Our family’s lives changed forever on May 28th, 1999. It was a Friday and the last day of finals for high school seniors. Our daughter Ashleigh was a little worried about the only final she had left, English. You see Ashleigh had developed a case of “senioritis” a little too early in her final year and had let her grades slip. She needed to get a good grade on her English exam to make sure she would pass and since English was her only required course, graduate.
After the exam in the morning, she met up with her cousin, Celeste, also a senior although at a different school. The two girls went back to check with Ashleigh’s English teacher to see if she had indeed passed. Even though my wife and I had been reassuring Ashleigh she would do fine, she was pretty nervous. I can only imagine how good she felt when she got the good news that she had passed. The girls decided to go to a local sandwich shop and celebrate.
Ashleigh's attorneys produced this video as part of the material they shared with the insurance company. They feel it helps remind the insurance company that the survivors they represent are real people with real families that love them. We can't say enough good things about the firm of Dyer, Garofalo, Mann, & Schultz. (www.dgmslaw.com) The attorneys not only took great care of Ashleigh's legal needs but they have become good friends of the family and are willing to do whatever they can to continue to support Ashleigh.
I can only imagine how Ashleigh felt for two reasons. One reason is that she has not been able to speak since that fateful day over four years ago. Secondly, the doctors said that due to the post-traumatic amnesia, she probably does not remember that morning anyway.
You see, Ashleigh never made it home from lunch. They were driving home on a country road near our house when Celeste lost control of the car and they dropped off the edge of the road. When she tried to recover a tire blew and the rim dug into the asphalt sending the car end-over-end off the other side of the road. Ashleigh suffered multiple skull fractures and a very severe brain injury.
A simple question you may ask is “How is Ashleigh doing now?” As you may be in the unfortunate position of learning yourself, that is not an easy question. When people ask how Ashleigh is doing I don’t know if they want the polite version of, she is doing fine, or do they want to know a few of the highlights since we last spoke, or do they want to know the real, detailed version.
I will try to hit the middle-ground here... When we step back and look at the big picture, Ashleigh is doing great. Unfortunately, dealing with events from day to day, we spend a lot of time in the trees and do not step back from the forest often enough to appreciate the big picture. For a girl who we were told had an hour or two to live just having her with us is a blessing. She has surpassed the doctor’s predictions on a number of fronts. Not only did she live, but she is off of the ventilator and her g-tube. While she is still unable to speak and only has limited movement, she seems very good cognitively and knows everything that is going on around her. She communicates with us via modified sign language.
As with most brain-injured patients, her recovery has been marked with a "one step forward and one step back" kind of progress. She has had some serious setbacks caused by some very severe seizures. She is just now, a year after her last seizure, approaching the level of strength and endurance she had before the seizures. She has still not regained all of the movements she had prior to the seizures. If she can avoid any further setbacks we hope she can make some significant progress in the next few months.
I will be filling out this section with more detail over the next few weeks...
Before the accident
The call every parent dreads
In the hospital
Recovering at home