People who easily miss their bodies' cues

I spent a good part of today at the pediatrician’s office, then the pharmacy, to see to my six-year-old’s urinary tract infection. This is the sixth UTI she’s had since January 2013. We investigated possible causes, and came down to this: the kid won’t piss.

Oh, and she also won’t shit.

Or sleep, though that’s not relevant to the UTI thing.

Unless everything is carefully orchestrated by the adults caring for her, my lovely, smart, and adorable child just doesn’t freaking notice the biological feedback for her most basic functions. The only one she gets is hunger. (In fact it’s like the awareness that should have been allotted to the other three urges got misdirected to hunger!)

So, our “treatment” for the recurrent UTIs (and contributing constipation) is to have her on a half dose of Miralax daily, push fluids, and orchestrate her sitting on the toilet every few hours, whether she feels the urge or not. I’ve talked to her about how her body tends to “whisper” its needs to her, so she needs to develop habits that make it easier for her to “hear” what it needs. Her teachers know the situation and add their support.

The cause of the latest infection is that I forgot to inform her counselors at the day camp she attended last week. For which I feel like a suck-ass mom.

Any Dopers have experience with this, as a sufferer or a parent of such? Does it get easier to develop habits to replace the urges as you get older? I hear Kylie Minogue pays someone to remind her to eat - perhaps the answer is for my kid to become a rich pop-star with a Micturation Assistant.

Is it that she doesn’t notice, or that she holds it because most of the time (read: whenever she has a UTI) it hurts to go? Or is she holding it for some other reason (doesn’t like to go in public, for instance)? Because obviously those are separate issues, with separate treatments.

I ask because many of the kids (variety of ages) at my former place of employment were on a bathroom protocol; most because previous abuse had long-term physical effects, but several because ‘holding it in’ was one of the few things they could control in their chaotic, abusive home situations, and that habit just carried over. Not implying that your daughter has suffered abuse; just pointing out that sometimes being a kid is really, really difficult and frustrating, and if the only thing you have control over is when/where you pee, you’re going to milk that for all it’s worth.

I also ask because when I was her age, I HATED using the bathroom at school. They were huge and dark and scary to me, and as a result I would ‘hold it’ all day, then run home and pee like a racehorse. Maybe your little one has a similar fear?

The protocol is a great idea, and I imagine she’s young enough to get into the swing of good habits, so even if she doesn’t know to go, she’ll know to at least try on a regular basis. And as she grows, those signals may become stronger and she won’t need the protocol.

My brother used to never know when he was hungry. He did get better at identifying hunger signals when he got older (feeling faint, not able to concentrate). He realised eventually that that woozy feeling meant that he needed food, even though he might not be ‘hungry’ as such.

If she can hold it in, then she knows when she needs to go. She is maybe not aware of what she is doing, but at some level, her brain recognises the feeling of needing to pee and responds to it. Maybe she can learn to recognise a feeling (maybe a tenseness) in her body, which means she needs she needs to go to the toilet, even if that isn’t the way she would label that feeling to herself.

For my brother, the best solution is just for him to eat at mealtimes, regardless of how he feels. Having a schedule is easier to manage.

My nephew around that age seems to also ignore his urges, but mostly when he’s doing something he doesn’t want to interrupt. Still, I as an adult can’t imagine being able to do that.

I do think the pooping thing is related to having painful experiences. But I suspect the beginning of that cycle was her not noticing or being too occupied to respond to urges, leading to constipation, leading to pain, leading to more avoidance, and so on.

bobkitty, you made me realize a reason that might be contributing - this child HATES to be alone. She’s the world’s strongest extrovert! Combine that with hating to miss anything, and yeah, that could be a big factor. Luckily right now her classroom has its own bathroom, which reduces the isolation as well as any scary factor.

And yes, she craves constant sensory, social, and mental stimulation. Even as an infant, this girl would only nap reluctantly. She had to be on me, and be coaxed into sleep, then held in the same position, or she would wake up. Even then, naps were 10-20 minutes. She just knows there’s so much out there to experience, and dumb things like biological necessities aren’t going to stop her!

Come to think of it, some of it may be hereditary. My MIL and my husband would spend all day at work without peeing. Stupid DNA.