Sunday, October 4, 2015

Overcome with Gratitude

We've been blessed in so many ways along your journey Forrest.  This week-end we had amazing opportunities to give back to the two non profit organizations who have helped you the most. 

On Friday after speaking in two Same Sky performances at Saunders middle school on the far side of Manassas, you rallied and spoke again at the CalKaine Cares formal fundraiser benefiting CCI at Salamander Resort. It was terrific to be there with other CCI friends including beautiful  Caroline her charming CCI companion, Shelley!    

Your talk about the many ways that Toliver has enriched your life and supports your recovery gained a standing ovation.  

We all kind of got carried away with the evening as you began to bid on the first live auction item, an hour training session for four with Pierre Garcon, wide receiver for the Redskins.  As the bidding topped $3000 you looked to your Dad and questioned, "what should I do?"  His reply, "Go For It!  And you did...placing the winning bid at $3800.  Ouch!! 

On our way out the door the organizers approached you and said how much they appreciated your speech and to not worry about checking out that they were going to underwrite your hour with Pierre Garcon!!!  What a terrific gift!!!

And Friday night was just a warm-up for our own Saturday night fundraiser for the Forrest Stone Allen Financial Aid Fund at A Place To Be in conjunction with the 2015 public premiere of Same Sky! The weather forecast was so dismal our event was moved from BrightWood to Hill School. No problem.  All hands on deck.  Let's relocate this event and we did!    With the help of many incredibly generous volunteers, including eight of your faithful life long friends, last night we raised $62,000 to help children and adults who might not otherwise be able to afford music therapy!  

Tom, Kim and all the staff, mentors, and fellow clients At a Place to Be have given so much of themselves to help you and your recovery. There's no doubt in my mind you would not be where you are today without their talent, devotion, compassion, encouragement and friendship.  Throughout your journey A Place To Be has taught us that sometimes the best way to heal ourselves is to lend a hand to someone else.  

You and fellow Same Sky cast member, Megan, celebrate in the lobby of the Hill School theater, under a sky full of clouds.  Each cloud representing the name of a donor to the FSA fund.  It was truly a breath taking moment to emerge from the theater and see this beautiful visual testimony of our community's generosity.  We are truly blessed!  

Good night Champ. You and your pal Toliver done good. Sweet dreams. 

With Love & Gratitude,
Team Forrest 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

So Much Love

Darlin' Forrest, we have been blessed with so much happiness, exciting new activities, healing progress, and boundless love that it's been hard to find time to update the blog! So in an effort to just catch up I'll post a couple of the many highlights over the past few weeks: 

Middleburg Labradorables Rocked the CCI Dog Fest on Sept 12th! Tami and your lifelong pal Madison drove in to Washington DC with you and Toliver the night before Dog Fest. Your excursion included a visit to the Natural History Museum and you all enjoyed dinner with Sarah, Megan and Peyton! 

Your team rallied and completed the walk despite the drizzly weather! 

Caroline and you, along with Toliver and Shelly of course, are recognized as co-captains of the second highest $$$ team of the event! Collectively you raised over $10,000 for CCI, twice your goal, thanks to the 
generosity of friends and supporters!!!

You did a fine job addressing the crowd and explaining the many wonderful things that Toliver does for you. Toliver even demonstrated how he can "WOOF" for help when you ask him to!

You have added healing Yoga to supplement your already rigorous schedule of PT and Pilates! Under Vinaya's guidance, and with Ben matching your asanas and spotting you, you are enthusiastically learning to breathe deeply, stretch in new ways, and practice meditative stillness!

    Ben and you: Two new Yoga Warriors! 

Sharing the Love:  We've been so blessed by countless earthly angels who have shone the light of their faith onto our darkest days, lightened our load, cheered each milestone, and helped us stay strong no matter what lay ahead.  Today you were able to shine your own light on another family still early in their son's journey of TBI recovery. 

I remember so clearly the day that Beth Gayle and her son, Gip, strode confidently into your hospital room at Shepherd Hospital in Atlanta. You had suffered another terrible setback and Shepherd told us they could no longer help you. We were adrift, lost, our faith and hope faltering. Gip had recovered from a catastrophic TBI himself and on that day he stood so tall and strong and I swear he wore your smile. Their visit and stories of Gip's miraculous recovery filled us again with hope and encouragement that anything was still possible. And it was. 

Today you put your arm around Joshua's mother Gini, flashed that confident crooked smile and thumbs up of yours, and charmed her with stories of your friends and activities. My prayer is that we are able to pay Beth and Gip's Blessing forward and in some small way brighten Gini and Joshua's journey. We are already looking forward to a visit for you and Toliver to meet Joshua so you can continue to share the love and your message: Anything IS possible! 

God Bless all our Angels,

Monday, August 31, 2015

Great Check up today!!!

You are on your way again Champ! With Tami and Pops help we got off early this morning for Johns Hopkins and your seven week postop CT scan and follow up exam with Dr. Kumar.  

The CT technicians follow your blog and know you and Toliver by name! Scott was happy to see you looking so strong  and happy! Peeking over his shoulder as the CT loaded onto the computer I had a wonderfully optimistic feeling. 

After examining your scalp, reviewing your blood tests, and comparing your CT scans from before your July surgery to today's images, Dr. Kumar proclaimed to us that he was "SUPER happy!!" The bone grafts are healing and your CSF and brain have both enlarged dramatically. He commiserated with you saying "Forrest, you've been through a lot". Your respectful reply, " Yes sir, I've been to hell and back." "Well then," Dr K. said, "you should have a break from surgeries, enjoy being 22 and just living!"  

Sounds great, right?!?   He did explain that there is still a gap on the right side of your skull that will require more surgery.  Dr K. is planning to use bone grafts from two of your ribs to close the remaining gap, but wants to wait a full year to give you plenty of time to heal, make sure all of the infection is gone and that you have a chance to "enjoy living"! 

So after a double serving of Dullce de Leche gelato off we went to the Renaissance Harbor Hotel. Perhaps we'll have celebratory steak at the Capital Grille tonight.  Then early tomorrow morning back to Johns Hopkins Interventional Radiology to have your Hickman central IV line removed! YAYY!!!

And tomorrow  after yoga you have your first rehearsal for the Same Sky 2015 production!  Could there be a better way to start the next chapter of your journey than spending time with the cast & crew of Same Sky?!?!   Can hardly wait to see the public performance October 3 at the Hill School!!! 

Breathe deep and enjoy! 
Love and Peace,

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lots going on!

Hey Forrest, it's hard to keep up with you these days.   There's so much great stuff happening!

A busy day at the Brightwood "Beach" before Austin & and Martin headed back to Duke. We sure miss them both! ( Sorry Shayna I cut you in half!)

A rousing evening of croquet and good cheer with the Weedens...

...including a very close round in the dark with lifelong pal Nick!  Though Nick kept a close eye on your balance, Just watching you move independently around the course in the dark took my breath away! 

Remembering more than a year when we could barely open your mouth, it was a sort of celebration when Dr. Gallegos fitted you with your new Invisalign  retainer! Your observation, " It's kind of cool since it's not a big scary life altering procedure! " 

Shaka for sure! Hanging loose with Tami on the way to your first on campus college class at NOVA!  You were "cool as a cucumber".... While Tami and I were both a nervous wreck, wanting so badly for it to go well for you.  

No need to worry with Toliver tucked half way under your chair.... You Got This!!!

Every afternoon at 4:44 we try to take a moment, breathe deeply, and give thanks for our many blessings. There are so many; your continued recovery, great friends, our loving family, Toliver,  your amazingly supportive community of doctors nurses therapists and prayer warriors, and a chance to pay it forward by supporting wonderful organizations like CCI and A Place To Be! 

With a heart full of love and joy,

PS: We are so focused on the magic of now and the bright possibilities for the future that someone had to reminde me it was a year ago today that you spent 14 hours in the OR. What a difference a year makes...God bless Dr Kumar and the wonderful nurses at Johns Hopkins that got us all through that day! 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Dog Days of Summer


You've made amazing progress since your latest surgery several weeks ago. I hadn't seen you in over a month and was shocked to see how strong, fast and witty you were when I returned. Your gait is stronger, your voice is clearer and louder, you come up with funny retorts quickly, and overall you have more energy than I last saw you.

Despite the progress, it's still pains me to see you frustrated so often. We talked the other night about how you felt more like "you" and more independent. You've come a lot further toward independence these last four and a half years, and I can only imagine how hard it must be to have Tami, Mom and Dad, and others around you keeping you safe and reminding you to complete tasks, take meds, etc. Just know that we are here for you, through thick and thin, and with each year you're able to do more and more. As many docs remind us, frustration can be a motivator and an important step in TBI recovery. I hope one day you'll be tackling life on your own, but until then, lets cherish the good moments, and work through the tougher ones together. 

I want you to know how much it's meant to me to see your and Toliver's relationship grow. If I can help someone else have even part of that, all the work with Martin will be well worth it. I know it will be bittersweet and challenging to see him matriculate into "college" in a year and a half, when I turn him in for Advanced Training. However, I've seen how you and Toliver help each other grow, and I know Martin can do the same for someone else. Thanks for inspiring me to take on the challenge of puppy raising for CCI, I wouldn't be here without you. There's still time for people to join the CCI Dogfest Team you and Caroline created, the "Middleburg Labradorables." Anyone that wants to join the Sept 12th walk in Arlington or donate can click the "DogFest" link on the right side of the blog, or click here. 

We had many fun outings this week, including the National Geographic Museum(it's amazing, check it out!) in DC and an awesome afternoon at Chuck E Cheese. By the way, I think Chuck E Cheese should be the national service dog graduation test.. with the lights, sounds, pizza smells, and boatloads of manic kids, that place is a superb test! Tollie had a cool head as always. 


Building endurance for the Dog Fest walk.

A toasty get together at Salamander;  Martin's first exposure to fire!

Tami and Forrest take on Guitar Hero at Chuck E Cheese.

Forrest and Toliver inspecting otoliths at Nat Geo Museum.

OUCH!! Arapaimas hurt, who wants to visit the Amazon?

Passing out CCI Fundraising invitations around Middleburg.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

It's SOOO Good to be Home!!!

While we do miss the comaraderie, support, and excellent care of the nurses on 10 North (especially when the iV pump alarms go off at three in the morning!) there truly is no place like home! 
Catching up with Derek and Ben over a boisterous game of poker... using pistachios for chips! 

Reunited with extraordinary PT Del, who challenges you physically and recharges your spirit! 

Stretching it out with Kay at Pilates. Your high-spirited banter with Kay makes your time there equal parts Pilates and laughter! 

With your wound closed and your brain happily expanding to fill your repaired cranium, your speech, wit, and cognition are all on an amazing trajectory again. You'll be carrying around a back pack with the intravenous pump that delivers the high-powered antibiotic, meropenem, continuously 24/7 for 6 to 8 weeks. Our hope and prayer is that this antibiotic, Dr. Kumar's good work, and your own immune system will once and for all clear you of infection and allow you to soar!

With love and gratitude for this blessed time at home,


Monday, July 27, 2015


Forrest just told Dr. Jackson and Dr. Kumar, Thank you Sirs, I am glad to receive both of your blessings so that I can go home today!!! Dr. Kumar said he still has a lot of anxiety about you Forrest, but after seeing this mornings CT,  he feels more optimistic about your future than ever before! 

Forrest and Toliver clocking a few more laps around the unit at Hopkins this morning.  They are using Forrest's Fitbit and Toliver's cool VOYCE canine health monitor collar to track their daily progress. They began their training in earnest this weekend to get in shape for CCI's Dog Fest fundraiser on September 12 in Arlington Virginia. Stay tuned for more details about Team Labradorables!!

Thank you Ben for a close game of chess and 
Making music with Forrrest on your ukuleles! You and Pal Nick Sybertz helped break up the long weekend and kept Forrest in fine spirits!

We will be Brightwood bound as soon as the paperwork is finished!!! Next post will be from Brightwood!  YAYYY!!!