During my son Cooper’s first hospitalization, my husband, Justin, went on a reconnaissance mission to scope out the Infusion Center. We knew that once Cooper was discharged, we’d be making weekly trips back for appointments.
While he was gone, I let my imagination wander as I wondered what he might find. When he returned, he painted a rosy picture of what was in store—complete with a wall of water and a mechanical ball contraption.
As I would soon find out, the reality was much more dismal. The Infusion Center was a room with no windows, one TV, and IV cords trailing everywhere. Sometimes, we had to sit on the floor because there were not enough chairs. To be honest, it was fairly miserable and depressing.
Those were the days of the old Infusion Center. By comparison, the new Infusion Center feels like an oasis with its windows, multiple TVs, and plethora of plug-ins. The first time we took Cooper to an appointment at the new Infusion Center, we could hardly believe our eyes.
We were grateful for the much-improved setting. But the truth is, regardless of your surroundings, taking a child to the doctor—and sitting through long infusions—can be tough.
Smaller kids want to roam. Older kids get bored. So, here are a few tips that will hopefully help your next trip to the Infusion Center go a little more smoothly.
1. Enjoy Your Freedom.
When you first arrive, chances are, the pharmacy is going to take some time to get your medicine up to the Infusion Center. Use this time to let your child roam around free of an IV pole.
And for goodness sake, take them to the bathroom. We all know that a bathroom break + toddler + IV pole = Olympic feat.
2. Electronics Are Your Friend At The Infusion Center.
I know the experts say not to let your kids get too much screen time—yada, yada, yada. However, in our family, we have a special “unlimited screen time” rule on Infusion Center days.
While this might technically not be the best parenting move, at some point, it’s about survival. Cooper knows he gets extra screen time when he goes to his doctor appointments. And to be honest, I think it helps him look forward to the time, rather than just dreading it.
3. Make Some Friends.
One day, we were sitting in the Infusion Center, and I was feeling particularly sorry for myself. I didn’t talk to anyone and went home as miserable as I’d arrived. I found out later that we had been sitting beside Jack Hoffman’s parents—an amazing and inspiring couple—the whole time.
From that visit on, I made up my mind to strike up a conversation with one Infusion Center neighbor every visit. Some people need their space and don’t want to talk. But some people are as desperate as I am for some emotional support and interaction. Over the years, I have met some pretty awesome people this way.
Despite the supreme kindness of the nurses, and the spectacular entertainment tactics of Christy and the other child life specialists at Children’s, a trip to the Infusion Center can make for a long day. Hopefully, these tips (and a celebratory ice cream cone afterward) will help the day seem a little more tolerable next time.