Her Story

Ashley Louise Campbell
1987 November 07 ~ 2006 June 25
Day 3

Ashley had had a rough night, that Friday night. The resident, Dr. Jacks, had spent the night with her. She had trouble with her blood pressure and they were having difficulty maintaining it. Fluids were being used to bring her pressure up, but waged a weird balance war, as too much fluids were not good. By then we knew that her brain would start to swell, if it hadn’t already, and there was nowhere for the swelling to go, but down the spinal column. That would effectively start shutting down all of her vital functions and be the cause of her death. She had also become a bleeder and unable to clot. An operation at this point was very dangerous due to the clotting issue. By that time also they had propped her up a little to help with the swelling.

Tammie noticed that Ashley seemed to do better when we were with her, and not so good when we were not. Today she had a feeding tube inserted into her stomach to see if she is absorbing anything. We watched while they removed the white and brown contents from her stomach and measured them. The Nurse consulted the Doctor and after a discussion, put the fluids into a large syringe and forced them back into her. I thought I’d throw up. The nurse explained that Ashley was not absorbing anything, which was not good news. She needed the nutrition to get stronger.

A middle eastern looking lady and another man came by that afternoon with a mobile ultrasound to look at Ashley’s heart.

We were not sure what was going on, but were told later that they needed to know if she was strong enough for an operation, should an organ become available.

Ashley Louise Campbell

 Day 3
Saturday June 24, 2006

After watching the ultra sound and being amazed at watching her heart beating, the Cardiologist told us that Ashley had a very strong heart and they had no concerns that would prevent her from the operation. Finally some good news!

The tree maze of machines and medicine bags on her right side was incredible. We were always asking what this and that for. At one time Tammie counted 8 bags of different types of medicines. There were fluids for her blood pressure, the Tylenol antidote, sugar water for energy, baking soda solution for acid building in her blood, a clotting agent, more blood as she was losing lots internally and for testing. There were others that we weren’t sure of. Tammie was amazed by the nursing staff and their minute by minute care. They were all very attentive and caring professionals.

Although the nurse said Ashley’s tears were just fluids draining, Tammie felt sure it was her crying inside. I gently wiped her tears as they came and told her not to cry. “Don’t cry sweetheart, we are here with you,” I whispered. The tubes in her mouth and her swollen tongue didn’t allow for her lips to seal, so I did the same when there were drops of fluids coming from her there too. The nurse gave me a comb and I combed her hair as best I could. Grandma Louise was coming and she needed to be cleaned up.

Ashley’s sister Jessie had sent along her favorite teddy bear to be near her sister as her proxy. We supported Jessie in her decision not to visit Ashley in hospital, as she did not want to remember her sister as sick as she was. Although her teddy was there, it was really Jessie. Teddy sat at the foot of Ashley’s bed, facing her, and his foot touching Ashley’s for strength. The swelling went down over the day and I was amazed to see how much fluid she had lost. Earlier I was unable to move her left wrist hospital band from half way between her wrist and elbow. Now it moved freely up and down her arm. She looks much better and although her eyes are still swollen, I am getting better and looking at them.Grandma Louise, Tammie and I are constantly with her and rarely leave her side and we stay very late into the night. Food is difficult to eat as the lump in our throats prevent us from swallowing. We eat little and even then only things that don’t need chewing, like puddings, custards, soup and chocolate bars.

It has been three very long days and at some point, late Saturday, Tammie whispered to our daughter that it was “okay to go,” that she was not alone, that her parents were there with her and loved her dearly. “It’s okay Ashley.” We couldn’t bear seeing Ashley suffer, and Tammie knew in her heart that it was time to tell Ashley it was okay to let go.