As an infant, Ashlee was constantly in the hospital. Her symptoms were mimicking a seizure, and doctors struggled to figure out what was causing it. She was eventually diagnosed with asthma and acid reflux disease. The combination of the two illnesses was causing her seizure like symptoms.
Her asthma was severe and she continued to be hospitalized throughout her development. On one occasion, she even needed to be resuscitated.
At one point, the toll of her illnesses began to stunt her growth. That’s when her mom, Shauna, knew it was time for a change. Shauna turned to Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.
On top of her asthma and acid reflux, Ashlee also suffers from environmental allergies. At Miller Children’s, the pediatric pulmonary team looked at the big picture and realized that all of her illnesses were connected. From there, they crafted a treatment plan that addressed all of her complex illnesses, rather than treating them all separately.
“Children with lung problems often suffer from multiple conditions,” says Eli Nussbaum, M.D., medical director, Pediatric Pulmonary Center, Miller Children’s. “Knowing that, we set out to create a dedicated program where families could come to receive all the specialized care they need in one place.”
At Miller Children’s, a multi-disciplinary team that includes board-certified specialists in pulmonology, allergy and immunology all work together to treat and improve the quality of life for children and young adults, like Ashlee, who have conditions that affect their respiratory and immune systems.
While asthma can’t be cured, it can be managed. With the help of the pediatric pulmonary team, Ashlee hasn’t been hospitalized as a result of her asthma since the 8th grade. It was around that same time that Ashlee really began to understand her medical conditions.
“With an emphasis on education and asthma management, our team strives to help patients and their families understand their condition, so they can live healthy and active lives,” says Dr. Nussbaum.
As Ashlee matured, she took on an even bigger role in her own care.
“I learned that my common triggers are changes in the weather, my allergies and lack of sleep,” says Ashlee. “So I have a routine that helps keep me on a schedule to make sure I get enough rest. At times, I have to remind myself to slow down and focus on my body.”
Routine helps control her symptoms. As a life-long animal lover, she’s even managed to keep her furry friends close – despite her asthma.
Now at 18, Ashlee’s health is great and she is managing her conditions successfully all while taking on a new challenge – her first year of college. In 2016, Ashlee began taking classes at Orange Coast College where she’s studying to be a respiratory therapist, so she can help other kids like her learn to control their asthma.