Of children, diet, and poop, and crying mothers with toilet plungers
In order to protect the child of whom I am speaking, I won't say which of my sons is the sufferer, but he's a grade-schooler, and as grade-schoolers do, he eats the school breakfast and lunch with alacracity. Even though the Farm to Table program is making strides in increasing good grains and vegetables, it's still pretty much a white flour- and sugar-rich diet. At home, I make concerted effort to get dried fruit, whole grains, and lots of vegetables into the kids (and lots of kombucha), but whenever I stray from my constant vigilance, and a sugary snack or loaf of white bread sneaks in the door, they gobble it up. I swear sometimes they drop themselves into the mail slot and sidle in behind the kitty. I swear it!
Enter the digestive system, and its slowing and slowing until, boom! it compacts into a ball of disgusting solid poop that hurts coming out and prevents a child from wanting to to expel it. A few days of protesting, crying, negotiating and writhing later, the poop cannot be denied and it clogs up my toilet.
The first time I ended up fishing the poop out. This was awful, just stinkin' awful, and left me with blisters on my hand from the plunging. I was literally standing over the toilet sobbing in frustration. The second time and the third time and the fourth time I used a combination of boiling hot water, Dr. Bronner's (the drain clog stuff that also clogs your nostrils and probably poisons fish from here to Hawaii doesn't even work: take it from me) and lots of waiting. A little crying, or at least, wanting to cry, from the smell. (All the time trying to express to my son how I'm not angry at him, it's just the situation is very frustrating and we need to work on his diet! A lot! I'm just so so frustrated!) After a while, the hot water will break up the poop to the point where it can be flushed down. This is highly smelly; but non-toxic, at least.
The fifth time my sister-in-law bought me a super-plunger. This actually works pretty well -- I was able to avoid the blisters and the crying, and it only took about 15 minutes from clog to free flow.
Finally, yesterday afternoon, as my son writhed for a sixth time, once again having gone about a week without pooping, I called the pediatrician for some wise words from her lovely nurse. She sounded like she knew exactly where I was going with this story, prompting me, "and he puts off going, right?" Yes. This made me believe my son's story is not unusual, so I'm sharing it with you.
Her advice for him was to get him some Mirilax, or Benefiber, or the generic version, and feed him a capful a day for "a few days" until things became looser and he lost that painful, wiggly, writhing need to stop up the poop. Though I'd already rattled off a list of things I've been trying to get into him; whole grains, raw vegetables, dried fruit, she provided a more specific list:
- prunes (the reputation is deserved)
- dried cranberries
- and a "yes" to my raisins and carrot sticks
Well, the pooping that was to come was inevitable. About a teaspoon's worth into his hot cocoa (sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar just for good measure) with Walgreen's version of Mirilax, he ran upstairs and proceeded to clog the toilet one more time. As I sweated and ached and (again) cried over this very stubborn, very yucky job -- delaying a healthy dinner AND bedtime AND my work (and this post, to make it even worse) -- I made sure he was drinking the rest of his cocoa.
When he asked for a bedtime snack, I asked first, "do you want some peas?" (no) and then offered up popcorn. We took our bowl of popcorn to bed, giving me hope for the rest of the week.
I'd love to hear any particular secrets or foods that work really well for you, or, of course, commisseration. I love a nice "I've been there" from time to time. I'll appreciate it as I spend the next two hours in the shower, trying to wash away the memories of all that disgusting, icky, sticky poop.