*Yes, this has been posted before during the month of April. But, it’s why I’m here in the first place. The reason I began writing long ago. Please take a second glance to think of little ones who need a chance. Thank you.
Baseball Season! The time of year when Little League games will soon begin! I remember my husband buckling seatbelts around waists of toothless grins before closing the door to our minivan. It was “Sign-Up Day,” at our county Athletic Association.
I’d like to say that playing sports isn’t any different for children living with Chronic Conditions. Turns out, anything is possible with a positive attitude, determination, planning and a few adjustments.
In a small building on the busiest street in town, folding tables were set in a room of peeling paint. At first glance, it looked as though a country wedding was about to begin. Instead, there was a cardboard box of printed paper surrounded by an unspoken order. Tiny boxes needed be checked under fluorescent lights of bright white. Names and addresses and ages too, were to be added in lines of blue.
Days later, an official looking letter arrived. Like the first day of school, it listed an assigned teacher (coach) together with a classroom (team). My boys delighted in this. Especially the name of their teams! Raptors, Thunder, or Boys of Wonder? It didn’t matter. A Home Run had already been hit within their imaginations….
That first season started only weeks after my oldest was diagnosed with diabetes. Mothers and others covered their mouths, back then. They whispered behind my back, “Was it possible to play with his condition,” someone asked? Yes, my son could play baseball! I would figure out a way. He was no different from any other little boy…..Besides, he was good with the ball and a quick runner. He could steal bases faster than any other six-year-old on his team. His coaches nicknamed him, “Jet.” Once he started running, he didn’t stop. This was two years before, Forrest Gump!
I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t always easy. Adrenalin made my boy’s blood sugar drop like the pitcher’s ball at home plate. Oftentimes, I’d dash to the dug-out to prick his finger, checking a single drop of blood to see if his number was “low.” If so, he’d drink a can of juice or eat some food brought from home. Sometimes both. Then off he’d go, out into the field of green to play and run and have some fun. Or, maybe not.
My youngest son who lived with asthma, had obstacles too playing sports. Exercise was a huge asthma trigger for him. He used a preventive inhaler before each game. Even at a young age, he was still a big ‘little’ guy who slammed the ball far over the fence. After running around all three bases, he often had to sit out for an inning or more. Holding his chest, he’d gasp for breath. Deeply, he’d inhale white powdered medicine from his rescue inhaler. So difficult for him to wait on the bench while his friends giggled in the dugout while tossing the ball. Harder still not to breathe….
God taught me many lessons during the years my kids played baseball. After all, I lived at the ball park from the first game in spring until the last one of summer. In turn, both of my children learned important lessons too. Living with Chronic Conditions didn’t stop them from being like any of the other kids on the team. They simply had to do things a little differently. Somehow, they found a way.
If your child lives with a chronic condition, do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true. Encourage them to try. Ask for help, pray to God and wish upon a star. If you believe in their dreams, they will too.
Jayson Gosselin–Age 6 First Year of Little League
Justin-Age 7, First Year Jayson-Age 9