As you’ll know from my recent post Luisa had surgery under general anaesthetic last month, shortly after her fourth birthday. The actual day went much better that I expected – we did a lot of carefully considered preparation and it really paid off.

In this post I want to share our experience of the more medical and practical side of things. Hopefully this will be helpful to other families who find themselves in a similar situation.



We were informed in writing of the planned date of Luisas surgery and her admission time. It was explained in the letter that she should not eat after 8pm the day before and should have clear fluids on waking but not after 8am on the day of the surgery. We had to phone the ward 24 hours before her surgery for a preoperative questionnaire to make sure she was in good health and we understood the fasting protocol.

On the morning of her surgery we were admitted to the ward at 8am where Luisa was booked in, weighed and given various armbands. The nurses went through a medical questionnaire with us shortly before the anaesthesiologist and plastic surgeon came to talk to us about the operation. We were given the option of Luisa having numbing cream applied to her hands so the anaesthetic could be given intravenously. I decided we’d prefer the gas to be given via a mask initially as I knew she would be really upset at the sight of a needle and I wasn’t prepared to restrain her.



Lu’s favourite part of the day was the visit from the play therapists who really made her feel and ease and have fun. They had so many clever games to help introduce the various medical devices, like the mask she’d need to breathe through to start the anaesthetic.

Whenever it was our turn to go to theatre Luisa was wheeled there on the same bed she’d had on the ward. Matt and I were both able to go with her to the pre-op play room where the same play therapists from before were waiting to greet her. Lu really enjoyed the sensory environment and totally took it in her stride.



Shortly after I went into the operating theatre and Luisa sat on my knee. We’d not had an opportunity to put a pull-up on her so the nurses offered to do it once she was asleep. Luisa sat on my knee facing outwards into the room whilst the anaesthesiologist put the mask over her nose and mouth. It was pink and cushioned, like the one she’d played with on the ward.

At the same time one of the play therapists blew bubbles and asked Luisa to take a big breath and see if she could blow the bubbles back across the room. After about 90 seconds I could feel her limbs getting looser and heavier, the nurse warned me that she would probably struggle at this point and to be ready to hold her arms. I kept talking quietly in her ear, as if we were at home and she was going to sleep for the night. It only took another minute or so for her to fall asleep at which point the medical team lifted her onto the operating table and continued their work.



Once Luisa was out of surgery we were called to the post operative ward. She was still very sleepy and upset, acting really angry and confused. Thankfully we expected this and were able to stay calm and reassure her. We stayed in the post operative area for about 45 minutes until she had come round properly when we went back to the ward again.

Lu picked up really quickly and was eating ice-cream in no time at all. She had no pain afterwards as they administered a local anaesthetic to her arm and gave her extra pain relief during the operation.

We stayed on the ward for another hour or so before going home to relax and take a few deep breaths. Honestly the day went a whole lot better than I expected! My advice to any parent going though something similar is to prepare yourself and your child the best you can, trust your instincts and that it’s okay to be scared.