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Shawn Ashby, Stroke Survivor

 Shawn Ashby is a coach, educator, pastor, role model for many people , young and old. He taught  and coached for over 30 years in the Fort Osage School District.   He was ordained at the age of 18  in the Community of Christ church. He has served as an active member and reluctant leader as a Pastor, Elder, Priest, youth group leader, church camp and sports league organizer. He announced football games, skating shows and charity auctions. He never wants to think about or even admit he has influenced so many of us, other to say “Who did I mess up this week?”

Shawn has touched many people in his life.  He played a character call Sheriff Sam at the country western show at Adventureland in DesMoines. He played hockey in college and was on a "huff and puff" team several years ago. He was in a traveling choir group called the Ramblers when he was in college.  He organized years and years of church camps.  He is a parent to our kids who are now active and involved adults - Matt and Maude. He is a faithful and supportive husband in good times and difficult times. 

Since retirement, he has enjoyed playing guitar, cooking and gardening. He was looking forward to announcing high school football in the fall and helping with track events this spring.

One year after retirement, Shawn suffered a severe stroke, leaving his left face, shoulder, arm, hand, side, leg and foot severely impaired.  He continues in inpatient rehabilitation at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln Nebraska. It is anticipated he will come home with 24 hour care. When he returns to Independence, he will start an outpatient day program at Ability KC. You can read about his progress and see pictures on our page at CaringBridges.org

We hope that in the years to come, Shawn’s therapy and adaptive devices will enable him to enjoy a quality life. We have hope that with therapy and determination Shawn's capabilities will continue to improve and he may be able to walk again someday.  

We are fortunate to have medical insurance. Our fund will pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance, a wheel chair left to enter the home, medical equipment, home remodeling to make things wheelchair accessible, adaptive technology, vehicle modification (if needed), and in home staff when family and volunteers are not available.

The story of the day of Shawns stroke
Thursday was a normal day. Shawn mentioned that he felt a little sick. He had complained of being nauseated for several days. That morning, I remember that he made me breakfast and walked the dog out onto the driveway to wave goodbye. I went to work at the VA Hospital in Kansas City.

It was a busy day. I called Shawn to see what he was up to and let him know I would be late coming home from work. He didn't answer the phone, which was not unusual. I left a message, sent a text, and called several more times. Finally, around six I called to let him know I was on my way home. It's about a 30-40 minute drive. He never answered any of these messages. Since Shawn retired from teaching, he has enjoyed making our meals each evening, do I expected he was making dinner. 

When I came into the house on Thursday night, I noticed that nothing seemed right. The kitchen wasn't clean. He didn't answer when I called his name and no little dog ran to meet me. I went to the bedroom and found him on the floor by the settee in front of the TV.  I asked him what was going on and he answered "nothing.. I don't know," in a funny voice like cartoon character. Such jokes are also not entirely unusual, as Shawn has a habit of feigning the need for medical attention. I couldn't tell if this was prank or real. It took me a few moments, but I eventually ended up dialing 911 with Shawn’s begrudging approval.

Looking back, I'm not sure when he had the stroke. It may have happened as early as noon. His phone, which was in the room with him, has an activity log that showed that the phone hadn’t been moved since 11:00am. We think that he was probably sitting on the settee in our bedroom, had the stroke, and couldn't move. Shawn doesn’t have any marks or bruising, so I suspect he sat there for a while, maybe slumping over until he slowly slid to the ground. We’re thankful that there seems to be no indication that he fell or that he was on the ground for a long time.

After  calling 911, Shawn was taken to  the nearest hospital (Centerpoint.) The CT scan of his head showed a large clot on the right side of his brain. He could not receive the clot busting medicine because it had been too long from the time of the stroke.  He was transferred to Research Medical Hospital in the hope he could receive a procedure  to remove the clot.  However, when we got to Research, the doctor determined the damage was done and the location of the clot meant that such a procedure was no longer recommended. The way we understand it is that at this point, the clot had done as much damage as it could do – removing it would not prevent any further damage, and could may hurt his already injured brain. 

Shawn was admitted to the Neurology ICU for 5 days. During this time he was monitored very closely for brain swelling with continual neuro checks, CT scans, and MRIs. He got some check ins from neurosurgery as well. Luckily, the swelling in Shawn’s brain was not enough to warrant surgery and by the end of the five days had gone down considerably.

Shawn had severely reduced feeling and could not move the left side of his face, shoulder, arm, hand, leg and foot.  He was unaware of the left side of his surroundings. We are thankful that his speech, cognition, and memory were relatively untouched by the stroke, but were  still trying to understand the extent of his physical deficits. He remained sleepy but oriented. His speech was slurred but he was able to express his wishes and make requests. His brain was not longer swelling and he did not have any internal breathing, he suffered from severe headaches.   Eventually he was transferred to a medical floor where evaluation and treatment began with speech, occupational, and physical therapists.

Shawns treatment has now shifted to recovery and rehabilitation. Shawn is at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln Nebraska. He has occupational, speech, physical, recreation, vision and neuropsychologic therapy. He struggles with depression, pain and sleepiness.  He is still unable to walk or use his left arm. His face droops and sometimes makes speech hard to understand. Please look up our site for Shawn Ashby on CaringBridge.org for ongoing updates and photos. caringbridge.org 

Our goal is to return home.   At this point, Shawn will need 24 hour care, a lift to get inside the house, home and bathroom modification and possibly car modifications.  We are fortunate that once in the home, everything required on one level.  The bathrooms and some doorways are not wheelchair accessible. 

We are fortunate to have medical insurance. Our fund will pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance, a wheel chair left to enter the home, medical equipment, home remodeling to make things wheelchair accessible, adaptive technology, vehicle modification (if needed), and in-home staff when family and volunteers are not available. We appreciate your prayers and support during this journey. - Chris Ashby


Chris Ashby
Independence, MO

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