One of the many things we do here at Pediatric Rheumatology Consultants are infusions for children and adolescents most often to treat an autoimmune disorder to help them achieve a more comfortable quality of life. Another important thing that we do is try to put smiles on their faces and ensure that their time with us in our clinics is as easy as possible.
We strive to marry these two goals every day when patients come in for regular infusion treatments.
An infusion treatment is a form of therapy that involves administering medications intravenously, or via an IV. For many disorders and chronic conditions, infusions must be done on a frequent basis to be effective, resulting in several, and often lengthy, trips to our office.
The more comfortable a child becomes with their regular visits here, the easier the treatments will become.
The first time a patient comes to us for an infusion can be daunting, not just for them, but for parents as well.
Board-certified pediatric rheumatologist Dr. Ruy Carrasco and our amazing team of experienced infusion nurses offer these few helpful tips for first-time infusion sessions:
1. Prepare. (And we actually mean for yourselves as parents.)
Parents can sometimes find it more difficult to watch their child be poked at than the child themselves. Take a few deep breaths before the process of inserting the IV begins and find a spot to focus on elsewhere around the room if it’s too uncomfortable to watch. Or choose to focus on your child’s eyes and holding their hand, or stroking their head, rather than the spot being worked on. Try your best not to project your fears or anxieties onto them.
2. Explain to your child what to expect.
Talking through what will happen and answering any questions they have can help ease their anxieties beforehand. Giving details in a series of easy-to-understand steps is often helpful for visualization. First we’ll do this when we get there, next we’ll do this…
Also sharing an expected time of how long the visit will last can be comforting for them to know there is an endpoint in sight.
3. Have a ‘pretend play’ playdate.
Play therapy, especially to address medical concerns, is often extremely helpful for children. Use favorite dolls, stuffed animals or puppets to act out what will happen at our office during their infusion session. Providing them with a toy, or empty (needle removed) syringe, can help them become more familiar with the instruments we will use once they are here.
Creating an infusion journal or scrapbook can also be a fun project to take their minds off of what is actually going on. Have them designate a page for each visit to draw, doodle, write or collage something about that specific day or just about any of their favorite things or subjects to offer some distraction.
4. Pack up.
Designate a special ‘infusion’ bag or backpack that they can bring to each visit filled with their favorite things…books, toys, fidgets, stuffed animals, games, devices, etc. Anything from home that helps soothe them and pass the time will be welcome for the few hours that they are here. Bring favorite drinks and snacks too, although we have those on hand also for patients and families.
Don’t forget something to bring for yourself as well such as a book or magazines you’ve been meaning to catch up on.
5. Sweeten the pot with treats for a job well done.
Especially following your child’s first infusion treatment, plan a special treat or reward for them for making it through. Any small toy you know they’ll love or perhaps a stop for ice cream, hot chocolates, or some other fun snack or meal on the way home can be great incentives.
We want your child’s (and your) first experience at our infusion center to be as painless as possible. Please don’t ever hesitate to ask us how we can help make their treatment more comfortable before, during, or after–it’s what we’re here for.
Pediatric Rheumatology Consultants treats a wide range of autoimmune disorders and diseases of the musculoskeletal system in children and teenagers. Our team includes the expertise of Dr. Carrasco along with the compassionate care of our experienced nurses. Please visit us here to schedule an appointment.