Chiropractic and Nighttime Bedwetting: Kelsey's Story
Even though I was not fortunate enough to grow up with chiropractic in my own life, once I discovered the power and significance of prenatal and pediatric chiropractic as an adult, I vowed to make it my purpose. I was four years into practice and had already adjusted a lot of kids, but I had not yet witnessed a real “miracle”—one where you can see the path that a child is on, and know that if they had not been in your office that day, that their trajectory would have taken them down a very different road.
Today I want to tell you Kelsey’s story, and how I witnessed the true power of pediatric chiropractic. Kelsey started care at our clinic when she was 7 years old. Her mother worked at the local hospital and had been referred by a coworker who was a patient at our office, and knew we worked with a lot of children.
The first time I met Kelsey, I noticed something unusual about her right away. She looked sad—much more sad than any 7-year-old should look. I remember her mom having a desperate look on her face as well, like she wanted to help her child more than anything in the world, but she just didn’t know how. Her mother brought Kelsey in because she was having headaches and nighttime bedwetting. Both of these conditions are unusual for a 7-year-old, so we dug into the details during her consult.
For the headaches, Kelsey had been taking quite a bit of Tylenol daily over the past two years, with minimal relief. She would have headaches about five days a week, on average. They spread across her forehead, and she often had to rest in a dark, quiet place.
Kelsey would also wet herself several times a night, every night. She’d never had a dry night in her life. She had never had a friend stay overnight, and had never stayed at a friend’s house for a sleepover, because of sheer anxiety about having an accident. She felt like she was losing friends, and that it was hard to make new friends at school because of this.
During my review of her health history, I also discovered that Kelsey had frequent stomachaches, IBS, and constipation. She had been taking Miralax every day for the past 4½ months. She was 67 pounds, and her mom told me that she had not gained any weight in 1½ years.
Other notable parts of Kelsey’s health history included vaginal delivery with epidural. Her tonsils and adenoids were removed when she was 4 because she was sick all the time with chronic sinus infections. Her mom told me she had about eight courses of antibiotics a year until then. Kelsey also had asthma and allergies, and used an albuterol inhaler. She had frequent night terrors, as well.
Her mom had tried moving sugar, corn syrup, and most dairy from Kelsey’s diet. She and Kelsey’s father had also recently divorced.
Upon examination, I noted that there were subluxations at occiput, C1, T5, T7, L2/L3, and coccyx. Cervical range of motion noted restrictions in many directions, and head tilt toward the left side when extending backwards.
After talking to Kelsey, it became clear why she looked so sad the day she came into my office. She was in a lot of pain. At 7 years old, she had more pain daily than most adults experience in a month, or even a year. She had chronic health problems and had been on medications for most of her life. She felt constipated and had troubling stomach problems, and had a hard time with bowel movements. But above all, in her words, she could not be “a normal kid” and have sleepovers with her friends because of her embarrassing bedwetting issues. Her bedwetting was causing her tremendous anxiety, and it was hard for her to be happy.
Kelsey’s parents had tried a number of things to help her stop wetting the bed—limiting fluid intake in the evening, setting alarms to wake her up throughout the night, reward systems, etc. But all of these failed, and left her feeling like a failure. Not to mention that she needed more hydration, not less; the alarms disrupted her sleep patterns even more, and she felt like she was letting herself and everyone else down with the rewards because she literally had no control over the issue.
Kelsey was not a naughty child, and she was not looking for attention. She wanted to stop the bedwetting more than anyone else did. She could get past everything else if she could just be a normal 7-year-old girl and not be so stressed out all the time. I got it.
On her first visit, I adjusted her top cervical vertebrae (which was literally the biggest subluxation at that level I had ever felt) and her third lumbar. Due to scheduling conflicts (Kelsey traveled between her parents’ homes), we were not able to see her again until 10 days later. During that time, she had only a couple of headaches, and they were less severe than before her adjustment. She did not have any stomachaches over the weekend. Bedwetting frequency had decreased from five to seven times a night to once or twice a night.
On her third visit (two weeks after her first), Kelsey reported no incidents of bedwetting for the past four nights. She was able to wake up at night to use the restroom if needed, but some nights did not need to wake up at all. Her IBS symptoms and headaches also continued to improve.
When Kelsey came in for her fourth visit, I noticed something I had not seen before: a huge smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye that had not been there for a long time, if ever. Her entire face looked different—less strained, more relaxed. Her color had even changed. Her pale skin and dark circles were replaced with rosy cheeks. She gave me a huge hug and handed me a homemade card, and told me she had important news to tell me. That weekend she was going to her first sleepover at a friend’s house! I got tears in my eyes as I looked at her mom, who also had the biggest smile on her face. This might not seem like a huge deal, but to this little girl, it was literally everything!
Over the years, we continued to work on the headaches and stomachaches. Some of her troubles seemed to follow a pattern—when she stayed at her dad’s house her diet was drastically different, and because of this, digestive upset and headaches would often follow. We were able to help with those conditions a lot, but she needed to be conscious of what she ate.
Kelsey never had another episode of nighttime bedwetting after her second chiropractic adjustment. She also stopped having night terrors, and eventually her asthma and allergies cleared up. She was able to get off all medications, except the occasional Tylenol for severe headaches. She also had a major growth spurt and gained weight appropriately for her age. She enjoyed life, school, dance, sports, family, and her friends.
Seven years later, I often think back to this young girl, who showed me my first true miracle in chiropractic. As chiropractors, we see so many amazing things in our practices that we often take them for granted. When you first witness the power of chiropractic and the amazing power of innate healing unfolding before your eyes, you almost don’t believe it. But it is there. And it is powerful. We have yet to grasp its full potential.
When I look back to Kelsey, I recognize that her full innate potential was being hidden by subluxations. They were not allowing her nervous system to fully express itself, and she was paying the price. Once the stress on her nervous system was unlocked, she was able to perceive her environment in a completely different context, and became a different person—right before my eyes.
Over the years now I have witnessed many chiropractic “miracles,” but I also understand that they are not miracles at all. They are simply the body’s innate power doing exactly what it is supposed to do once the nervous system is functioning optimally. We are born to survive and designed to thrive. Anything less is diminishing our potential, dimming our shine, and dulling our sparkle.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #61.
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