During the transplant process, healthcare team members help to keep patients as comfortable as possible. Your child may experience some pain or discomfort during the BMT process. There are a number of things that can be done to either alleviate the pain or make it more tolerable. The methods used to manage pain will depend on how often and how severe the pain is as well as your child's personal preferences for pain management.
The healthcare team regularly evaluates patient pain or discomfort. Patients can help the team by describing their pain as clearly as possible. One way to help others understand discomfort is to utilize pain scales. Older children and adults may use a type of pain scale that ranges from 0 to 10. Younger children may identify their discomfort by using a scale with happy faces and sad faces. Infants' and preschool children's discomfort will be assessed using behavioral scales, vital signs, and parental input.
Following are some methods that may be used to increase your child's comfort. Your child's healthcare team will work with them and you to find the method or methods that work best.
A number of medications can help to increase comfort. For example, narcotics (opioids) such as morphine or other pain-relieving medications are taken by mouth or given through an IV. Some people worry that they will become addicted to morphine or other medications. Treating pain does not cause addiction. Addiction is a psychological dependence on a narcotic and the need to use it for effects other than pain relief.
Physical dependence may occur with the use of narcotics, but this is expected; it is addressed by gradually reducing the amount of medication used as discomfort decreases. There are a variety of medications that can be prescribed to increase your child's comfort. Aspirin is not given for pain, as it can increase your child's risk of bleeding.
Self-hypnosis and deliberate relaxation are techniques to help increase comfort during times of pain. By using self-hypnosis or deliberate relaxation, some patients are less likely to be bothered by pain or discomfort. Social workers and other staff members are available to help patients learn these techniques. Relaxation tapes and activities are also available from other hospital staff, such as child family life specialists and chaplains.
Distraction may help increase their comfort. Activities that may help include listening to music, talking with family or friends, exercising, engaging in a hobby, or watching movies or television. For pediatric patients, social workers as well as child family life specialists can teach distraction techniques to help the patients prepare for and cope with uncomfortable procedures.
Positive Visualization: Imagery
Most people regularly use imagery or trances to relax without even realizing they are doing so. You may think of using imagery or trances as "daydreaming." Deliberately using imagery may be a useful way to increase comfort during BMT. Hospital staff can help teach your child to effectively use this technique.
Healing Touch uses purposeful touch to influence a person's energy system. Healing Touch aims to restore physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance to facilitate comfort and healing. This technique can complement other medical treatments.