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SCHROEDER OVERCOMES DISEASE

June 22, 2012
Tri-Eastern Conference



KELCI BAKER

Congenital Juvenile X-Link Retinoschisis. Don't call it an injury because, as Adam Schroeder (Seton Cardinals) made clear, it's not that at all. It's a disease. A genetic disease which lies on the x-link recessive gene. In other words, his mother, although not showing any signs of the disease, passed it on to Adam. His two older twin brothers and younger sister have been tested, but their results came back negative for the disease. His sister, although not showing signs, carries the gene all of the same. Schroeder says that his grandfather, therefore, had the disease, but was misdiagnosed. "He was going blind by the age of 59. That's when his eyes starting failing but he died of a heart attack at 62 so there were no further tests."

How the disease was discovered goes back to when Schroeder was in the second grade. He was hit in the head by a kickball which caused trauma, a normal thing for head injuries. A few weeks later while he was playing baseball, he hit a ball foul into his right eye socket, causing his eye to go into shock, causing more trauma. The doctor reported that everything was again, normal, the shock having been a good response to that sort of injury and he was once again sent on his way. It wasn't until six months later when the floaters, the blood in the eye, came back unprovoked. This time after more testing, they believed his retina was partially torn. After observation surgery, he was sent to Loyola, Michigan to a specialist and he was diagnosed with the disease.

Schroeder has been diagnosed with Type 4. The higher the number, the later on in life the blindness begins to set in. Type 4 gives him until about 62, like his grandfather, until his vision deteriorates. The liquid that holds our eyes together, for him, resembles that of a 70-year-old. Despite warning from doctors to not play a contact sport, Schroeder says that's simply not how he is. "I explored different things that I could do and wear so I could still play." They attempted to find a solution. Goggles were the first start but if he was hit in the face, the pressure would still be focused on the eye. Masks were the next step. The pressure was on the whole face rather than the eye, but when he got poked in the eye, they knew something else had to be done. They switched to visors but even that proved to bring issues and debate, "Sometimes I would play in tournaments and if the other coach didn't like me they would tell me I wasn't allowed to wear the mask, so I'd have to sit for a game or two." The Schroeder's tried again and finally found something that works. They're actually a form of safety goggles but slightly wider for maximum protection, putting pressure on his cheek and forehead rather than his eyes. "We had to send pictures to IHHSA to get paperwork so that if a coach or a referee says it was dangerous we can say it was pre-approved."

 With all of this in mind, one would think Schroeder would be too nervous to play any physical sports. Every time he steps onto the court is a risk. So much of a risk that his doctor is surprised he hasn't already lost his vision. Any sort of head injury or trauma could cause him to go blind immediately. Slowly he adapted although his parents still worry. Even more worried, were the teammates he had to practice with, most of them frightened or worried that they would hurt Schroeder and cause him to loose his eye site early. "It took away from my competitive nature and it upset me more than if they would try to hurt me." Schroeder says that it took about six months and the mask for his teammates to get comfortable competing with him. One thing he reminisces on is the many names that were shouted at him from different student sections during game play. "When I hear a good one I like it. It's funny." From Darth Vader to Scuba Steve, Schroeder keeps a smile on his face as he says it just fuels the competitor in him.

There are certain things he's still not allowed to do such as jump on a trampoline, jump into a pool, or ride a roller coaster. He's still mindful of his safety, which makes his future in sports unclear, "I actually feel like I'm being called to be an opthamologist so that's going into pre-med." He's aware that balancing a collegiate sport and school work is hard, so he's still working on deciding what to do. Schroeder has hopes of attending IUPUI for pre-med and then transferring to IU Bloomington to finish out his degree.

For now he'll continue to play what he loves to play. This summer he's playing for Seton in shootouts and open gyms. He's taken it upon himself to start a weightlifting program for several Seton players, shooting basketball and lifting to stay in shape. Schroeder is continuing baseball workouts as well.

 


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