My name is Shawn Burlingame, and I am initiating this fundraiser on behalf of my wonderful wife, Ashley Burlingame. Below, you’ll read about Ashley’s story and journey over the last few years, including her severe health decline, the emergency we are currently facing, and the urgent need for your support.
Ashley’s Story: When Ashley was 16, she was diagnosed with Arnold Chiari Malformation after seeing a neurologist and suffering from crippling migraines since she was 5 years old. Chiari Malformation is a congenital (present at birth) defect in the back of the head where the brain and spinal cord connect. Some side effects of her chronic condition are crippling migraines, trouble eating, weakness throughout her body, nausea, and constant vomiting. Sometimes when her condition flares up, she is in bed for multiple days at a time. The constant vomiting from her condition has played a role in her overall health, but more importantly in the deterioration of her jawline, and the rotting of her teeth both internally and externally.
In January 2019, Ashley was diagnosed with a chronic DVT (blood clot) in her left leg when she was pregnant with our first son, Brexton. Ashley was hospitalized leading up to the 37-week mark, was induced for her and Brexton’s safety, and was placed on a high-risk pregnancy list. While she was in the hospital, they placed her on blood thinning medication as part of her treatment plan. This was to keep her clot from breaking up and keep some blood flowing, as her DVT closed off about 90% of blood flow through her main artery. Ashley has been on this same blood thinning medication for the last 4 years. On top of being diagnosed with a chronic DVT, she was diagnosed with May-Thurners, which is a condition that affects blood flow. Because of that, she is still on blood thinners today. These medications can weaken, swell, or even break the tissues and muscles found around the mouth area. This is exactly what has taken place—taking these medications has caused Ashley to suffer from multiple teeth and jawline infections, her teeth to rot, and her tissues to dissolve. This has led to multiple week-long hospitalizations, IV treatments, more antibiotics than most people will take in their lifetime, teeth extractions, jawline surgery without sedation, and finally, has resulted in weight loss.
Throughout Ashley’s high-risk pregnancy with our second-born Raddix, Ashley was hospitalized for over a week due to a jawline infection and a blood infection which continued to cause damage to her overall health and her mouth. Fast forward 1.5 years to the current day and the problems continue. Ashley has been on constant antibiotics for the last year and her body is no longer responding. I take Ashley to get lab work done 1-2 times a week to check her levels and her overall health with her doctors. At this point, her white blood cell count is constantly elevated much higher than what it should be.
Her doctors have advised us that they have no other solutions or suggestions on how to fight these infections. My wife has been hospitalized on and off and fights to get out of bed and function to raise our two incredible boys most days. After speaking with a multitude of her doctors, and oral surgeons, they believe that the severity of the infections lining her mouth, jawbone, and tissue has gotten so severe that we don’t know if her body can fight it anymore. She has lost over 28 pounds and as a possible result, is underweight facing these procedures to a state that she may need a feeding tube placed to help her maintain where she is currently at.
This fundraiser is our last-ditch effort to try and get my wife the care that she needs to start healing and ultimately keep her alive. I have attempted to apply for small and large-scale loans multiple times and have been denied every time. The magnitude of procedures she needs to be done has been denied by insurance. The total cost for these procedures, medications, and follow-ups is $50,000. Ashley has been to three specialists, and they will not start the work unless they are paid upfront in full.
The Procedure: With how severe Ashley's infections have been—they have eaten away at her jawbone on both the top and bottom jawlines, the roots of her teeth have also deteriorated, and her teeth are factually falling out. She needs to get the process started immediately to hopefully help make progress on her beginning to heal. Ashley is being evaluated for permanent dental implants and dentures. She will have all her teeth removed and her top and bottom jaw lines will be graphed above 7mm. They will also be removing all of the infections residing in her jaw area. Once that has been completed, Ashley will then receive the proper implants for her to begin healing. This entire procedure will give her a shot at healing. Ashley may have a feeding tube placed to maintain her weight, which we won’t know until after the procedure is completed. She will be watched closely by her doctors with follow-up visits to ensure her numbers are going in the right direction and that she is healing properly. Right now, their biggest concern is that, due to the inability to stop or slow the numerous infections, she runs the risk of becoming septic—which can be fatal.
Please consider donating and supporting my wife and our family. If you can't support us financially, we would greatly appreciate you partnering with us in constant prayer. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. Thank you all—I can't express how much we love and appreciate the support we have already received.