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How to Deal With Difficult Parents

How to Deal With Difficult Parents

Nicole Lehr | Scrubs Magazine

Imagine finding yourself in an overwhelmingly stressful situation. Then imagine having no control over said situation. I have to keep this in mind each day that I venture to work and am faced with a difficult parent or family member.

Working in a pediatric facility, I have the added challenge of not only caring for the ill child, but caring in a different way, an emotional way, for the parents of their ill child. This adds a dynamic to my job like no other, part of which I love and part of which throws its curve balls.

Scenario #1:

“Lucy” thinks she is having a normal pregnancy. Everything has gone along as planned although due to work constraints, she has missed a couple of her doctor appointments, one being the most recent ultrasound. Lucy finds herself doubled over with contractions at 34 weeks and despite attempts from the hospital staff, they are unable to stop the labor. Lucy delivers a beautiful baby girl, but this baby girl is a dusky shade of grey upon arrival to the world and is rushed off to the neonatal intensive care unit for a cardiac workup.

Lucy finds out two hours later that her baby has been born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a serious congenital heart defect that will require her baby to have emergent surgery. While her baby is in surgery, Lucy also learns that after this surgery her baby will be at high risk for sudden death but will be sent home to grow until she is about six months of age when she will have another open heart surgery that will keep her goal oxygen saturations in the low 80s. Subsequently, she will require a third surgery in her toddler years that generally extends a child’s lifespan to pre-teenage years where she will then most likely need a heart transplant.

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Stressful? I’d say so…

Scenario #2:

“Lucy’s” baby is now two years old and returning to the hospital for her third stage surgery, called the Fontan procedure. Lucy’s baby has a very rough post op course after her second surgery and incidentally had some mild brain hemorrhaging resulting in mild right-sided weakness. Despite her delays, Lucy’s toddler JUST started to walk, and now she has the added stress of bringing her in for another surgery that will very likely set her daughter’s development back for months.

After surgery, Lucy, being the experienced parent that she is, does not feel as though her daughter’s pain is being well-controlled. Her daughter is fussy, gassy, and is not sleeping well at night, leaving Lucy overly exhausted and fatigued because she is putting all of her strength into the care of her child. The night nurse accidentally woke Lucy’s daughter up when she was taking vital signs and then the phlebotomist came into the room and turned on the lights to draw labs right when the toddler had drifted back to sleep. The day shift nurses enters the room to perform her morning assessment and finds mom first aggressive, then defensive, then in tears.

Next: Tips to Deal With Difficult Parents >>

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