Hospital Life with a Toddler


My daughter had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and as such, we have spent a LOT of time in hospitals. So here are some interesting facts you may not have known about hospital stays with toddlers.

  • You are going to need some dexterity. Kids do not always want to walk, especially when they don’t feel well. This means you have to manage an IV pole while carrying your kid or pushing their stroller. With practice, it can be done!

  • Or, you can have the GENIUS invention known as the lily pad. We were gifted one, and I cannot even say how much of a lifesaver it has been. They can sit and rest, AND it’s super fun!

  • Child life specialists are your very best friend. They organize activities, help calm children, bring toys, man the playroom, and so much more. They are certified individuals whose whole job is to make the hospital less scary. They can help explain medical procedures and just make life more fun.

  • A good night nurse is pure goodness incarnate. A bad night nurse can make you hate daylight.

  • To all the very polite people like me: YOU ARE ALLOWED TO SWITCH NURSES. You’re welcome.  Over 30 months, we have switched nurses three times. It’s always awkward but always worth it.

  • THE GIFT SHOP! The haven of all bribery. Thank you, fifteen cent suckers. You have saved my life. “Take your morning medicine and we can go to the gift shop!” can be heard in our hospital room daily.

  • You cannot leave the hospital ever. This may be different for people in local hospitals with family nearby, but our hospital is nearly two hours away. I can’t leave to get food, run to the store, or just for a break. This may seem obvious, but so many people have mentioned that it is at least nice to be able to go to so many great restaurants in New Orleans. The truth is, I don’t get to go.

  • Hospital cafeteria food is the pits. And not super toddler friendly. My toddler will eat a salad, but not Salisbury mystery meat.

  • You will need approximately 96,572 pairs of pants for a toddler in diapers. Even though she is potty trained now, we revert to pull ups when inpatient. Kids on high amounts of IV fluids pee constantly. And there will be accidents. I think I’ve changed the bedsheets three times in a single day before. She’s gone through six pants in one day before.

  • The staff become like family. These wonderful nurses, custodians, techs, residents, students, and attendings have become so close to us. They are beautiful people dedicating their lives to a beautiful cause.

  • It becomes normal. When I remember back to when I thought inpatient stays were a huge deal for the seriously ill, it feels foreign to me. I acclimated to it, and so did my daughter. She actually likes inpatient stays because she gets to eat pancakes in bed. I sometimes have trouble convincing her to leave!

Given that we are at the end of treatment now, here’s hoping that we will have few to no hospital stays in our future!

 

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30 Nov 2017


By April Blackburn

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