Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Summer Fun!

Hello everyone, this is Forrest.  It has been a while since we updated this blog, so here are some pictures of what I have been up to.

Toliver and I enjoyed A Place to Be's "Encore" camp.  I was Christopher Columbus in the pre-show and Toliver was my sidekick, Diego Columbus.

Toliver and I took Tami and CCI Pup-in-training Martin to see "Finding Dory".  Friend Liz and I had fun cooking together, especially making strawberry shortcake!

My cousins Eric and Cailin came to stay with us for Pop Rocks camp.  We had an awesome time learning music and recording a song with Jason Price.  Tollie enjoyed playing the tambourine.

Pop Rocks 2 Camp in Leesburg

I've been learning a little bit of piano!

Pool time with great friends!

First Annual Fourth of July Pig Roast

Austin and I had fun seeing lots of friends at the Land Rover Great Meadow International - including Caroline & Shelly Elgin and our godfather, David O'Connor

I've been working hard on re-learning old skills.  Here I am doing a little bit of practice driving on our farm driveway.  Austin doesn't look too excited, but he makes sure I take it slow and that I'm careful!

I have my very own debit card now, with money that I am earning myself!   At Common Grounds today, I was able to use my card for the first time!  I am pumped to learn more life skills like budgeting and how to manage my own money!

Hope everyone is having a good summer!

-Forrest (and Toliver)





Sunday, June 19, 2016

It's Great to be Home!

You had a lot of important reasons to get out of the hospital quickly, Champ.

Dr Kumar told us he was "super happy" with how the procedure went and how quickly you recovered from anesthesia this time. He admonished us to "Get Forrest out of the hospital before there's a problem!"  We almost didn't make that...,thankfully Tami spent Thursday overnight at the hospital keeping watch. When the nurse showed up at 10 o'clock with a new medication Tami said "No No No!  We will have to call his mom first!' Good call Tami the medicine turned out to be a form of heparin that could cause you to develop a severe blood dyscrasia.  Problem averted! And we were only in the hospital 28 hours...a new record!!!

Then there was Charlotte's visit from Boston to present her family's $18,000 donation to APTB in your honor.  You couldn't miss that! 

The cast and crew of the APTB summer camp welcomes Charlotte with open arms!   As you thanked Charlotte for running the Boston Marathon in your honor, you explained how your friends at A Place To Be must feel that facing their personal challenges probably feels like they are running a marathon every single day. Clearly Charlotte wasn't just running The Boston Marathon for you that day, but for every person in the room! 

What a blessing great friends are! 

Speaking of blessings, is there a finer blessing than a Father's love?  Your Pops has been your number one devoted fan supporting you every step of your journey. And we are blessed to be out of the hospital to celebrate Father's Day with Pops at Brightwood.  
We sure are missing Austin though who is in route home from his backpacking trip to Nicaragua....Lucky thing that your friend Liz was able to stand in for Pool time and to help make sure that your noggin stayed dry! 

This next week will be devoted to catching up on rehearsals at APTB summer camp for the performances of "Encore" next weekend. Hope many of our friends are able to come and cheer for you and the incredible APTB cast! 

With love and prayers for Fathers everywhere today,

Mum & Team 44

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Post Op Update

PToliver and I are in post op with Forrest. With some pain medicine on board Forrest is more comfortable and Toliver, who was relieved to hear Forrest tell him everything is cool, is happy to be back on duty! 


Doctor Kumar ended up doing more than planned. Since the bone grafts looked healthy and strong, in addition to removing the problem plate, he removed two more small plates and some wire. He then added some allograft bone matrix to fill in between the bone struts that were placed last November.  All in all Dr K is happy with the results. If the pain is manageable and we avoid any complications, we are still hoping to break out tomorrow or Saturday! Forrest and Toliver are eager to get back to their pals at APTB Summer Camp! 

Many thanks for the love prayers and encouraging messages. 

Mum and Team 44

Back at Hopkins

Darlin Forrest,

We had such an extraordinary time in Hawaii. We are grateful that you were strong enough to make this trip and to even survive tumbling down a volcanic cinder mount! Unrelated to that tumble a small pesky titanium plate has started causing some trouble to your Noggin and has to come out. As I write this Tollie and I are waiting for you to come out of surgery. 

Dr. Kumar is optimistic that this will be a short procedure and without complications you should make it home tomorrow and be back with your friends at APTB camp on Saturday! 


I wish we could explain it to Toliver.  He has his very long face on and is always worried when he has to leave you in preop. 


Driving up to Hopkins yesterday you told me, "You know Mum, you can't always plan out everything that's going to happen to you in life.  What you can do is try hard every day to do the very best you can on every little step. And if you do that, the little steps eventually add up and everything works out!"

Well said Champ. I will take your advice not to worry about the Big Picture.  Instead I'll just try to do my best today on every little step. I hope as they are playing Bob Marley in surgery and you drop off to sleep... you are smiling and dreaming of our favorite Hawaiian moments.  

See ya on the other side. 
Mum

Thursday, June 2, 2016

We Made IT... to Hawaii and Home Again!

 Darlin' Forrest. We had scheduled our family trip to Hawaii to visit Dolphin Quest twice since your accident, last summer and last Christmas.  Both times we had to cancel for surgical interventions.  Third time was the charm! 

And one of the best parts was traveling to Hawaii with you're amazing Physical Therapist, Del, and his family! 


Toliver was intrigued, but at first a little intimidated, by the Dolphins. 


With your encouragement, support from our excellent Dolphin Quest behaviorists, and the benefit of target training he learned in agility class, Toliver gained the confidence to meet your namesake, Nahele face to face!


Nahele, which is Hawaiian for Forrest,  was named after you when he was born at Dolphin Quest 3 years ago. While you have Skyped with Nahele before, this was the first time you were able to meet in person! Rascals both of you, you seemed to hit it off immediately! 


After all the long months, years really, that Del has spent working with you, it was an incredible thrill to watch the two of you enjoy some playtime with Nahele's sister, Halia. 


There was time to play Frisbee with Austin and enjoy your favorite drink, the Lava Flow, in the pool.


And family time with the dolphins.


This trip was an enormous milestone for you and has been a major goal for our family since your accident 5 1/2 years ago.  The Dolphin Quest crew, some who have know you and Austin forever, were incredibly gracious and warm in their aloha welcome. 

  
There was only one mishap. Early in the trip we decided to explore the Pu'u huluhulu (shaggy hill in Hawaiian) a volcanic Cindercone. As reported, the path starts off smooth and wide and, as is your style, you charge out in front. Unfortunately, 100 feet up the trail, the wide avenue suddenly turns into a rocky narrow goat path. Just as I call out to Austin to move up in front to spot you, your left leg gives out.  In a heartbeat you stumble and fall off the path and down a steep ravine tumbling over the lava rock. Your left side may not be able to support you yet on the uneven ground, but your arms immediately flew up to protect your head as you roll away from us down the hill.  We charge down the hill after you but can't catch up.  Every parent's nightmare... To see your child in terrible danger and not be able to get to him.  Where I fail to protect you, your guardian angels step in, placing a large Mesquite Bush 20 feet down the hillside carefully positioned to intervene, stopping your descent abruptly while sparing your precious noggin. Somehow your head is spared though your arms and leg were badly scraped.  We gather around you, desperate to assess your mental and physical state. You are frustrated but alert, conversant and eager to get up. Getting you off the side of the Cindercone was challenging, but Austin leads you spider crawling back up to the path.  After getting you safely down to the car we clean your wounds, which are thankfully superficial, catch our collective breath, and count our new blessings.  Your repaired skull and your sense of humor are both miraculously still intact...enough exploring, once back at the resort, we decide to stay on level ground, with the dolphins, or in the pool! 

Mary and Austin Searching successfully for your phone on the side of Pu'u huluhulu, just above your rescue bush. 

No worse for the wear, "We will live to fight another day!" Austin 


Grateful for our time together in Hawaii, for your constant guardian Angels, and to be safely home again,

Team 44

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Brother, My Friend

Hey brother!  It has meant a lot to be able to watch you graduate first from high school at Highland, then college at William and Mary and just this last weekend, to watch you graduate from Duke!  I know how much you gave up to be by my side after my accident and I am so happy that you were able to go back now and get your Masters degree in Marine Environmental Management.  Thank you for never giving up on me, helping me move through my challenges and for having my back! And I would like you to know that no matter what happens, I have always got yours in return!!!!

Love,
Forrest


"You put your life on hold just to sit beside me.
I know you changed your plans, just so your face I'd see.  
Fist bumps, a thumbs up and a hug from you,
No other brother would do the things you do!

Go Karts and bicycles.  Four wheelers and running shoes.
Snowboards and on the backs of horses we flew.  
Like the Dukes of Hazzard, we were brothers on the run.
My brother, my friend, when it rains, 
You bring the sun."

- Dukes of Hazzard by Forrest and Tom

Martin was the first CCI dog to walk in a Duke graduation -
and he got his own hood for his Masters degree in "Sleeping Through Class"! 
 






Monday, May 9, 2016

Blessed

What an incredible organization Canine Companions for Independence is!  CCI provides such amazing life changing service dogs like Toliver. And provides wonderful opportunities for people to help another person in need of that special friend by raising a puppy, like Austin is raising Martin, for CCI. 

Last weekend we traveled to Richmond for a CCI puppy workshop for Martin and where Toliver reunited with his fabulous puppy raiser Colleen.  


Forrest got to show his appreciation
for Colleen too!


We learned a lot working with the professional CCI trainers and by connecting with other puppy raisers. 



Back in Middleburg the next day we attended the Middleburg point-to-point races with some of our local CCI friends.  CCI provides puppy raisers and graduates with an incredibly supportive community of like-minded, caring, and compassionate dog lovers...


Who also enjoy cheering for the race horses!


On Mother's Day our good friend Marcia took us flyfishing on the north fork of the Thorton River.  When Marcia first put a fly rod in your hand, Forrest you were barely talking and still confined to your wheelchair. 


Yesterday you had plenty to say and you hiked right into the middle of the stream  with Marcia! 



Pops, the avid photographer, caught this great picture of Toliver, off duty and thoroughly enjoying his own R&R just being a regular Labrador! Not a care in the world, chasing sticks and running circles through the stream!

 
It was a Mother's Day prayer fulfilled, watching you fish in the stream, reveling in the sunshine, the rippling water, the fresh Spring air and your growing health. Precious moments. Life is so fragile, so uncertain. We give thanks for each precious moment. 



God bless,

Mum