I made these 'learning posts' in June for Spina Bifida Awareness month, but thought I'd make a stand-alone blog so that if anyone is interested, all of the information is here. And I can add as I learn more about spina bifida as well!

Spina Bifida is the most common birth defect in North America. My son Nickolas was born November 13, 2009 with spina bifida and I have chronicalled our journey here, in my personal blog.

I hope you enjoy and learn something!

The information from this blog has been collected by myself to share what I have learned. It should in no way replace medical recommendations or consultation. This is for educational and information purposes only.

Start by picking a topic below:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Learning About SB: Getting Things Out - Part 2

Bladder and bowel problems. They kind of come together, makes sense, since the nerves that go to the bowels are the same level. Here is a picture of how the digestive system get their nerve supply. The nerves to the bowel, the small and large intestine, rectum and anus (internal and external sphincters and canal) are affected.
What does this mean specifically? First we need to review how the bowels work. The intestines are muscles that contract and relax so that the ummm waste products (i.e. poop) travels down to the rectum. Again here we talk about sphincters (those doors that open and close depending on the messages they get). These sphincters send and receive messages from the brain depending on what is outside their door. When the internal sphincter senses poop in the rectum it opens and the external sphincter controls when we (potty trained) poop.

I can try to be polite, but hey, we are talking poop here. I am a mom, poop is a very important part of my everyday world. Get over it.

So now that we have that over with, what about kids with spina bifida? The incontinence (no control over bladder/bowels) problem is not an issue for us at the moment – we get to wait a few years for that. With poor or little control of the sphincters, well, remember my door analogy. If the door just pops open sometimes, the room empties.

Nickolas is a baby and in diapers anyways. So we aren’t really worried about when he poops, it is if he poops. That brings us to the next part of how spina bifida affects the bowels. Nerve damage means that the brain and the body don`t communicate, the brain doesn`t realize that the rectum is full and the door doesn`t open when there is a `knock at the door’ (if you get what I mean).

Muscles are the last part of this picture. Muscles are what you use to push poop out, but with spina bifida also comes with weak stomach and pelvic muscles. So constipation is a problem. Poop just sits there, can`t move and becomes hard when water is reabsorbed by the body and then just gets harder to come out. An article I just read described constipation and spina bifida as increased colonic transit time. Like the Go Train is going to be late!

So what do you do to help these issues getting things out? The first step is fluid and diet. Prune was Nickolas’ second food, and luckily he likes it – because he gets it every day. Also increasing fibre. If that doesn’t work then you look at medications as well as massaging belly, bum to help things along.

I could actually go on and on about these issues. But I’m going to stop here. Once potty training is started there are a lot more toilet issues, but we aren’t there and so I’m not going any farther. I think little learning module has come very close to TMI (too much information). But at the same time, as an parent of a child going through this, there isn’t too much information.

Sorry I don`t have many pictures for this little learning post. You probably wouldn`t want any, and I did find pictures that show exactly what I was talking about.

The picture came from http://img136.imageshack.us/i/bigdigestivesystem12176.jpg/ and most of this information I got from http://www.mydr.com.au/babies-pregnancy/continence-in-spina-bifida-bladder-and-bowel and http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/569470_7 and http://spinabifida.org/sb-info/bowel-continence

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