In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

March 14, 2017

Nurses Put Nervous Toddler (and His Mom) at Ease

By In the Loop

When her son needed to have ear tubes placed, Anitha Prakasam was nervous. But she says staff at Mayo Clinic put all her fears - and her son’s - to rest.

Having ear tubes placed is a fairly routine childhood procedure. But as any parent knows, nothing is routine when it's happening to your child. So when Anitha Prakasam was told her year-old son, Shrish, would need ear tubes, naturally she was nervous. "I imagined it would be miserable," says Anitha, an IT analyst/programmer at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. "In movies, people going to the hospital seem very sad and agitated. It seemed like a lonely experience."

But Shrish had battled multiple ear infections and had fluid building behind his ear drums. "They told us he couldn't hear properly, that it was like he was under the ocean," Anitha tells us. She and her husband, Divaakar Siva Baala Sundaram, were told surgery to place ear tubes would treat both problems.

So in spite of their worries, Anitha scheduled the procedure. When the day came, she brought her "busy little one" to the Saint Marys Campus of Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester. And that's when Anitha's fears began to melt away. The nurses "were behaving like one of my family," she tells us. "They were constantly smiling and told us exactly what would happen," before, during and after the procedure. "I couldn't believe they could be so kind and polite in the middle of all of their work," she says.

Those efforts had a calming effect on Anitha, who soon discovered the staff knew their way around a one-year-old quite well. When Shrish's pre-op explorations led to peeks behind curtains and chubby hands reaching for pens, the staff expertly redirected him with toys, movies and even the opportunity to sit at a computer to "type" on a keyboard. "They would just pick him up, smile and hug him," Anitha says.

When it was time for surgery, Shrish was placed in a crib to be wheeled into the procedure room. But he's no fan of being confined, Anitha tells us, so he began to cry. That's when one of Shrish's nurses took him out of the crib and held him on her lap for a wheelchair ride to the procedure area. Anitha tells us it's just one more example of how staff went out of their way to make Shrish — and by extension, her — comfortable.

Those efforts continued after the procedure, when Shrish was "screaming" and Anitha found herself unsure how to comfort him. "My mind didn't work," she says. (We can relate.) A nurse brought Shrish apple juice and then helped Anitha breastfeed him. The nurse even helped Anitha change Shrish's diaper and dress him to leave the hospital.

"We suffered so much before the procedure, worrying about it, "Anitha says. "But they made it so easy for us. Shrish and myself didn't want to go back home after so much love, comfort and fun. It was an amazing, wonderful experience."

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Tags: Anitha Prakasam, Employee Stories, Nursing, Patient Stories

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