Thursday, September 26, 2019

Everybody poops. . . or not

Welcome to another episode of "Why Won't My Child Poop?" 

Today's cast of characters feature Ellie Bear, a distraught Mama Bear, clueless ER staff, members of the Comprehensive Care Clinic, and a jolly x-ray technician.

Want to know why this little Turkey is smiling?  This is outside Dell Children's Medical Center.
 She was there for her appt with Dr. Simon.  Elli is in luv with him. 

First, a little background:

I am unfortunately known among many parenting groups as "the poop guru" (seriously who wants that title as their claim to fame?) as I can pretty much get any child to poop. . . except my own.

Remember way back when Ellie went 22 days without defecating?  Well, by end of August we were back to that.  Okay, that is an over exaggeration as this go around it was more like 6 days, but given her surgical intervention from 2 years and 9 months ago, constipation shouldn't even be an issue.

Sadly, all of my experience as a former pediatric nurse practitioner and working closely with her gastroenterologist pretty much amounted to big amount of nothing in the Bear's land of excrement.  For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, then you are aware of such lengths we went to in the past to regulate Ellie's GI tract and we now know that she has what is called moderate-to-severe delayed colonic transit.  That's a fancy way of saying Ellie's colon doesn't move stool through it, but instead sits there getting harder and harder thus distending the colon.  If you really want to know the entire story as to what interventions, diagnostic tests, and whatnot that we have tried,  you can search this blog for "constipation" or "cecostomy" or click on the label on the right side bar or if you are feeling extra feisty, google "cecostomy" and this blog pops up.


For those of you who are new to the Bear's adventures, Her Royal Stinker Butt had a cecostomy performed surgically back in December of 2016.  The purpose of this tube is that it allows for high volume enemas to be given directly into the top of the colon, thus flushing her out.  There are many types of enemas, but we were pretty much sticking with saline.  In theory, I know isn't everything great in theory?  Anyway, in theory, these enemas would keep her colon mostly empty and thus preventing her from getting constipated.  For the most part, it worked . . . until July when we were finding ourselves have to near daily enemas via the tube and even some rectal ones with minimal results.

Medications that cause constipation:

Do you ever read the side effects of medications?  Nearly every single of one of them go like this:

  • Headache
  • Diarrhea / Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue /Insomnia

So . . . Ellie Bear lost weight about 18 months ago.  Some of it was expected because we took her off of the Risperdal which caused excessive eating and excessive weight gain.  What we didn't expect was the amount of weight that she lost - over 7 lb.  Then that was it.  She just stopped growing for the most part.  She was still eating close to 1800 calories/day which is a lot of a child her age with Down syndrome (people with Ds have about 10-20% slower metabolism compared to the general population), but other than growing in height a little less than an inch, she hovers around 46 lb.  She is now 10 years-old.  She is not on the growth chart for weight while she is 18% for height on a Ds chart.

First vs. Last day of school last year

Where am I going with this failure-to-thrive nonsense?  Appetite stimulants!  That's right, GI has determined that she is 5-10 lb(!!!) underweight and she is probably a kiddo that just has a high metabolism and thus needs more calories. (E has a history of failure to thrive and again, there are several posts on this blog that address the FTT and determine what was the cause). Therefore, we started her on cyproheptadine (Periactin), which is a prescription antihistamine that works as an appetite stimulant (and along a migraine preventative FYI).  Again, where am I going with this?  One of the top side effects is. . . ding ding ding freaking constipation!!!

Mismatched shoes are in vogue right now - as per Fashionista Ellie

The point of this blog post:

Okay y'all.  Now that we've establish that my daughter was no longer excreting fecal matter on a regular basis thanks to a medication, she ended up in the ER.  After 2 months of never getting fully cleared out and then 6 days of nothing at all.  Absolutely nothing, I didn't know what else to do from home.  Saline, mineral oil, glycerin enemas.  Enema through the tube.  Rectal enemas.  We maxed out on what we could give her without causing phosphorus poisoning.  She looked pregnant and her stomach was hard.  The gas though. . . this child was tooting like her life depended on it.  The house and classroom smelled like cabbage and dead decaying squirrels.  Believe it or not, this was a good thing because it means there was no obstruction.

So there we were hanging out in the ER for fun and the resident walks in.  I start to relay what all I have shoved into this kid's colon (which would have been the equivalent of a colonoscopy bowel prep for at least 4 adults) and I am getting the whole skeptical "so this is all rectal?" and "are you sure she hasn't gone to the bathroom with all of that?"  Gah!  What part of tube in her colon or cecostomy tube were they not getting?!  After explaining it all yet again, I finally hear:

"So what is a cecostomy tube?"

Now granted, this was a resident and she was still learning and cecostomies are not common so I went with the:  "So a cecostomy is when  the appendix is brought to the surface of the abdomen and it is used for high volume enemas to essentially flush out the colon ..... and here are some pictures. . . "  For tips on preventing your child from pulling out tubes (i.e. g-tube and/or cecostomy tube), click here.

An x-ray was ordered to rule out bowel obstruction. Because the x-ray tech was a male, Ellie wanted to show off her awesomeness and be-bops over to the exam table for her x-ray and poses like she is a fashion model.

Then nothing.  I hear nothing!  The attending never comes in.  The resident doesn't come back in.  However, the nurse comes in with another enema which we could have done at home and I ask her for the x-ray results which to summarize involved a large volume of solid stool (no kidding, Sherlock). Let us not forget the 1cm x 1.5 cm foreign body that left me sighing and saying "again?"!  Twinkletoes has a history of this - see here.  Of course, they are all, "she'll poop it out." except my kid wasn't emptying her bowel at all!  After painfully pushing out the equivalent of 2 small meatballs, we were discharged without ever seeing the attending or resident.

The following morning, I informed GI that I would no longer be administering the cyproheptadine to Ellie.  The ER visit was August 26th and it wasn't until Sept 9th that things finally became regular.  It should be noted that while it appeared that Ellie gained 2 lb while on the appetite stimulant, she has lost those two pounds.  I am taking a survey on how many ounces you believe was stool.  Also of note, I never did find that foreign body.


*While this is a Down syndrome related blog, many of the health issues and psychiatric illnesses discussed here are unique to Ellie and not necessarily related to her having Ds.* Please see more information under the Disclaimers tab.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

A message from The Ellie Bear







Next Month is Down Syndrome Awareness month and I hope to have a special post for y'all.  I also seem to have 3 unpublished blog posts that I never got around to finishing.  Just a lot of thoughts rolling around in my head and I'm having trouble getting them to paper/computer as well as the usual medical nonsense that Ellie must endure. *notice my husband's face in that last pic?  Yep, he wasn't entertained by our antics! *

Monday, September 16, 2019

Happy 10th Birthday, Ellie Bear!

Ten Years ago today. . . .

Ellie Marie Theurer
6 lb 10 oz
19.25 inches

Nickname: Ellie Bear; Chunky Chicken
Favorite past-time: sleeping 
Favorite food: formula
Favorite person: Daddy 
Favorite Book: Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boyton
Favorite Song: Personal Penguin (from a book by Sandra Boyton)
Favorite TV show: Criminal Minds. . . wait, that was my favorite show to watch while I was feeding her

Today . . . Age 10

Ellie Marie Theurer

Nicknames:  Ellie Bear, Princess Twinkletoes, Turkey Bear, Stinker Butt, Miss Sassy-Pants

Grade in school: 4th grade

Favorite food: Nutella

Favorite past-time: playing with Barbies and coloring

Favorite activities: dancing, swimming, and horse back riding

Favorite people (in order of importance): Daddy, Kyla, Baba, Dr. Simon, Dr. Rangwalla, Dr. Rosenbloom, Dr. McQuiston, Mama, Grant, Grace, and Jack

Favorite Books: Pete the Cat books and Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

Favorite Song: Don't Cry by Guns N Roses

Favorite TV show: Mickey Mouse

A Few Highlights

Irvine Park in California

Seal Beach, CA


Spring Break in St. Louis, MO

A rather unfortunate hospital stay

Attending a Kidz Bop concert


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A mask for kids with Down syndrome

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