Randy Smith: My Brave Little Soldier

Monday, November 22, 2021 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

Her blood sugar is 430 and she's being admitted to Children's Hospital right now.

Those of you who know me know that all of my grandchildren are very special to me. That is an understatement. I'm like any grandfather who loves his grandchildren and who is absolutely amazed at every single thing they do.

You may get tired of hearing about that. However, my family was rocked to its core this weekend when my youngest grandchild was diagnosed with type I diabetes at the age of five years old. Mattingly Elizabeth Smith, who is so sweet, so loving, so smart and so athletic, is now faced with a new challenge and she doesn't completely understand what that challenge really is.

She knows there is something major going on but she doesn't understand all the new rules that come attached with food and needles and sticks. Honestly, I don't fully understand and yet I know.

Mattingly is not alone. In one year, 18,000 youngsters will be diagnosed with type I diabetes and that doesn't include the many others who go undiagnosed. Twenty-five of every 10,000 children in this country have type I diabetes and those numbers are on the rise. Between 2001 and 2009, the number of people under the age of 20 that were diagnosed increased 21 percent. But at 7 p.m. on Friday night, there was one and at that moment, our family started a journey that is going to help us grow and learn even though we are the most unwilling students. Let me share what I have learned so far:

    * Be thankful for ear infections that lead to exploring other recent symptoms. Slight changes in habits don't really hit you and sometimes a physician's visit can reveal a diagnosis that you could not imagine.
    * I wished I had paid better attention in math class. Taking care of Mattingly's new diagnosis is very much a numbers game. My greatest math expertise has been in calculating ERA's, batting averages, and pass completion rates. I will expand my expertise.
    * The best medicine for the soul is a good friend who has walked this path ahead of you. They will share their heart when yours is about to explode. It calms your spinning brain.
    * The best medicine for the soul is also a good friend who has never been through this, but loves and prays for and with you. Mattingly and her family are on so many prayer lists and I believe we all are feeling the power of that. Please feel free to add her to your list.
    * Davey and Alison are amazing together. November is "their" month. Both of them have birthdays and it is their wedding anniversary month. November is Type 1 Diabetes month. They have added that blue ribbon to their life.
    * Family is a gift that stands with you and fills in the gaps. The best team I've ever been on is the Smith team. Our roster is deep and our commitment is strong. Sometimes we fumble, sometimes we punt, but we play together and work together.
    * Social media can work for good. One of the best comments I have read about Mattingly's new diagnosis was from Matthew Paul (when speaking of his own diagnosis as a child). He said, "It gives you the opportunity to be healthier than a normal human being!" Thank you, Matthew.
    * Dolly Parton can sing to you and you will know you can do this! If you doubt what I'm saying, take a listen to her song, "Brave Little Soldier". Thank you, Teresa Hughes for sharing this with us.
    * I have learned that Mattingly Elizabeth Smith is braver and stronger than I ever knew and she can face challenges like a super hero. "Though she but little, she is fierce." Thanks, Bill Shakespeare. I knew you'd come in handy at some point.
    * Most of all, God is good. All the time. When life hits me hard with a mean curve ball, there's a hymn that always sticks in my mind..."When the storms of life are raging, stand by me. Thou who never lost a battle, stand by me."

As our son said in his social media post, "We are scared, but we are prepared." When you offer prayers of Thanksgiving this week, please join my family in our prayers of gratitude for all the above mentioned "preparations" and if you will, add an extra prayer for Mattingly and her team.

And, Don Mattingly, feel free to tell the world that YOU are named after Mattingly Smith. I know the time line isn't exactly right, but even Donnie Baseball should aspire to be as amazing and tough as this curly headed blond "little soldier"!

---

Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com




Lee Lady Flames Fall To Union, 79-69

Mocs To Offer "UTC Alumni" Ticket Options

Cleveland State Split Region Games With Walters State


The Lee University women's basketball team opened its Gulf South Conference schedule with a 79-69 loss at Union University Thursday evening. The Lady Flames (7-1, 0-1 GSC) were unable to overcome ... (click for more)

The Chattanooga Mocs ticketing office has released special 'UTC Alumni' options for upcoming men's and women's basketball games over the holiday season in McKenzie Arena. The special promotion ... (click for more)

Perennial Community College powerhouse, Walters State invaded the "Q" on Wednesday night for a pair of key early season NJCAA/TCCAA Region VII matchups with Cleveland State. The Ladies contest ... (click for more)



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The Lee University women's basketball team opened its Gulf South Conference schedule with a 79-69 loss at Union University Thursday evening. The Lady Flames (7-1, 0-1 GSC) were unable to overcome the hot first-half shooting of Union University (5-2, 1-0 GSC). Both teams entered the game ranked nationally. Lee was No. 16 in the WBCA Coaches Poll and No. 8 in the D2SIDA Media ... (click for more)

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