When my youngest son was 4, he wanted to play baseball.
My nerves were shaking when I took him with me to sign up for the fall season. I hoped he would enjoy playing the sport. As the first game of the season rolled around, my wife and I sat in the bleachers, ready to cheer on our mighty warrior.
I beamed with pride when he hit the ball. Even though he did not hit it past the pitcher, I still got up and shouted at my son.
When my stinky boy ran as fast as he could to first base, I saw something that made my heart sink. He had trouble running. His ankle did not feel well.
When he told me that his ankle felt sore, I knew what he meant. He had one internal bleeding in the middle of the game.
He reached first base, but when the next batter hit the ball and ran for first base, his son’s right ankle began to swell, and the pain he felt made it impossible for him to continue running to second base.
I ran to the dugout and asked the coach to call a timeout. He did, and I flew to my son and let him ride on the back of my shoulders. I had to get him out of the situation because he could not bear the pain he felt. He later told me that an internal bleeding feels like needles constantly pounding in the joint. My heart sank as I could not imagine how it felt to suffer from his medical condition.
My wife and I loaded my boy into the car and drove for two hours to the hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The on-call hematologist admitted “MacDonald the Younger” to the hospital to treat him aggressively for both pain and bleeding. It took two weeks before the treatment solved the problem.
We spoke to the leader of our medical team, Dr. Shirley Abraham, and she told us it would be in her son’s best interests if he did not play baseball. She explained that the pressure on his joints would most likely lead to further upsetting bleeding episodes. We knew that the cost of letting him play was not worth the risk.
We thanked the doctor for her very sincere conversation with us, and my wife and I went to dinner to discuss her son’s desires to play baseball with his friends. We decided that the reason he would not play anymore was that the season was over.
Later, as he got older and began to understand his medical problems, the explanation would change. At that time, a 4-year-old boy did not need to hear that something was not working properly with his body. I would not risk him getting one distorted body image.
At the right age, he would learn about possible limitations due to hemophilia. At 4 o’clock he knew he needed to go to the hospital to give the blood muscles. We felt it was more than enough for a little guy to understand.
When I looked back, I discovered that when my son realized that something was not right, it affected me greatly. Part of me would pretend he would not feel the effect, even if he had one bleeding disorder. I lived in a state of denial, and with that bleeding, my worldview changed. I had to face the facts and focus on maintaining my son’s general health, both mentally and physically.
As parents, we do the best we can with what we have at our disposal. But as life moves, we change to adapt to new situations and new ways to help our babies grow into incredible men and women.
I did not realize how much growth I would experience when I raised my stinky sons. But I always wanted my boys to know that their father would stay there to carry their backpack if necessary through every step of the journey.
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