I learned something interesting yesterday. It is a mom thing, and it involves poop, so if you are not interested, stop reading right now! But the thing I learned was that kids can be constipated, sometimes really badly, even when they are pooping every day. Turns out that if kids, or anyone really, ignores or puts off responding to the urge to go, then the intestines quit signaling. This leads to build up of unpassed poop. The intestines can also stretch out, so it takes more bulk to trigger a signal to go. This also piles up extra that needs to be eliminated.
Apparently, people’s poop piles up in a low part of the intestine on the left side. When there’s enough, it puts pressure on the muscular intestinal wall, and that muscle sends a signal that it’s time to go to the bathroom. It is normal to have some poop piling up in that area, but higher up and looping over to the right should be clear. Evan has poop piled up in the left part, all the way over, around and down on the right side. We had to go to the Express Care at Children’s Hospital yesterday because his intestinal muscle had started to spasm, he was in a lot of pain, and couldn’t breath if he was laying down. It was pretty scary, but he is OK, just full of poop. The crazy thing is that he goes almost every day, and on the occasions he forgets to flush, I thought the volume was impressive for a kid his size.
I think part of the problem was when he was potty training, he got the pee part right away, but kept pooping in his pull-ups and then undies for another year. For whatever reason, he was holding on to it, not using the toilet, and then finally going in his pants when there was no putting it off any longer. This problem might have been building up (no pun intended) for two years now. The doctor at Children’s said once the intestinal signaling is lost, it takes a while to reset it. That is what we are trying to do now. Evan is on a three week course of miralax (polyethylene glycol), to help get out all the backed up poop. Once the intestinal track is clear, he needs to keep going regularly until the colon shrinks back to a normal diameter. After that, hopefully, he’ll start feeling the urge to go before there is too much in there, and he’ll learn to go right away. Also, more fiber, more water/hydration, and less cheese.
And one more thing that is super good to know — there is an Express (urgent) Care at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, as an alternative to the Emergency Department. It is on the second floor, pretty much right on top of the ED. I had thought we were going to have to go through Emergency on a Sunday, but it turns out we didn’t, which was great.