Saturday, March 15, 2014

Love Comes Home... For all of Us

Some months ago, I was on my way to work and heard a story on NPR.  It was one of those heartwarming sports stories that do sometimes.  This particular one was about beep ball, baseball for the blind.  The story was wonderful and it captured my attention, so naturally I had to write about it.

Beep ball is basically baseball with a few differences.  The ball beeps and the bases buzz.  There are three bases instead of four, and the pitcher is on the same team as the hitter.   Hits are rarely caught and all a fielder needs to do is pick up the ball form the ground before the runner reaches first for an out.  However there are many things that are the same, the grass, the running, the teams, the fans.  It sounded like baseball. 

The end result is that a short segment on NPR resulted in the inspiration for Love Comes Home.  I really hope you'll read the novel, enjoy it, fall in love with Greg, Tom, Davey, Skip and the whole gang.  And along the way, learn about a new sport that sounds like a blast.  Sign me up, I brought my blindfold.

When architect Gregory Hampton’s son, Davey, starts having trouble in Little League, Greg takes him to an eye doctor. The diagnosis hits them hard. Davey’s sight is degenerating rapidly, and eventually he’ll go blind.
Tom Spangler is used to getting what he wants. When Greg captures his attention, he asks Greg for a date. They have a good time until Greg gets a call from the friends watching his son, telling him Davey has fallen. Greg and Tom return to find the worst has happened—Davey can no longer see.
With so much going on in his life, Greg doubts he’ll see Tom again. But Tom has researched beep baseball, where balls and bases make sounds to enable the visually impaired to participate in Little League. Tom spearheads an effort to form a team so Davey can continue to play the game he loves. But when Greg’s ex-wife shows up with her doctor boyfriend, offering a possible cure through a radical procedure, Greg must decide how far he’ll go to give Davey a chance at getting his sight back.
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“Why are we doing this, Dad?” Davey asked, fidgeting in the front seat. “I can see just fine.”
Ever since Greg made the appointment, Davey had gone out of his way to demonstrate how well he could see, but Greg noticed little things, like Davey moving closer to a book and then pushing it away when he saw his father watching. Greg didn’t want to argue and thought Davey probably just needed a different prescription. When they arrived at Jerry’s office, the receptionist took their information, and Greg filled out a bunch of forms. But she didn’t ask for any sort of payment or even an insurance card.
“David Hampton,” the nurse called after a while, and she led them down a hallway of examining rooms. People passed them going in and out for eye exams, and she led Greg and Davey back farther, into a room next to an office with Jerry’s name on the door. “Please have a seat there,” she instructed. Davey and Greg settled in the plastic chairs off to the side.
They didn’t have to wait long before Jerry came in. He sat on his stool and immediately began talking to Davey. “There’s nothing to worry about. None of what we’re going to do today is going to hurt. But I am going to shine a light into your eyes and have a good look around. I’m also going to run a few standard tests, and then, based on those, we might do some others. Okay?” he said to Davey, who looked at Greg and then back at the doctor and nodded.
“Good. I saw you play the other week,” Jerry said as he got his instruments ready. A nurse came in and settled at the counter behind Jerry. “This is Annette. She’ll be helping me today.” Davey smiled nervously. “When I saw you playing, I noticed that you were swinging late, and your dad said you didn’t have that problem last year.”
“No. I was hitting good last year. At least, Coach said I was,” Davey answered.
“Have you had any troubles seeing in school? Do you sit closer to the front now so you can see?” Jerry asked and slid his chair closer to Davey. Greg saw his son tense.
“Nothing to worry about. It’s just a light. Will you take your glasses off for me?” Davey did and handed them to Jerry, who passed them to Annette.
“We have assigned seats in school,” Davey said.
“Have you found school harder this year?”
“Yeah,” Davey answered. “It’s fifth grade.”
Jerry nodded. “Look at the chart over my shoulder and don’t follow the light. Just watch the chart. That’s good.” Jerry alternated talking to Davey and speaking to Annette in what must have been eye doctor code. He continued working with Davey, looking at his eyes through various kinds of equipment. He did the puff test, which Davey did better at than Greg ever did. It was the worst part of his eye exam.
Greg tried not to be nervous as the exam continued. Jerry did the various eye chart tests as well as some Greg had never seen before.
“I’m going to dilate your eyes with some drops. It will feel funny for a while, but I need to do this to get a better look. It doesn’t hurt, but when you leave, we can give you some temporary sunglasses because you’ll be extra sensitive to light.”
Davey agreed, and they went through the rest of the exam. When Jerry was done, he said good-bye to Davey. “The nurse will help you out to the waiting room. I’d like to talk to your dad for a few minutes.”
Davey got up and left with Annette, who closed the door behind them.
“I’d like to run some additional tests,” Jerry said. “David’s vision with his glasses is about twenty/forty; without them he’s twenty/one hundred. How old are these glasses?”
Greg thought for a few seconds. “Less than a year. Why, did they get the prescription wrong?”
“I’d like you to tell me where you had them made and give me permission to have his records transferred here. But I doubt they got the prescription that wrong. Instead, it appears that David’s vision has deteriorated considerably in the last eight months. Those glasses should have given him twenty/twenty vision. They didn’t say anything to you otherwise when you had the glasses made?”
Greg shook his head.
“Don’t worry at this point,” Jerry said. “I’ll have you sign the forms so I can get the records, and once I do, I’ll call you. We can also set up an appointment for the tests I need.”
“Can’t you do them here?”
“No. These need a radiologist. I want a CT scan of the back of David’s eyes.”
“You really think there’s something wrong with his eyes?” Greg asked. He swallowed hard, his stomach clenching with worry.
“Quite honestly I’m concerned about the apparent deterioration in his vision. I won’t be sure until I get the records from his previous exam as well as the results of the tests I’d like to do, but I do have concerns.” Jerry paused. “I don’t want to make a diagnosis based on incomplete information. We’ll get the tests scheduled as quickly as we can so we can get some answers. I promise.” Jerry nodded for emphasis, stood up, and opened the door.
Greg walked out front, and Jerry followed. Jerry gave the receptionist some instructions, and they helped get the appointments set up. Greg signed the forms for the release of the records and then joined Davey in the waiting room.
“Let’s go home,” he said with a touch of excitement he didn’t feel. Davey nodded and slowly got up, and they left the office. They walked to the car in silence and got in.
“Dad, what did the doctor want? Is something wrong?” Panic edged Davey’s voice.
Greg didn’t have answers and figured the truth, or at least part of it, was the best way to go. “He wants to run some more tests. He saw something but isn’t sure what it is. We’re going to have your records transferred, and the tests should tell them what’s going on.” He shifted toward his son, watching Davey blink his blue eyes as he stared back. Greg leaned over the seat and hugged Davey as best he could. He didn’t know what else to do.
“It could be nothing, Dad,” Davey said.
Greg knew in his heart it wasn’t likely to be nothing. But they could do amazing things these days, and whatever was wrong, Greg hoped it was something correctable. He could feel Davey’s nervousness as well as his own, but there was nothing they could do right now. So Greg determined to continue their lives as normally as possible until they got some answers.


Tina Donahue said...

Your stories are all so moving, Andrew. Thanks for sharing. :)

LeeAnn Pratt said...

This is on my TBR list. Love Andrews stories :)

jean hart stewart said...

Sounds like a heart-rending story. My mother had macular degeneration and I watched her so bling. Don't know if I can read this or not, but it's beautifully written...

Fiona McGier said...

I love romances that also tackle important issues. Sounds like a great read!