We returned from another trip to the children’s hospital…disappointed yet again with the ‘solution’ the specialist gave. As if there isn’t enough pressure to toilet train your child, add on the pressure of your older child needing to wear pull-ups out in public every single time you leave the house. Our youngest has not been ‘toilet trained’ – she is 9. This is our journey with encopresis. **I’ve asked her permission to share this story with you and she was more than happy to. Her reason…because she knows what God has brought her through and she wants to share His glory. She wants to offer hope to others. This post is for when you find yourself pulling out your hair and screaming, Help! My Child Isn’t Toilet Trained! Our Journey With Encopresis.
Lazy Parenting? Or Something More Serious?
When one of my kids was 5, she was still having accidents daily. Not just one or the other, but BOTH bodily functions. I had tried everything to get her to go on the toilet. Bribes, rewards charts, spankings, a special alarm watch, yelling, making her clean herself up (which ended up being the worst thing for her!)…the list goes on.
These accidents were multiple times daily. Many times, it would be ‘small’ accidents, with her not being able to go more right afterward. This made it even more frustrating!
I sure wouldn’t want to be seen as a ‘lazy parent’ who hasn’t toilet-trained her child properly. That seems to be the stigma out there. Actually, I recently saw a comment on a toilet training blog post where a teacher accused parents of being lazy in their toilet training because a primary student would poop himself daily just to get out of school. OK, can we please be logical here?
Seriously! What kid would go to the lengths of messing themselves on purpose just to skip out of school? Unless there is a very grave problem at school such as abuse, no kid is going to deliberately mess himself in class! Mom and dad were likely – and are still likely – besides themselves with hopelessness in dealing with this issue. I felt quite perturbed when I read the accusation! So, please be aware of this problem if you work with children, it is much more common than one would think (**And use our God-given reasoning skills to think through something like that logically!).
If you aren’t dealing with such an issue but know of someone who does, please be so supportive of them and refrain from saying rude things about smell and such. This is hard enough as it is! Maybe do them a favour and forward this post to them! They just may thank you profusely!
The Diagnosis And Standard Treatment
I finally managed to get a referral to a pediatrician.
And I got a diagnosis…encopresis and enuresis.
The road to recovery would be a long one, I was told. Little did I know just how long.
Enuresis is a problem with the urinary function. Kids don’t know when they have to pee and it dribbles out throughout the day.
Encopresis is with the bowels – these kids don’t know when they have to poop and they mess a little bit several times a day. Really, they have been so constipated for so long that their little colon has been stretched way out of shape and the new ‘stuff’ bypasses the constipated mass. Then it just leaks out.
I know – it sounds gross, doesn’t it? It is frustrating and discouraging for any parent and child.
The solution was to do a major ‘clean-out’ with a product called Restoralax and then continue giving the child a capful of the product every day.
We did that. For 3 years. It didn’t work.
We even went to see specialists at BC Children’s hospital. The urologist finally did a test on her and discovered her bladder was spastic. She was put on some medication for 3 months, which helped regulate her bladder. But, because the spasms were due to her enlarged colon, I feared we’d just get back to square one if the other issue wasn’t resolved.
We saw the GI specialist again with the hope that he’d offer us some other plan of attack. He didn’t. He just said to give her more Restoralax.
We left frustrated and hopeless.
What About Faith?
One of my greatest fears throughout all of this was that my child would lose her faith – or doubt God’s love for her.
This was something we talked about a lot. We prayed and read scripture. She reassured me that her trust in God was strong. But I kept a watchful eye on her…just in case.
One day, I asked her if she thought maybe her present struggle was something God was using to prepare her for something BIG He would ask her to do one day. Without hesitation, she said “YES!
I am so amazed at this little one’s faith. She is the first to go to God in prayer for anything.
It seems whenever I ask her to pray about something, her reply is “I already did.”
The photo above is a journal entry she made (you’ll notice she also has dysgraphia, a problem with printing – actually a problem with the sides of her brain communicating – see Dianne Craft‘s Smart Kids Who Hate To Write for a solution to this problem! Bonus – she is a Christian!). Here, she is stating her confidence in Jesus’ love for her. There is no doubt here. No question. We could be taught a lesson here about having faith like a child.
I never want that tender spirit to be squashed by trials. By doubt. And I am so thankful that she is so strong in her belief of God’s love for her.
My Friend, Google!
After the last (hopeless) trip to the children’s hospital, I was desperate for something that might help. I can’t tell you how many times I Google searched “encopresis” – and any other words that might be associated with it. Too many to count.
But in one last ditch effort to find something, I tried Google one more time.
And something caught my eye. Soiling Solutions.
Could it be? Hope?
I clicked the link and read the site. Hope started to grow.
But was it too good? Too promising?
I sent the link to my hubby and asked him about it – what he thought.
I could buy the eBook – but it was $99 USD!
What if this was a scam!?
But I searched a bit more. And I prayed. And prayed. I downloaded and read the sample on the site.
Marcus said to go ahead and buy the digital copy. He reasoned that we had no problem driving 6 hours to the Children’s hospital, pay for hotel and food and we got nowhere. So, what is another hundred bucks if it just might work.
So, I bought it. I read it that night.
Hope. At Last.
This just might work!
It involved glycerin suppositories, enemas, ex-lax…and something called ‘power-hour’. But it also meant eliminating Restoralax! And maybe even the messes!
Sounds Logical, Right?
The reasoning behind this method, in a nutshell, was that children have lost the urge to poop, therefore they need to be reminded of that feeling – their system needs to be retrained to feel that urge. And the best way to do that is with products that will cause immediate urges.
I made my shopping list and went to the drug store. I discussed with my child what we were going to do and she was somewhat apprehensive, but, like me, she thought that just maybe this will help her. She was willing to try!
We started the protocol in December 2014. We went from multiple messes EVERY DAY to one mess every few weeks. Yeah, that’s right. It WORKED!
I See The Light At The End Of The Tunnel!
Eventually, we were able to stop the ‘power hours’ and go about our day as normal. She would need a glycerin suppository every 2-3 days now. That was enough to get her moving and prevent any problems with constipation.
She was so happy! I was thrilled!
Fast forward several months and things are still going so well. Minimal accidents. She feels the urge to go.
We were all happy with the progress – and our pediatrician was thrilled!
But we’d still like to see more progress. We’d like to not have to use anything on her at all.
UPDATE June 2016
My daughter is completely healed from encopresis and enuresis. She has not had to have any help in the way of laxatives, enemas or suppositories for several months now. She goes on her own every day – NO accidents! No messes. No shame. And no embarrassment. She can go places without me and NOT wear a pull-up OR worry about having an accident. She is fully healed.
A Few Last Bits
This has been a difficult journey for our family. But, we are very much on the road to recovery with our girl. A few things I want to share with you if your family is struggling with a challenge such as this:
- Don’t blame yourself. I blamed myself for a long time – like maybe I did something wrong. But that was a lie. This was not my fault.
- Keep searching for solutions. I was ready to give up. I am so thankful I tried ideas other than the standard treatment from specialists.
- Keep your child’s faith – and your own faith – strong.
- Never shame your child. I heard that shame happens often in these circumstances. That makes me sad.
- Get some outside help for you and/or your child. I spoke with a counselor and she gave me some great tools to help our family cope with this medical issue.
- Don’t make your child deal with the mess himself. It is so embarrassing and shameful enough. They know they shouldn’t be having accidents, but they can’t help it and don’t know what to do. Help them clean up their messes. I know, it is gross, but do it anyway.
- Just because this is not terminal doesn’t mean that you should ignore it or treat the problem casually. We must fight for our children and not minimize their struggles regardless.
- Keep praying. Keep bringing your child to Jesus. And if you are ever feeling at your wit’s end, talk to someone who will understand. As of this moment, you know you have at least one friend who will understand…me. Feel free to contact me, if you need to. I know.
This is our journey with encopresis. It has been a tough one. But, God has been healing and doing His work…in a way I never imagined.