Dear Aunt Silvia,
I am a mother of four children. My first born girl who is in her teens has a very big problem of not being able to control her bowels. This condition has caused her to be very hostile towards everybody; she can’t socialize with her peers because of it.
She is afraid of eating so that she does not wet on herself; she is almost starving to death. Going to school has always been a problem. We started home schooling her four years ago when we realized the problem was getting out of hand, but I feel that she needs to attend a normal school so that she grows up like a normal child. I have been hiding my girl’s problem for too long but I now need help.
People with poor bowel control (also called faecal incontinence) pass stool, at the wrong time or in the wrong place. Staining of underwear or passing wind without control may also be a problem.
It happens to men and women across all age groups, as many as 1 in 20 people have poor bowel control. It is more common as you get older, but younger people can also have poor bowel control.
Poor bowel control is caused by many conditions or injuries. It can be a problem for everyone involved including family members, friends and those near the person.
If poor bladder and bowel control is not managed and treated, a person may have feelings of rejection, social isolation, dependency, loss of control and may have problems with how they feel about their body image.
It is common for people to be angry when they cannot control their bladder or bowel. This anger could sometimes be aimed at the parents. There needs to be a way for the person to let out their anger or they could become stressed or unwell.
Lack of sleep due to waking up to go to the toilet at night can make the person with bladder and bowel problems and their helpers very, very tired. So tempers may flare.
Sometimes people with bladder and bowel problems are treated like children. The person is ‘told off’ in front of friends or family for having an ‘accident’.
If feelings get to be too much, the helper may also get angry and shout at the person, telling them not to be so ‘lazy’. This may cause the person with bladder and bowel problems to become angry or withdrawn, so making it more stressful than it already is.
You should have sought treatment for your girl a long time ago when she was still young, maybe then the damage would not have been so big - but all is not lost, please seek medical attention- there are many ways of treatment- the most common one is an operation, but I am sure a medical practitioner is in a better position to advice you on the way forward.
After the treatment, and if it is successful, enroll your daughter in a normal school so that her life can continue to be as normal as possible.