Since Ashton's last day of school on Feb. 17, he's occupied his recovery time with TV, video games and Legos.

He proudly displayed a 500-piece scene that he constructed. The scene features burning trees and a plane that can drop plastic water bombs to douse the fire.

"It keeps my smartness, so it doesn't run away, like comes out my ear and goes away," he joked about why he likes Legos. "I keep wanting to build Legos so I stay smarter and mainly keep getting smarter."

A not so quick fix


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Ashton underwent a 2.5-hour surgery on Feb. 21 during which doctors took his thighbone out of his hip socket and reinserted it, his mother said.

Doctors then injected stem cells from his healthy hip into the diseased hip to stimulate bone growth.

"When the bone starts to grow back, it'll grow back the best shape it can," Jennifer Barrick said. "It's never going to be exactly like it was, but they put it back to where it can grow back essentially the best way it can."

In about three months, the brace on his leg will be removed, replaced by another that

goes over each leg. The device often has a bar connecting the braces in the middle, Jennifer Barrick said.

He will wear that 24 hours a day for two months, and then only at night for two more months, she said.

She said she is hopeful of a full recovery, but cautious.

"It'll never be exactly the same as the other," she said. "But hopefully, it'll be to the point where, hopefully, he can do nominal activities."

Making adjustments

Dressed in an Amp energy drink T-shirt and pajama pants with a skull and crossbones pattern, Ashton reclined on a couch last Wednesday afternoon.

When he decided to stand and stretch his leg out, his mother needed to assist him with the simple task because the brace that runs the length of his leg doesn't allow for much mobility.

Ashton used a rolling walker as he paced the length of his living room a couple of times.

Because the brace protrudes about six inches from his leg in certain areas, Jennifer Barrick had to slit the side of each pair of Ashton's pants.

It's things like the slits that Jennifer Barrick wasn't prepared for when she first learned of Ashton's disease, she said.

"You would have never thought that he would need as much help as he did," Jennifer Barrick said. "How do I get him in the house? How do I get him out of the house?"

Her father, William Fitez, of Arbutus, helped answer those questions. He built a ramp outside the back door, removed the door to Ashton's bedroom to accommodate his wheelchair and even moved his car-shaped bed to the garage, Jennifer Barrick said.