Tuesday 27 March 2012

The Big Easy (aka Laxatives and Stool Softeners)

Two weeks ago, when I began this quest, one of my goals was to wean Jem off laxatives. But, according to what I've discovered, if stool-retention is the responsible culprit for your child's chronic constipation, the first vital step is to break the cycle by keeping poo as soft and pain-free as possible.

Well, I can see the sense in this but my maternal instinct still kicks against the ongoing use of any drug, particularly one that might lead to a physical dependency (as most laxatives do). And, in our experience, nothing we've tried has really worked: Senna is too crampy; Milk of Magnesia too inconsistent; and Ducosate Sodium just plain too disgusting.

Then a friend mentioned Peg 3350.

After chatting with our pharmacist, and discovering that Peg 3350 (available over-the-counter in Canada as Restoralax or Lax-a-Day) is one of the few laxatives that doesn't result in gut-dependency with long-term use, I rushed home feeling like I'd snatched the golden goose.

One week on, I can barely believe the transformation (neither can Jem). First off, the stuff is totally tasteless. Secondly, it actually works. Gently and consistently. No more swings between watery and hard stools; just smooth, easy poo. 

Now, this is obviously only the beginning of the story...but Jem is already using the bathroom at least every other day, with fewer contortions and less anxiety. And the whole affair, with a couple blips, takes less than five minutes. I can almost see the day, when opening his bowels is no big deal. For either of us.


Now for the standing back and doing nothing...

Monday 19 March 2012

The Usual Suspect (aka Stool Retention)

Every two to three days, Jem stops talking. His body stiffens. His face pales. Then, eyes wide with alarm, he announces, "There's a poo coming!"

And we spend the next hour huddled in the bathroom, anxiously awaiting its arrival.

Hard to believe then, that during all those hours, I've never really watched what happens. I didn't think I needed to; I knew what was wrong. Constipation. But this week, armed with my new research regarding stool retention, the usual causative suspect in chronic childhood constipation, I decided to take  a closer look. 

And with crippling self-flagellation, I now realize my mistake. Letting go of a poo should not involve raising your elbows to shoulder height, cork-screwing your torso and attempting to levitate from the lavatory seat. Experts: one; too-close-to-see-her-own-nose mum: zero. And poor old Jem, stuck in the middle with his poo.

But wallowing aside, having finally recognized the culprit, the next step is to banish stool-retention from our bathroom (and bedroom, and kitchen, and sitting room, and yard) forever. 

I'll tell you how we're getting on next time...

Wednesday 14 March 2012

The House at Poo Corner (aka Coping with Chronic Childhood Constipation)

Poo is a big issue in our house. Big, slow, and infrequent. But not for much longer, I hope.
Jem just turned four and, after two years of GP-prescribed Senna, Ducosate Sodium and Milk-of-Magnesia, I've finally had enough. Surely, there's only so much pain (his), worry (mine), and frustration (everybody's) that a normal bodily function should entail.

So, after trawling the internet, raiding the library and quizzing any friend, acquaintance or complete stranger who dared to meet my eye about the ins and outs of chronic childhood constipation (especially the outs), these are the four most important things I've learned:
  • To conquer stool-retention, do your best to ensure that the stool will be soft.
  • Then stand back and do nothing.
  • That's right; stand back and do nothing.

These are my first four reactions:
  • My son has a real problem. 
  • I do my middle-aged-wonder-mummy best to make his poo as soft as creme-fraiche, I really do.
  • This can't be all my fault. Again. 
  • And, last but not least, I don't want to do nothing; I want to help.

But, in the case of constipation, it seems that less actually is more. And, with nothing to lose but Jem's poo, I've decided to experiment. Wish us luck...