How to Help a Loved One with Whooping Cough (As Told by a Two-Year-Old)

I’ve been coughing for about six weeks now and in that time my two year old niece (who I live with) has developed a fool-proof treatment plan for Aunty’s whooping cough.

Treatment 1: Back PatsIMG_0027

The first and most important part of treating a loved one’s whooping cough is to always be on hand to pat them on the back while they cough. This means constant vigilance–you must always be listening and prepared to run as fast as you can to them whenever you hear coughing. Additionally, you must tailor the intensity of your back pats to the intensity of their coughing– if they are only coughing a little than a gentle, slow pat will do, but if they are coughing very hard you will need to hit their back much faster and really throw your weight into each one. Finally, if they are somewhere you cannot reach them, say in the bathroom, and you hear them coughing it is perfectly suitable to freak out and expect something horrible will happen because you are unable to pat their back as they cough.

Treatment 2: Keep Vomit Bags on Hand

As I have said before, hospital vomit bags have been super handy for catching whatever comes up during a coughing fit. Your role as a loved one then, is to always make sure their bag is right by them. If they leave it in their room and are watching tv in the living room, you must go and get it for them. If they leave it on the floor and they are on the couch, you must hand it to them. It is also important to note that in order to make them feel less gross about carrying around a vomit bag, you should probably come up with another name for it such as “yucky baba.”


A yucky baba


Treatment 3: Bear Hugs

IMG_0026This past Thursday I had the worst coughing fit I’ve had yet. I guess good old pertussis wanted to prove it still had some power of misery over me. To make it worse, the whole choking, gasping, vomiting repeatedly thing happened right in front of my niece. She was super worried about me and didn’t understand why her mom kept taking her out of the room. As I sat on the floor catching my breath afterwards she escaped from her mom and came barreling into my room to give me a high-velocity bear hug. And let me tell you, being love-tackled by thirty compact pounds of adorable did make me feel rather better.

Treatment 4: Share your Toys

Later that same day I was sitting on my bed watching Downton Abbey–still recovering from that horrible fit– when my niece broke into my room again. She walked up to my bed matter-of-factly holding her little wooden camel in one hand and her little wooden rooster… between her teeth. She placed first the camel, then the slobbery rooster into my hand and climbed up to sit on the bed with me. So you see the key here is 1) share your toys, 2) the more slobbery they are the more love bestowed, and 3) just be there for them.


Well there you have it, four ways you can take care of a loved one with whooping cough!ms-F7fOC7

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