The Boy Who Cried Bowel

Mike is no stranger to tummy "troubles".

When he was three, he got a little constipated. Of course, it hurt when things finally worked themselves out. In Mike's little toddler brain he reasoned: pooping hurts; pooping is bad; therefore, I will avoid pooping at all costs. He would hold his bowels (up to a week one time) until he couldn't stand up straight. He would just lay on the couch, trying not to poop. There was nothing we could say that could deter him from his original theory and plan. It seriously took a whole year of high-fiber and mineral oil; literal hand holding (while he screamed on the toilet) and coaching to reprogram him into thinking "pooping is a good thing".

Then there was the time when he was four. We were out at a restaurant when he started screaming that his stomach hurt. If we touched his abdomen at all, he would shriek even louder. We rushed him to the Children's Hospital Emergency Room. I jumped out with Mike, while Curtis parked the car. When I got inside with him, he said he needed to pee. As Curtis was rushing into the waiting room, Mike was skipping out of the bathroom happy as a clam, exclaiming to his dad across the room,

It was just bad pee, Dad! It was just bad pee!

Then there were all those times recently when Mike suddenly developed a stomach ache right after he was told to clean his room or go to bed.

So when Mike woke up at 2 a.m. this morning screaming that his stomach hurt, we were not in uncharted territory. He was screaming, crying, and writhing in pain. It would stop for a little bit, we would all fall back asleep, then BAM! again with the screaming, crying, writhing. I slept on the couch with him, holding his head to comfort him. We finally did get to sleep for a stretch, but then again at about 6:30 a.m. it started all over again. I figured he had just eaten something that didn't agree with him and that it was angrily working itself out.

But what if it wasn't that? What if it really was his appendix this time and we didn't do anything and it exploded? I mean, I had to have an appendectomy and my dad had to have an appendectomy... it ran in the family. We also remembered that he had gotten hit in the abdomen with his handlebars yesterday afternoon. What if he had ruptured something and he was bleeding internally... right now!? Then there was the intensity of his reaction. He seemed like he truly was in some serious pain.

So, while he was screaming, crying, writhing on the couch, I got everything ready. I laid him in the backseat of the mini-van and we set out for the crosstown rush-hour traffic drive to the Children's Hospital Emergency Room.

Amazingly, once I got him in the car, there was no more screaming, crying or writhing. He actually fell asleep. By the time we got checked in, he was begging to play with the toys in the lobby. By the time we got into the room, he said he felt fine. His self-diagnosis this time:

It is probably just my "growth spout".
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The doctor felt his abdomen. There was a tiny bit of pain in the center, but other than that Mike said it didn't hurt. She said she didn't think it was anything serious because his appendix wasn't tender and if he had an internal injury that occurred eighteen hours ago, he would be much sicker by now. But she would run a urine test and take an X-ray, just to be sure.

Curtis even rushed out of work to meet us at the E.R. By the time he arrived, Mike was feeling totally fine. Eventually, Mike said he needed to go to the bathroom. After an epic bowel movement, he was completely cured. The doctor made it official when she came in with the x-ray results. "I saw a bunch of air and a big poop-ball in there, ready to come out."

Nothing like paying a $100 co-pay to use the Emergency Room bathroom. (Not to mention all the bills we will get sent to us later.)

I know we made the right decision, though. Even though it was so embarrassing. I actually caught myself wishing he would start screaming, crying, and writhing, just so I could say: "See! I'm not making this up! I am not a hysterical over-reacting mother! Really!" We had to take him in because the "what ifs" were just too dangerous to risk not going. Everybody knew it: the techs, the nurses and the doctor; and we all laughed over it.

Then I went home and took a nap.