The words pop off the page and put a smile on my face: “……leading the league in home runs,” “…………a grand slam and a three run home run in the same game…..”, “…….a rocket that lands out in the parking lot at Staples shopping center….,” “…..another grand slam – his second this season…,” and on and on and on I read until a smile as huge as Texas spreads across my face.
I am not reading these words in the local newspaper about the players in Major League Baseball, and I am not reading these words in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated about a big league player. No, I am reading these words about my 12 year old son who has been able to come so far with baseball in spite of a diagnosis of Type I almost two and a half years ago.
Zack’s diagnosis was pretty routine as far as a diagnosis goes, and we spent the normal few days in the hospital after that. Our home life for the next few months was probably just about the same as others who are newly diagnosed. The shock wore off and life wore on.
What happened after that is something not short of amazing. Zack has become a stronger person because of his diagnosis, and I don’t mean physically. He has already met with obstacles and life lessons in his young life that a child shouldn’t have to meet with. However, funny thing is, Zack never even knew these as obstacles: he just did what he had to do.
The Catholic School that Zack attends has had a turnover of at least 5 nurses on the staff since his diagnosis – he never flinched nor was he absent because of it. He did what he had to do. While he was in the hospital, his school basketball team had tryouts for the new season. He was unable to try out from his hospital bed, so he was placed on the D team, which is four playing levels down from the team he was on the previous year. He didn’t flinch. He did what he had to do. When a friend told him he couldn’t attend a sleep over because his friend’s mother didn’t want to have to wake up and take his blood sugar during the night, he didn’t flinch. He did what he had to do. When he found out about a party he wasn’t invited to because “there was too much sugar in the cake for Zack,” he didn’t flinch, he did what he had to do.
And what did Zack have to do? Move on and live his life and control his diabetes without his diabetes controlling him. He didn’t make that A team for basketball that year of diagnosis (but he did this year), and he didn’t go to the sleepover nor did he go to the party that had a cake. But, what he did do is learn that people can be cruel when they don’t mean to be. He learned the importance of education through his own eyes. He learned what ignorance is when one is not informed on a subject. Zack learned life lessons already between the ages of 10 and 12 that it takes a lifetime for some of us to ever learn, and he is a better person because of it.
Diabetes is not an unkind word in our home nor is it an excuse to be used. Diabetes is something we didn’t ask for but had to take into our homes and hearts and manage. The entire family has a part in Zack’s care and each of us knows our place.
Zack’s baseball success is a true story of a young athlete excelling in spite of such a horrible disease. I believe with my family’s strong faith and Zack’s incredibly positive attitude, I may just be reading about him in the local paper soon enough. So, although we didn’t ask for it, it’s ours.