Enco w 15 year old - at my wits end

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Betty B, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. Betty B

    Betty B New Member

    Make a long story short.
    I remarried a few years ago and husband has a son. Turns out, son has encopresis and has had it pretty much since forever.

    He's been to 3 docs. Recently a specialist...but my patience is running thin. The soiling continues. SS15 doesn't seem to give a wit and husband gets pissed at me when have to calmly point out when there's been an accident, or if he smells. (which is CONSTANT)

    When i started down this road, I thought eventually there'd be light at the end of this tunnel.

    As of late, things seem to be getting worse.
    Every single day for the past two weeks I can smell the poo....particulary in the basement where he hangs out. I also smell it at the dinner table, when he walks past me, in the car.

    Remnants of his poo are forever in the shower, on the bathroom floor, on the basement carpet, etc etc. The basement which used to be a place for my other kids and myself to workout, relax, read, enjoy is permanently infused with the smell of this boy's feces. No matter how much it's all cleaned.

    Last night was a snapping point for me. After a long day, I plopped myself down on the couch in my living room and there it was....the smell. Upon investigation, I came to find my couch coushins had been soiled. He apparently had been sitting there for an absorbent amount of time. (He poos and sits in it)

    I can't stand this!
    I feel like it’s EVERYWHERE!

    The situation, to me, is worsening. I don’t know if it’s because of how long it’s been going on (he's lived w me for 2 years) or if I’m afraid there’s not going to be an end to this. I kind of thought I’d get used to it. But it’s quite the opposite.

    I keep thinking:
    1. When is this ever going to end? In a year? 2 years? Is it something I have to live with until this kid moves out?
    2. Is my house sanitary? It’s on the furniture, floors, shower, washer, dryer, etc. We all use those things and it’s a question of cleanliness. People can get sick from other people’s feces.
    3. If SS15 gets found out by his peers (if he hasn’t already) how is that going to impact him? Also, how is this going to accept the family as a whole? Will people look at all of us an unkempt and dirty? Will it follow my girls as they go through school?

    We know this isn’t going away anytime soon. How do I cope? It is not becoming easier….meaning rather than getting used to it, I’m becoming more and more irritated with the living conditions.

    I feel bad for SS15. I so do. But by damn. This is just horrible to live with!

    I told husband all of this. And asked him….what can we do cuz I can’t just keep going on like it is.

    He got annoyed. Said he’s doing everything he can. His son is doing everything he can. Blah blah blah.

    I’m like really? Cuz your SS15's diet sucks. He refuses to drink water, we have to fight with him to sit, take his medicine, and he doesn’t put his wash in the bucket unless he’s told repeatedly. Overall the house smells like an outhouse.

    husband says that I need to be patient for SS's sake. At which point I remind him it’s been 2 years!!!! And frankly, it’s not just all about the SS! There are 4 other people living in the house that are very affected by the situation. And expecting us to just act like nothing’s going on is just ridiculous!

    husband gets so irritated when I’m bothered by the smell. Which is just mind-blowing to me. Regardless of the fact that it’s an illness, the fact that there is poo on the floor, the furniture, etc. I just can’t accept.

    husband who has lived with it forever also has nasal fatigue and doesn’t smell it as MUCH! So therefore I’m just blowing it out of proportion?!!!

    I did suggest possibly that until SS15 gets this under control that perhaps he wears incontinence products while at home. husband said no way. Would be too hard on SS. And I said, I get that. But on the flip side, the way things are is extremely psychologically difficult for the OTHER parties who live in the house. So really….take your pick! There’s no winner here!

    I am so tired of the entire situation. Patience with it is at like minus 0. I love SS but I hate living with his condition. What can I do?
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry, but, although it probably doesn't seem like it to you, you are the one in the wrong here in my opinion. This child is obviously dealing with serious problems that are beyond his control. I don't know if he has been diagnosed with anything yet, but I have trouble believing a fifteen year old who is a normal kid is soiling all over the house.

    This isn't about you, really. It's about the child. You knew he was like this when you married Dad. Dad says he's doing all he can. It may or may not be fixable, but why don't you join him in trying to find a medical solution? Does his son have autistic spectrum disorder? Sensory Integration Disorder (SID)? He must have a diagnosis. This is not about his diet. Most teens have horrible diets and don't soil their pants.

    At this point, you can't force this child to be able to control himself. Your options are limited, such as leaving your husband...not sure what else to tell you. I"m sorry you are feeling pain from this. I'm sure SS is too. I agree with your husband. Leave SS alone about it. If you make him choose between you and his son, he will likely choose his son.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
  3. jugey

    jugey Active Member

    Oh my! I really have no advice. I'm not familiar with his illness. I'm so sorry you find yourself in such a difficult circumstances. Just wanted to let you know I read your post. Hopefully others will come and offer some good advice.
  4. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I have never had to deal with encopresis but other CD members have and I have read posts over the past decade plus. Fingers crossed that someone pops up and offers good advice. Meanwhile, try the topic search and see what pops up from past years. Perhaps there will be some helpful suggestions. Frankly I can not imagine that the MDs are not giving specific suggestions. DDD
  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    What does his pediatrician say? Have you started there with a consult with your husband and stepson there to try to formulate a game plan.

    You need professional help to start the process of dealing with the situation as it is today and then to find a path to a solution if there is one.

    And you need emotional support for both you and your husband. Can you or both of you start counseling now? Plus the other children.

    Stay with us here as well for help. I agree this is a huge problem from many perspectives and you need help.
  6. Betty B

    Betty B New Member

    To Midwest mom.
    No. This wasn't disclosed to me when we got married. I slowly figured it out on my own via the smells and laundry and 'dirt' (which was actually poop) on the floors. Since I figured it out, I then pushed for SS to get treatment which u is still fought against by husband and him all the way!

    I realize he can't help his condition. I am so well versed on this condition by now it's not even funny.

    My issue is the accountability. As a 15 year old he CAN clean up after himself. He needs to be accountable for that as a 15 year old. There is no reason in the WORLD i should be cleaning up a 15 year old's feces.

    I'm pushing for him to get the help he so obviously needs, but you can't help those that don't want help.

    THIS is why I'm at my wits end.
  7. BackintheSaddle

    BackintheSaddle Active Member

    wow, I have to say you're amazing to have stood it this long!...what is the husband's rationale for not seeking treatment? why are you cleaning up after the SS and not having husband do it, since he won't make SS do it? This has to be impacting SSs life outside of the home-- does he have friends? does he ever go anywhere with people? extended family who could intervene and talk to husband? it's as though they are both in denial of what sounds like a pretty serious medical problem (no different than being in denial about addiction, but I guess this isn't life threatening, other than in the sense that he will have NO LIFE if he doesn't get help for this)...does husband just think it will go away? I totally agree with you about accountability but since SS is 15, the accountability is mostly with husband so I would suggest thinking about what you're doing that helps him stay in denial about just how bad it is? in a sense, when you clean up after SS, you're enabling SH to not face the facts and severity of it...I know not cleaning up after SS would be hard and, if it were me, I think I'd have to go stay with a friend or in a hotel for a while (go on a trip, you don't have to call it a separation, just a break) just so husband had to face the fact that there is poop everywhere unless you're there to clean it up! Kudos to you for having stuck with them for 2 years! I don't think I could have done it...
  8. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    I am curious as to what his other diagnoses are, if any. I mean there has to be something else going on. How does he do in school? How is he around same aged peers? I think there is a lot more going on here, although I am far from an expert. I am just wondering how he is around other people and what his other issues are. I'm sure this isn't the only one.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Besides his medial condition, what is his core diagnosis? Has he ever been assessed for other things by, say, a neuropsychologist? Questions about his socialization and school are appropriate. There is no way this is a normal teenage boy. A normal teenage boy would be repelled at sitting in it. He has to have something neurological or severely psychological going on. Was he exposed to drugs during his mother's pregnancy? Does he have other inappropriate delays? What happens in school? What is YOUR solution?

    I'm not sure you can make him clean up. Will he do it? Will he get violent if told to do it? Will he do it if told? Is he cognitively delayed?
    This is one parcel of a much, much bigger problem. There has to be more going on than this.
    Again, if dad won't or can't do more, and his SS has to be able to hold it or be able to clean up, your only other option is to leave. It is unfortunate that he didn't clue you in. Now you have a lot of thinking to do.
  10. Betty B

    Betty B New Member

    oh man. so glad to see people writing. :) it helps.

    A few of you have asked what else is going on w SS15. He's had ADD all his life. He failed 7th grade. So this year is his first year getting back in the saddle and doing better in school.

    Through our marriage counselor, and some of our discussions...it truly suspect there is more going on than just ADD. He does other quirky things like hoard food in odd places. Steals from my girls...weird stuff like ribbons and toys he's far too old to play with.

    He's also compulsive. steals money from my purse...from the kids' piggy banks.

    He's not so great with cleanliness. ie brushing teeth, showering....he wears the same clothing over and over.

    He has a crappy mom. and sometimes he makes me uncomfortable looking for that kind of affection she doesn't give him....GROAN. I know that sounds horrible, but I can't possibly find it appropriate to spoon with a 15 year old boy that's not my bio son. Even if it WAS my bio son....that's a bit odd.

    Our therapist wants to refer SS for psychiatric. Claims that yes, encopresis can't be helped, but his lack of caring about it is not age-normal. it SHOULD bother him though i know a lot of kids with encopresis use a lot of denial to avoid facing the facts.

    He does have a friend. ...
    He insists no one knows he has an issue, though i can't see how that's possibly the case. He doesn't do normal things....like go to the movies or anything. he's very into hunting and obsessed with duck dynasty even tho we live in the city!

    i don't know. All i can do is wait and see if the physical therapy they prescribed for him and getting his pooping muscles back in shape will work.

    Me a husband fought about it again tonite. SS had an incident on the bus. INstead of him addressing his son. he left to go party it up at a friends' house.

    This sucks. :(
  11. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sending gentle hugs your way. I remember when my difficult child was younger and would hide his poop in his room and smear it in his room. I also remember him urinating on toys and furniture in his bedroom. Oh my, even though I knew it was not his fault, it was really difficult for my husband and me. We stayed calm but it just exhausted me and the smell was so offensive. He did eventually grow out of it at a fairly young age but I have never forgotten how awful it was.

    I really recommend he be evaluated by a psychiatrist and a neuropsychologist. It will give you a clearer picture of what else might be going on.

    I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I "feel" your pain.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    What exactly do you want your husband to do? This is not willful bad behavior. Something beyond ADD is wrong with him. If I had to guess, I'd say he may be on the autism spectrum with sensory issues.

    But, really, I'm curious. Do you think you can punish away his being different? What would you like your husband to do? Your step son's inappropriate behavior, including wanting to cuddle with you, sounds a lot like a developmental delay, even if his IQ is normal. He could very well have autistic spectrum disorder. A neuropsychologist would be good for an evaluation. He certainly has some serious social deficits.

    What do you think the solution should be? I personally don't believe he can help it. He sounds like a very atypical kid.

    Will this boy clean up his poop? He may not be willing to do it. If he is very young emotionally, he may resist or not even understand why you get mad about it. Depends on what's wrong with him.

    Was your stepson maybe exposed to drugs before he was even born? Was his bio. mom a drug addict or an alcoholic who did stuff during her pregnancy, which may have caused some sort of brain damage? I am truly, truly, truly thinking your step son is not trying to rile you up. He really can't help how he is and you sadly don't seem to like him very much, which I understand, but he is what he is. If you have a particular idea, can you share what you think would stop it? Harsh discipline? Spanking? Grounding? None of that will stop it...he is a differently wired kid...you know more about the reason why than we do. Bet he has a bad start in life and this is not anyone's fault except perhaps bio. mom if she drank or did drugs during her pregnancy.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
  13. Betty B

    Betty B New Member

    oh heavens midwest mom!
    I would never think to spank or punish. never have. up until this point i've sat quietly by...praying...hoping....pushing for his dad to help him.
    but you're right. in a round about way...it is what it is.

    that's kind of depressing. i get your point.
  14. Betty B

    Betty B New Member

    so how i can i cope. what can i do?
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Aw, hon. I wish I had the answer. I think a good start would be to talk your hubby into taking him for a neuropsychologist evaluation to see what is the reason this teen doesn't even care if he sits in his own poop. That is so far off the charts of normal, I'm sure something will be found. Once you know what it is, there is treatment for every disorder.

    At the very least you will gain insight and understanding and maybe neuropsychologist can tell you if SS is capable of cleaning up his own poop. You can get professional help. Once you and your husband really know what is wrong with him, and something is, I think you may feel better about the situation.

    Hugs and I'm so sorry for your hurting heart.
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  16. Estherfromjerusalem

    Estherfromjerusalem Well-Known Member

    It's been a very long time since I have addressed this problem, but I feel so bad for you.

    First of all, this problem MUST be seen by a gastro doctor. It's usually with younger children, so we always recommend that a pediatric gastroenterologist should see the child, but 15 is already more or less adult -- but maybe still it should be a pediatric gastro doctor. There are certain physical gastro problems, such as Hirschprungs, that have to be ruled out before treating it as a regular encopresis problem.

    As for regular encropresis -- be assured that the child does not want this to happen, but simply cannot control it. With most children it seems to just go away some time around puberty. With my son it began at four and a half (after he was completely clean and dry day and night), lasting until thirteen and a half. It was all day, every day, could be as much as 10 times a day.

    How did I cope with it? Well, I made sure I had a very good supply of pants and underpants, and each time he soiled himself, as soon as we smelled it we pointed it out to him and all we asked of him was that he go to the bathroom and change his clothes and shower himself. I did not force him to clean anything else. I just wanted him NOT to smell. That was more important to me than anything else, primarily so that he would be socially acceptable, at least within the family (we are a large family). But I did not let him walk around dirty and smelling. That was our deal -- he would clean himself and change his clothes, putting the dirty smelly ones on the porch right outside the bathroom, and I would deal with the rest. My gorge rises just remembering having to deal with his dirty clothes, and it was a very long time ago. Oh well!

    I so understand what you say about the couch smelling bad. I had a nextdoor neighbour who was also a very close friend. She and I and our children were in and out of one another's homes. But she just couldn't bear having my difficult child sit on her couch. I found that hurtful, but I understood.

    So I wish you luck. I do realise that you can't just ignore it, you have to find some way of coping with the situation. We also tried psychological counselling, which turned out to be an absolute disaster.

    Keep us posted about how you are coping.

    Love, Esther
  17. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    I'm strongly suggesting husband take him to a GI specialist, Angel has had a problem with this since she was 6yo. In her case it was chronic constipation, causing a blockage then would have liquid poo behind the blockage. The finding soiled clothing and things smeared with feces was annoying at first, it wasn't until being addressed by the GI doctor did I find out how serious it was.

    The developmental pediatrician had prescribed laxatives & enema's at first but when problem didn't resolve within a couple months she referred to GI. First visit with GI doctor he felt her tummy and said "go straight to Children's Hospital ER I'm calling ahead to reserve her bed", 4 times she has spent a week in the hospital dealing with this, twice they had to remove impaction in the OR. When the bowel is abnormal or has been stretched in areas it causes places for blockages to accumulate and it will be an ongoing problem forever. Needless to say Angel takes laxatives every day of her life and probably always will.

    1) You said he takes medications which medications? Angel's medications were a big piece of the puzzle.

    2) She doesn't drink enough water or other fluids

    3) Teens like to live off of pizza & potato chips not high fiber diet doctor wanted

    4) Multiple food sensitivities worst for her were soy or anything with orange dye (orange mac n cheese powder UGH)

    5) Cronicity of the problem; bowel was stretched and she was desensitized (literally has no feeling in that area) muscles didn't function the way they should. (She doesn't push it out, it comes out because has no where else to go)

    6) Angel's Asperger's diagnosis not sure why but many autistic kids have issues in this area.

    Many things contributed to Angel's issues, the smell & filth just about drove me mad. Suggest putting a thick rubber mattress pad on his mattress and having him change sheets daily. Most 15yo with minor supervision can be taught to use the washer, if he can't help have him carry them to wash and help (or watch you) put clean sheets on the bed. Showering every morning is a good habit for all males after they hit puberty. Plastic slip covers for the couch. Soiled clothing & messes found outside her bedroom or bathroom she had to remove or stand & watch me remove.

    No scolding or judgement, it is what it is but I just couldn't live with that filth everywhere anymore. It was baby steps first isolate the issue to her room & bathroom, heavy with potpourri & air fresheners in every room of the house.

    People who don't understand laugh when I will put a P on the calendar when my 19yo has a bowel movement but considering last time in the OR they removed 12Lbs of it; I'm not willing to risk her life by not keeping track of these things.

    I'm sorry if I got too graphic or too much detail, but this is a serious problem not to be taken lightly. Best wishes I hope you & husband can figure this out soon, I feel so sorry for a young man that age to be dealing with this.

  18. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My youngest son also had this from around 6 up until early teen years. We tried everything too. Im not entirely sure how we solved it, I think maybe his body just got better. In the end what we did was to make him responsible for the clean up. We had a ton of underpants and I know he threw so many away I wish I had just gotten him disposables. I do have to admit there were times we got very upset with him. One bad thing for us was we live in a small town and once something like this gets known to others, it never gets unknown. We didnt want our son to have to live his entire life being known as the boy who poo's in his pants.
  19. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    This likely is too much information but, lol, since I had the colon surgery two years ago I've become aware of poop issues. What I've mainly learned is that sometimes it is almost impossible to thoroughly clean yourself using toilet paper. We have flushable potty wipes in each bathroom and all of us love the results. Have you tried adding those to your household? It won't eliminate the problem but we were amazed how much easier it was for all of us to feel confidently clean.

    Also they are marketing something similar to sanitary napkins for men in recent months. Since they are not "diaper style" they can be worn and disposed of if there is leakage. I don't know how you could provide a waste basket with-o others in the family being aware of it but it might help. Good luck. DDD
  20. Sabine

    Sabine Member

    Personally I would force the issue of disposable underwear. They can't be more embarrassing to wear than having poo in the pants. Some brands are looking less and less like diapers.

    Make sure he doesn't have to shower/change in front of other people at school.

    Wet wipes/disposable underwear/ one of those diaper pail things that turns diapers into sausages.. all these things should be located in the bathroom he uses. Tell him to use wet wipes BEFORE getting into the shower.

    The couch and chairs should be reupholstered with vinyl.. spray and wipe down. Put a little blanket on the couch that will soften it, but is easy to clean. Get rid of all carpet in the house.

    Have a heart to heart with him. Ask him how HE feels about the condition, and have a good back and forth as to what he would like to do.. work together to solve some of the cleanliness issues (before bringing in all the above). He'll be more willing to go through some changes if he's part of the decision making process. If he flat out refuses, then some hard decisions need to be made. (For example sectioning off the house so there is his space/your space etc.).

    The boy can't stop the stuff from coming out of his bottom, but he CAN HELP where it ends up...

    For people to keep saying he "can't help it" is giving him way too much slack. Stepmom can't tell that anything is wrong except ADD. There probably is more wrong.. BUT, it probably isn't too severe, or stepmom would readily SEE it...

    Good luck!