BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - At first glance, Ashley Ryan and her 11-year old daughter, Lyndsey, look like a normal mother and daughter, but they've had to overcome obstacles that aren't normal.
At the age of three, Lyndsey suffered what would the first of many seizures. She was later diagnosed with epilepsy.
"She came over to me and she said, 'Mama, I don't feel good,'" said Ashley Ryan, a single mother. "She got in my lap, she had the seizure, she came out of it and then got up and wanted to play."
Since then, Lyndsey has been in and out of the hospital. She struggles to communicate with strangers and had to be pulled from public school because it was difficult to maintain her rigorous medication schedule. Now, she continues to take classes online, while being cared for full-time by her mother.
"I stay up most of the time at night, watching her through the time that she normally has her seizures to make sure that she's okay all night," Ashley explained.
But the pair hasn't given up and has caught some big breaks. Lyndsey has enrolled in the online school, Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy, and completed course work up to a fifth grade level, which is in line with her age. She also has a new friend, Finn, her service dog. The 10-month old pure-bred German Shepherd is trained to alert adults whenever Lyndsey has a seizure. He can also sense any kind of discomfort.
"He wouldn't lay down. Whenever I gave him a command, he would do it, but then, he would automatically get up. He just wasn't listening. So, I went into her room to check on her and see what was going on and I asked her, I said, 'Are you okay? Because he's telling me, trying to give me signals or signs that something's going on.' She goes, 'I feel okay, but I'm just hot.' So, I checked her temperature and it was 102," recalled Ashley about a recent experience.
Ashley is now on a mission to raise awareness about epilepsy and create the best life she can for her daughter. She is talking with the Ponchatoula school district about allowing Lyndsey to attend school with Finn, so she can have a more social lifestyle. For now, Ashley will continue to be Lyndsey's full-time caretaker.
"You can look something up in a book and it can tell you what it might be, but every day is something different. For the most part, we just take it day-by-day and see how it goes," Ashley added.
The Ryans are holding an event on April 5 at the Santa Fe Restaurant in Hammond from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The proceeds will go towards costs associated with training Finn, while also raising awareness about epilepsy and its consequences.
There is also a GoFundMe account set up to raise money for Finn's training here.