“How To Tell Your Kids About Heart Surgery?” Asks Jerry

Every so often I receive a fantastic question that is impossible for me to answer.

For example, today I received a question from Jerry. He writes, “Adam: Thank you for your book. I am curious if you have any advice on how to speak to my kids about my upcoming heart valve surgery. I don’t want to scare them. However, I do want to give them some understanding of what might happen. If you have any advice, I would appreciate it.”

Parents Discussing Heart Surgery With Children

The reason I can’t answer this question is because I have no kids and therefore no personal experience to share. That said, I am hopeful that YOU might be able to help Jerry with this issue.

Do you have any thoughts or ideas for Jerry? If so, please ‘Leave A Reply’ below!!

In advance and on behalf of Jerry, thanks so much!!!

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

  • Geoff

    Hi Jerry,

    I have 2 boys ages 8 & 10. I talked to them both and was pretty open about what was going to happen. My 8 year old was somewhat worried but I think it affected my 10 yr old the most. The reassurance to both of them but mostly Jake (10) was that I told them I had the best valve surgeon in the world and not to worry. I had a cookout the weekend before surgery and invited everyone that I knew would be coming to the hospital and enduring that end. It was a nice break of tension. I myself had a lot of up and down moments throught as I am sure everyone does. The biggest mistake I made was waiting until this to go get my Will, power of attorney, etc. All that did was add to the thought that I might not make it. To anyone out there that has kids or any family that will depend on your affairs being in order if something happens dont be stupid like me and wait for something like this to get things in order. Do it when everything is going great :-). Thats my .02. Good Luck with everything!

  • jerry

    Thanks Geoff, and Adam, and anyone else that cares to answer.

    One question I have Geoff, is how much time before the operation did you tell them?

    And yes, my surgery is not for a week or two, but I’ve been working that last will this weekend.

  • Greg

    Hi Jerry! I was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve and told that I would need valve replacement surgery within the next 6 months to a year at the most. I have a wife (who was there with me for the diagnosis) and 3 sons, ages 13, 16 and 20 that we needed to tell about this. We just sat them down and told them the facts, just as the doctor explained them to us, and went through Adams book and shared with them some of the facts and personal experiences that he went through. I personally have made it nearly 44 years without ever having surgery, (and honestly, kind of wish that my first one could have been something minor!) so I am winging it a bit myself, but my wife and I agree that we think it is very important to put on our brave face and though I admit to them that I am certainly anxious about it, I try not to show any fear in front of them, because if even DAD is afraid, then they might think that they should be afraid as well. Truth be told, I really am pretty scared about the whole thing, and wish I didn’t have 6 months to a year to think about it every day, 24-7, before having it done, but with this time I have been educating myself as much as possible on the whole procedure, and sharing with the kids every time I learn something new to keep them “in the loop”.

  • Parand

    I had heart surgery (a valve replacement and tricuspid valve repair) 6 days ago. I also have a wonderful loving and curious 5 1/2 year old boy. I found that at his age, he needed to know where mommy was going to be for five days, but didn’t need too much detail to scare him. So, about two days before my surgery, while we were cuddled up in bed together, I explained to him that mommy will be going away to the hospital for 5 days, and I explained to him who would be taking care of him so he would have no suprises in his own world. I left it up to him to guide me in how much information he needed me to share. He asked if I would be stronger after I came back? and he started telling everybody that I was going to come back as “super mommy”, and I left it at that. I never mentioned the heart needing repair or anything like that. It seemed to have been enough to get him through my absense. Since, my return, we have talked a lot more about what happened, but now that I am in front of him telling him and reassuring him, he is not scared any more. Also, I always told him the reason for my hospital stay, was so I could then do all the fun things he wants to do w/ him. i.e. skiing, water slides, etc. and truth be told I CAN’T WAIT!!!!

    good luck to all.

  • Geoff

    Hi Jerry,

    I told them about the same time I found out (45 days before). Waiting was definitely one of the hardest things. The surgeon said I could wait up to six months but I told him I wanted asap to get it over with. Good luck!!

  • jerry

    Hey super mom, and all the dads, thank you for your responses. I greatly appreciate it. I can understand how waiting is almost worse than just having it done. Right now I feel my life is on hold.

    (The upside of sorts is that when I am with my kids I find myself going to slightly better restaurants than usual….)

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