View Full Version : Son as "aide" w/my surgery? Workable? Too stressful for him?

07-23-2010, 02:08 PM
Debra JGL's running thread on nursing care in hospital prompted this question. Upon reflection, though, I don't think I'll get the needed responses there, piggy-backing. Hence this thread. I really need help thinking through this important issue. Every child/son is different for sure, but there are enough commonalities for your responses to contribute greatly. I want to be realistic and fair to all.

In hospital, do you think a nurse or "registered nurse's assistant" is necessary if you have a family member with you at night? What - specifically - about a young adult son (almost 22)? If he can stay awake, could HE "work the night shift"? And what about help later on?

I am concerned about two things:
1) whether he'd be up to it in terms of my medical needs
2) whether he'd be up to it in terms of the emotional stress.
Sub-topic has to do with personal needs too. This must REALLY be out at his age, right? Not that it appeals to me, but family finances/my safety ARE an issue.

Re #1. Will I need someone very medically alert and experienced to keep on top of meds, danger signs and so on?
Also (if not a paid aide) do I really need a same sex family member for help with personal care (toileting, etc.)?
Re#2 My understanding is that in the initial recovery period, the patient is pretty "out of it". That would leave my son with enormous responsibility, medically. What's more, I worry that despite his most appreciated willingness to help, seeing me in that condition, might be too traumatic for him. Too stressful.

I've read here about spouses who passed out seeing their wives post surgically - uncontrollable sensitivity to the sight of blood and radical changes in physical appearance, obvious major pain etc.

If so, all the more true for a scarcely adult child with any degree of emotional fragility. It seems to me most children are apt to have trouble coping with a severely impaired mom. Just seeing his "Rock" temporarily reduced to pebbles, is bound to be disturbing. Also simply feeling "too needed". It's very early for role reversal, even short term.

Those of you with children, especially around that age (and especially sons) what do you think? Nb SIL would be the primary care-giver, but she needs sleep too What's more, she might need to leave early in recovery. What could my son do then, without damage to him or me?

07-23-2010, 05:30 PM
Oops! I've replied to you in the other thread Amanda.

07-23-2010, 05:41 PM
I'm pasting JenniferG's and hdugger's comments here from the other thread, hoping to make this one the central "reply point". If this doesn't work maybe I will just delete my posts there (what I should have done to start, probably!)


I haven't been through major surgery (my son is the one with scoliosis), but he's 22 and somewhat emotionally fragile.

My experience during lesser emergencies is that he more than rises to the occasion when needed, and he's less upset by my physical problems then I would be by his. (By that I mean, in general, parents *feel* their kids pain more then kids feel their parents pain.)

My only hesitancy would be whether your son felt he could be forceful enough in dealing with the nurses. I could see a younger adult being more hesitant to go and bother the nurses because it felt socially awkward.

Thank you hdugger! Very helpful observations. I think I'll turn this into a separate thread. Otherwise, I'm not apt to get the (parental) responses I need. It's an important decision for all of us and I don't want to destabilize my son.


I agree with dhugger that it could be difficult for a young man of that age to seek out help forcefully if necessary, without a struggle. But on the other hand, I think being with you and helping you in that way would be a huge growth experience. All sorts of possible eventualities could be discussed before-hand to gauge his reaction to being called on for these things.

If it was discussed with him ahead of time that you will be receiving "bed baths" which would require him to leave the room, injections, the possibility of seeing you in great pain etc. and that once you are up and about and tubes removed, you may need help to get to the toilet etc. (once there, he could leave the room) I feel that you will be able to gauge his willingness or ability to cope.

I see the experience for him as being quite beneficial in terms of personal growth and could strengthen the bonds between you.

If you need help with showering, toileting etc. then his role would simply be to find someone to help you.

If you find that none of this help is necessary, then it's possible you may be able to relieve him of his night duties after a couple of nights. But warn him, it might be for the full duration of your hospital stay. The way I see it, so long as he understands the full implications and that it's fully discussed, then you can make a decision as to whether he could cope with the task.

Jennifer. SUPER answer! Very sensitive and something I can relate to for us - both practical and a great analysis of the situation. Whatever else, I'll save this thread to show him. Thank you so much.

07-23-2010, 06:45 PM
My husband and I have no children, but have 2 dogs at home that will need care. I had not planned on asking him to stay with me at night. He has had his own health issues and I don't want him to be sleep deprived. I'm sure he'll want to at least work partial days. If my health is at risk without someone 24 hours a day with me, should I hire a private nurse while I'm at the hospital at least at night? What does that cost? I will be at Barnes in St. Louis. Did those of you who had Dr. Lenke or Dr. Bridwell for your surgeon feel that the nursing staff didn't take adequate care of you?

07-23-2010, 06:59 PM
I just read the other thread that answered most of my questions. I think I'll ask Dr. Lenke about an aide once I get out of intensive care.

07-24-2010, 12:03 AM
I was at my worst at night. I think your son will be a wonderful addition to the medical staff. At least you will have the comfort of having someone there with you ,that you can depend on that you know cares about your needs.

What an inspirational thought, wish I would have had someone with me.

Great idea!!! Good enought for everyone to consider!!!


I consider this thread a must read!!!