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Pinworms: symptoms can include pain

Pinworms: this is what they look like. And some kids experience them as pain

So Mallory has pinworms. That explains a lot. What does it explain you may ask.

In December, suddenly she started complaining about severe pain in her bum. As in crying, cannot get to sleep unless medicated pain in her bum and even then only after a long time of squirming, crying and much horror on her parents part.

We went up and down the list of possibilities, all bowel related. Not enough vegetables. Tiny tears in her bum. Sun spots. Irene took her in to Centretown Community Health Centre. They thought maybe a big poo had torn her bum. In retrospect it seems like a daft explanation because having a poo wasn’t ever painful.

But for a few nights, she would start screaming around bed time.

I have to confess, I thought it was a bit of a put on. She’s often a bit of a dramatist, shall we say, and has had a habit of complaining about her tummy hurting (without anything ever coming of it) for longer than I can remember.

And when her night time bum pain just went away on its own, I wrote it down to a combination of diet and lack of sufficient parental attention.

But the screaming pain returned last Saturday. And nothing would dial it down. We’d taken to double dosing her with Motrin which probably does nothing for that sort of pain but does act as a sedative. Sunday night it seemed to be getting worse.

At a certain point, in one of our consults with Centretown, either their after-hours phone line or when Irene took her in in December someone raised – and dismissed – the possibility of pinworms. Probably because they’re only supposed to itch. But the worms themselves only come out at night, so the symptoms only present at night time.

Not normally a fan of Dr. Google

After one harrowing evening, I Googled pinworms. Normally I’m not a fan of Dr. Google because it tends to whip up the hypochondriac in all of us. But I was feeling shaken, helpless and scared of what it could be. And the IRL medical establishment had no answers, so I took the plunge while waiting for the Centretown after-hours doc to return my page.

The Wikipedia article on pinworms said symptoms could extend to acute pain.

I took Mallory into the Centretown drop-in the next day. After the usual prodding and bum exam, the nurse practitioner kinda shrugged. I asked her about pinworms. She said they just caused itching. I told her about my visit to Dr. Wikipedia. She agreed – with some reticence – to requistion a paddle (a sticky piece of plastic used to catch the worms on the child’s bum).

Wednesday morning I administered the test and took it to the lab. Today we got the results. Pinworms.

So we’re going to take the pills – all of us – and do a lot more hand washing and laundry for the next few weeks.

Interestingly, the Mayo clinic pinworm page notes that if you get enough of them in you, pinworms can cause “vague gastrointestinal symptoms, such as intermittent abdominal pain and nausea.”

While I don’t look forward to the new hygiene regimen – it’s going to be hard on Mallory – I’m still very happy and relieved that we’ve found the cause of this, that it can be treated, and that Mallory likely hasn’t actually been crying wolf all this time.