Ashton's Story

After an appendectomy at age thirteen, Ashton developed Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome that caused autonomic dysfunction, leaving her with various symptoms, including chronic pre-syncopal episodes. She tried to live as normally as possible for a teenager despite it. However, after sustaining a knee injury during a track meet, Ashton became de-conditioned, causing her POTS to exacerbate. It forced her to become homebound during part of her junior and senior years of high school. Thankfully, she got granted accommodations that enabled her to graduate high school, college and start her career as a teacher. 

It soon became evident that teaching young children was not an option due to the reality of Ashton's unpredictable and demanding healthcare needs at the time. However, her passion for educating and supporting others came easy when she felt called to help those who experienced similar health situations. ​Ashton's traumatic pregnancy, childbirth, and NICU experience with her daughter in 2006 led to her passion for patient advocacy. 

In 2009, she received her birth doula certification, attended births as a birth doula, shadowed a midwife, and co-founded Hagerstown Birth, a non-profit childbirth advocacy organization. Around this same time, her grandmother died suddenly. Also, Ashton's daughter started experiencing complex symptoms leading to her becoming critically ill at age 7. Things didn't make sense. Her mom and sister both had chronic health problems too. 

Ashton began researching her life away because she was already tired of being dismissed with her health, especially now with her daughter's health. Eventually, her mother came across a doctor who helped them connect the dots that led Ashton to years of continuous medical research.​ 

What seemed like overwhelming health issues on Ashton's maternal side of the family was a not so rare, just rarely diagnosed/misdiagnosed genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). A complex, systemic genetic condition affecting the body's connective tissue and practically every part of the body, including  co-occuring diagnoses such as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS). Not only Ashton but her daughter, mother, and sister were all diagnosed with EDS. A diagnosis that made perfect sense for all of them, including her late grandmother.