For Ashley, Stroke Victim at 36 and her 3 disabled sons
Organized by: Krissy Sexton
Hi! My name is Krissy and I want to tell you a little bit about my best friend Ashley. We met about 30 years ago on a school bus that picked us up from our neighborhood one Sunday to take us to Sunday School at our church. I soon found out that Ashley lived just down the street from me only a block away. Since that time, we were pretty much inseparable. At 37 and 36 years old now, me being the oldest, we now have kids of our own, and even though life decisions have kept us from seeing each other for long periods of time, (mainly my joining the military and moving around the world for the past 8 years), she is still and will always be a part of my family and my best friend. Ashley is a single mother of three boys, all of which have disabilities. Her oldest, Carson James Sears is 14 years old and suffers from ADHD, Gabriel Mickael Sears suffers from Autism at 10 years old, and the youngest, Iain Duncan Sears is 7 years old and has a speech disability. Because of the level of attention and work that is required to care for these boys, Ashley was forced to move in with her parents (Bruce and Debra Hudson), and lean heavily on them for not only physical and emotional support, but also financial help as well. Ashley's dad Bruce served in the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in South Vietnam in 1967 - 1968 and was not only wounded in combat and awarded 2 Purple Hearts, but was also exposed to high levels of Agent Orange. Because of this, Bruce suffers from PTSD, and side effects from the Agent Orange to include a recent Stroke. Ashley's mom Debra keeps the household operating as smoothly as possible, but the stress has taken it's toll, and she too suffers from medical conditions ranging from Diabetes, high Blood Pressure and Liver Cancer. I recently lost my own dad at the young age of 66 last year from the effects of Agent Orange and have done some research of my own on this deadly poison. Strokes, Type 1 diabetes, various forms of Cancer, Tumors, and birth defects are all linked to Agent Orange. Researchers are now even beginning to see a correlation between those Service Members who were exposed to Agent Orange and second and third generation Autism and other disabilities. Though the VA has yet to connect these medical conditions, it is already being documented in the files of the Service Members. I myself, am an Active Duty Army Staff Sergeant, and I know first hand from watching my dad suffer in his last couple of years, that Agent Orange is not something to be taken lightly. It has caused and is still causing way too many people a great deal of pain. I'm not just telling you all of this so that you can feel sorry for Ashley and her family. I do however, think you should know the background of this amazing family and the struggles they have already endured and what they still have to overcome. On August 31st, 2015, while Ashley was making dinner and getting her 3 boys settled in for the night, she passed out in the kitchen and was found to be unconscious by her sons. Thankfully, Grandma and Grandpa were home, and one of the boys rushed to let them know that something was wrong with mom. Because of how young Ashley is, the thought of her having a Stroke didn't even come into anyone's mind at first, to include the paramedics who arrived on the scene. Ashley was rushed to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Florida and later air lifted to a Specialty hospital where it was determined that she had suffered from several mini Strokes, a Seizure, and a Major Stroke which caused an altered mental status. She received all of the care that could be provided and eventually had recovered enough to be released to the care of her parents. Today, Ashley still can not communicate with her parents or children effectively and gets frustrated at not being able to communicate how she feels. It is common for Stroke patients to lose the ability to speak properly. They know what they want to say, they just can't find the words. In addition to needing a good Speech Pathologist to help her regain her speech, Ashley needs to see a GI doctor because she has been unable to eat without it upsetting her stomach. Since the Stroke, she has lost over 50 pounds leaving her at just over 100 pounds at 5'6". Ashley also needs to see a counselor to help her overcome the depression that has turned her from the carefree and happy woman that we all know and love, to someone who avoids conversations and can't even face her children, who need her the most right now. She has been through more than I can imagine and it's understandable that she would be withdrawn, depressed and even aggravated or angry. I just miss my best friend, her parents miss their daughter, and her sons miss their mother. Ashley's only source of Medical Insurance is Medicaid, which won't cover the costs of the speech therapy. Since the VA hasn't connected Agent Orange to the second and third generation issues these young people are facing, they will do nothing either. Her mom is even trying desperately to find other doctors in the Medicaid network that will see her for the other issues, and is having a very difficult time coming up with any results. If I could ask anything of you, from the bottom of my heart, it would be for kindness, generosity and your prayers. Even if you can't afford to help this cause, if you can just send out a prayer for my best friend, Ashley Sears, so that she can come back to us and be a part of our lives again, it would mean the world to her parents, (Bruce and Debra), her sons, (Carson, Gabe, and Iain), and myself. Thank you for staying with me through this and God Bless!