My Six-Year-Old is My Drinking Buddy: A Story About Water and Poo
My daughter has a problem. Not a huge problem in the grand scheme of things and one that supposedly will resolve itself with time, proper training, and awareness, called encopresis. It started when she was about three after she’d already been potty trained. She started having poo smears and accidents 8–10 times per day. I let this go for a while but after washing or going through countless pairs of underwear and not wanting her to revert back to pull-ups, I sought medical advice.
At first, the pediatrician didn’t feel any blockage and because of her young age, though it must be a dietary issue. We spent a full year trying all sorts of elimination diets to see if something helped. She had her blood tested for celiac disease and other things I can’t remember now. All tests came back negative and there were no significant improvements from any of the dietary changes. Around this time, she was also starting to get bad tummy aches. There would be times when she would be playing with friends at the park and she’d suddenly double over in pain and I’d have to carry her home. Her pediatrician put her on the list to see a gastrointestinal specialist.
At the hospital for her appointment, she had an x-ray that clearly showed blockage in her colon so I was instructed to give her regular “clear outs”. The clear outs were a bit of a nightmare — painful for her physically since she hated the taste of the laxatives and how much water she’d have to drink with them (sometimes she’d throw some of them up) and they made her tummy sore. Emotionally it became stressful for both of us; I hated putting her through it. We switched specialists when the first one showed no empathy towards my daughter’s resistance or lack of improvement. Her medication was switched and even though she still had to have a few clear outs, she was given more tolerable options. She is still struggling. I have been keeping a poo journal for three years now and am forever cleaning or buying her underpants despite regular bathroom breaks, increased fiber in her diet, and having a water bottle with her at all times.
My daughter’s diagnosis has helped me to change the way we eat and drink. I was already a fitness coach but became certified as a wellness coach also so I could make better choices for my family as well as my clients. My biggest takeaway from all this is just how hard it can be to drink water. It’s not that my daughter doesn’t like it (I have a friend who actually hates water) she just can’t seem to drink much of it. Trying to get her to drink her water has made me hyper-aware of how much water I drink on a regular basis. It was only ever instinctual during or after physical activity. During the day, however, I would just forget or couldn’t be bothered to. Now that I have a better understanding of how important water intake is for regulating our hormones, satiety and overall wellness, I’ve calculated how much water I need to drink for my body weight and size and carry it around with me all day in a water bottle — just like my daughter. Every time I remind her to drink, I drink. Gradually, like any life changes we make, it becomes easier over time and it’s become more of a habit now; more instinctual. I can only hope it helps with her encopresis and I can quit my job as the “poo police”. In the meantime, we’re helping each other. There are far worse things so we count our blessings and drink our water.