Monday, 2 July 2018

My Childhood Health

As most of you will be aware, I have posted about my mental health on various forms of social media, advocating for stigma against anxiety and depression to be removed. Of course, this doesn't involve a hospital appointment, however, it has involved the GP, medication and counselling to help recover.

Now I am going to talk about the several things that happened to me when I was a kid, majority of them involving the hospital. Some things that happened in my life were temporary, others had a huge impact on my life and they still do to this day. I am going to go in order from minimal impact today to pretty considerable impact today, so you have an idea of how fun my childhood was.

Elbow/arm sprain
Remember when you were in primary school and everyone seemed to have a broken bone of some sort at one point? Whether it was a broken arm or leg or collarbone. For me (touch wood), I have never broken a bone in my body. I was close to though. I was in Primary 3 and had a scooter, so I went on it down the street past my house. Stupidly, I had a little flag in one hand and thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool if I could ride with just the one hand and wave this flag at the same time?' Next thing you know, BAM! I was down on the ground and hit my elbow on the pavement whilst doing it. Now, I am a very emotional person, I cry when I hear a sad story about a child or a puppy. So I cried, A LOT. I stumbled into the house holding my arm, screaming. I remember my mum putting a sling on it and the next day, we went to the local small hospital. Apparently, I did not break my arm, just sprained it so I still had a sling on for I would say, nearly a week. So sadly, I didn't wear a cast for everyone to sign, and I remember being so disappointed with that. But hey, at least I healed. :)

Back teeth removed
So it's no surprise, I have a big mouth. I was 10 or 11 I think when I had to go to the hospital under general anaesthetic to have my back teeth removed. That was the first time I was getting an operation and I was bricking it. I mean, I was a nervous child. The not eating before the operation was the worst, probably because I was also fat as a kid. I remember having to ask for the strawberry mask because I had a severe fear of needles when I was younger. Now, I donate blood every so often and the thought of getting the flu jab every year doesn't give me the fear. I remember not being very happy once the operation was done, spitting blood in the sick bowl scared me. However, my dad bought two Bratz dolls for me as a 'well done for being brave' present. They were Phoebe and Roxxi and I adored them! Today, I still have gaps in between my teeth where the old ones were taken out, it's not too much of a concern for dentists. But hey, at least I didn't have to wear braces! I had enough to deal with at this point.

Ingrown toenails
So, I have my dad and his side of the family to thank for this. Ingrown toenails were the bane of my life throughout primary school and the first year of high school. I couldn't go on the school trips, I missed out on PE classes for 3 years. I had my feet in these god awful sandal-like shoes because my toes were in massive bandages. Sexy right?! I had to get the bandages redressed every day, thankfully the nurse I had was an absolute legend and made me laugh loads. Some people were empathetic towards my recovery, I had a week off of high school and came back to a slight warm welcome, others weren't as encouraging. My PE teacher, for example, was so pissed that I missed a lot of her 'teaching' that she pretty much had a full-blown argument with my parents. But when I was better and got back into PE, she still didn't like me at all. Probably because I was shit at PE, to begin with, I am the most unfit person you will ever meet.
I remember each operation being slightly different, however, it was the return of the strawberry mask every time. The first one I woke up crying and felt out of sorts for days. The second time, I woke up like I had just had a nap and asked for a cup of tea to the nurse as soon as I saw her. The third time, I remember having a pretty intense dream, where the background to it was a bright grey, that unsettled me when I woke up. Third time lucky though, I haven't had any problems with my big toes since. Well, apart from my May ball when someone stood on my foot with a kilt shoe and took my nail completely off. Of course, I was paranoid that it was going to start the ingrown symptoms, one year later though and it's absolutely fine. Sadly, my brother had to go through a similar situation. He had his toenail completely removed, whereas I had the sides of my nails cut off because I am female. However, I hardly ever show my feet out instead of in my flat, never wear sandals and never paint my toenails. Actually, I don't paint my nails at all now but that's beside the point.
What I have learnt from my ingrown toenail journey is, make sure your shoes and socks fit you properly, even if they are the slightest bit tight, get rid! Watch how your toenails are trimmed, be careful when trimming your own nails. Finally, Sudocream is a miracle worker and your best friend so always make sure you have some in the house.

Childhood faecal impaction & Abdominal distension
Now we are getting to the deep stuff, the shit I'm scared to talk about, excuse the pun.
First of all, if you are a parent or have experienced this yourself and feel embarrassed to talk about it like you're the only one who knows what it's like, I would advise you to take a look at this website.
It gives you advice for both the children experiencing this and the parents trying to find a solution. The video as well is extremely useful as it pretty much explains what I went through as a child and the medication I took to combat it. And yes, the name does look quite amusing, poo jokes are a thing and people can laugh about poo on a regular basis, however, this situation with poo is anything BUT funny.
This is coming from someone who experienced this several times in her life between the ages of 3/4-15 and it has caused heavy repercussions to this day. Ok, let's not beat around the bush, started so I might as well continue.
So when I was really young, I had built this childhood fear of going to the toilet and doing a number 2. This meant I would cross my legs, hold my breath and stay rigid just to keep it in when the urge came.
Why I was afraid to poo, I still do not know to this day. Maybe the thought of something big, hard and painful (I see you snigger!) coming out freaking me out. Maybe it was the embarrassing thought of soiling myself in a public place. Maybe it was growing up with a sibling with an additional support need and I felt I needed attention from my parents. Maybe I was too lazy just to go, who knows.
My diet growing up till I was around 8/9 years old consisted of sausage and chips, chicken nuggets and chips, spaghetti hoops, basically lived on the typical oven or MacDonald's food. This food obviously had a lot of carbs and fibre which made the situation worse.
I was assigned to a paediatrician in the same hospital I later had my operations, meaning that my dad had to drive me there during a school day to go and get checked every month or so. I remember the room in the hospital and the Playstation they had, they had a Monsters Inc game and a Rugrats game. Soon the nurse would get me weighed, it was one of those scales I had to sit on, ask me and my dad questions as to how my diet was and whether I had been to the toilet. This lasted for years, let me tell you. Until one day, I tried new food and had a new diet, must have been to the toilet several times so they let me go. Bet the room has been refurbished since then.
The one thing I remember about having this condition as clear as day was the macrogol laxative or Movicol Half I had to take. It. Tasted. Disgusting! It was a powdered substance in a packet that I would have it mixed in with lemon diluting juice and take it up to twice a day. To this day, I cannot have diluted lemon juice because it just reminds me of that powder. Whether my constipation was quite serious considering I had the adult macrogol laxative to take, who knows. It was very much a hit or miss, sometimes going to the toilet was no problems, others I would go back to clenching all of the muscles in my body.

It was a hard time I try really hard to block from my memory. I never spoke about it to anyone, apart from my close best friend and my counsellor. So let's just say this post is quite a big deal for me. Time throughout my childhood was tough, mainly because I would have to take a change of clothes with me all the time to school. I would wear night time pants till I was 8 in case an accident happened. I was bullied CONSTANTLY for this, being called fat by the other children in my class from when I was 6, being told to look like I was six months pregnant from adults, I was completely isolated from others. So people wonder why I spend a lot of time on my own, I guess when I was younger I didn't have much of a choice and then it's lead to this isolation even today.
I managed to recover from it and spent the later years in primary school, early years of secondary school focusing on my ingrown toenails instead (my childhood was great eh?). Then when it came to exam time in 3rd year, all of a sudden, I crossed my legs and held it in again. Was it stress that was causing it? Was it the childhood fear coming back with a vengeance? It was like all the work I had done to combat this went to waste. Thankfully, I pushed myself to go and even though it hurt like hell, I was in the clear again.
So how has it affected me today you're probably wondering. That's where the abdominal distension part comes in. Constipation led to the lower half of my body becoming incredibly bloated, so my colon and my lower intestine swelled up considerably. This meant that my belly extends outwards, looking like a beer belly, yet I've had it since I was 6. I can suck it in to look slim however it is uncomfortable for me to do. I can get bloated very easily, stomach cramps are extremely painful and as for fitting into clothes, yeah, it's not fun. As a child, I was always fatter and larger than the average size/weight for that age, but my belly played a huge part in that. To this day, my belly has often made me worried, for example, if I have children in the future, will my distension cause a problem? Still, confidence-wise though, it really drags it down. I hate looking at photos of myself growing up, even today when my belly sticks out like a sore thumb. When I sit my belly rolls make me look disgusting. I hate my body. Always have. But I guess it was my fault for doing this to myself.
What I will say to the parents is, go to a doctor as soon as you can and find a solution to help your child, whether it's a macrogol laxative, through a healthy diet or through supportive persuasion and praise. Get support from your GP, local hospital and school to help cure this as soon as possible. Have patience and understanding, it can be frustrating that your child is going through this and may not seem as independent as others their age but they can recover. Help them to recover as soon as possible, otherwise, they may have to live with the consequences for the rest of their life.

Hope this post has given you an insight into my life and hopefully will help others who may have gone through a similar situation. Take care of yourself and others, cannot stress that enough. You are not alone, believe me. 

Childhood faecal compaction & Abdomin
al distension
Childhood faecal compaction & Abdomin
al distension

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