Lost and Found – Chapter 6
Three weeks later, the nurses had Ashley on a schedule every morning was get changed into clothes, brush teeth and then get up in her wheelchair, which had come yesterday. Ashley loved it, it was pink, and it tilted back. It had straps and hooks on the chair to hold her up along with foot straps and a tray.
Then it was off to breakfast which was for the most part only Ashley and Denise. Denise and the rest of the family were learning how to take care of Ashley on their own. When family members were learning how to prepare their kiddos food, they were called up by family to use a food purer. “Jonas,” the cook called out to them. Denise left Ashley at the table and went up to puree her food.
She got back and found Ashley sitting at the table with her iPad, which is hooked up to a DynaVox. A DynaVox is a communication tool. Since Ashley can’t speak, the DynaVox board has pictures and words on it so she can press the buttons and say what she needs or even have a conversation. Ashley uses an iPad though with the DynaVox app installed into it. It cost more for them to download the DynaVox app, but this way she can text her family through it.
“Morning, Aly,” Ashley said on her DynaVox as a nurse came and sat Aly down at her and Denise’s table. Aly was Ashley’s best friend. Aly never had anyone come visit her. Everyone else had someone, but Aly never had anyone who came. She wasn’t able to speak, except she constantly said Ma and Pa, she was able to walk, liked to dance, and do her princess wave to say hi to everyone. Both Ashley and Aly had to have their food pureed and had to be fed.
“Hi Aly, how are you doing this morning?” Denise asked the girl at their table, who smiled and waved her hand at Denise, like a princess.
“What do you say we go for a walk this morning with Daddy,” Denise said as she fed Ashley some of her food. Ashley just blinked once, she loved going for walks with her Dad.
Paul would come up to the rehab facility right after breakfast and he got Frankie to school, he would stay and then around 2:00pm. Kevin, Dani, Joe, and Nick would come up to stay with Ashley while Paul and Denise picked up Frankie from school and ran some errands. They would then come back around 4:00pm every day and they would all have dinner together and then leave so Frankie could get his homework done and get to bed at a reasonable time. Since Ashley was going to be here for only two more weeks and then she would be free to go home, Denise had been staying less and letting the other members of the family take care of her.
“Ash, Kevin and Dani are going to be staying with you tonight again,” Denise said as Ashley got a huge smile on her face and started blinking like crazy. She loved it when her siblings stayed overnight with her. Last week when Joe stayed with her, he snuck out and got a shake from the ice cream shop down the street for her after everyone was in bed. Her siblings usually did something special for her though, and it usually involved watching a movie or food.
“Bye Aly, we will see you later. Come on honey, let’s go wait for Daddy and then we will go for a walk with him,” Denise said as she pushed her out of the dining room and into the main room where they sat and talked.
“When is everyone coming?” Ashley said using her DynaVox.
“You know that answer, Daddy comes after breakfast, Kevin, Dani, Joe and Nick come around 2:00 every day then Mommy and Daddy leave and bring Frankie back around 4:00 for dinner,” Denise said. She asked this question every day. Ashley just blinked her eyes once. Even though she had the DynaVox, she still used the blinking system for yes and no because it was easier sometimes.
“Daddy,” Ashley pressed on her DynaVox as she turned up the volume, as she saw her Dad come in through the doors and she was ready for her walk outside.
After Ashley said Daddy, she pushed the button that said, “I need to be changed,” on her DynaVox.
“Come on let’s go get you cleaned up, honey,” Denise said as her and Paul went down to her room. Paul unstrapped her as Denise pressed the nurse’s button, “I need a diaper and some wipes for Ashley,” she said into the nurse’s button.
A nurse came to the room with a diaper and a package of baby wipes to clean Ashley up. “Do you guys need any help,” the nurse asked. The family was taking care of Ashley more and more now.
“No, I think we are fine,” Denise said as she took the supplies from the nurse and Paul lifted Ashley onto the bed. The nurse left without saying another word. They then undid the front of the diaper and pulled it through her legs to find that she was still peeing. This was usual for her though. About five minutes after she pooped, she would always pee.
“Let’s wait until she is done,” Denise said as she held the front of the diaper up for her to finishing peeing. Denise checked again in about twenty seconds, and she still wasn’t done. Finally, after what seemed like eternity, she was done.
Paul and Denise got to work on changing Ashley’s very messy and wet diaper. They were getting good at this; they were almost pros by now. They had figured out a way to do this, it was much easier with two people then it was with just one. It was actually pretty much impossible with just one because Ashley liked to touch stuff she wasn’t supposed too, so having one person to keep her hands distracted worked very well. They had tried everything from toys to just talking to her but none of it worked for very long. You basically had to hold her hands and play with them while the other one was changing her.
Once they got done changing her, they went for their walk. “When do I get to come home,” Ashley asked using her DynaVox.
“In about two week’s honey,” Denise said. They found a bench in the park that they were walking in. There was a park about a block from Willow Hearts, they went there on a daily basis with Ashley.
“Do you want to come home, Ash?” Denise asked. This was the first time that she had asked about coming home. Ashley blinked once.
“What about Aly?” Ashley asked on her DynaVox. She felt bad for Aly, she had no one who came and visited her ever, and she seemed really connected to Ashley and her family.
“What do you mean, what about Aly,” Denise said as she looked at Paul.
“She never has anyone who comes to see her,” Ashley said on her DynaVox. “Can she come live with us?”
“Uh honey, we just can’t take Aly home with us, maybe her family lives far away or something, and just hasn’t had time to visit,” Paul said.
“No, she doesn’t have a family,” Ashley said. “She was in a car accident and her whole family died except for her, she has no relatives, no one.”
“How do you know this honey,” Denise asked, she was tearing up from what she just heard Ashley say.
“Nick, last time he was here overnight, we got talking about Aly, and he went and asked, and they told him, he had to sign some forms or something to get information on her, I guess,” Ashley said as she used her DynaVox.
“Would you like it if Mommy and Daddy tried to talk to someone about Aly,” Denise said, as Ashley blinked once.
“Well, I think it is almost therapy time,” Denise said. Ashley had therapy every Tuesday at 11. Ashley did not enjoy therapy at all.
“I don’t like her,” Ashley said. The therapist that she was assigned to be with was an old crabby lady who never got the blinking system with Ashley. She would be glad when she was done with therapy. The therapist was only coming in once a week now to check on Paul and Denise, otherwise it was up to them to get her stretched and on her stomach every day and of course today was the day that she was coming.
“I know you don’t like her Ash,” Paul said. Truth was he didn’t like her either. She was too rough with Ashley and pushed her way over her limit. He knew that therapists were supposed to push their patients, but when the patient is crying because they are in pain and almost having a panic attack, you stop. She didn’t understand that, even after Paul and Denise both talked to her, she still didn’t get it.
First thing the therapist did today was legs, not Ashley’s favorite at all. She almost wished that she could sometimes have a blowout poop when she was working with her legs. That would teach her enough, but she couldn’t control when she did pee or poop, and she had already pooped today, so no luck again today. Maybe next time, Ashley thought. When her legs exercises were done, Paul scoped Ashley up and set her back into her chair for her arm exercises. She was done with therapy in an hour.
“It’s lunch time Ash,” Denise said as she pushed her out to their normal table. Today Ashley decided to have chicken strips and fries with honey mustard and her favorite cranberries. Denise went up and pureed her food and got hers and Paul’s food. Paul had decided on a chicken cranberry salad and Denise had decided on a chicken blue cheese salad.
After lunch, it was time for rest time. Everyone had to go back to their rooms to take a nap or just relax. Ashley always took a nap during this time; she was exhausted by this time of the day and always needed a nap. Paul scoped her up and laid her down on the bed. She was out in no time.
“She must have been tired,” Denise said as she pulled down her pants gently to check her diaper. “Here help me change her, she is soaking wet,” Denise said as she took off her diaper. They typically changed her before she was asleep but today, she was tired.
“Paul, we need to talk about Aly, and what to do with her, I don’t know if I can leave her here, now that I know about her situation,” Denise said.
“Let’s check with Nick first and make sure that this isn’t made up in Ashley’s mind, before we go talk to someone about it,” Paul said.
“When she was doing therapy, and I said that I had to make a few phone calls, I called Nick,” Denise said.
“What did he say?” Paul asked.
“Nick said that he did go talk to one of the night nurses, and they told him that Aly and her family had been in a car accident last summer, and she had a traumatic brain injury, which left her unable to talk, and take care of herself. She only had her parents and her, she is an only child, with no other relatives. Paul, we can’t leave her here, she has become so attached to us,” Denise said.
“Okay, once Kevin, Dani, Joe and Nick get here, we will go talk with Alisha,” Paul said, as he looked over at Ashley who was sound asleep on her stomach. She always flips over onto her stomach on her own. If you put her on her stomach to go to sleep, she freaks out, so it’s easier if you just let her do it on her own once she is sleeping.
“I am going to call Nick and see if he can pick up Frankie then from school and come around 4 like normal. Frankie has nothing for lunch tomorrow, so I was going to pick something up for him, this afternoon, so I will see if Joe, wants to go get him some food for tomorrow.
“Okay, you go make your phone calls, and I will keep an eye on Ashley,” Paul said, as Denise got up and left the room.
“Hi Alisha,” Denise said as she knocked on the director’s door later that afternoon. Kevin and Dani had just got to Willow Hearts, Ashley was still sound asleep. Nick was on duty of picking up Frankie, while Joe was on duty of getting lunch stuff for Frankie tomorrow.
“Hey guys, what’s up?” Alisha said as she looked up from her computer.
“We were wondering if we could talk to you for a couple of minutes,” Denise said.
“Yea sure come on in,” Alisha said as she minimized her computer screen and pushed back from her desk. Paul and Denise each took a seat in the chairs in front of her desk.
“So, what’s up?” Alisha asked the couple in front of them.
“I don’t know how to put this, but Ashley is worried about Aly, because she never has any family or anyone that comes to visit her,” Denise started out the conversation.
“Our son Nick asked one of the night shift nurses a while back, about Aly, because Ashley was getting so worked about her, and they said that her parents got killed in a car crash, and she has no one anymore, is that true?” Paul asked.
“Ashley was the one to bring it up to us actually this morning on our walk,” Denise said.
“It is a really sad situation that Alyson is in, yes her parents were killed in a car crash. She used to be a normal 14-year-old, but during the car crash, she got a traumatic brain injury that left her unable to speak, feed herself, and she now needs 24 hours around the clock care, and as you probably noticed, she likes to wander a lot,” Alisha said.
“Yea, we have noticed that” Denise said.
“Yea, we can barely get her to sit down for a meal let alone to sit down and stay in one place for a long period of time,” Alisha said.
“Well, what is she supposed to do then, just live here?” Denise said.
“We have been trying to look for a foster home for Alyson since she could be released last October, she has gone to a couple of them, but no one has been able to keep her, they all complain about her cares. She always ends up back here, I just feel so bad for her, and no one here is able to take her,” Alisha said.
“We want to talk it over with our family first, but if it is okay with them, we would be willing to adopt her and have her become part of our family. She is already so connected to us and Ashley,” Paul said.
“Wow that would be amazing,” Alisha said, in shock that they would even consider adopting Alyson and taking her home with them.
“Let us talk about it with our family when they are here tonight, and by tomorrow we should have an answer for you,” Denise said.
“Thank you so much,” Alisha said as she shook the couple’s hands as they left her office.
It was around 2:30pm that afternoon when Ashley woke up, she had taken a long nap. When she woke up, and flipped onto her back again, she found Kevin and Dani in the room with her. Her parents had left to go get Frankie and would be back around 4:00pm for dinner.
“Hey Ash,” Kevin said as she came over to her. She smiled at him as he uncovered her and changed her diaper. As soon as he pulled down her diaper, she went right for stuff that she wasn’t supposed to touch. She liked to touch her private parts and the diaper. It didn’t matter if it was clean or messy, she just liked to touch it. Luckily, Dani noticed and stood up from her spot on the couch to come over and play with Ashley’s hands as Kevin cleaned her up.
“I have no idea how we are supposed to do this if we are alone with her, like what if she asks to be changed and we are the only ones with her, it will take forever,” Kevin said to Dani as he put on a new diaper.
“Yea, I have no clue how anyone is supposed to do this on their own,” Dani said.
“Hey Ash, do you want to get up in your chair or,” Kevin said but was cut off by Ashley blinking once, “in your chair?” Kevin asked again to confirm as Ashley blinked once again.
Kevin scooped her up and put her in her chair. He then tilted her chair back some, so it wasn’t up too far and put the iPad on her tray along with some sticky stuff to somewhat hold her iPad. She had to be tilted all the way forward to eat, drink, and to get in and out of her chair, but other than that, she was free to be tilted to whatever angle she wanted.
“Guys, can we talk to you before we leave tonight,” Denise said after dinner that night. The whole family was now at the center, and they wanted to talk to them tonight, so they could get an answer back to Alisha tomorrow.
“Yea, what’s up?” Joe asked. He was pushing Ashley out of the dining room.
“Come on let’s go back to Ashley’s room, and talk,” Paul said. He didn’t want anyone else hearing them talk.
“So, what’s up Dad,” Joe said once they were all in Ashley’s room and sitting down.
“Your Mom and I went and talked to Alisha today, about Aly,” Paul said as Ashley lifted her head up and smiled.
“Yea, what about her Dad?” Kevin asked.
“Well as you might have noticed, Aly never has any visitors or anything,” Paul said as the family nodded their heads.
“Why doesn’t she get any visitors, do her parents live too far away to come and see her?” Frankie asked.
“Well, no honey, her parents are no longer here with us,” Denise said.
“Wait, so her parents are dead?” Frankie asked, to make sure he understood his mom.
“Yes unfortunately, she was in a traumatic car accident last July with her parents and both of her parents were killed and she got a traumatic brain injury,” Denise said as she looked around at her kids.
“Anyways, what your mother is trying to say, is that we are thinking of adopting her and bringing her home with us. They have tried countless foster home situations with her, and she always ends up being sent back here within 72 hours, no foster home is able to take her,” Paul said.
“Really,” Ashley said on her iPad. She was thrilled that her parents had talked to Alisha and wanted to adopt her.
“What will happen to her if we don’t take her,” Joe asked as Ashley gave him the death stare.
“If we don’t take her, she will more than likely live here until she ages out, which is at age 21, and then she will go into a group home, somewhere in LA. Also, no one here is able to adopt her,” Paul said.
“Do you have any more questions?” Denise said as she looked at her family, as Ashley blinked twice. Everyone else shook their heads.
“Okay well then do you think we should adopt her?” Paul asked, as Ashley went crazy and started blinking like crazy.
“Okay, so we have a vote from Ashley, now what about everyone else?” Denise asked.
“I think we should do it,” Dani said, as everyone else agreed with her. They could do it, or she hoped that her parents-in-laws were able to do this.
“Okay, I think this settles it then, we will tell Alisha in the morning and then we will tell Aly in the next couple of days, so no one say a word to her okay,” Denise said as she looked at Ashley who rolled her eyes, sighed, and blinked once.
“Ashley, are you excited about Aly?” Kevin asked his little sister, as she blinked once, and then pressed a button her iPad, that said, “Aly is my little sister.”
“Now you aren’t going to say that to her are you, Mom and Dad want to tell her about this, alright,” Kevin said. As a big brother, he wanted to make sure that it was clear to her that she wasn’t supposed to say this to her.
“I won’t,” Ashley pressed on her iPad, as she went to another screen. She then went back to her family screen and pressed a button that said Kevin on it. “Kevin is my oldest brother. He likes to play guitar and eat sushi, GROSS. Besides the sushi part, he is a pretty amazing brother.”
“I like the sushi part, Ash,” Kevin said.
“Yea, it was all I could get on the button to say, or I would have said more amazing things about you,” Ashley said on her iPad and then smiled up at Kevin.
“Thank you, Ash, do you have one for everyone in the family?” Kevin said as he came over and looked at the iPad screen that she had up. On the top of the screen, it said family. It had two tabs dividing the screens apart. The two tabs said people, and pets on them. Ashley blinked once.
“That is really cool, I liked how you got it to separate into two different tabs, one for people, and the other for pets,” Kevin said. When they had set it up, it didn’t have any of these cool features, but Ashley added them.
“Yea, I tried to put them all together, but it got to confusing, so I had to change it,” Ashley said using her iPad.
“So, Ash what should we do?” Kevin said as he looked at Ashley after their conversation was done.
“Watch a movie in bed,” Ashley pressed on her iPad.
“Okay Ash, Dani and I brought some new movies for us to pick from,” Kevin said, as Ashley blinked once and smiled, she was so happy.
“What movies?” Ashley asked using her DynaVox.
“We have Fly Away Home or the Parent Trap,” Kevin said as he held up the movies, so she could see them.
“Fly Away Home Ash?” Dani asked, her sister-in-law as she blinked once and smiled. Ashley loved animals.
“Okay, it’s Fly Away Home then,” Kevin said.
“Kevin, can you get the movie set up while I get her in bed?” Dani said as she moved her iPad out of the way and unstrapped her from her chair. She then lifted her the way they had been taught and got her into bed.
“Ash, do you want to get in your pajamas?” Dani asked her to which she blinked once and then indicated that she wanted to talk more by waving her hand around.
Dani took the iPad off of her chair and brought it over to her in the case. Ashley made a sentence, using the DynaVox app, “Kevin goes get ice cream later.”
“You want ice cream,” Kevin said as he turned around.
Ashley blinked once and smiled as she opened up Angry Birds to pass the time waiting for Kevin to start the movie.
“What I’m I your servant, I’m just supposed to stand here and hold your iPad while you play Angry Birds,” Dani said in a joking matter.
Ashley closed out of her game and went into the DynaVox app and said, “Well yea.”
“Come on Ash, time to get changed,” Kevin said as Dani took the iPad and turned it off. She set it on one of the tables in the room and plugged it in.
Dani went over to the closet to look for pajamas for Ashley. She gave her two choices of pajamas tonight. One was pink with hearts all over them and the other one was blue with snowflakes on them. “Hey Ashley, what color pajamas do you want tonight, pink with hearts or blue with snowflakes on them?” Dani asked her sister-in-law.
“Ash, what color pajamas do you want tonight?” Kevin asked her to which she just stared into space. When Ashley stared into space, this typically meant that she was about to start pooping or that she was already pooping.
“Ashley, do you have to go potty?” Kevin asked his little sister, as he looked down and saw that she was already pooping. It was going all over the bed.
“Oh Ashley,” Dani said when she came back from the closet with the pajamas.
“I need some help over here Dani,” Kevin said as he was trying to figure out how to get her cleaned up.
“You go get a shower chair, and I will stay here with her,” Dani said as she took Ashley’s hands and started playing with her hands to keep her occupied.
“Come on let’s get you in the shower chair, just in case you need to go more, while Dani and I clean this up,” Kevin said when there was a slight break in the pooping. Kevin scooped her up in his arms and set her on the shower chair, which had a bucket already attached to the bottom of the chair.
Once Kevin and Dani got Ashley cleaned up and into her pajamas, they started the movie, Fly Away Home. He would go get ice cream from the little ice cream shop down the street in a while. Ashley would probably fall asleep anyways during the movie, so he would wait for a while and then go get the ice cream.
It was about halfway through the movie when Kevin looked over at Ashley and saw her sleeping. “I knew this was going to happen,” Kevin said as he got up off the pull-out couch and turned off the TV. He then laid Ashley’s bed down and checked her diaper again. She was dry so Kevin left her for now. He checked her blood sugar before bed, it was normal and then he turned off the lights and crawled into bed next to Dani who was sound asleep too.