Category Archives: Adolescents

Those Painful Teenage Years

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.

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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Adolescents


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Unsolicited Thoughts: Teenage Suicide

Unsolicited Thought: Teenage Suicide


(photo courtesy of

There were issues in the past few weeks that have passed that I dared not touch as they were sensitive issues to ordinarily discuss. But finally I am giving in to that great internal urge to write a few on some of them.


Much have been said about the teenage female college student who committed suicide when allegedly she was being asked to take a leave of absence, for failing to pay a debt of about 10,000 before she could take her finals exam this semester. Many of the statements that has come out of our “judgement-whores” are finger pointing, who is to blame why the students had to end her life. That is just unfortunate. While many are quick to blame the student herself, the school, the education system and even the president, one thing they dared NOT do was to UNDERSTAND the victim herself.

I for one do not know her well, thus my silence in the past. But based on the limited knowledge of her, this is the only thing I can share. She was 16 years of age, an adolescent. Adolescent age itself is a very complex stage of one’s life. It may be described as a transition from childhood to adulthood. It is the age when physiologically, sex hormones start to be released in surges, making the adolescent act erratically. Emotions are at their peak, parent-conflict(s) ensue(s), school problem identity crisis/gender disorientation may take place, role confusion starts. Parental-child conflicts occur as the child learns to be more independent while the parents wary of not letting their child to be; peer and external influence are very significant. Hormonal surges, unresolved internal conflicts and just trigger from a minor problem may add up and lead the teenager to commit suicide especially when red flag signs have not been detected and the child left alone unguided.

Why was it so easy for these “judgmental whores” to identify who was at fault in that particular suicide? What conflict was that child having internally? None of those “judgmental whores” even knew or cared to explore, and yet were quick to pinpoint who was at fault. Was it right and proper to identify the victim as the sole “at fault” and judge her according to our viewpoints, the school, the education system, the president? It may be true that there are some factors from these but more has to be understood first.

We all do not stand on the same ground. While some of us may have resolved our conflicts with the guidance from our good choice of peers, our understanding parents or accommodating and comfortable homes, not everyone of us share that same environment. What is true in us is not necessarily the same environment every teenager in this country is faced with. It is easy for one to say “during my time, when faced with hard times, we had other options, but never entertained the idea of suicide.” But were we having the same hormonal disturbance as the child has?

We do not share the SAME level of threshold. Given the same level of challenges we face, some may take it lightly, some may take it very hard and some may end up their life. This idiosyncracy therefore make us behave differently against the same challenge or problem. Several three year old kids were placed in a room with marshmallow on a plate. They were instructed not to eat it. But did they all comply? No. Some were not able to resist the temptation and took one for themselves, while were able to follow the instructions to the letter. Emotional quotient, that what was tested in this simple experiment, is not the same for all individuals.

If a family however do not allot sufficient time to their teenage children, listen to them, ask how they are doing at school, as they have other pressing duties and obligations to do, this leads the adolescent to listen more to their peers and external environment. Such is the problem being faced by adolescents whose parents  are abroad working, and is left to the care of lone parent or grandparents, who also have other matters at hand. We’ve heard of teenage delinquents, early pregnancies, intake of drugs and other risk behaviors as an offshoot of this scenario.

What should have been more important was that, red flag signs should have been detected by parents, friends or teachers. These signs should have been resolved earlier on. The teenager should have been guided well such that not a minor problem would have triggered this unfortunate incident.

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Posted by on March 18, 2013 in Adolescents


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BCWMH: A Family Picture

(photo courtesy of

(photo courtesy of

I am an avid watcher of the teleserye “Be Careful With My Heart.” Not only does it have entertainment value, it also highlight several positive virtues we rarely see or that are fading amongst Filipino families.

It’s supposed to be the story of a poor lass from the province, Maya dela Rosa, who initially planned to go abroad to help the family financially after her elder sister met an accident and their house is being foreclosed due to huge debt. Unfortunately she fell prey to an illegal recruiter and thus was unable to leave the country. She found herself job-hopping until by accident she came across Mr Richard Lim, a widower with three children, and the proprietor of Lim Aviation. She worked as a nanny in exchange for a scholarship so she could pursue her dream of being a flight attendant.

The title by itself gives the viewer the idea that this show is about a blossoming intimacy between Mr Lim and Maya, a widower and an innocent lass who never had a relationship beforehand. I thought this was adapted from the show The Nanny where the plot was quite similar. There are several subplots, yet the subplots have their own unique story to tell, moral values to share, life experiences to teach, all of which are equally entertaining and socially relevant.

One particular subplot that got me to blog about the show was the responsibility of Mr Lim aka “Ser Chief” as a father to his three children, performing such herculean task alone as his wife died prematurely, and his kids already growing up, (now on their adolescent age, except the youngest). The tv show clearly emphasizes the importance of open communication between the father and his kids. Despite being a single parent with a large company to manage, he never forgets his duty as their father and takes time to listen and address the concerns of each of his children. Sometimes, even to the extent of canceling his appointments in order to attend to his kid’s needs at those precious times.

When Luke Andrew, his eldest, formally tied a relationship with his chum Joey after being crowned Prom King and Queen, Luke disclosed everything to his father about it. He understood his son, as he too had his first girlfriend at the same age. Luke every now and then occasionally ask tips from his father or his younger sibling Nikki Grace how to appease Joey. After informing his father, Luke was planning to formally inform also Joey’s strict mother, Grace, about their relationship, but was daunted. He was then planning a way of notifying in the soonest time, while he is gathering his courage to do so. Joey however shared his relationship status with a cousin, who later posted about it in his Facebook account. Joey’s mother, Grace, discovered about the relationship and got mad. Joey then told Luke about their problem. Luke was already decided to go to Grace on the following day to formally introduce himself as Joey’s boyfriend, to talk to her and explain that he did not intentionally want to hide about his and Joey’s relationship. However, Joey and Grace were already on the way to the Lim’s residence to talk. Ser Chief, who was supposed to be on a date with Maya, had to cancel in order to support his son. Ser Chief, Luke, Grace and Joey finally settled things, the young lovers promising to still be on focus with their studies and not do anything stupid that will destroy the trust of their parents.

This was such a beautiful episode for me and I commend the script writers for incorporating this segment. It emphasizes the big role of parents still during the adolescent age of their kids, guide them especially on tasks that may seem too much of a burden, in order to avoid mishaps in their kid’s lives. While the teenager at this stage struggle to be more independent, the parents role should not be reduced. Though not controlling, parents should be willing to listen, and give sound advices as teenagers have yet to learn so much of life. The beauty of this episode also shows that being a single parent is not an excuse for not properly guiding your own kids if you indeed value your family and want your kids to grow as responsible ones. I earlier on tweeted that it was unfortunate that many working parents and studying teenagers were not able to watch it as the show is pitted on a midday time slot. It would have been a good teaching experience, an eye opener for both parents and teenagers in order to avoid conflicts between them.

In the Philippines in this times, because parents had to make ends meet to be able to provide for the needs of the family, many of the families have either one or both absentee parent/s as he/they has/have to work abroad. The children are not left under the care of the parents’ siblings, or the children’s grandparents, who as well have other kids and family members to attend to. The adolescents’ concerns are not attended to fully, there are no parents to listen to their children’s problems. The parents use singleness as an excuse why they can’t focus on their children’s other needs and concerns, as long as their kids have food to eat, clothes to wear, gadgets to display. This is unfortunate as unguided adolescents may end up listening more to their peers than their parents. That adolescent is lucky if his peers’s influence is towards his own good. But if the peer is also on the exploration side, seeking dangerous thrills and doing risky behaviors, then that poses a very humongous problem.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid article


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Posted by on March 18, 2013 in Adolescents, Personal, TV Show


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