That is the question of the decade, at least in my house. I had never heard the term until about 3 months ago. I wish I'd heard it 3 years ago, or more. My youngest son has suffered from this for about the last 6 years. I could give you an official medical definition or dictionary definition, but I won't. I'm not a doctor, just a mom who wants the best for my kids. Encopresis is a fancy word for fecal incontinence. Still too technical? Basically it means you can't control when poop comes out.
As you can imagine, this has lead to some very embarrassing situations as well as some laundry nightmares. Some of you may ask, then why would you want to write about it all on the internet for the whole wide world to see? If I can help one mom, or one child from suffering it is worth it. The problem started...well, I'm not really sure when. It seems like it has just always been. We just dealt with it for a while thinking it was just normal and he would outgrow it. I remember at one point, going to the pediatrician for a well visit and mentioning the problem. She quickly wrote a prescription for a laxative, saying it was due to constipation. We gave him the prescribed dosage, and proceeded to try giving him more foods to help and less that would stop things up. The medicine ran out, and we were still at square one. We had many ups and downs. There were days when everything was fine, and then many days in a row when it seemed like endless trouble. Yet, we remained confident that he would just outgrow it.
Fast forward to August. I finally came to the realization that he is not going to outgrow this. I went in search of answers. That's when we were finally given a diagnosis of encopresis. Yes, it is related to constipation. Even though we've tried to adjust his diet, he was still constipated. Another related problem is bedwetting. I know they are related, because when we have a bad day with one, it is usually followed or preceded by a bad night of the other.
What are we doing now? We started chiropractic care, including some food sensitivity testing. That has lead us to make even more drastic dietary changes. We have cut out dairy, wheat, oats, corn, and peanuts. That is a difficult challenge for a kid who eats nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. I have actually enjoyed the challenge at home. I love coming up with new recipes and figuring out creative ways to make old favorites. Like, the other night we had gluten free/dairy free macaroni and cheese. I will share that sometime this week. We were finally starting to see some progress. It seemed like it had been about two weeks with no issues. Last Monday, we finally found a new pediatrician. He is very much on the same page as us and wanting to treat this as holistically as possible. He said we are on the right track with his diet, gave us a recommendation for some probiotics, vitamins, and peppermint oil. We have been using probiotics, but we are giving the ones he recommended a try. However, due to cost factor and the fact that the one we were using actually has more strains of bacteria, we probably won't stay with it. I also finally got some kefir grains to add in more probiotics. That leads us to today. All dairy, even fermented, is a definite no, no. It seemed ok with goat milk, but not cow. Unfortunately, I can only get goat milk on Saturdays, and not every Saturday. My next task is to locate some water kefir grains. Not only would it be cheaper, but no worries about running out of water. I like the idea of milk kefir, though, because of the added protein. I love how much easier kefir is than making yogurt too. I tried that project once.
The biggest challenge with the dietary restrictions is when we leave the house. We end up at places, like church, that have a grand buffet of food available. Of course, everyone's favorites are sugar-laden treats made from flour, or a more savory variety covered in cheese. I totally get it. It's tasty stuff. I have a hard time resisting at times. I can't imagine how hard it is for a 10 year old. I know what I need to do. I need to plan ahead and bring a tasty buffet just for him filled with foods he can eat. That, however, involves being organized and not procrastinating. That pretty much hits the nail on the head of my biggest challenge in life. I'm hoping, that by writing about our journey will help bring me some more focused intensity. Today was a very bad day at church, so we'll see how bad the consequences are from that. Tomorrow is a new day. We will start fresh again.