After Ashley came home from her freshman year in college, she made a trip to the doctor. A high cortisol level led to more testing, which led to the discovery of a tumor on her pituitary gland. This was found to be the cause of her high cortisol levels, and she was officially diagnosed with Cushing's disease. Ashley soon went in for surgery to remove the tumor, which was successful, but with a cost.
During the surgery, a blood clot formed that eventually made its way to her lungs. She developed respiratory failure, sepsis, and pneumonia along with ARDS, a severe inflammation of the lungs, according to Sarmad Ashfaq, MD, of Kindred Hospital Heritage Valley, where Ashley was transferred to after surgery for long-term acute care.
Ashley recalls feeling scared, at the mercy of others, completely dependent on those around her just to live and breathe. Luckily, she was surrounded by a supportive team that allowed her to believe she could be resilient and get better.
After about two months, she was weaned off the ventilator. Able to breathe on her own again, she was given a talking valve. Ashley felt relief and joy that she was finally able to speak again. Finally able to speak, instead of mouthing everything, Ashley felt relief and joy. Soon she was completely decannulated. She could breathe, talk and walk with little assistance, and was able to return home.
Ashley kept her dream alive of going back to finish college, but with a slight alteration. Throughout her long term care, she had received speech therapy. With a newfound appreciation for speech and language pathology and the personal connection she has to the field, Ashley was accepted into the Ohio State University's Department of Speech and Hearing Science. Congratulations Ashley!