Child life specialist Kim Sedgwick runs down today’s list of 44 patients in the 4 East/4 South surgical unit. Most are going to surgery soon or are recovering from it. Some have just undergone a trauma or are in pain. Sedgwick’s job is to help kids cope, by both explaining at an age-appropriate level what is going to happen during surgery and often accompanying the child to the OR.
Sedgwick joins 5-year-old Nasir on his way to surgery. As he waits in the preop area, Nasir shields his eyes with his forearm, a grimace on his lips. Sedgwick dims the lights in his room and approaches softly.
“I have an iPad here. Would you like to play Angry Birds?” Sedgwick offers.
Nasir’s eyes peek out. Interested but still upset, he wordlessly chooses the game Fruit Ninja. After a few minutes of play, Sedgwick asks him to take a break.
“Can I show you pictures of the room where they’re going to fix your belly?” she asks. Nasir shakes his head no.
“Well, how about I show your dad,” she says cleverly. She calls up photos on the iPad of the operating room and shows them to both father and son.
She points to the IV in Nasir’s hand, telling him, “We’re going to put medicine in there to make sure it won’t hurt. While you’re asleep, we’ll make sure your body doesn’t feel any pain.”
Nasir nods slowly and returns to playing his game. But as the minutes pass, frowns give way to smiles. He begins chatting with Sedgwick, then laughing.