Senior Edition 2018: Features
The Girl Who Keeps on Going
Article by Chloe Keith
A bright light shines down on her face. Multiple surgeons surround her bed holding various metal instruments. Her eyelids begin to flutter. Slowly, her vision fades to nothing as she falls asleep.
This process was all too familiar for Kings senior, Ashley Douglas. After being bit by a brown recluse spider, Ashley was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder which kept her in the hospital for numerous days and nights.
“I was in the hospital on and off for seven or eight months,” says Ashley, recounting the tale of her senior year of high school.
Ashley was diagnosed with Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a disease that affects the function of one’s kidneys.
“I had to have my colon resected and an ileostomy placed for six months and then [my disease] shut down my kidneys and killed part of my ureter, which is like the tubing from your kidneys to your bladder, so my kidney couldn’t drain on its own…. I got a nephrostomy tube that comes out my back to drain my kidney, and I’ve had that since September and then hopefully that’ll be coming out around June.”
Despite the hardships, things are starting to look up for Ashley. “My kidneys have restored function to 46% on the left and 54% on the right which is almost normal, so that’s really good, but before it was 24% and 76%, so it wasn’t nearly as good, and they weren’t sure what they were going to do surgery wise. There were a couple different options but none of them were really that great so now, come June, I’ll have part of my ureter cut out and replaced with small intestine and then a stent placed for two months and then they’ll be able to pull it out after it’s healed and then hopefully at that point I’ll be back to normal, but it could be a long road still.”
Overcoming a disease such as Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is an arduous thing to do alone. Luckily, Ashley never had to face that problem. Throughout the entire process, her family and friends have never left her side.
“[My mother] has been my nurse, my best friend, and my mom all combined in one.” While her mother played the typical soft and kind maternal role, Ashley’s sister had a different approach in helping her sibling get better. “My sister wouldn’t let me have a pity party for myself. She wanted me to keep going out and being normal as best as I could.”
The tough love from her sister and the warmth from her mother helped Ashley get through even the worst of days. But Ashley had more than just her family’s support. Her friend, Caroline Thomas, has not left Ashley’s side through the process. “She drove down to the hospital all the time, brought me whatever I needed or wanted and brought my siblings and my other friends and was always there for me.”
Ashley’s friends were always there for her, even if it was a hard process for them. “To watch my best friend lay in the ICU fighting for her life was really difficult” says Caroline.
But no matter the circumstances, friends like Caroline were always there to help out, even if it meant going out of their way just to get her a drink.
“She couldn’t eat or drink anything. She was desperate for something to drink and would get her phone and text me that she was allowed to drink liquid and to bring her pink lemonade. But then her dad would get on the phone and say she wasn’t. One day, I got a text [from her] saying ‘pink lemonade’ in all caps and then her dad saying she’s allowed to have liquids. I was getting on the highway to go to the hospital when I read the message and turned around instantly to go to the Kroger. I ran up and down the aisle grabbing every kind of pink lemonade. To see her face after not drinking anything but ice chips for at least a week was priceless. There was so much joy!”
Ashley’s family and friends played a large role in getting her back on track, and they did an excellent job. Ashley was able to enjoy her senior year despite all the complications. “I feel like I got a lot closer with a lot of people that I didn’t really know very well beforehand and a lot of the senior activities were super fun.”
Ashley has big plans for the future, and she’s not going to let her disease get in the way. “For college I will be going to the University of Cincinnati to major in medical sciences which is the only undergrad program in the college of medicine so hopefully I’ll be on to med-school after that.”
Through everything, Ashley has kept an optimistic perspective on life. She wants incoming seniors to understand what they need to do to get through their senior year successfully. “Branch out and talk to new people in the beginning of the year. Don’t wait until the end to make new friends because there are a lot of people that I’m friends with now that I wasn’t at the beginning of the year and we’re about to go off to college and I probably won’t see them very much after that. I wish I had known them earlier on in my high school career.”
Many students in her senior class, and even underclassmen, know of Ashley and the obstacles she has faced throughout her senior year. They may know her as the girl who made it through her senior year despite all odds being against her. They may also know her as Ashley Douglas the homecoming queen or Ashley Douglas, the girl who loves riding ponies and horses.
Ashley is much more than that. Her outgoing personality, bright smile, and determination makes Ashley Douglas the poster child of a perfect senior. “For those who don’t know Ashley, she is such a light to those around her and is the definition of strong. I felt so honored to walk by her side throughout this journey. I am so proud of who she is” says Caroline.