Mary Bridge helps Silverdale teen recover after being struck by car
“I kept telling myself that I wasn’t going to give up,” says Ashley.Aug 16th, 2019
By Kortney Scroger
For Amy Shumway, May 16, 2018, began like most of her birthdays. She sent her children off to school and planned to celebrate with them later that afternoon.
“The kids weren’t home at their normal time, but it wasn’t too far past, so I just continued what I was doing,” Shumway says. “I was interrupted by a knock on the door. It wasn’t an ordinary knock — it was frantic. I opened the door to my daughter’s friends screaming.”
Something was wrong with her daughter, Ashley. While walking home from school, the 13-year-old was struck by a car.
“By the time I got to her, she was surrounded by paramedics,” Shumway recalls. “All I could see were her shoes; that’s how I recognized her. I fell to my knees. I was immediately told that her brain was at stake and then we were taken to Mary Bridge.”
At Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, Ashley was diagnosed with a severe diffuse axonal injury, which is caused by the brain shifting and rotating inside the skull. This injury left her in a coma for nearly two months.
Shumway was incredibly thankful for the lifesaving medical care her daughter received, as well as the empathy and support she and the rest of her family felt from Ashley’s care team.
“They made me feel like they cared for Ashley as much as I do,” Shumway says. “She wasn’t just a patient and she wasn’t the only one they took care of. They cared for our entire family.”
Staff from the Mary Bridge Child Life Services team visited Ashley’s siblings, who were 11 and 17 at the time, at least once a week.
“It made me feel better to know that I was being taken care of by a bunch of people, that I wasn’t alone,” Ashley’s younger sister, Hayley, says. “It made me feel like we were in this together.”
Shumway recalls one nurse who would visit on her lunch hour to make sure she had eaten and another who would place Ashley’s stuffed animals around her bed and braid her hair.
“It just added some humanity to the nerve-wracking situation,” Shumway says. “It made us feel comfortable and it made it less scary for people to visit.”
When Ashley was released from the hospital at the end of July, she was awake but wasn’t as responsive as they hoped. Her family went home with the expectation that she may never walk or talk again.
But that didn’t stop her.
“I had a spark of hope when I saw a smirk or a laugh,” Shumway says. “Not a lot of kids come out of these brain injuries. We were just lucky she was alive.”
The recovery was long and difficult, but Ashley’s “fighting spirit” kept her going. A month after coming home, she was talking, and a few months after that, walking.
As part of her recovery, Ashley attended speech, physical and occupational therapy at Mary Bridge Good Samaritan Children’s Therapy Unit (CTU). CTU serves more than 3,000 children like Ashley every year. With the help of donor contributions, CTU offers a variety of services including speech, physical and occupational therapy to children with special needs to reach their fullest potential.
“I kept telling myself that I wasn’t going to give up,” Ashley says. “My advice for any kids in my situation is to just keep pressing forward.”
Ashley recently celebrated her 15th birthday and will be attending her sophomore year of high school in the fall. Because of her experience at Mary Bridge, she plans to pursue a career in occupational therapy.
“I want to help people who have been in my situation get better,” Ashley says.
Ride Courage for patients like Ashley
Mary Bridge Children’s Courage is a weekend cycling adventure that benefits programs such as Child Life Services and Children’s Therapy Unit that supported Ashley and her family during her time at Mary Bridge. To learn more or sign up, visit ridewithcourage.org.