night after surgery.

    My nurse gives me a ride in a wheelchair to my car.

    That's all there is to having surgery at Boys Town National Research Hospital.  Thanks for coming with me on my surgery day!!!


Surgery and Hospital Care