I Unintentionally Violated Someone\'s Anonymity

Posted on: Tue, 10/29/2002 - 4:45am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I had the meeting with Jesse's principal and teacher on Friday. At some point, late in the meeting, because the teacher was leaving, I happened to say something about the anaphylactic TNA child that was in Jesse's class. I'm not clear how it came into the conversation.

Both the principal and the teacher looked at me and it was quite obvious that they didn't know that the child was TNA and had had an anaphylactic reaction. I had already said the child's name. I honestly can't say why this slipped out - it might have been about the TNA parent offering to be Jesse's parent designated supervisor because she had administered an Epi-pen to her son for a TNA reaction and she would feel comfortable with that if I didn't want to go.

At any rate, I feel absolutely horrible. The only reason that the school knows is because I told and the only reason I even knew is because the woman obviously trusted me enough to tell me that her son was TNA (also anaphylactic to shellfish and something else).

The principal said that she would have to contact the parent and get the medical information re the child. I asked her if she could please not let the other parent know who told the school. She said that it would be handled delicately.

At any rate, yesterday, when I went to pick up Jesse, this Mom who is usually quite talkative was definitely NOT talkative with me. The school must have called her to get the information and of course, if she's only told me that her son is TNA because mine's PA, she knows where they got their information from.

I just feel really badly. Should I say something to her? I really want to apologize. I have mentioned in different posts re this that I have found that she has a 100% completely different comfort zone than I do. And that is her right. I'm sure that she doesn't complain about the peanut/nut free classroom because it does help to ensure her son's safety. But it may not be something that she normally requires, and that's okay.

I know that there are many people that prefer to remain anonymous for whatever reasons, even posting here. And people have that right.

On the other hand, playing devil's advocate, does the school also not have the right to know, especially when the child has had TNA anaphylactic reactions in the past to know that they have a child in their midst with a life threatening allergy? (But did it have to come from me? NO!).

I just feel really crappy. I have to pick both kids up in 15 minutes and I'm hoping that maybe the Mom just wasn't talkative yesterday and there is a difference to-day. But I don't think there will be. I think she knows because the school would have followed-up immediately. They pretty well have to.

Do you think I should apologize and how? It just wasn't my place. It wasn't my place if she has the same comfort zone as I do and it wasn't my place when she has the very different one that she has. I just don't believe it was.

Thanks for listening, as always.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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Posted on: Tue, 10/29/2002 - 6:00am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Did you know head of time that the mom was keeping the TNA a big secret from the school? No
Did you spill the beans on purpose? No
Should you say something to the mom? Yes
How could anyone stay angry with you over this innocent mistake. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]

Posted on: Tue, 10/29/2002 - 6:33am
smack's picture
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Joined: 11/14/2001 - 09:00

Hi Cindy,
I don't feel sorry for this Mom at all and don't think you should apoligize at all!
This was meant to happen and you may have saved her child's life in opening your mouth.
You are really a softy Cindy and that works for you but stop beating yourself over this one because I really think everyone should know about this child's allergy.
What's this woman's problem...is she afraid to be different or have a child that is different?

Posted on: Tue, 10/29/2002 - 7:15am
ACBaay's picture
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Joined: 03/19/2002 - 09:00

Hi Cindy,
I think that you should talk to her about it. By not saying something, it becomes a bigger deal (especially if you think that you are the only person that she has told). I would apologize, saying that I didn't know that she didn't want anybody to know. Even though your comfort levels differ, she may become a future allie, since you both want your children to be safe. And even if she is upset that her cover is blown, you will probably feel better when it is out in the open. I say, talk about it.
Good luck,
Andrea

Posted on: Tue, 10/29/2002 - 7:16am
Chicago's picture
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Joined: 04/21/2001 - 09:00

Cindy, I know that you are in Canada, so maybe this is different - but in the US children need to have med. forms signed by their doctor to be enrolled in school (even private schools). While these forms are sort of a long laundry list of check boxes to identify certain problems and to note what shots have been given etc... there is a section of allergies and a section on meds that the child is taking.
These forms are required, but all that I have ever seen the administrators care about is if they get them so they can file them. I have never had them question, follow-up or anything on any of the info in the form. So, probably they are just some sort of CYA legal deal.
I wonder if your mention of the TNA of the other child and the surprise of the school staff was partially do to worry that they may not have done a diligent review of the standard medical forms? I would doubt the other child's doctor would have not noted such information, particulary if the reactions have been severe enough for an Epi Pen.
It has always sort of honked me off that I spent lots of time completing those forms, making sure the doc. has everything right etc... and then when I call to discuss the Epi, Action Plan and all the school (and it has been the same with day camps, park district classes, Girl Scouts) it is all a big surprise. Who reads these forms anyway?
I certainly don't expect some standard form to protect dd, replace a 504, explain all the issues etc...but you would think that if anyone was reading these it would not be a complete surprise that a child in the group had food allergies (or any other ailment that was noted).
So, that is my long winded way of saying that maybe part of their reaction was guilt that they had not already known / noted that on their own? Do you think they called the other mom and said she should have brought this to their attention and referenced the med. form instead of saying they heard it from another parent. I might be a little annoyed if the school started calling me directly about "rumors" they had heard from another parent (no offense Cindy) and I think it would be very difficult to "handle that delicately" Maybe I am missing something here. But I guess if you feel there is a good chance the mom will find out you told (or already has)your confession / sorry would be appropriate.
[This message has been edited by Chicago (edited October 29, 2002).]
[This message has been edited by Chicago (edited October 29, 2002).]

Posted on: Tue, 10/29/2002 - 8:25am
mae's picture
mae
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Joined: 07/12/2002 - 09:00

Cindy -
I agree with the other posters on this one. Don't be upset with yourself. I can't understand why she wouldn't want to school to know about the severity of the allergy.
Maybe she doesn't want her child to be seen as different, or maybe there are other reasons. It just seems strange to me that she'd discuss her child's allergy with another parent but withhold it from the school. I think you've done her a favour.
I also think Andrea and chicago have good point about talking to her about it. It was an honest mistake and if "anonymity" was a priority for her, she should have told you so. It is nice to have a future allie. Hopefully things will blow over soon!
Good luck!

Posted on: Tue, 10/29/2002 - 8:55am
robinlp's picture
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Joined: 05/14/2002 - 09:00

Please don't feel bad, I think you did this Mom and child a favor. I can't imagine not making the school aware that my child had a life threatening allergy. Plus, if she wanted it to be kept a secret she shouldn't have mentioned anything to you. Why would anyone want to keep something so dangerous a secret especially where a childs life is concerned?

Posted on: Tue, 10/29/2002 - 11:32pm
becca's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I think you should approach her, whether she has been spoken to by the school or not. Just tell her what happened and how terrible you feel. It is the truth and it was a mistake. If she has been spoken to, and does not know your perspective, she has no idea that it was so innocent. I think it is best to just let her know.
Plus, I think the school should know. That is a heavy burden for them to have a child who could need epinephrine and to not have it on hand.
I know of 2 students(one at my dd's school and my dd's friend) who have been prescribed epinephrine, for different allergies, not PN, and have not filled them nor told the schools. My dd's friend's mother has informed the school of the allergies, not the epinephrine Rx. The other child's mom has said nothing to the school at all about a potential tree nut allergy. Things like that put the school in a very difficult position, IMO(not to mention the terrible potential tragedy should the girl have a full blown anaphylactic reaction, and not be where people know or be close to help-she goes away to camps and all). She is such a lovely girl and I worry about her.
Anyway, that is not making you feel better, but just probably best that the school knows, unfortunate you have to feel so bad for telling by mistake. If the Mom did the right thing, it would not happen this way. She may be feeling bad about herself, as well, if she has been forced to confront this issue, and that she might have made an error in judgement. I would think she will get over it if she is the nice person you describe her being. Good luck, and do not dwell on it. It was a mistake. becca
[This message has been edited by becca (edited October 30, 2002).]

Posted on: Wed, 10/30/2002 - 4:16am
river's picture
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Joined: 07/15/1999 - 09:00

Cindy,
We are always in strong support of the allergic child's rights, but what of the rights of those people who care for the child. They definitely have a right to know if any child in their care has a severe medical condition. Could you imagine some poor teacher having to deal with a surprise anaphylatic attack? That's not fair and totally irresponsible of that parent.
Don't feel bad Cindy. You accidently did a good thing. You might want to try to talk with that parent because obviously she is embarassed about her child's allergy.

Posted on: Wed, 10/30/2002 - 5:41am
Fran's picture
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Joined: 08/09/1999 - 09:00

Cindy,
I agree with the other posters here. You did a good thing...innocently. Speak to the Mom. You probably helped her child. Our children's allergies aren't secrets! Hang in there and stop being hard on yourself. It slipped out because we are ALWAYS talking about food allergies on a daily basis!
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Stay Safe,
Fran

Posted on: Wed, 11/06/2002 - 12:06am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Everyone, thank-you for your responses. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Chicago, here, in Ontario, you don't have to complete medical forms for your child to attend school. You do have to show either the school or the public health office your child's immunization record. That's it.
The only time you get medical forms is if your child has a medical condition that would require them receiving meds from the school staff during school. In my case, it has been for Jesse's PA and also asthma. There are other asthmatic children with medical forms filled out and I know my girlfriend had to complete the medical forms when her then 7 year old began to suffer migraines so that the school was allowed to give him some Tylenol. In the two school districts I have been in, and I would suspect this is province wide, there are no school nurses (there were 25 years ago - I remember going to get Midol from the nurse in high school).
Well, on the Tuesday (after the Monday when I didn't think the Mom was talking to me), I was listening to her conversation with some other Moms and it turns out that something happened in the classroom on the Friday that had really upset her (coincidentally during the time I was having the meeting). She's a volunteer parent in the classroom. So, that was why she was kinda standoffish on the Monday. She was upset about whatever was going on in the classroom and I never figured out what that was.
Then, on the Wednesday, I kinda got her alone and I asked her if anyone from the school had approached her about her son's TNA. She said no. I explained that I had accidentally blurted out the information, that it was done in a *good* way about her offering to volunteer with Jesse, etc. She said it was no problem at all and that the teacher was aware of her son's allergies because she made a special appointment to see her during the summer (he's also allergic to watermelon, I have to check the cross-reactive list).
She wasn't upset at all and I explained that the teacher also had a dumbfounded look on her face (then again, the teacher allowed the children to have Timbits in on Hallowe'en even though there is a handwritten note from me to her, tacked up at the front of the class, indicating that Tim Horton's products are unsafe - I suspect she is dumbfounded a great deal of the time).
So, what I figure happened was that after my meeting with the principal and teacher they did check and found out that they did have the information on file re her son.
Her son only has reactions to tree nuts if he actually ingests them according to her and I don't know (and it's none of my business) if there is even an Epi-pen at the school for him. However.
She wasn't upset with me at all and I did apologize for my faux pas.
She's a super nice lady, always has a smile on her face (I am so envious [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] ), dresses really interestingly, etc. I just can't figure out her comfort zone thing. But again, it's not my business.
I really appreciate everyone's comments and just wanted everyone to know that I did follow-up by speaking with her.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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