The hospital world is one of many codes. For those of us who work here, we are trained to react quickly and with great precision when a code is initiated.
Just like with the many codes used in the healthcare world, the tools and procedures that child life specialists reach for when we’re called upon are truly evidence-based, and are an important part of your child’s health care.
As I child life specialist, when I hear the sound of crying toddlers who are having their vitals taken in preoperative bays, I grab the magical bubbles that are packaged in a crayon shape. Off I go down the hall, like the Pied Piper playing a flute of bubbles. Ninety percent of the time, bubbles work to quickly calm a tearful child. The other 10 percent, the Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) becomes any number of extraordinary characters equipped with magical toys. Okay, that may be a bit exaggerated, but that often is how my day feels as I enter the PACU and the preoperative work ups begin.
My husband, Mike, and I were so looking forward to our baby’s 19-week ultrasound so we could find out the gender. That moment didn’t actually turn out as we had envisioned. In addition to finding out that we were having a precious baby boy, we also learned that he had spina bifida, meaning that part of his spinal cord was exposed outside of his body. This came as quite a shock. While I had only heard of spina bifida, my husband is a chiropractor and, with his educational background, knew all about it. For me, however, ignorance was bliss that day.
After the ultrasound and finding out about his diagnosis, we spent the day meeting with various experts from the Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment Center at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, including a genetic counselor and several members of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine team. We learned about spina bifida and the treatment options available. They told us about a relatively new surgical procedure that could treat our son before he was born. Although not a complete cure, the surgeons would repair the spinal canal and cover it with skin to prevent further trauma. Research demonstrates better outcomes with this approach compared to standard surgery after birth. While there were risks for both me and my unborn son, which the team carefully explained to us – we did not hesitate to say yes in light of the potential to improve his outcome.
From the day my daughter Piper was born, she had problems pooping. She also had a hard time gaining weight and was diagnosed with reflux. She was given supplemental nutrition and treated for the reflux, but she remained chronically constipated. When she did have a bowel movement, it was huge (like softball sized), it would hurt her terribly and she would bleed.
A cardiac catheterization is a procedure performed by a cardiologist to diagnose and often treat heart conditions. Many patients with congenital heart disease require cardiac catheterizations. During catheterization procedures, we use fluoroscopy to obtain real-time moving images of your heart.
Fluoroscopy is basically a series of x-rays that are played very quickly. It’s similar to how movies work – when the still images are played back quickly, they produces a moving image.
The fields of pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery have come a long way. Today, conditions that were universally fatal as recent as 30 years ago can now be successfully treated, allowing children with congenital heart disease to thrive into adulthood.
However, we also know that there is much more work to be done to ensure that all children with heart disease have access to the highest quality care. One thing that is important is to be able to identify and learn from those hospitals with the best outcomes who are providing the highest pediatric heart care quality to children with heart disease.
College students across the country are well into their second semester, bunkered into dorms and libraries and riding out the winter weather. Hopefully, especially for those first-year students, the challenges of navigating school and managing priorities seem a little less daunting. After all, adjusting well to college life is critical for success in school and is closely tied to graduation rates. So, it should come as no surprise when I say that successful college adjustment has lifelong implications for career opportunities, earning potential and future successes.
While this transition is difficult for all students, students with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) — like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis — can attest to added challenges, such as maintaining their treatment regimen, avoiding common infections, and adjusting to shared bathrooms.
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