Making scary situations familiar

Hospitals are terrifying. My patients in my ER (in downtown Boston) often tell me how scary it is to be in the hospital – and how much it helps to have nurses, tech, and doctors who understand that and can put them at ease.

However, for children, this can be an even more tumultuous experience. They may not be able to fully grasp what is going on and, even if they can, it is difficult for them to place it into context. As an adult, we gain some comfort in knowing that our surgeon has performed the procedure we are about to undergo hundreds of times in the past, but it’s hard to relay that to a child.

Since we first published “My Tummy Hurts” a few months ago, I’ve given it out to three kids I’ve seen with appendicitis. I would have given it out to a fourth, but he and his mom only spoke Spanish – which resulted in us producing the Spanish version (too late to give to him, but it’s ready for the next time!). All three of those kids and their parents loved it, and remarked at how it allowed them to use the words and pictures to explain to their children what was going on, as well as the expected outcome. The fact that our book might have helped, in a small way, during what had to be a very scary time of those kids’ (and their families’) lives feels so good.

So please let us know what else you’d like to see us write about. We’d love to be able to explain other complex medical topics to children in an exciting and enjoyable way!