Welcome back, and if you are joining us for the first time, welcome. I am glad you’re here. Maybe you stopped by because the title caught your attention. Today, we’re talking about stool testing, and while it is not a glamorous topic, it is a significant one.
Starting Over at 54 is about my experiences becoming a mom again at 54. I am raising my three-year-old grand nephew Jaxon full-time.
Jaxon came to live with us about two years ago. His mom asked me to take him in while she worked on some areas of her life. We agreed, and it has been a roller coaster of emotions and events since then.
In December 2021, Jaxon was formally diagnosed with autism. Starting Over at 54 – We Have An Official Diagnosis
I battle from time to time with feelings of guilt, asking myself how I didn’t see Jaxon’s autism sooner. Had I been more in tune with Jaxon’s behaviors, eating habits, and growth, maybe I would have noticed his autism sooner. I have come to accept we are here now, and we need to move forward. I cannot change the past, but learn more about autism as I go along.
Hence the stool testing.
A friend of mine has a 10-year-old son with autism. Years ago, she turned over every rock to find answers to her son’s condition. She made every attempt to get him the help he needed and made significant progress. Today her son is doing well.
When I shared Jaxon’s autism diagnosis with her, she wasted no time suggesting I have further testing done.
“Get his poop tested!” she exclaimed.
“Wait. What? Test his poop? How do you do that?” I asked.
“Take him to an integrative pediatrician and show them the autism diagnosis. I bet he has yeast belly.”
“Yeast belly? Yes, yeast belly is a real thing.”
So, I called the doctor she referred me to and scheduled an appointment. This doctor does not take every patient that inquires. His practice charges a monthly membership fee which allows you to be part of a small network of patients with focused care. It also keeps his office from being overwhelmed with patients. Given all I know now about how prevalent autism is in the U.S. today, I could see his office being overwhelmed very quickly, affecting care.
I completed the 15-page questionnaire, submitted the diagnosis, paid the monthly membership, and got an appointment.
As we were waiting for the appointment with the Integrative doctor, Jaxon had several tests done ordered by the pediatric neurologist. Those tests included an MRI of his brain and spinal column, EEG, and bloodwork. She was looking to rule out heavy metals, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, seizures, damage to the brain from headbanging, and nerve endings in the bottom of his spinal column since he toe walks a lot. We are happy to say all of those tests came back negative.
Our appointment day with the integrative doctor finally arrived, and I was so excited. I didn’t know what to expect but was hopeful all the time I had invested in getting the appointment would pay off, and it did.
We talked for almost an hour about Jaxon’s condition and went over all his reports. None of what the doctor read was a shock. Her grandson was diagnosed years ago with autism, so she knew exactly what I was going through. Jaxon can be aggressive, has sensory issues, is developmentally delayed, and is primarily non-verbal.
Her suggestion – test his stool.
Why test his stool? What’s the point? What is the doctor looking for?
Since the neurology tests yielded no results, the gut is the next logical place to look. Many folks don’t know this, and I didn’t realize this before speaking to my friend. Some doctors will tell you to check the gut first because of its connection to the brain. By testing stool, you can find out what is happening in the gut.
Before leaving the doctor’s office, she started Jaxon on a few supplements and handed me a small box with lovely gifts inside. I was just kidding about the lovely gifts. The box contained three vials, two with liquid and one without. If I was so brave and willing, my job was to collect a non-contaminated stool sample from Jaxon using the tiny shovel attached to the lids of the vials.
Sounds easy, right?
But how do you get a non-contaminated stool sample from a three-year-old active little boy? It is not easy. I can attest to that. Because Jaxon is not potty trained yet, I had to place a urine collection bag over his penis to collect urine because you need the feces to be urine free for the sample.
Now you understand my plight. Let me tell you something – if you do not time this collection correctly, your little bag will fill up with urine, and your child will bounce around as tots do, and eventually, the bag breaks. Urine leaks everywhere because the diaper has been rendered ineffective when the bag expands. Sorry for the visual, but you have to know upfront what you may face.
We used to know when Jaxon would give us a smelly gift, but when he had the MRI, his schedule was thrown off, so knowing the timing of the smelly gift became difficult. The change in timing resulted in several failed attempts and many leaks. I had to buy more urine bags from the doctor because two were not enough. Talk about stress when you are down to one bag!
How long does it take?
It took me three weeks to get a sample from Jaxon, and when I did, I took every precaution necessary to keep the sample uncontaminated as I scooped poop into three vials. Directions say once you fill the vial to the designated line, you are to close the cap tightly (duh), shake well for at least 30 seconds, then refrigerate the two vials containing liquid and freeze the dry vial. Put a note on the fridge, “Do not eat what’s in the pretty little containers. It’s not chocolate ice cream!” Then you call FedEx and schedule a pick-up. Apparently, it’s against the law to toss your poop package in the collection bin.
When the FedEx driver arrived to pick up the precious cargo, I implored him to handle it with care. Don’t lose what has taken me three weeks to obtain! They don’t ask if you want to put insurance on stool samples.
“Oh yes, I would like a million dollars of insurance, please.” In your head, you’re thinking, ‘Please lose it. I know where to get more.’
We waited patiently for the results to come back. We were told it would be two weeks. Those were some of the longest two weeks. As week three rolled around, I became concerned and called the doctor’s office. They confirmed the lab in Illinois did get the samples, and the results were forthcoming. They scheduled a call the following week to review the results.
Results are in
There’s a lot of information to share. While the findings were overwhelming at first, we are taking the necessary steps recommended by the doctor to improve Jaxon’s overall gut health, which we pray will improve his aggressive behavior, sensory issues, and communication. Starting Over At 54 – Stool Testing – Part 2
The stool test was definitely worth the time and investment. It revealed things we had no clue were occurring in his little gut.
I often think of how the Lord led me to a little church years ago, and it was in that little church I met my friends who went through this with their son. Where would I be today if I hadn’t met them? How many years before Jaxon’s gut started to display some severe issues, all of which could have been avoided? I thank the Lord for leading me along this path. At 55, I am learning new things and have a better understanding of what other parents experience. There’s a reason for this journey, and it could be to help others searching for answers for their child.
James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Make sure you come back to see what we found in Jaxon’s stool.
The Teaching Lady
Starting Over At 54 – Learning Along the Way
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