herald

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Breaking the cycle of the bedwetting dilemma

AFTER years of frustration I decided to talk to my GP about my seven-year-old's bed-wetting.

Despite not being allowed liquids past 6pm he has only managed about 10 dry nights in his whole life.

Initially I was frustrated but soon realised the little guy had no control over things.

Ever since he was toilet trained he'd had trouble at night-time. With a small baby in the house I hadn't pushed it; I was already up at night breastfeeding so it seemed counterintuitive to give myself yet more interrupted sleep.

So we popped our then four-year-old in night-time pull-ups which prevented piles of additional laundry and the possibility of two cranky, sleep-deprived parents next morning.

Once his baby brother had started sleeping through the night, I went back to trying to break the bedwetting. We exhausted every option known to man: lifting him when he was asleep; reducing his drink intake; waking him up several times a night. Nothing worked.

Despite his determination, my firstborn just couldn't stay dry.

Nor could he waken up, even when his sheets were soaking. He was sleeping so deeply that he didn't even know he'd wet the bed.

Every night we'd check his pull-up going to bed and often found him fast asleep in a soaking bed. It was as a traumatic for him as us, as we woke him from a deep sleep, stripped him off, cleaned him up and dressed his bed with fresh linen.

The laundry was intolerable. If the duvet cover got wet it would have to join the fitted sheet, mattress protector and pair of pyjamas in an almost-full washing machine.

Despite him wearing a night-time nappy, there were some weeks I could find myself repeating this bed-stripping ritual up to four times.

He's seven now, and despite having younger siblings he's the only one in our house to wet the bed. Understandably he hates this fact, and goes through phases of being deeply upset about having to wear pull-ups.

Earlier in the year he tried to get out of going away on his first overnight camping trip.

He was terrified his peers would find out about his pull-ups, but a helpful Beaver leader, who is also mum to his pal, made sure he managed his "secret" discreetly.

As he gets older I find he wakens more in the early part of the night and goes to the loo. While this does minimise the late night leaks we're still a long way from him being dry.

In a last-ditch attempt to break the cycle we invested in a pricey bedwetting alarm.

Medicine

The unit is linked to special underpants that trigger the shrill sound, a sound that's meant to waken him up. Despite rave reviews and recommendations online, our deep sleeper slept right through the noise. (We weren't so lucky.)

So, on the advice of my GP via a parent at the school, I'm about to start my son on Desmotabs, a medicine with an active ingredient that is similar to the anti-diuretic hormone produced by the body to help control water levels.

It's an expensive solution, costing €60 a month, but it's already changed my friend's son's life.

We'll start him on the meds tonight, and see how he fares. Even if we limit his use to sleepovers it may just help his confidence and ensure his condition doesn't get in the way of him enjoying life.

If it works for him it should work for my laundry crisis too: happy campers all round!

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