Some kids have a medical problem that prevents them from being able to take adequate nutrition. Ashlee Wetzstein is one of these kids. It was discovered when she was about 7 months old. Whenever she would take food by mouth, parts of her food would end up in her respiratory system, which would cause her to be sick and often ended up with pneumonia. This is called a pulmonary aspiration. If you have ever experienced food or drink “going down the wrong pipe,” you can get an idea of what happens to Ashlee. At nine months of age, a tube was inserted into her stomach, and ever since that is where she receives all food, water, and medicine.
She has never been able to eat an ice cream cone, have a candy bar, eat a slice of pizza, or enjoy a piece of birthday cake.
She recently was diagnosed with alopecia which is an autoimmune disorder resulting in hair loss. Ashlee has lost her eyebrows and eyelashes and most of the hair on her scalp. She says as soon as all her natural hair is gone she will wear a wig. She has always maintained a great attitude and always seems to have a smile on her face.
She is a very kind and compassionate child and never complains or resorts to self-pity, knowing there are a lot of kids out there worse off than she. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up and take care of sick children.
Ashlee celebrated her 12th birthday this month and was treated to a very special day. Her mom rented a limo and along with a few good friends went for a ride. They stopped by the Kuna fire department, where Ashlee was given the “VIP” treatment. She got to wear a fire helmet, handle the fire hose, and honk the horn on the fire engine.
In all it was a very special day, for a special little girl.
This story submitted to KMN from Webb Reines, Quality Assurance Associate with the American Red Cross