A Medical Nightmare
We all have felt it. We all know the extreme distress and feeling of unknowing that comes along with it. But, what if you felt this feeling every single day, all day? From when you open your eyes in the morning to when you close them at night? Think just how scary the world would become. However, the world is just this scary for some. Some such as hospitalized children with severe injuries or diseases. Living in a small space, surrounded by immense amounts of medical equipment does not paint the most warm, welcoming picture.
Most of the time these kids don’t even understand what is happening to them or why they are in the hospital. Likewise, doctors are not going to explain the purpose of each medication or piece of equipment to a 6-year-old kid. I mean, do doctors really have that kind of time? Unfortunately, these kids could be hospitalized for long periods of time, which can increase their stress levels and lead to detrimental effects in the future. Hospitals can interrupt a child’s regular growth, or mislead a child, causing them to be confused and feel sad or scared. What many may forget is that a child’s environment contributes to their normal development.
Although hospitals may not exactly be the number one option, these children sadly do not have a choice. New surroundings that pose as a threat can trigger an anxiety attack in an individual. The last thing these hospitalized children need is an anxiety attack. But it’s hard not to be afraid when needles are being shoved into their arms and tubes are wrapped around them. Medical equipment is helpful and necessary, but to sick kids, scary and intimidating.
Needles in particular add to the stressful and fearful environment. Those who have a fear of needles are likely to experience shorter breaths, faster heartbeats, and more intense nerve spasms. All of which can pose as a danger to their fragile health. After all, hospitals are supposed to cure patients, not harm them. This continual distress remaining at a high level can also lead a child to develop emotional or physical issues4. However, familiar objects have proven to increase a child’s sense of comfort.
We tend to find this sense of comfort with people or even objects that are recognizable to us. Things that make us feel at home. Things that make us feel safe. Things that make us feel happy. Having parents there might be a temporary comfort, but for those that spend extended periods of time trapped, the distress can win over this sense of security. Though we cannot simply get rid of the monstrous medical equipment surrounding them, small augmentations can make a big difference in a child’s mood or mentality, ultimately improving their treatment.
While getting better may be the number one priority, feeling unsafe and insecure may be interfering with the healing process. We cannot simply throw a blanket over the equipment to hide it, but we also cannot just get rid of it. The equipment is there to help, but it might not appear that way in the eyes of a child. Something has to change in hospitals, and a teddy bear from home isn’t going to cut it.