How do you prepare a four year old for decompression surgery?

My four year old granddaughter is scheduled for surgery on Nov. 7th. Her chiari is 16cm and she has a "tiny" syrinx. She was diagnosed by accident on a MRI for occasional night time emesis by a pediactric gastro doctor. She really has no obvious symptoms other than complaining of a headache at times. And those headaches never really get her down. She has gone under anesthesia three times in her few years. She had a T&A at age three and now two MRI's and a gastroscopy. This experience will be so much different for her. She really has no clue what is going on and I really don't know what and how much to tell her. I think it would be better if she were sick or had some symptoms. My heart breaks to think she will wake up in so much pain. What and how much do you tell her?

So sorry your granddaughter has to undergo surgery :(. Kids do bounce back so fast it’s amazing. Obviously she needs this surgery and I have the feeling it will be much rougher on you than her. Where is she having the surgery?


You're such a good grandmother. I know it's hard but being 4 she's not going understand much until it happens. It's hard for us adults to wrap our heads around having brain surgery nevermind a child. (No pun intended lol) My daughter broke her femur when she was 2 and was in the hospital for a week and in a body cast all summer. It was an accident so there was no preparing her but we tried to be as positive as we could before she went into surgery and afterwards too. We told her the doctors were going to fix her "ouchy" and that we would take care of her. We brought a few of her favorite books stuffed animals and a small blanket for her and we picked out a few new things to give her in the hosptal to keep her busy and entertained. Emmaline is right the pediatric doctors, nurses and staff will take very good care of her and she will do great. Kids bounce back a lot quicker than we do and she will probably never remember it. Take a lot of pictures my daughter still loves to see the pictures from the hospital. We are all here for you.


Thank you all for the support and advice. Her surgery will be at the Cleveland Clinic and she has been there for the MRI's and gastroscopy. I am a nurse and actually work in an outpatient surgery center but we do only fairly simple surgeries. I guess a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing because I really am scared for her. I try to be brave and positive for my daughter, but I can't stop thinking and worrying. Thanks again.