The Loneliest Runner-The Pain Of Being A Bed Wetter
Bedtime Does Not Have To Be A Nightmare
The Loneliest Runner
A young boy had a problem. He wet his bed on a regular basis even though he was a teenager. Michael continued to wet his bed until he was fourteen. As a form of punishment his mother hung the soiled sheets from his bedroom window and from the family clothesline for the world to see. She did this in a futile attempt to prevent him from wetting the bed while he slept.
Michael would leave school and run home at top speed to retrieve his bed linens that had been hung from his bedroom window and from the clothesline for everyone to see. Fear of having his friends see the yellowed sheets made the humiliated boy race home at the fastest speed he could muster to remove the linens before they could be spotted by his schoolmates.
He would sometimes set an alarm and get up, change the linens and his pajamas and hide them until he could launder them in secret. But his mother sometimes discovered where he had put the sheets and again hung them out in public. Michael never knew what he would find when he arrived so he flew home just in case.
Michael’s mother, Peggy O’Neill, also tied pieces of sheets soiled with urine to him and forced him to wear them to school. After he was grown, Michael said he considered his mother to be manic depressive (bipolar) and neurotic. Indeed her behavior toward the boy was not normal. She doted on his sister but consistently behaved abusively toward her son. She tried several times to commit suicide and once almost succeeded when she jumped off a cliff into the ocean while the family was on vacation. A lifeguard was nearby and rescued her. Michael was a witness to this and it may have contributed to the bedwetting issue.
Running was a way to save face at first but became a joy and ambition to Michael. He was a great and fast runner and the pride of knowing that helped him overcome the shame of his home life. Michael’s mother had no qualms about publicizing the problem that haunted the boy. She talked about it to her friends, his friends, in social circles and then began that practice of hanging the sheets out of his window. He had no self esteem or feelings of worth. He did have a great deal of anger toward his mother but as a good Jewish son, had no way to express it or release it.
When Michael joined the Junior track team, his coach was convinced he was a strong runner and encouraged the young boy. The physical activity gave him the release he sought and the ability to achieve recognition for his prowess. He won race after race and went on to compete as a javelin thrower also. In1954 he threw a javelin farther than any other high school competitor in the United States and won a scholarship to the University of California. His budding career was over when he tore shoulder ligaments and he had to leave the team.
This bed wetting Michael was the acclaimed actor and director Michael Landon and this really was his life in the young years of his development. His mother Peggy O’Neill really did hang his urine stained sheets out to public view and scorn. It is encouraging that Mr. Landon went on to be remembered as a wonderful family man for his portrayal of Charles Ingalls in Little House On The Prairie. This is proof that a traumatic childhood can be overcome and used as a springboard into a better life instead of being used as an excuse to carry it as a crutch.
Michael Landon wrote and produced a movie about his horrific childhood trauma with bedwetting. It was made in 1976 and is very inspiring. He played himself as an adult who is an Olympic marathon runner a gold medal winner. Several well known character actors appear in the movie including the wonderful Brian Keith as the father.
Bedwetting is a serious problem for a minority of children and young people. It is classified as involuntary urination in children over the ages of five to six years old. It can happen during daytime hours also but that is very infrequent. As young children are toilet trained, they usually are put in pull-ups at night. Nighttime dryness is the last step in the development of bladder control. More than five million children have a bedwetting issue.
Some have an occasional occurrence when very tired or in a deep sleep and just cannot wake up in time. Most children have learned to respond to that click in the brain even when asleep that tells them the bladder is full. If your child has an “accident", it is not their fault nor is it the parent’s fault and the child should not be punished. If it becomes a regular happening, a determination should be made to see if anything has changed to cause stress or perhaps a health issue has arisen.
It should be noted that bedwetting runs in families very strongly but consistently decreases with the age of the child. Only nine percent of boys and six percent of girls wet the bed by age seven. These numbers are even less by age ten.
If your child is still having occasions of bedwetting by then there are steps to take.
- Have a doctor examine the child to rule out health issues. It should be noted that a sudden profusion of bedwetting is a sign of sexual abuse in children and should be taken seriously.
- Limit fluids in the evening hours and before bedtime. Do NOT make the child go to bed thirsty.
- Have the child empty their bladder about an hour before bedtime and again upon before going to bed.
- Wake the child and take him/her to the bathroom before you go to bed.
- Reassure the child if he does wet the bed, change the linens and pajamas for maximum comfort. Never make the child sleep in a wet bed or wet clothing.
- Have the child go to the bathroom at regular times during the daytime. Teach her not to hold the urine for a long time.
- For extreme bedwetting problems use an alarm. If a child starts to urinate the alarm sounds and waked him up. It can also be set to wake the parent who can assist the child.
- Consider incontinence briefs such as Poise or even adult diapers. Assure the child that no one will know as these are not bulky and regular pajamas or clothing hides them.
- As a last resort medication can be used, prescribed by a physician. They reduce the amount of urine produced by the body and can be very effective. This can be used occasionally if a child is at someone else’s home or has a friend for a sleepover.
- Praise the child on dry mornings to establish and reinforce a positive environment for the day. Reassure on wet mornings that it was not his fault and lay out a plan to prevent another occurrence.
- NEVER humiliate the child or physically punish her. This has been done over and over and is not only nonproductive but it actually makes the situation worse because the child is nervous.
You Are Not Alone-Famous People Who Were Bedwetters
Most children develop the ability to stay dry as they grow older. This troubling time should pass very soon. Follow the suggested steps listed above and above all else love your child. Give them unconditional support and help them to know this is an involuntary happening and does not determine who they are. They are not alone. Read with them the biography of other bedwetters who went on to be famous.These include:
- Franklin D. Roosevelt- President of the United States
- Suzanne Somers – Actress
- Vince Vaughn-Actor
- Mark McGwire-Baseball Star
- Sarah Silverman-Comedian/Actress
- Johnny Carson-Talk Show Host
I believe this issue of bedwetting can be immediately healed and stopped through Divine intervention. Prayer works in all areas of our life. God knows His child is suffering and wants to help. Here are some actual prayers (found on the internet) to get you started..
Please hear the prayers of your precious child and bring forth a resolution for this bedwetting problem. Please embrace this child and remind them of your love for them each and every day, and let them find solace in your comfort. I thank-you Father for I KNOW it is only through you that all things are possible!!! I stand in agreement here asking my prayer in Jesus Holy and Precious Name, Amen!!!!
Oh Lord, please heal your beautiful son from this hard and often embarrassing problem, just like you healed me from this nearly 6 years ago. Touch him and heal him so he can live without worries.
Lord, we thank you that you are able! We thank you this day that we can trust you! We thank you that you have promised that when we pray, you hear us and you answer all our prayers. We thank you that because you know just how much this mother loves her son, you are going to give her wisdom to find ways to help her son from bedwetting....Thank you God for being so faithful!!!!!Amen and Amen
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