In my work, I accidentally encounter problematic teens when they get admitted under my service as the consultant on duty. I would like to share these two stories that I have come across with. Let us not judge them too quickly until we have finally come to the bottom of their stories.
Teen Y was a 15 year old female who was brought to the hospital for attempted suicide; she drank a silver cleaner. We were glad she did not have any caustic injuries down her alimentary tract or else I would have been so stressed. I kept her for observation but while in the ward, I was not able to talk to her in depth. She always covered herself in blanket. She was always with a friend; the mother or parents never took watch.
I asked the mother to pay me a visit at the clinic as she is always busy with their retail store and I could not meet her by chance when I do my rounds. She revealed that her daughter was born out of wedlock during her younger years. She is now married to another man who accepted the elder daughter like his own. However due to conflicts with her, the daughter gets to live with the grandmother sometimes. Just before the suicide attempt, she was trying to call her daughter. Apparently her daughter was not taking her call, which made her mad. When her daughter arrived, she reprimanded her. While the daughter was trying to explain why she wasn’t able to get the call, the mother refused to listen. She raised her voice instead and had told the daughter that she is disrespectful and has no sense of indebtedness.
I discharged the patient after more than 24 hours observation and told her to follow-up at the clinic after a week. I was glad she came over with the mother. So I asked the mother that I needed to talk to the daughter alone, while she waits outside. I asked her what made her mother get mad at her to the point she had thought of committing suicide.
She said she was at home but on the next door building, manning the store. Then her phone’s battery got drained. She left the phone at the first floor and went upstairs. That was when the mother was calling. She had no way of knowing her mother calling. So when she saw her mother later, she was surprised why she was being reprimanded. She tried to explain that her phone died, but her mother kept on ranting. She got so desperate because deep inside her she knew she did nothing and yet here she is being wrongfully accused. She went back to the next door store, saw the silver cleaner and drank it.
I called the mother and talked to them both. I had to explain things, let the mother know that sometimes she also needs to listen to her daughter and if she thinks the daughter becomes disrespectful as she talks to her, then she can point it out in a non-authoritative manner. Meanwhile, I also told the daughter to listen to her mother as I was sure the mother only want good things to happen to her, and that she might not repeat whatever mistakes her mother had done during her younger years.
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A 17-year old female came to the labor room with cervix fully dilated. History reveals she is 28 weeks pregnant. She came to the hospital with an 18 year old cousin. There was no time to transfer the mother to the delivery room as when the baby was at the treatment room, the head was already crowning. Baby was born vaginally and had to be brought immediately to the neonatal ICU. Baby was stabilized and initial x-ray didn’t show respiratory distress syndrome. But knowing that the mother was not given antenatal steroids, I was anticipating that eventually the baby will deteriorate respiratory wise in the next hours. I was not present at the labor room during the delivery but my resident was so I had been giving my instructions via phone call. He did a great job.
Baby had vomited repeatedly even if we only give minimal enteral feeding once. I had requested for x-ray to be repeated. On evaluation of the film, true enough, respiratory distress progressed. We needed surfactant to be administered so I asked what was the financial status of the patient (we don’t have surfactant in the hospital but it can be bought from a nearby pharmacy). I was told that the teen mom is unsupported, apparently she was disowned, and the boyfriend does not support her either.
I went to interview the teen mom after I did my rounds. She was from the south who was sent to the metropolis to stay with a male cousin, first-cousin, the reason why, I failed to ask. While being in Manila, the cousin would make her drink until she passes out. The next day, the girl would notice that her vulva feels sore. This had happened several times according to her, until she got pregnant. She never reported it, but she let her cousin know that she got pregnant. She then came over to the highlands. Her granny, who has end-stage renal disease came to learn about her condition. (But she could not support also this hospitalization as she is just dependent on her son for her dialysis expenses.) Teen mom only had one prenatal visit before the delivery. While I was interviewing her, my voice broke and said, “so, this is rape.”
I got to do something. I told the OB in-charge to notify the Women and Child Protection Unit, even if the crime was not committed locally. Meanwhile I wanted the baby to be transferred to another hospital where they can give surfactant for free. But we cannot make major decisions as the mom is a minor, and the cousin cannot sign for the consents. As I was about to leave the hospital I was glad I met a relative of legal age who took the role as the guardian of both the teen mom and the baby. Baby was transferred within few hours.