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By Dan Perrine
For The Record 

Youth baseball coach observes his player needs help seeing

 

Last updated 9/8/2023 at 11:50am

Barrett Williams is hugged by his mother Cryslynn Wolfford and supported by his coach Michael Searles who have helped the 8-year old with a rare complication in his left eye

Youth coaches should always be concerned about the well-being of the players on their team. No matter what the sport the men and women that coach kids are responsible for looking out for their players.

Sometimes the situation is more than just how well the young boy or girl throws or hits the ball. It can even be life changing for the youth involved in that relationship.

Such a situation occurred on August 20 of this year in the Orange Youth Baseball League. Coach Michael Searles of the Stags was working with a couple of his players fielding grounders including Barrett Williams.

During the fielding drill Coach Searles observed the 8-year old Barrett was fielding balls hit to his right no problem, but was not reacting to balls hit to his left. "I noticed that he favoring his right side more than anything and it seemed like he was scared to catch the ball on his left side," Searles recalled.

Barrett described, "I saw two of everything. When I was standing in the field or batting my head started to hurt, and when I saw the ball I could barely see it because it's blurry."

The coach then did some more drills noticing a definite difficulty for Barrett with balls to his left and then covered Barrett's right eye to have him read some numbers which the young boy could not do. Coach Searles suggested to Barrett's mom Cryslynn Wolfford that she have Barrett taken for an eye exam.

Barrett's mom was shocked to say the least. Wolfford replied, "Coaches normally just go out there and care about baseball, and very seldom do you get a coach that actually shows concern of a kid's well-being. It touched my heart."

Prior to going to going to see the doctor Barrett had experienced some bad headaches and was feeling nauseous at times. There was also a blurring of vision in his left eye and he started to get dizzy.

The initial thought was the doctor would just say Barrett needs glasses and that would be that, but the doctor suggested MRIs and a spinal tap. "All of those big words made me scared, but I'm thankful that he caught on to it because I'm his mom I'm around him every day and I thought the headaches were just from playing on his phone or being outside in the heat. I never would have thought it was anything serious," Wolfford indicated.

Barrett was taken to an eye doctor, had an MRI performed on him, before a pediatrician put the young boy on medication. Barrett had a bad reaction to the medication which resulted in his being admitted to the Texas Children's Hospital emergency room where he spent fourteen hours.

By the time Barrett got to the emergency room his right optic nerve had started to swell like the left one. Barrett was admitted to the hospital where an extensive MRI and a spinal tap were done.

During the spinal tap the pressure on Barrett's spine was very high. The doctors relieved the pressure and then noticed that Barrett had narrowing vessels from his brain leading to his eyes which caused the fluid not to flow properly putting all the pressure on his brain and his eyes.

"As of now, he is on medication. He'll be on it for thirty days, and then we will have to go do a follow up MRI and eye exams with Texas Children to make sure the medication is working. If it's not we'll have to take other measures," Wolfford responded.

Barrett's mom said he still has headaches which he ranks on a scale of one to ten. Sometimes the headaches are twos, sometimes they are eight according to his mother.

Wolfford added, "The medication has helped significantly. He does have to wear his glasses unless he's sleeping. The glasses have helped with the blurred vision and the medications are relieving the pressure on his spine and head. It has helped."

The medication and the glasses have worked wonders with Barrett. "I see a lot better. When I'm batting I see the ball and when I'm pitching I can see the ball," Barrett replied.

Barrett Williams had had treatment for the ailment in his left eye and is ready to go back to playing baseball with his team the Stags

The Stags and Coach Searles held a team practice on Thursday, September 7, during which Barrett attended. "I did some lessons with him yesterday, and he actually was doing way better catching the ball like he should. I think Barrett is going to be okay, and I'm just glad to have him back," Searles expressed.

The condition that has afflicted Barrett is very rare especially in young boys. Wolfford elaborated, "It is only point five to point nine percent for a child to have it. It is more commonly found in obese or older women. It is not deadly. We caught it time."

"The doctors, Barrett's dad, and I all feel like he'll be able to recover from this and go back to being a healthy happy eight-year old rambunctious boy. Barrett is tough like his mom and his Nene (grandmother)," Wolfford said in closing.

 

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