Sometimes my kid smells funky. Worse than B.O.
But don’t jump to conclusions. It isn’t poor hygiene or laziness.
He has an invisible disease you’ve probably never heard of. We don’t like to bring it up in polite conversation because it quickly includes words like “anus” and “rectum” and “diarrhea.” It’s embarrassing for him—and no picnic for me, either!
My child was born with a chronic condition called Hirschsprung Disease. His digestive tract doesn’t have the same nerve cells as yours and mine, so at birth his colon was 100-percent blocked, and he’s suffered potentially life-threatening infections and complications.
Trust me, it sucks.
To you, he’s a regular kid who looks and acts like a regular kid. Unless you see him at the beach, you’d never know about the scars crisscrossing his belly button from multiple surgeries, much less the rerouted plumbing underneath.
But occasionally he smells wicked bad. Even worse than regular-poo stink.
His stomach makes loud, uncontrollable rumbling sounds, and it’s not because he’s hungry.
And sometimes he bolts to the bathroom like his pants are on fire. Or he’ll spend what seems like an eternity on the potty.
At 9-years-old, he’s still on the cusp of acceptable little boy behavior. But it won’t be for long. I can only imagine the side-eyes and snubbing that await in fifth grade, seventh grade, high school, even the workplace.
We attempt to control his unique biology with medication and other interventions. But short of moving around his organs (again!) so that he poops through a port (MACE) or stoma/bag (colostomy), leaking a bit and smelling stinky sometimes is his best option right now. His normal.
And this normal-for-now hasn’t come easy. My little man may seem like a carefree cutie pie, but he’s suffered more pain than some of us do in a lifetime. He’s endured surgeries, anal dilations, enemas, severe stomach cramps and awful, seemingly endless diarrhea. So just being
smelly noxious on occasion is really the least of his problems.
While his condition is rare, lots of kids suffer from invisible digestive issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Smelling bad sometimes and sprinting to the toilet just come with the territory.
It’s not laziness. Or hygiene. It’s not poor planning or bad manners.
It’s his life and the only body he’s ever known.