Easier Said Than Done


Because of his disabilities, my son is totally incontinent. We follow a program of catheterization and enemas to keep him “Social.” He cannot do the enema alone, so there is always a parent supervising the procedure. It works like a charm.

Catheterization is another story. Roughly every 2½ hours he has to put a catheter in his bladder to drain out the pee. If this is done properly, he stays dry. If it is not done properly or not done at all, his bladder will eventually go into spasms and he will involuntarily wet himself.

As you can imagine, at age 10 failures has severe consequences. But being 10, it is a major pain to catheterize. It takes 5-7 minutes to accomplish. He can voluntarily go pee, but he cannot fully empty his bladder. If he does not empty his bladder, he cannot wait 2½ to go again.

10 year old boys are not the most responsible people on the planet. So occasionally or sometimes frequently, he gets busy playing or watching TV. Cathing takes too long so he either skips it altogether or just tries to go regular pee. As a result, several times a week, he has accidents. When it happens, he claims not to know it and may walk around for an hour or more with wet pants without cleaning himself up.

This happens frequently. It has happened with friends present. It has happened during basketball. It has happened at school. To date he has been very lucky. Either a parent/teacher notices and discretely leads him away or the people around him do not notice. That or they choose not to say anything.

But the odds are against him. If he does not become more responsible, at some point he is going to be humiliated, teased or beat up.

My wife and I are very protective. We have tried every motivational tool know to mankind to try and get him to encourage him to be more consistent. To date, our efforts have been less than effective. As you might imagine, this is a huge source of anxiety for us as parents. You want to protect your child from physical or psychological pain.

My wife spoke with a counselor about the topic. His advice is probably accurate, but supremely difficult for us as parents. Basically we have to let him suffer the consequences or his actions (or lack thereof). If he is humiliated a couple of times, he will become more responsible.

I know this is the right thing to do. But that does not make it any easier. I remember from my own childhood, that I hated taking a bath. When I was about my son’s age, I was teased by the neighbor kids for smelling. At first I thought they were just teasing. Then one of the older kids took me aside and told me that yes indeed I stank. It only took that one time. My hygiene from that point on was impeccable.

But sitting here some 30 odd years later, it still gives me a chill to think of it. Humiliation sticks to the soul.

I cannot watch my son 24/7. So this is going to happen and it is going to happen soon. I letting go is the right thing to do. But knowing that mentally and being prepared for it psychologically are two entirely different things.

Till it happens…I am holding my breath.

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