Thursday, May 26, 2011


I promise not to be 'gross', but if this is TMI (too much information) for you, just skip this post and come back in a few days; there will be a new one. :)
To say that Kalisha had bowel problems from the beginning would be putting it mildly.
When she started eating solid food she would go for a couple of days without a BM, but when I questioned the pediatrician, he told me the standard line of 'Well, all kids are different and she just isn't a child who needs to go every day.'
Even though I had four other children and I certainly realized that all kids are different, it didn't seem normal to me. But being from a DON'T QUESTION THE EXPERTS kind of upbringing, I took his word for it. After all, he was the one with the degree, right?
The problem did not get any better. When it was potty training time, she would set on the potty chair and strain until her face turned red and her muscles got tired, but she couldn't go.
I have to interject that I was so naive and uninformed. I didn't know how or where to research bowel movements. I had no idea that it was a common trait of autism (Kalisha had not been diagnosed as autistic yet, but she did have the Developmentally Delayed label) I had never heard of the term 'motor planning' or the reason many special needs children have intestinal problems is due to the lack of motor planning skills.
They do not feel the urge to push and when they do push, it isn't with the correct muscles, so nothing comes out. I actually learned this when Kalisha was 14 years old! Now that is a lot of years of poop frustration!!
At this same time, my father lived in an apartment attached to our house and being quite elderly, his biggest concern in life was his bowel movements, so you see, I was surrounded with the subject of poop. Literally!

Back to Kalisha; I would resort to giving her a baby enema when she had not gone for several days. She hated it (of course, she did; I never heard of anyone who liked them) and the idea of going potty became so traumatic
for her that she would take her potty chair and try to hide.
(Yes, it was an antique potty chair)
I took her to a new pediatrician and he had the miracle cure. Yea! He prescribed Colace and mineral oil every day. Makes you gag just thinking about it, doesn't it?
She took it religiously because anything was better than an enema and it did work, sort of.
One day, I noticed pools of oil floating on the water in the toilet after she had gone. Now I may not be a doctor, but even I knew that if her colon was coated with so much mineral oil that it was running out of her, her colon was also not absorbing any of the nutrients she needed. Okay, stopped that treatment!!
Next stop, a gastroenterologist. I tried to explain to him that a rectal exam would be totally out of the question for Kalisha and asked if he could check her by x-ray or admit her to a hospital and do the exam under anesthesia. He, being god and all, told me that it would be fine and he knew how to check her without any trauma to her. Like an idiot, I trusted him and said ok. Not a good experience! And all that he could tell me was that she had an obstruction of feces in her colon. NO KIDDING!!!
I never went back. But that still didn't fix the problem.
Kalisha missed a lot of events because she was miserable. The not going for several days would make her stomach upset and give her cramps and she would be pale and not want to leave the couch. We went on a Disney cruise and she couldn't get off the boat when we stopped at an island because she felt so bad. We were in Minneapolis at the Mall of America and she chose to stay in the hotel room instead of sightseeing. Pooping or not pooping ruled her life. She had fissures and hemmorhoids due to the straining and the size of the excrement when she did finally go.
There is a happy ending to this tale of woe.
Kalisha stumbled upon her own solution. I said in the very first post that I would not give cures or recipes, so I want to state, unequivicably, that this worked for Kalisha, but I am not telling anyone that it will work for their child (or elderly parent). She eats a bowl of Raisin Bran for breakfast at least 5 days of the week, she eats a raw apple every day and she drinks apple juice. She still struggles a little, but goes regularly. I don't believe that her colon will ever return to its normal size, so at our house, the plunger is our most valued possesion!
This whole thing falls into the "Why didn't somebody tell me???" category. I don't know how to explain that I truly knew nothing about special needs when Kalisha was diagnosed. There was no internet or google and doctors were my only source of information.  Autism was not nearly as common when Kalisha was young and even though I knew parents of other special needs children, the subject of bowel movements never came up in conversation, because I assumed it was a problem that was peculiar to Kalisha. But surely, one of those 'experts' we saw in 14 years would have been aware of the connection between intestinal problems and various special needs diagnosis.
Occasionally, I still fall into the 'experts know all' mind frame; however, I have become  much more aware and a much better advocate and follow my gut instincts.
No one knows your child like you do, so don't dismiss your gut instincts.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:44 PM EDT

    Good for you Gloria for addressing this topic! This "problem" effects so many children, autistic or not. As a parent, we are desperate to try anything, especially as simple as Raisin Bran and Apples.
    Great Blog...keep going!
    JoAnn Beer



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