Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple for Corey. Right before his second birthday, Corey started having flu-like symptoms. “He was still in diapers at the time. They were constantly wet, and he was constantly thirsty,” said Corey’s mom, Alison. “He was still nonverbal, so he couldn’t tell us what was wrong.” When Alison took her son to the pediatrician, she was assured that it was simply the stomach flu and it would take Corey a while to get over his first illness. One day Corey suddenly became abnormally lethargic, so his parents took him to urgent care. “Urgent care was closed, so we had to rush him out to Walnut Creek,” said Alison. “He was already starting to lose consciousness, so I was trying to keep him awake in the car.” As soon as Corey entered the hospital, the triage nurse knew there was something wrong. They took Corey back and checked his blood sugar, which was too high for the meters to read. At that point Corey was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. “We got him to a doctor just in time. Kids die from Type 1 because they don’t know they have it until they’re already very sick. He was just on the brink of going into a coma.”
From there Corey was transferred to Children’s Hospital Oakland where he stayed for about a week and celebrated his second birthday. Initially the disease was a huge adjustment for the family since Corey was too young to tell if his levels were off. However, with the technology available today, it has become much easier. Corey wears a meter that alerts him if his levels spike or dip in any extreme way, which is especially helpful during the night. “Type 1 diabetics can sometimes not wake up in the morning if their blood sugar is low. Often times if that is going to happen, it will be at night,” said Alison. In conjunction with the meter on Corey, Alison has an app on her iPhone so that she is also alerted if something is off. In addition to his meter, Corey also has to poke himself at least three times every day, take insulin and change his omnipod every three days. “It gets me down sometimes because I have to deal with it every day,” said Corey. “It can be kind of depressing, but I know that I can make it through it.”
Fortunately for Corey, he has parents that decided early on not to let diabetes control their son’s life. “We’ve been very adamant to not let it stop him from doing things,” said Alison. “He can eat whatever he wants; he just needs the insulin to match it. He can do whatever he wants; it just takes a little more monitoring.” When Corey developed a passion for baseball around the age of five, his parents were as committed as Corey. With a lot of activity, Corey’s levels can drop, or if he is sprinting or overly excited, his levels can increase. To help offset those extremes, Corey always keeps a little bit of sugar in his back pocket. “I can tell when my body starts to feel off,” said Corey. “I feel kind of dizzy when I’m getting low, and when I’m too high, everything starts to feel sore when I move.”
Regardless of any obstacles placed in his way, Corey’s happy place is definitely on the baseball field. He plays middle infield, second base, shortstop, and sometimes catcher; however, second base and shortstop are his favorites. “You get the most action in those positions,” said Corey. “I love it. As shortstop, you get more responsibility for the runner, and second base works together with shortstop.” Corey started out playing for the city league, then moved up to pony, and finally changed to the L4 Rippers travel ball organization when he was nine. He is currently on their 12U team where he gets to play baseball mostly year-round. “Travel ball is different than other leagues. It’s no more screwing around. If you want to be there, you play hard. If you don’t, the coach will sit you.”
Corey is also involved in an organization called Baseball Factory that allows players to learn from coaches who have coached in the minor leagues, played professionally, or even coached in the MLB. Players have to try out, and all tournaments are invitation only. “It is an open door for him,” said Alison. “Corey can go to whichever tournament he chooses. He already went to Arizona in January and has been to Omaha twice to play with an older team from Alaska.” Corey doesn’t mind joining teams filled with players who are complete strangers. To him, baseball is baseball.
Corey’s ultimate goal is to take his playing to a higher level so that he can show kids that suffer from different diseases that they can do whatever they want, even if they have something hard to deal with. He plans to continue playing with other kids who are at a higher caliber to better his skills, and to surround himself with the best coaches possible to help him make adjustments and improve overall. “I have a passion for baseball, so I know I can use that as a way to help other kids to know that a disease can’t stop you. You just have to keep going.”