For a pediatric patient and family, the entire experience of receiving the diagnosis for and treating a life threatening illness is overwhelming and is quite possibly the darkest hours they will ever face. How the patient and family members respond will greatly influence the effectiveness of the care given by the medical professionals. Providing all involved with the latest information and understanding of the importance of being mindfully present and providing mindful care with mindful intent, will help to guarantee that the patient remain in a state of being that is as calm, loved and receptive to treatment, medicines and procedures as possible.
Fear vs. Love
It is widely accepted and understood that how our mind perceives a given situation will determine how the brain responds. If our perception of a situation is one of fear our sympathetic nervous system is activated and our brain responds by triggering the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. When we bask in a state of love our parasympathetic nervous system is activated and our brain releases calming hormones like serotonin and oxytocin. The release of these hormones, immediately alter our physiology for the better or for the worse. Although it may be impossible to shelter a child from fear completely, the more we can do to prevent situations that trigger a sense of fear the better. Once a fearful situation is over and we can return to a calm environment, the faster they can recover and heal. We can rejuvenate and not ruminate.
Epigenetics + Cellular Health
It is also widely accepted and understood that genetics, besides being hereditary, are also affected by our daily stimuli. How we perceive our world can regulate or deregulate gene expression. It had been long believed that our DNA was ‘cast in stone’, but current science proves that ‘we are what we think’. We can literally create an internal environment that promotes cellular health and healing, or we can create an internal environment that blocks the ability for our cell receptors to open and receive proteins. Whatever our mind perceives and our emotions feel, our brain responds accordingly.
From diagnosis day on through treatment and recovery, the way that we handle discussions can alter the pediatric patient’s outlook on their well-being. It is imperative that any discussion that could possibly be heard by the patient not contain any form of dialogue that could expose the patient to any amount of fear or negativity. Fearful or negative emotions transfer unnecessary toxic energy onto the patient. One or both of the parents should participate in any discussions, rounds, diagnosis briefings, care conferences, pre-op, administrative liability or any other form of meeting. The parents should be allowed to openly ask questions and then be able to process the information and deal with the emotional side prior to rejoining the patient. The parents should discuss the information together in a way and in an area that won’t impact the patient. Only then should the parents decide what the patient should hear and with the help of a care provider if desired, the parents should present the information to their child in as positive of a fashion as possible. At no time should any caregiver walk into the room and start addressing the patient about problems or possible procedures.
A baby is born in a delta brain wave frequency. They sleep most of the time. After infancy, the child enters Theta. Theta is the brain wave frequency called the ‘dawn and dusk of sleep’. It is the frequency of hypnosis, prayer and meditation. It is the brain wave frequency of the mother who lifts the car off of her child. When in Theta, the brain records everything. In this case everything means conversations, emotion, tone of voice, body language, smells in the room, the music playing in the background, energy and even facial expressions. As it is said, a child’s most formative years are the first five. That is because they have no ‘filter’. They don’t decide what to pay attention to until the age of seven, when a child usually starts to enter Beta. Low range Beta is the alert and curious frequency that starts to disseminate between the things we elect to focus our attention on and those we chose to ‘try’ to ignore. The exception to this is when the pre Beta, theta wave child is in fear or panic mode. When a child in Theta is scared or in stress, they jump all the way up to high Beta, the ‘fight or flight’ region. This is where Cortisol and Adrenaline are released causing an unhealthy internal environment.
We are all aware of how subliminal input and the power of suggestion works. From Pavlov’s dogs to candy bar commercials to an extra frame per second on the movie real that sends us to the concession stand. Subliminal, meaning subconscious is all the things the subconscious mind records that the conscious mind is unaware of. Our conscious mind controls 5% of our brain power compared to 95% controlled subconsciously. Even when a child has head phones on while playing on a smart pad, they are still subjected to everything happening in their immediate environment. A word they don’t even understand combined with negative emotion and body language can set off the sympathetic response releasing Cortisol and Adrenaline just as sure as saying it to their face.
The Biology of Belief
Each one of our cells is a miniature fractal of us. Every cell has a system for reproduction, waste, digestion, self-regulation etc. Most importantly, like us each cell responds to their environment and for a cell that is the blood stream. When we perceive our environment to be one of fear and our sympathetic nervous system is triggered, we produce hormones to respond to that perceived situation. During this fight or flight mode our blood flow and energy is redirected to the parts of the body to help us run or fight. This shuts down the unnecessary functions of digestion, reproduction, self-regulation and the immune system. When a pediatric patient is in fear, the best possible outcome is unlikely.
The Placebo Effect
No one argues the Placebo Effect. The scientific and medical communities acknowledge the effects of the Placebo but stop short of incorporating its positive effects on their patient or guarding against the negative effects of the nocebo. If a possible negative outcome or side effect is discussed in the patient’s environment, they can latch on to that as a belief and contribute to its manifestation. As with everything else in our universe, whatever extreme can be experienced, the polar opposite has to be possible.
When our heart, bodies and minds are in unity and harmony, we are in coherence. This can also be called cognitive resonance. We are at peace, at ease within ourselves and our surroundings. Our autonomic nervous system is in balance. The best possible outcome remains available. When we lack coherence, we are not at peace with our surroundings. We are in dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is when we are in conflict between one or more opposing beliefs and our environment has one or both at odds with each other. We are immediately in dis-ease. Our sympathetic nervous system has been activated. The best possible outcome is not probable. If we put our children through fearful situations they don’t understand, we are setting up a lack of coherence.
Studies have proven that some medications can work up to four times better on calm coherent patients than on those in fear or stress. It should be the goal of all concerned to constantly work towards minimum dosing. The maximum effect with the smallest possible dose will eliminate unnecessary side effects and overdosing complications. The more we work towards providing a calm coherent environment, the further we will get to achieve that goal.
It is the goal of every anesthesiologist to administer the smallest amount of anesthesia possible to cover a procedure or operation. The lesser the amount of anesthesia the lesser the exposure to side effects and complications. The calmer and more prepared the patient the easier they are to sedate and awaken.
Being inpatient in the hospital environment is not conducive to quality sleep for the patient, the parent or caregiver. Sleep deprivation can greatly affect the well-being of the patient and compromise the ability to heal. When deprived of sleep, we tend to go from theta directly to REM and completely miss the Delta frequency. Delta is the frequency of growth and healing. There are many things we can do to improve the quality of sleep while inpatient. I look forward to sharing those ideas.
Parents can decide how much information a pediatric patient needs to know and when they need to know it. The hospital staff is always available to consult or assist in this matter. One common thing we all agree on, we don’t like to be surprised or frightened especially when medical procedures, needles and operations are involved. Learning the best care plan and bedside manner for each patient is critical to setting up the opportunity for the best possible outcome.
The entire universe runs on frequency. All of our senses run on frequency. The invisible forces of the electromagnetic spectrum control every aspect of cellular biology and genetic regulation. In the inpatient and especially the ICU environment, every machine generates its own frequency. Now add the ever present WiFi, microwaves, radio waves, ultraviolet rays, and even infrared waves, and it becomes impossible to ignore the effects that this frequency bombardment can have on the cellular health and recovery process.
Although hospitals have made drastic improvements towards providing proper nutrition to its patients and families, we have a long way to go to get to the point where ‘food is medicine’. Probiotics play a key role when transitioning off of TPN and ‘factory feeds’. Again, I look forward to working towards this goal.
In closing, everything addressed here plays a role in the health and recovery of all of pediatric patients.
With awareness, training and change, we can greatly improve the environment that surrounds our children, parents and the caregivers.