Any medical procedure involving your child is going to cause you some level of stress, be it an appendectomy or a cavity filling. Palate surgery is one that requires hospitalization and is often accompanied by post-surgical dietary restrictions. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the entire process.
- Ask your doctor about post-surgical feeding.
When my son had his first palate surgery, he was only nine months old. At this time, the doctors only repaired a small portion of his palate near the front of his mouth. Even though it was not a complete palate repair, my son had to be completely weaned off of the bottle before the surgery. That meant no more bottles, only sippy cups with a soft flange (the part of the cup that enters the mouth).
His second palate surgery, where they completed the rest of the repair, occurred when he was over a year old. Because of his age, we had already started feeding him solid foods. For six weeks following his surgery, however, he was not allowed to have solids of any kind. He was restricted to a liquid diet for the first six weeks, and then we were gradually allowed to add back in soft solids (i.e. applesauce, mashed potatoes, and pudding).
Make sure you know in advance what restrictions will be placed on your child in terms of eating so that you can adequately prepare for them, especially if you will need to wean your child off of a bottle or a sippy cup. It is also advisable to check on plastic surgery marketing that you can usually online or from the websites of medical services. This will give you an idea about the surgery itself.
- Ask your doctor to clarify post-surgical pain control.
Following many of my son’s surgeries, a combination of pain medications were used. For the first twelve hours of his post-surgery hospital stay, he was given a combination of Tylenol with Codeine and morphine. We were usually sent home 24 – 36 hours post surgery, and the nurses sent us with scripts for Tylenol 3 and an antibiotic. We were also told that we could use ibuprofen in between the doses of Tylenol.
With so many medications, it is important that you have a good understanding of how often each dose needs to be given, if it should taken with or without food, and what potential sides effects you should be on the lookout for (i.e. rash, diarrhea, or constipation). Even when he was in the hospital, it was important to know when we could ask for each medication if he was experiencing discomfort.
- Ask your doctor about follow-up appointments, warning signs to look for, and emergency contact numbers.
Many of my son’s surgeries were scheduled so that he was released from the hospital on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. This meant that, during the initial 48 to 72 hours of post-surgical care, the surgeon’s office would be closed. Fortunately, we were always given a number for the on-call doctor and follow-up appointments were scheduled prior to the surgery.
After the second palate surgery, my son did not want to drink anything. My husband and I were in a state of panic and worry when our always-hungry child was barely consuming more than an ounce of liquid every few hours. Little did we know, because we hadn’t thought to ask, that this was a completely normal reaction following a palate surgery. When we talked to the nurse on Monday, after two days of worry, she said that as long as he was still urinating, he was fine drinking only a little.
Make sure you leave the hospital with the information you need to contact a medical professional with any concerns that might arise while the surgeon’s office is closed.
- Ask about restrictions on physical activity.
After all of my son’s surgeries, he was placed in arm restraints referred to as “No-Nos.” They were similar to splints, preventing him from bending his arms so that he couldn’t put his hands in his mouth. When it became clear that the splints were upsetting him more than the pain, we removed them, but we had to keep a constant eye on him so that he wouldn’t touch his mouth.