13-year-old Aiden Ellis enters the swimming pool at Hazelwood Central High School, gearing up to practice his favorite stroke, the butterfly. Ellis is a competitive swimmer, making it to the division championships last year and finishing seventh in the 50-meter fly as a member of the Heat, a regional select swim club.
“I love being up on the start block and dropping my times,” he said with a smile. “It’s something I really like to do all year round.” Aiden was the first patient evaluated in SSM Health Cardinal Glennon’s Neurogastroenterology and Motility Clinic with the latest technology to evaluate his entire colon. “Since he was about 4 or 5 years old, we’ve been seeing doctors around the country for chronic bowel problems,” said his mother Charo Davis. “He was severely constipated and when he was finally able to go to the bathroom, his stools were not normal.”
Two years ago, Davis brought her son to SLUCare pediatric surgeon Kaveer Chatoorgoon, MD, who recommended nonsurgical treatment options and behavior modifications, such as planning specific times to go to the bathroom in an attempt to retrain muscles and nerves. Surgery was discussed, but Aiden and his mom were worried that it would impact Aiden’s growing interest in competitive swimming. When the motility clinic at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon officially opened, Dr. Chatoorgoon referred the family to Dr. Patel.
“I wanted to know if Aiden’s colon was working and if he really did need surgery,” said Davis. “I was very interested in the tests that were available.” Advanced manometry testing in the motility center revealed no major issues that required surgery. Instead a careful regimen of two prescription laxatives and retraining of anal canal and rectal muscles along with physical therapy turned the constipation problem around. Months later, Aiden is almost completely off the medications. “I feel like the medicines restarted my system,” he said. “If I want to go somewhere with my friends, I can do anything now. I don’t feel I have to be left behind because I’m worried.”
Aiden now wants to become a doctor. Asked what he’d tell other teens if they had bowel problems? “I would tell them it can get better; you won’t have it for the rest of your life, so don’t be embarrassed. Tell your parents and they can find the help you need.”