Tuesday, November 2, 2010


We've made it. Our son had his heart surgery, we all have walked through some tough 3 weeks and we are now home, slowly recovering. Time to get some thoughts on to paper that popped into my mind during the past weeks in hospital...

It is difficult to focus on a certain parenting method in an extreme situation like this. Imagine your child being submitted to hospital. For ANY reason. Imagine him getting poked by needles to get blood samples. Measuring blood pressure or temperature sounds like an easy ride after that. But it all can be painful and stressful for a child. Especially when the pediatricians, the nurses and all the staff around are so far off a childish mind that it hurts even us parents.

Usually an exam by a doctor went like this: Door opens, doctor enters the room. Leander is playing in his bed. The doctor is putting his stethoscope onto Leander's chest, might turn him around to listen to his lungs. Serious look. Satisfied nod in my direction. And off he goes. Leander is left like a medical training object to himself. Not capturing what has happened at all. And this only in a good case. Worst case scenario - Leander starts screaming as soon as the doctor puts his stethoscope onto his chest. It does not hurt him physically. But it does hurt him mentally.

HOW HARD is it to greet the child? To look him in the eyes, acknowledge him and tell him that you will have to interrupt his play to do a quick exam? It is painful that especially those people who should know a child from a scientific point of view do not acknowledge him as a person. For them a six month old child is just a tiny person without a brain. It sounds harsh but this is what I have experienced.
During rounds the doctors would stand outside the room and discuss the patient. Then they would enter, usually around 5-6 people, one resident and a few interns. The resident would talk to the parent and the interns would play with the baby. It was terrible. Those interns standing there in front of Leander's bed holding his Mickey Mouse up and smile at him like he would be some sort of muppet to be entertained. It was his health they were discussing before. When he was a number in a chart.

I believe that there are pediatricians out there that are great with kids. That have a special way in connecting with them. Unfortunately I have not met them yet and I have met quite a few in the past 7 months. That gives me the feeling that there are too many of them that just don't know how... And yes, a day in a hospital might be stressful for the doctors and nurses. Too many patients and not enough time. But they have chosen a profession that requires more than a morning coffee and a good attitude. It requires that even in the busiest times they remember who the opposite person is. No matter how old. No matter how small.

I wish there would be a Pikler lecture in every pediatric training. Because I believe if the doctor would take the time to talk to the child, to prepare him and to explain what's happening, in many cases it would save him a lot of time of screaming and crying by a child that does not know what's happening and does not like the way things are happening to him.

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