Dealing with Chronic Constipation

alex in hospital
On Saturday I had an unexpected trip to accident and emergency with Alex. From the day he was born, he has suffered with chronic constipation. There have been periods of time when he has been very constipated and times when he has had no issues. We really thought that he had grown out of it when he potty trained as he has no issues for the last 8 or so months, but unfortunately 6 weeks ago, it started again.

Alex spent the best part of Friday and Saturday trying to poo, but unfortunately it wasn’t happening. I decided that at this point it was time for an enema as he couldn’t keep going like this. The first movement was fine, but the 3 after that were full of blood. I have often seen blood if he has pushed too hard, but this was on a whole different level. I knew that something wasn’t right. I sent a quick picture to my mum (she must have really loved me that day!) and asked her opinion. And then off to the hospital, we went. I really felt that we would be sent home and that I was overreacting. When it comes to our health I am always so conscious of wasting doctor’s time and tend to try to care for us at home, unless I know that there is a definite cause for medical intervention.

Alex was so well looked after in accident and emergency. There was no waiting for a doctor or tests, which was an absolute joy as Alex is very active and finds it hard to sit still. The doctor examined Alex and felt that his belly looked abnormally distended. He looked like Onslow from Keeping Up Appearances as I couldn’t get his t-shirt to meet his trousers! He had bloods done and a xray and thankfully they were clear. We spent 2 nights in the children’s ward so that he could be observed and thankfully he was fine. When we were being discharged, every doctor gave us a different explanation as to what the cause could have been. They ranged from Alex having eaten something red and it wasn’t actually blood to an anal fissure and hemorrhoids and just about everything in between. We were sent home on Monday night with a referral letter to see a pediatric surgeon in Nicosia and a prescription for 10 mls of lactulose daily with the advise to come back in 10 days.

Thankfully, Alex has been fantastic throughout the entire ordeal and has loved telling everyone about his “bloods”! I have always pushed for a reason to the constipation but our local hospital have never been too forthcoming with providing a diagnosis. In my opinion, if a child is suffering with something from birth, then the chances are it is a condition causing the issue and not his diet. Our doctor was helpful in treating the symptoms but not so much in getting to the root of the problem. When I sit with Alex for hours on end rubbing his back and helping him as much as I can, it is very hard to see my concerns dismissed or to be made to feel like I am being a drama queen (one of the pediatricians actually said this to me when I was insistent that he was constipated and she was equally sure he wasn’t. Turns out Mum always knows best!).

alex and donnie

Today was both a good and bad day as we got one step closer to a diagnosis and solving this awful problem. The surgeon we saw has suggested that Alex may have Hirschsprung’s┬áDisease. From what I can gather, it is a congenital disease where the nerves in part of the colon never developed meaning the poo cannot be pushed out. It apparently fits with all his symptoms as this has been an ongoing issue since birth. He will need to have a barium enema in 5 weeks times and if that shows up abnormalities he will then need a biopsy under general anesthetic and then he will more than likely have the diseased part of his bowel removed. To say that this caught me off guard would be an understatement. I was not prepared for the fact that he may need surgery. I always assumed it was a dietary issue but after chatting with the lovely surgeon today, it seems that more than likely this is not the case. As the issue has been present since birth, it would seem that my little man has an illness of some kind that is causing these issues.

Should we be faced with the fact that barium enema shows no abnormalities then we will be refered to a pediatric gastroenterologist who will begin testing for diseases such as Crohns and ulcerative colitis. Whilst I am currently hoping that the enema shows no issues, I am not sure I want him to be diagnosed with the alternative either. I know that we can’t continue like this any longer, but it all seems to have gotten serious, very quickly.

Hopefully, the next few weeks will pass quickly and we will find a dose of lactulose that Alex can tolerate. Whilst I am not anxious or worrying about the test next month, I am looking forward to it being over and done with and one step closer to finding the cause of this problem.

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