What is Medical Trauma PTSD

What is Medical Trauma PTSD?
Pediatric medical traumatic stress refers to a set of psychological and physiological responses of children and their families to pain, injury, serious illness, medical procedures, and invasive or frightening treatment experiences. Medical trauma may occur as a response to a single or multiple medical events.

  • Impair day-to-day functioning
  • Affect adherence to medical treatment
  • Impede optimal recovery

There are three main types of traumatic stress reactions:

  • Re-experiencing.
  • Avoidance.
  • Hyper-arousal.

Medical trauma can occur following a wide variety of circumstances and events that invoke intense fear, helplessness or terror, including but not limited to:

  • Diagnosis of a life altering or life threatening illness diagnosis for oneself or a family member / partner
  • Severe pediatric illnesses: parents, children and family members are all at potential risk of developing stress disorders
  • Assault, malpractice or negligence by a medical practitioner
  • Life threatening emergency medical care
  • Traumatic childbirth, including but not limited to premature deliveries, birth defects, high risk pregnancies, and emergency cesarean sections
  • Miscarriage of a pregnancy or ectopic pregnancies
  • Extended or confined hospital stays
How does this look in Addyson?

  • she hides from some doctors/nurses (just a select few)
  • she hides when it’s time for IV Insertion/Removal 
  • she has a huge fear with her blood drawls
  • she stands her ground of what medications she will/won’t take. we work through this, but she tries very hard to refuse liquid meds. This is due to many of her PRE OP Clean outs resulting in awful 12hrs of non stop vomitting.
  • she gets grumpy when a medical situation is happening and she has no control
  • getting defiant over another invasive test in a certain room at hopkins
Her strength:

  • she wants to do all she can to make other kids going through the same thing better
  • she has such a big heart
  • she knows so much medical terminology at the age of 7
  • she knows others are different and it doesn’t phase her, she actually likes to meet others and learn about their special situation. 
  • she adores her nurses
  • she loves the radiologist and xray staff (they know her by name without her signing in)
  • she loves child life 
  • she knows that she wants to help others when she grows up
  • she knows that even though she at the drs/hospital she will most likely leave without an immediate fix and she smiles through that.
  • she knows deep down that her team is trying their hardest to make her feel better even when we are three steps forward and two back
  • she works with a psychologist who helps her work through and heal from all the medical trauma
  • A simple walk around the floor can cheer her up while inpatient
  • A visitor a day gives her smiles for hours
Randy and I try very hard to give her the chance to control what she can medically but then we put our foot down when need be. She cried really bad this last time about getting her IV removed. I gave her a few minutes to hide / have her moment, but when the nurse was ready then we held her down so it could be done. We have done this so many times, and it never gets an easier. Watching her get ready for surgery and walking your child to the Operating Room over and over again is so tough, but we keep plowing forward. We keep going waiting for that break that she deserves. Waiting for the news that she won’t need any more surgeries (At least for a while, we know at some point her pectus excavtum might need to be fixed).

She talks to us often to ask where she stands with her ostomy. If she could ever get an internal pouch (J/K Pouch). She knows that the ostomy is helping some, yet knows that it has it’s own issues. She doesn’t talk about it all the time, but every once in a while she sneaks out a question just to remind us that she’s always thinking about the next step. The truth is our child has medical trauma PTSD and we are working with a great psychologist to help her heal. 

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