Over the past month, I have spent more time in hospital with our toddler than I care to think about. It’s been a long journey, with countless sleepless night in a hopsital bed. Trying to work out what is going on for our son. Well, 4 weeks after he first became ill we finally have the answer! But it’s taken many tests, doctors and a couple of hospital stays to figure it out.
So in technical terms, Georgie has Riboviria Enterovirus. Something which I had never heard of. This has manifested itself in several other viruses within Georgie’s body and weakened his immune system to the point where he has also been battling Scarlet Fever, RSV and Mycotic Disease. And that’s on top of the original virus. This is the reason he has been so unwell for a month, and is still unwell.
In the past four weeks, we have had 2 periods of hospital stays and numerous trips and phone calls to 111, the GP, Out of Hours and A&E. It’s been a constant battle of knowing that there is something wrong with our son and not being able to work out what it is. It’s been a whole host of blood tests, urine sample analysis, IV antibiotics, IV fluids and throat and nose swabs. And through all of this, at the centre, is our tiny 2.5 year old little boy. Scared and confused, struggling with the change and upset that he can’t be at home with his family.
Having a toddler in hospital is not ideal. Having Georgie in hospital is far from ideal! Being out of routine, confused and not understanding what is happening. Having to be pinned down every-time someone wants to take his temperature, listen to his breathing or change the bandage around his cannula is horrific. Then there’s the medicines, the fact he won’t even take Calpol orally isn’t great. And when he’s battling a 39+ degree temperature that makes it even worse. If there was every going to be a time when I thought my son truly hated me, that time is now. These past 4 weeks he has been through more than I would ever wish on anyone.
Having never been in hopsital myself, I was not really sure what to expect. Not only was this a new situation which I was trying to get my toddler through, it was a whole new experience for me too. So I have put together a list of five tips for getting through a hospital stay with a toddler for you guys.
- Be there as much as you can
Nothing beats your physical presence. There is nothing more comforting to your child than you actually being there with them, through everything. Being able to hug you, kiss you, hold your hand when they are scared. That is what is most important. Of course, there may be times when you need to leave to go and get some downtime. Having a toddler in hospital is full on, believe me. If you do need to leave, try and swap with someone else who the child knows (your partner, a family friend, or other relative) who is able to stay with your baby whilst you go and get a much needed break.
- Take your child’s favourite toys, books & games
Hospital stays are long. They will most likely involve a lot of waiting around and you will find your child, and you, getting bored. As awful as that sounds, you do just spend most of your day waiting. Waiting for test results, waiting to see a doctor, waiting to find out the plan.. When we went into hospital, I was so unprepared. I regret not taking a couple of minutes to pack some of George’s favourite toys, games and books so that he had something to do and some familiar items at the hospital. This would have definitely made the time go much quicker. We did remember to take our iPad; but there’s only so many times I can watch Monsters Inc. without going crazy!
- Snacks, snacks and snacks
This is one for you, if not for your child. At some hospitals, parents don’t get fed routinely and if this is the case then hunger will set in very quickly and you need all the energy which you can get during a hospital stay. So will your child. Taking a selection of snacks for both of you will help to keep those energy levels up and provide comfort during a tough time. A selection of my personal favourite snacks; chocolate buttons, nik-naks (the nice n’ spicy ones), chocolate hobnobs and of course, fruit!
- Stick to your normal routine as much as possible
Anyone with a toddler knows that a change in routine can throw them right out. Keeping things the same will help them to feel secure in a time when they are completely out of control of a situation. Sticking to your normal routine as much as possible will help make their time in hopsital a little easier. It will also help them feel as at ease as possible. This only has to be simple, reading their favourite bedtime story, giving them breakfast at the same time, giving them a bath before bed if that’s what you usually do – all of these things will help your toddler adjust to their hospital stay as best as possible.
- Ask lots of questions (and encourage your child to ask them too if they can)
There is never a more important time to make sure you understand what is going on. Asking questions can really help you to make sense of the situation. Knowing what your child is going through and how you can help them. Encouraging your child to ask questions as well, if they are able to, can help them to understand their situation and might help them to feel more at ease with everything which is going on. Asking doctors to repeat themselves, explain technical terms, or clarify what they are doing and why is absolutely fine, and taking a notepad to write down the information can be helpful in this situation. That way, you can refer back to the information in your own time and make sense of everything which has been said to you about your child. It’s important to remember not to go home with unanswered questions, or with any worries. So make sure you ask all of the questions which you have whilst you are at the hospital.
Having a toddler in hospital can be tough. It can be a new and unknown situaiton for both of you and one which you find yourself thrown in the deep end. Taking these 5 tips with you to make your stay a little easier may help. And There are numerous other things which you can do as well. After all, you know your child best and know how you can help them understand what is going on for them.
Do you have any tips for dealing with a hospital stay with a toddler? Perhaps you can offer some advice to other people who may be struggling through a similar situation? Leave a comment below, or drop us an email using our contact form because we always love hearing from you! We will be sure to share any useful advice on the blog and our social media accounts as well.