Sick teens differ from sick tots

October 12, 2012|Lisa Prejean

It started with a sore throat. Then a headache formed. Before long, the achiness set in with chills, congestion and a runny nose.

My 13-year-old soon looked like Rudolph. She was not too happy about that and requested tissues with lotion.

Whoever thought of adding lotion to tissues? Seems rather decadent to me. What a great marketing ploy, though. Feeling sick? Pamper yourself. You deserve it.

And by the way, how can a person be congested and have a runny nose at the same time? Doesn’t it seem as if the nasal cavities and the lungs could get together and decide to do only one of those at a time?

Not so. The chest can feel like there’s a brick on it while the nose is flushing a river.

In the last week, I think my family has gone through about five boxes of tissues. The trash cans were full and overflowing. Box after box after empty box was thrown away.

Pardon my stream of consciousness. I have been caring for a sick teenager over the past several days, a process that has done something to my brain.

When my kids were little, I had a grip on how to care for a sick child. After all, sickness happens more often in children than in teens.

Preschoolers are constantly putting things in their mouths and spreading germs to each other. Teens share drinks and food, but they usually don’t chew on each others’ toys. (Thank goodness.)

Perhaps I wearied quicker with this illness because I’m much older now than I was when my teen was 2. That was a long time ago, and she was so little then.

Now she’s almost as tall as I am but still likes to receive TLC from Mom.

I did what I could during the day to make her feel comfortable, made sure she had what she needed at bedtime and then went to bed myself.

I didn’t wake up to check on her several times during the night. I figure she is a big girl and would let me know if she needed something.

Not that she would be very loud about that. At one point in her illness, she had totally lost her voice. I told her to not even try to talk.

Nod for “yes,” shake your head for “no,” and blink twice for “maybe.” Every teenage girl needs a “maybe” option, even when she’s sick.

If only we moms had that option.

Where do we go to recover from caring for a sick child?

Most of us just go back to work. In some ways, it is less tiring.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail’s Family page. Send email to

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