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Band-Aides and Blackboards:

When Chronic Illness...or Some Other Medical Problem...
Goes to School

To Tell or Not to Tell, That is the Question
Some kinds of medical conditions are visible, and other kinds are invisible. Because people can't actually see them, lots of kids decide to keep them secret. They don't tell their classmates about them. They may not tell their teachers about them. Even their dogs and cats might not know about them. You may think that's strange, but here's why secrets seem necessary to these kids...
  • "my problems are nobody else's business."
  • "if my classmates knew, they would make fun of me."
  • "if I told people, they'd treat me differently--special--that would be awful!"
  • "if kids found out, they would stop being my friends."
  • "everybody would stare at me. It would be horrible!"
Now, lots of kids with medical conditions don't feel that way. Here's why they decide to tell other people and NOT to keep secrets...
  • "it's tough to keep secrets from your friends."
  • "when I have a secret, it's like I'm carrying a backpack with a bowling ball in it."
  • "telling people about my problem is like telling them that I trust them. That I like them."
  • "why not? Then they understand when I have to go to the hospital."

  • "when I explain what I have to do every day to stay healthy, my friends sort of respect me."
Come back soon!
So what do you think? If you have suggestions for this page, whisper in my ear to tell me what they are!
Or, if you'd prefer, tap the frog on its back to hop on over to the table of contents!

Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated: November 14, 2004