|Ashley Louise Campbell|
|1987 November 07 ~ 2006 June 25|
We were told that Ashley would be transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, so we took that time to contact her school and place of work. I still remember her boss telling me that he would take her off the schedule “for now.” After assessment at the I.C.U. the Doctor told us that he was making arrangements to transport her to Vancouver Regional Hospital. We were not able to speak much to Ashley then, but we did help her nurse remove all her finger and toe rings. I wear one today, on my necklace, in place of my St. Christopher. Tammie wears one, as does Jess. It was then that we learned of her various other body piercings, which included a tongue stud. Please take a moment to read my thoughts on tongue piercing. Tammie and I left the hospital to make care arrangements for Jessie, and we spoke to her briefly about seeing her sister before going to Vancouver. After checking in with Ashley we went home to pack and make security arrangements. The Doctor told us we would be gone for upward of two weeks, but we packed light, grabbed my laptop at my office and headed for the 9 p.m. sailing at B.C. Ferries.
I remember that it was a beautiful night. The sun set in a spray of color and it took a long time for the sky to turn from blue to black. We stood on the deck with our eyes glued toward the Nanaimo coastline and then, shortly after 10:00 p.m., a small light rose in the night sky and flew toward us. With Tammie shivering behind me to stay warm, Ashley’s Helicopter flew past us on the way to Vancouver. It struck us how awful that moment was. We were healthy, and alive, on a boat somewhere between Vancouver Island and the Mainland while our daughter laid in a stretcher, inside the helicopter on a journey that may well end her life. We strained to watch the small blinking light as it flew toward Stanley Park and the brighter lights of the city.
We arrived at the Vancouver General Hospital (V.G.H.) just after 11 p.m. and found Ashley in an area they called the Trauma Bay.
Ashley Louise Campbell
Friday June 23, 2006
It was a large open area they use to assess their incoming patients. After we made sure she was comfortable and being looked after, we set about looking for a place to sleep for the night. If I’d of known what we were about to face, I’d of brought sleeping bags for the car. Let me tell you Vancouver can be most unkind when there is a major function in town like the NHL Draft pick. We drove from Hotel to Hotel to Hotel, and were unable to find anything – no rooms anywhere at all in the city of Vancouver. The Hospital had a call list for local Hotels. All that answered were full, the others didn’t bother to answer at all. One Hotel – The Executive Inn – offered us a “pull out bed” for $289.00 for the night. We had already been to the Holiday Inn on West Broadway, but checked back and asked a manager if he had any suggestions. He thought we would be better off in Richmond and, as a result, we drove there. I drove to the Delta River Inn (Vancouver Airport) and enquired at the front desk. The young lady there was very apologetic, but there was nothing available. I heard Tammie crying and looked toward the front foyer where she was standing. My wife is a very proud woman and to see her there, standing alone in the dimly lit hallway, with her head down and shoulders shaking, broke my heart. God, please help me to keep it together. My anger was rising and I was struggling to keep it under control. I needed to keep it together! Tammie needed me to keep it together! The front doorman, God bless him, did the best he could. He sat her down and got her a bottle of water – all the while looking at the floor and shaking his head from side to side, as if ashamed. He heard me pleading at the front desk, but there was just no where for us to stay. She had called all of the hotels in Richmond and they too had no room for us, even in our desperate hour of need. We were exhausted! We wanted to be close to Ash, but Vancouver would not allow it, at least not that night.
We drove to Surrey about 40 minutes from the hospital and stayed with Tammie’s Mom – Louise (Ashley’s namesake.) After a couple hours sleep and a quick McDonalds breakfast at Surrey Central, we drove back to V.G.H. Ashley had been transferred to the Emergency Ward and we were told that she had a rough night. Her internal organs were failing and she was in pain. Sitting up suddenly, poker straight and screaming. The nurse explained that it was ammonia in her system, that is normally filtered by her liver. She was given Morphine. Even then she was slipping into unconsciousness and said very little. The Doctors encouraged us to speak to her and ask her to cooperate with their directions. One Doctor asked her to grab his hand and she didn’t even though I could see her brow wrinkle when he spoke. He finally asked her to wiggle her toes and instead she moved her feet back and forth. There were many people for us to meet. Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers, Teams of this and that. There were too many to keep track. I felt hopelessly and utterly useless! Then, to make matters worse, we met a team of 4 Doctors. 3 males and 1 female, I remember. One of the male Doctors I called one of the “brothers grim,” sort of a short fellow with weird eyes. They escorted us into a janitors closet and made us stand, as the “brother grim” delivered the bad news about her condition and prognosis. My knees were shaking and I needed to sit – or fall. One of the other Doctors must have sensed our despair, as he quickly spoke up and reassured us they would support her to the end. By the way the brother grim spoke, we thought the battle was over before it started. When we went back to her they told us she would be taken to I.C.U. and needed a couple hours to set up and prepare her. Tammie whispered in Ashley’s ear, “I love you Ashley – keep fighting.” Ashley replied, “I love you too Mom and I’m fighting for you.” That was the last time Ashley ever spoke or opened her eyes.