When a child’s medical care becomes a parent’s pain
Sick little girl lay down on bed in the hospital

Parents of children with complex medical problems have higher rates of anxiety and depression. A new study in Child: Care, Health and Development looks at how traumatic hospital experiences play a role. University of Calgary researchers interviewed 22 parents whose children are medically fragile to identify factors that can heighten or mitigate trauma caused by repeatedly witnessing a child’s pain and distressing medical procedures. Isabel Jordan is a parent partner on the research team. Her son, now 21, has a number of rare diseases, and she explains her personal connection to the topic. “He spent his early years going through diagnostic procedures that put us all through a lot of pain. It was basically my husband and I holding him down and that felt like torture. When he was six he had a very serious surgery and was in the ICU. He had sensory processing disorder and we knew what we had to do to keep him safe, but the doctors said sensory processing disorder didn’t exist. He was trached and intubated and couldn’t speak and when he was in pain he would shut down, and they didn’t believe us. Years later I found out I had post-traumatic stress disorder. Not just from these big events, from all the little things: the gaslighting, the holding him down, the not being listened to.”

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