Friday, November 21, 2008

Magic Pill

Okay, this is two days in a row of poopie posts--please just bear down...uh, I mean bear with me. I've been trying to back off and not put too much pressure on Chickie, but I'm just sick of it.

She is so afraid of pooping. She says it hurts. Thing is, we don't have (ahem) a firmness problem. In fact, lately we haven't even had a frequency problem.

We have a fear problem.

She feels the urge, and she does her darndest to hold it back, running in circles, crying and screaming, sometimes speaking in this weird gibberish. When she finally does the deed, she cries and cries as I change the disposable training pants that we've resorted to. She's hurting because she's afraid, and she continues to be afraid because it continues to hurt.

She thinks it's a physical issue. I'm quite sure the root is actually in her beautiful little head, not her cute little butt.

So today I had an idea that I was desperate enough to try.

"Hey, Chickie," I said when she'd just gone through a minor "Ouchie!" session without any solid results. "Do you want some medicine to help it not hurt?"


"Okay," I said, headed into the kitchen. "You go play, and I'll find some."

"What's it called?" she asked.

"It doesn't have a name," I said. Then, I magically "remembered." "It's called Placebo!" I proclaimed, as I found--aha--the Halloween candy! I couldn't think of any time she'd ever had Reese's Pieces, so she wouldn't recognize them. I got out one of the little candy-coated "pills."

"Placebo is candy medicine!" I told Chickie. She happily gobbled it up.

Now, it's very important to me not to lie to my kids, and I actually had a really hard time not knowing if I was crossing that line or not. I repeatedly told her, "Taking Placebo can make it not hurt!" I figured that was true, even though it would be her mind, not the pill, doing the job.

When she'd start her moaning, I'd say, "Oh, remember, Chickie? You took Placebo, it doesn't have to hurt anymore!" And at first, it seemed to be working. Like a switch had been flipped, she'd stop the writhing and go on with what she was doing, saying, "I took 'Cebo!"

As the urge got more, well, urgent, it became more difficult. She is in such a terrible habit of tightening up her little body, trying to keep the stuff inside. She got a second Placebo "to help let the poopy out." As I continued to remind her about the Placebo and to tell her she needed to "help it work," she seemed more able to control her emotions. But she still held back, and still went through quite a bit of discomfort.

Chickie went to bed happily--unfortunately, without doing her business. Then she crawled in bed with me this morning and said, "I'm letting the 'cebo work." I sure hope those magic little pills are enough to convince her there really is no reason to fear.

Think Placebo would reduce my mommy anxiety too?


SciFi Mama said...

We have a pooping issue too. For Paige it does hurt because she holds it in for so long that it gets rather large & painful for her. We've been using Miralax with amazing results. Just enough so that she can't hold it in.

Yesterday she had explosive diarrhea. That's going to be a lovely blog post this evening. A recently potty trained 2 year old who hates to poop on the potty & has explosive diarrhea. Fun day. Fun day.

Kerri said...

Do your "cebos" work for getting them to sleep through the night? After almost 3 years I'm getting a little desperate.

My 5 year old had the same problem as Chickie. Pooping hurt...she would hold it until one day she held it a bit too long. Let's just say after some manual manipulation from the doctor and a few enemas later she never held it again.

DiPaola Momma said...

I was just going to echo the last comment and add a bit... maybe it would do her some good to go see the doctor. I know that sometimes there can be real issues caused by this fear.

I like how creative you get though. Maybe "cebo" will do the trick soon. I'll be thinking of ya.

Sandra said...

Your "poopie saga" has brought out some interesting comments. This is definitely an experience every mom can relate to, whether going through it now or not.

Just think, "someday" you may be sharing your long distant experiences with potty training with some other young mother. And, because you've been there done that, your words will be encouraging to her that there IS a light at the end of the (slightly stinky) tunnel.

Keep your eye on the "poop horizon" and the land of perfect Chickie pooping just over the hill. :)

EliandMe said...

I fear the potty training (can I have candy?). We have at least a year or so before we get to the stage, but I am very glad that when it does come around, I know where to come for advice.

p.s. I loved the poop chart yesterday.

Unknown said...

Please tell Chickie that, after thinking about it last night, Sampa is certain that the Placebo will help her.

snakeriverwalton said...

try lots of applesauce. It works wonders for softening poop. someday if I'm really brave, I'll post how I came to know this (involving a foreign object in a daughter's rectum). Thanks for commenting on my blog- I love meeting new people through blogging!

nopinkhere said...

Just make sure your 'cebo is chocolate and it may help! Good luck!

Jenners said...

We went through this too. I think it is linked to the stress of pooping on the potty and the fact that they hold it in because of the anxiety about pooping in the potty -- thereby causing real pain even without constipation.

I hope Cebo works but it is very very very difficult to get them to poop before they are ready. It is a lot more than just the physical -- there is a HUGE psychological component to it that I did not realize when I started with my son. And with their limited ability to verbalize, it can be hard to find out what is really happening. I know it "stinks" to hear but she'll go in her own time and you can try about 1,000,000 things and maybe one will work but it will come from her and her alone. Be patient...when it finally happens, you'll be amazed how easy it will be.

Potty training is really really hard!

Becky said...

Absolutely, Placeo will help your mommy anxiety. Candy cane Oreos, too, I've heard. ;-)

And FWIW, I have the same goal of being truthful with my kids, but I think situations like this are an exception. There is a strong mind/body connection, and in kids this age you really can't explain it at a level they can understand. This is the only way I can think of to bypass that and ease her anxieties. I don't consider it lying. I consider it...application of psychology. Good luck.

Unknown said...

Aww, hope Chickie's, ahem, bodily functions are back to normal soon! :) We've been known (with the approval of our doc) to give The Manimal a half tablet of the fruit-flavored fiber thingies. He eats it without question and by the next morning, poof (or should I say poop?), all was well!

Strange Mamma said...

-Think Placebo would reduce my mommy anxiety too?-

Totally! It works best when you take a whole bag ;)

J Trout said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J Trout said...

I am going to tell you my story not to scare you but to let you know something that "can" happen, I know because it happened to my son.
My baby Dylan is 18 now but I have to say training him was nothing like potty training my older son Blaine.
With Blaine it was a breeze. Dylan on the other hand always had problems. I thought it was just him being stubborn or afraid. (he once dropped a favorite toy in the toilet as it was flushing, it flushed away, he was devastated and I "thought" he had made an issue of it). To make a very long story shorter, for years Dylan had a "major" problem with accidents, I thought he was just "holding" his goods, but as time went on we saw a Dr. because he just would not get over it. What happened to him is that his colon became impacted and distended (Encopresis). When this happens the nerve endings in that whole area become stretched and lose feeling . He lost his urge to "go", and he continued to have accidents.(He has a slower digestive system than most people) I am telling you this because I wish I would have known this could happen. Without knowledge I think I waited to long to seek treatment, this prolonged the problem, he has struggled his whole life with this. With earlier medication and diet change I think we could have managed it better and got him back on track sooner. (he was 4 before we saw the Dr.) One of my Great Regrets.

Water and fiber is what they truly need and "possibly" a mild stool softener like mineral oil (that's what the Doctors put Dylan on). There is also flax seed oil, mild over the counter laxatives like Senocot, and digestive enzymes (try the health food store for this). Benefiber is very good because you don't even know its in the food or drink, it completely dissolves. The idea is not to let this "stuff" get impacted in the colon, keep it moving with diet and supplements (and med if needed).

Jenners said...

Jenners again. I've been thinking about your potty training issues and wanted to share a few more thoughts.

As a mom who is on the other side of potty training (my son started pooping and peeing on the potty about a year ago), I just want to let you know that it is not all smooth sailing on the other side. Sure, you get rid of diapers but you gain a whole new set of problems (I'm just figuring out that this is how it works with motherhood).

At home things are fine because we are in our home base.

It is when you are out and about that things get tricky. Now you can't just let them pee or poop in the diaper. You have to be able to quickly find a toilet they can use (and you know the deal with public toilets and cleanliness), provide them some of their needed props (like a little toilet seat so they don't feel like they are going to fall in -- not a fun item to have to lug around with you). And this must be done very very quickly because you don't get a lot of notice. No matter how often I ask my son if he has to go when it would be more convenient, he inevitably has to go when it is very difficult and stressful.

The very worst experience was when we were on vacation and getting ready to board our flight home. As they were calling our rows and getting ready to end boarding, my son announced that he had to go poopy. This was about a month after he was fully toilet trained and wasn't wearing diapers and I didn't want him to go backwards. I can't even express to you how horrible and stressful that was ... my husband was trying to hold the plane, I was trying to get my son to hurry up without stressing him out, I was dripping with sweat and the toilets were really really gross. So even though I know you really want to get toilet training done, I just want you to know that it is hard on the other side too. Perhaps that will help in some way. I don't know.

Faith said...

Don't let her self-constipate. It is bad. Get some little tummies laxative. Give her 1/2 a dose every morning. It is brown & yucky & ew. But, it will make her *unable* to hold it (prune juice will do the same thing, but I found it easier to give Sprightly - my problem pooper - a tsp of meds instead of a cup full of juice she hated). She'll get it out (& Lord willing, it won't hurt), and she will hopefully get over her fear.

Sprightly was a self-constipator as well, and this was our ped's recommendation.

As for a placebo working on mommy anxiety - maybe only if the placebo is vino.

Common Household Mom said...

When my oldest child (now 15) was about 3 or 4 years old, she had exactly this same difficulty. I really sympathize with you. I kept asking the pediatrician about it and got recommendations to increase fiber, eliminate cheese & rice, etc. I let it go on for longer than I should have. We even tried enemas numerous times.

If it wasn't psychological in the beginning, it became psychological. It was a big theatrical performance every time she had to poop. Plus it was extremely painful to her, and embarrassing to everyone around her. It got so that she would go 7 days without pooping, and it became dangerous. It was truly horrible.

I took her to a gastroenterologist, who instructed us to give Senacot for several days (don't remember the dosage). My daughter got over her fear after just a short time, and I am convinced it is because she (even at that young age) recognized the authority of the doctor. Sometimes a child will take instruction from an outsider better than from Mom or Dad.

There's no reason for you to accept the advice of a stranger on the internet, but if I had it to do over again, I would have taken more decisive action sooner. I would urge you to not let it continue, and be in consultation with your doctor sooner rather than later.

Just my sympathetic 2 cents.

C. Beth said...

Thank you all for the thoughts and advice. JTrout--I have heard of encopresis and am so sorry your son had that. :(

The thing is, Chickie has a lot of fiber in her diet (including prunes, which she loves), and she poops nearly every day, occasionally twice a day, and it's soft. So really, constipation isn't our issue (though she doesn't always get ALL the poop out. That's what makes this so different than most kids--we aren't dealing with poop that should hurt to come out--she has always had soft stools. We're dealing with fear that makes her try to hold it inside until she finally lets it out and it hurts, presumably because she's so tense and tight that anything (soft or not) hurts!

We've done mineral oil--not doing it anymore, because it really didn't help. She does poop, so we don't need laxatives though I continue to push the fiber.

We have seen the doctor, who advised that I put her in Pull-Ups, and that I not make a big deal about it since she'll figure it out eventually. I was doing well with that, and that actually is what got her back onto a daily schedule. But a couple of things happened--she started peeing a lot in her Pull-Ups when we'd gotten her pee-trained in the potty. Very frustrating regression. Then I just got so sick and tired of her fear and pain--it is awful watching her get so stressed about pooping and crying her eyes out when it happens. You'd think I'd open up the Pull-Up and find a turd the size of her leg, but nope--still soft, every time.

That's why I'm trying to deal with the emotional stuff, trying to give her something to "hold onto" (the Placebo) to let her know it doesn't have to hurt. It seems to help a bit but it's not the "Magic Pill" I hoped.

So I guess we get back to what many of you have said--I have to wait. I may keep doing the Placebo "pills" though, because I think I see the wheels turning and see her learning a little tiny bit about not letting herself get so worked up and tense.

Sorry this is so long--not going to do personal replies to everyone because I'm getting more stressed about this just writing about it! :) I really do appreciate all the input and support.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there. Last week I really just stopped making an issue of the poop and we are now on day 6 or the poop going where it belongs.

As my friend said: "She'll get it together eventually. You don't poop in your pants do you?"

That was the little reality check I needed :)

C. Beth said...

Okay, I just took a few minutes to talk to Ana and to pray. I have to let go of this again, even if that means she has to work through the pain--as long as it's not a physical issue, it may just take time for the fear to go away. I hate that all my little brainstorms aren't enough to immediately fix it, but that's how it goes.

So I told Ana...
*She has soft poopie, and it doesn't need to hurt coming out.
*She needs to not run around and scream and cry; she just needs to let it out; it's up to her.
*If she needs Placebo she can ask for it (which she promptly did, twice--she got only one.) :)
*I've been chanting this little mantra today--"It doesn't have to hurt. I can push my poopy out." :) She even joined me at one point. But I told her if she needs me to say that, she can ask. I feel like by trying to "encourage" her I'm putting more pressure on her and also giving her attention which may be positive reinforcement for her fearful actions.

Then we prayed together. I'm ready to let this go again, watching carefully to make sure it doesn't turn into a physical constipation problem. The chart is on the fridge and can serve as visual reminder without me pointing it out. The "'cebo" is there if she feels like it helps.

And I'm going to get on with my day.

Jenibug7 said...

Just found your blog through a link on freecycle- hilarious!!! I have also heard GREAT things about Miralax. But also, Usbourne has a great book called "What Happens to your food" and maybe it will help her to know what is actually going on in there. It's a pretty cool book, and it helped my son to talk through what was happening when he needed to poop. :)

Isabella said...

I don't have experience with this (yet), but I just wanted to leave a comment. Even with all the frustration and issues, I think you are doing an awesome job by just trying to figure out what works best for you. Good luck! :)

C. Beth said...

So, she's still protesting loudly when she needs to poop, and when she does it, and when she gets changed, but I'm thinking her fear may be decreasing, considering...

...the girl has pooped THREE TIMES today.

(I'm going to need to delete this post and these comments when she gets old enough to read my blog, aren't I?)

Our Scoop said...

Ha! Poor little Ana. Very smart move Mommy! Many, many, many doctors prescribe placebos to people to "help" them. I don't think it was a lying in a bad way. I actually think it is smart that you pulled that out of the air in a pinch! That's awesome that she has nice, normal, frequent poops and that she eats a high fiber diet!! :) hee hee :) Yes, please delete this before this poor child reads this on her own :)

Kristi said...

I'm sorry this is still an issue for Chickie. I wish I could help. For what it's worth, I think your placebo idea was a great one. Praying for you and Chickie!

Anonymous said...

Beth, my friends daughter had the same issue. She got her a little potty that played music and stickers when you went potty. I can try to find the name for you. It seemed to do the trick! Good luck..

Anonymous said...

My six year old was terrified to go #2 on the potty. He would get so constipated that he'd get tummy aches. I remember him sitting on the potty, screaming, "It's coming out! Nooooo!!" And we'd try to encourage him along in the process. Honestly, it just took time and eventually he figured out it wasn't that big of deal. I seriously think Gunny will never be potty-trained. He just doesn't give a darn if he has to sit in a load all day. Nothing phases that kid!