November 1, 2021

Harry and the potty, unfortunately, no wizardry here

Bathroom issues that were never disclosed.  

* We were never told that Harry had trouble in the bathroom. I can't even say for sure what that trouble is. He either likes to hang out in there, or is having trouble going. Maybe he knows he can avoid life while in there. Control?  Physical? Psychological? Not sure. But shame on Indiana for not being upfront. Debbie eventually shared with us that Harry had this issue while he lived with her. She once casually mentioned that he'd get backed up. She thought it was his meds. I thought it was likely NO FRUIT in his diet. I didn't have ANY IDEA how big a deal it was. 

Shortly after they moved in, I noticed that ANYWHERE we went, Harry would ask to use the bathroom. Checking out of Target, home in 5 minutes. He requested the bathroom. Grocery store -same. I knew he didn't have to go, so I said no. He threatened to pee on himself:  I'LL DEAL WITH WHATEVER HAPPENS, BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T BEEN GONE V ERY LONG.YOU WENT RIGHT BEFORE WE LEFT AND WE'RE ON OUR WAY HOME. 

He made a scene, grabbing his crotch. I ignored it. When we got home, he ran to play in the yard and didn't go to the bathroom for hours. 

From day one, I started giving both boys Activia. I heard that probiotics help with anxiety. I hoped to find ways, other than piles of pill bottles, to deal with their anxiety. Larry liked yogurt. Harry didn't. The pediatrician said Harry's meds didn't constipate him. Later, the psychiatrist would TOTALLY disagree. I was like HUH? The psychiatrist told me I KNOW BETTER THAN THE PEDIATRICIAN.  

Tough thing of MANY in this process:  so many schools of thought or different approaches or cluelessness. For example, Indiana not even knowing about Trauma Informed parenting classes. They didn't seem to fully grasp the impact of the trauma on these boys. 

* Oh, and the odor when he does poop:  CAN WE LIST THE HOUSE AND MOVE? Is it his meds? He has the most serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out). We wonder if he holds it in WAY TOO LONG and then creates issues. Perhaps because he stays in the bathroom so long afterwards, his clothes absorb the smell. I compare it to when I cook piles of bacon and then I smell like bacon. 

Um, show of hands, who'd rather smell like bacon?  

Over the summer, my kids begged me to figure it out. No joke, we had to section off parts of the house or ask him to warn us. I told him it was part of living with so many people:  good manners. I also legitimately worried what would happen once he started school and he was in a classroom smelling like this. I mentioned it to the pediatrician at his Aug 20th physical. No one knew how to address it. I considered taking him to a gastroenterologist. 

Once, Reg agreed to read with Harry. Then Harry was in the bathroom forever. He smelled absolutely ungodly when Reg sat with him. Reg made an excuse to chat with me:  I CAN'T DO IT. IT'S MAKING ME FEEL SICK. Lest you think Reg was being a jerk, it really is hard to describe. I didn't blame him. Reg felt bad. He was like I WILL DO ANYTHING ELSE TO HELP YOU, JUST NOT THAT. NOT RIGHT NOW. 

Taking a photo:  an approved college move
in activity, causing the room to need
 to be fumigated:  against
the move-in day code.
The day we moved Tank into his dorm, Harry tried to go to the bathroom in the
bathroom in Tank's dorm room that he shared with suitemates. Tank, who was already anxious, lost his mind when he saw Harry heading in there. I stopped him. IF YOU'RE GOING TO POOP YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO GO TO THE LOBBY. I explained:  small space/ Tank's roomie could be there any minute. If Tank's never-before-met roomie showed up, there would be no explaining the stench. No exaggeration. I'm sure we sound awful, but seriously I change a lot of smelly diapers - this was NOT normal. 

I believe the yogurt in the morning and the fruit/veggies helps. He isn't spending as much time in the bathroom as he was early on and the odor is much less offensive. Like, much less. 

* When school started, he was spending over 20 minutes in the bathroom during instruction while at school MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY. Teachers had to stand outside the bathroom and tell him to get out. He would shout at them if they tried to limit his bathroom visits. 

By mid September, Coach and I said, NO MORE. The teachers gave him a clipboard. They had to sign off on frequency and duration of visits to the bathroom. If he could get through a day going two times or fewer for less than 5 minutes each, he got a movie night on Friday. 

Harry cried when we suggested the new system:  I CAN'T! We pointed out that he didn't do that at home anymore. He told us:  THAT'S BECAUSE THERE'S STUFF TO DO. We were like, a) there's more important 'stuff to do' at school, and b) then you're telling us that this is a choice, not a necessity. 

Coach just kept saying YOU CAN DO THIS. Harry succeeded in the first week when we rolled out the new movie night plan. He chose Eight Below as his movie. 

* Then there's fruit. He fights me for fruit and Activia. In fact, that's how I became butt sore - most likely permanently. Harry had a screaming fit the 2nd week he was here. He didn't want to eat fruit at lunch, prolonging time at the table. When we had to drive Reg to basketball, he refused to get in the car.  

I was trying REALLY hard not to make my kids suffer or miss their 'stuff' because of a fit or a meltdown. I chased Harry across the deck in hopes of steering him to the car. Unfortunately, when Harry stopped suddenly to change directions, so did I. My butt was upset. Eventually, Reg picked him up in a cradle-the-baby position and walked him kicking and screaming to the car. That was a loud and uncomfortable car ride. Not the first, not the last. I limped to the car, been hurting ever since. 

When Harry complains or refuses to eat fruit, I point out lengthy bathroom time isn't the norm. Fruit and veggies are necessary. I let him pick the fruit he wants. Options. Small portions. Veggies at dinner:  another part of the equation and something else that ticks him off.

Also, bathroom discussions set him off and trying to handle the issue meant trying to discuss it. It was stressful.
Boys in soccer uniforms cheering
 for Curly at her travel b-ball game.
Coming soon, Larry's favorite past time:  TATTLING. Oh, and how obsessed can one kid be about what he wears? Larry always seemed more easy going and manageable. Just another mystical illusion. 

People classify the early weeks or months of adoption as the honeymoon phase. Coach and I felt like we weren't really granted a honeymoon phase, but looking back despite the early issues those WERE the easier days. 

A favorite priest of ours, Fr. Bernie, preached one day in his homily YOU CAN DO MORE. That was the push Coach needed to get on the same page as me and we began the adoption journey together from there on out. It was Thanksgiving weekend 2017.

Some mornings this fall, I woke up and thought:  


Pat Birnie said...

Oh boy those bathroom issues! I have never heard of the stink staying with the person afterwards...unless, as happened with my kids on occasion, they weren’t doing a good job of cleanup. It certainly has been one challenge after another. Kudos for trying so hard to not make your kids miss any events - and sorry about the butt injury. Ouch, and this one is lingering.

I hope the fruit and veg battle gets easier. I have a 40 year old nephew that “doesn’t like fruit”. Period. Never has and I don’t think at this point he will change now. That’s just odd to me.

Beth Cotell said...

Yikes! I can only imagine that smell and yes, I would definitely rather smell like bacon!

Sorry these kids have been such a pain in your butt! :) Don't hate me - I couldn't resist.

Ally Bean said...

Now this is something I never would have thought about when deciding to adopt. How peculiar and how disturbing.

Ernie said...

Pat - You bring up a good point and yes, we considered that. He insisted that he'd wiped well, but really there was no way of checking. The smell was more overpowering than just a bad wipe job though.

It was hard to imagine how day to day life would happen until they arrived, and I continued to wonder who I'd still get kids places if we were dealing with some behavior. It was rough. I'd imagined a million scenarios as far as what to do if things ran off the rails. Well, off the rails was pretty regular. We tried ignoring, offering incentives, removing privileges. You name it.

Harry initially would eat strawberries. Then switched to apple. Then it was only grapes. I live in fear of when grapes are out of season.

Anonymous said...

Wow, for someone who has probably cleaned up more poop than most nurses, if you say the smell is bad, it must be awful! Do you think he has never been taught to clean himself up, and wash his hands, properly? Since it sounds like they raised themselves from a young age.
If he fights you on the yogurt and fiber, maybe you can sneak some miralax into his drinks? It’s tasteless, works well for my younger kiddo who has constipation issues. Although probiotics, fruits and veggies are super important and hopefully they’ll get used to them and start enjoying a few types. But for the days you don’t feel like fits and fighting, maybe miralax or something like it would help?

Ernie said...

Ally - I agree. It wasn't on our radar AT ALL. It isn't really that easy to manage. It's a touchy topic and it could be a result of so many different problems. It was hard to know what angle to believe.

Ernie said...

AM - The smell was staggering. He did know how to wash his hands and we did cover wiping and whether or not that was happening, as much as we could without investigating. The lingering smell was more than just a bad wipe job. Plus I was doing the laundry and never saw ANY evidence that he wasn't wiping well.

Larry, on the other hand, hid his underwear when he had some streak issues. I told him not to hide it, that I could handle it in the laundry. Then we chatted about not waiting too long, or neglecting to wipe and that issue cleared up really fast.

I was buying the yogurt at Costco in bulk. Both boys preferred the vanilla, but the Costco box had a mix of flavors. Eventually I just spent more money and bought the vanilla packs at the regular grocery store. It wasn't worth the battle. He also didn't mind the shakes, although he'd started out refusing those too. Larry would rat him out occasionally for dumping them down the sink.

Jenny in WV said...

Oh dear, what a smelly situation. I hope the odor issues can be resolved, because unfortunately, society will likely not react kindly to them.

I was thinking this weekend of your post about the party at germ-o-rama and Reg and Curly's basketball game prowess. It must have been a nice experience for them to get to be in the impressive adored older sibling role for a moment.

me said...

I imagine some of this is all about control issues. I have a kid who is in the bathroom for long times ( and it has been known to delay us leaving for events if G is in the bathroom!) For him it's mostly diet and a bit of anxiety.
However, as an adult who does not like fruit at all, I have sympathy for Harry - fruit is slimy or has weird textures and slippery - ugh. I'd stick with vegetables if this is a sensory issue. Vegetables tend to be firm and not squishy. (Baby carrots, broccoli - avoid okra!)
You know, you are having to learn all about an 8 and 10 year old in a short period of time. Let alone their issues due to trauma, you are trying to do what you'd normally have years to do. It's gotta be rough.

Busy Bee Suz said...

The bathroom issues. Wow. I never would have guessed. I bet he just didn't take the time to thoroughly clean himself. Yikes. How does one deal with something delicate like that?
The challenges are never-ending with these two and I'm sorry for that.

Charlie said...

Wow, talk about issues you wouldn’t have dreamed of. It’s so interesting about how sociological and psychological issues have physical side effects. And so so sad.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Yes, true. It seemed like the Ativia and the rest of the diet has helped. Exactly my fear - this cannot continue because he will get remarks at school. His teacher told me the kids were already asking why he was in the bathroom so much.

Reg and Curly did enjoy being super stars that day.

Ernie said...

me - Yes, it could very well have something to do with control, or the fact that he holds it if he doesn't want to be bothered to go, or diet, or medication. It is so hard to pinpoint.

Yes there has been a lot of catching up to do, so much of this is hard to figure out because they weren't here for the years when things would've been easier to figure out. Now there is lots of other issues that get in they way.

Ernie said...

Suz - It was an all encompassing stench. I really don't think it was that he didn't take care of business, because I think that would've been obvious when I did the laundry. His worker, Jo, was clueless about it. I was like SOMEONE TELL US WHAT TO DO HERE. As usual, we were trying to maneuver without enough info or background or support. Exhausting. We knew it was going to be hard, but SO much was not discussed in advance and then we came to learn that there had been similar issues at Debbie's house. Why leave us in the dark?

Ernie said...

Charlie - Yes, sad indeed. We'd come across kids with bed wetting or kids who refused to poop - there's a name for it. Harry was diagnosed with anything.

He did prefer to sleep on a bar mattress - always ripping the sheets off the mattress during the night. Honestly, that was mind blowing. I was like, this is the part of the bed that I can clean. I can't have you sleep on the bare mattress. I can't fit it in my washing machine. He did gradually get better about that.

Bibliomama said...

Gah, extremely difficult. I like the options you're offering for eating more fruit. I think a lot of kids who feel out of control end up with gut issues, and I hope as they begin to feel more secure with you and adopt more healthy habits things will improve.

Anonymous said...

I know we are getting to this slowly but surely, but how are things going now?
I think if you all often, and am hoping with all my might that everyone lands in safe, happy places.