Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We are HOME!!!

Prayers ARE answered and miracles DO still happen!!  

As Forrest exclaimed when he emerged from the hospital into the sunshine for the first time in 29 days:

"I'm Free!  I'm Alive! I'm Happy! And I am going home!!! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!

Forrest took this selfie in our great room at BrightWood today at 4:44!  We are extraordinarily thankful for the amazing surgical and medical care Forrest received at Johns Hopkins, for Tami's round the clock support, and for your love, faith, and prayers throughout Forrests stay at Hopkins. 

Forest telling one of his many fantastic nurses, Dylan, goodbye today. 

Our prayers go out tonight for Joshua, his beautiful family and all the other families still in hospital on this Thanksgiving Holiday. 

With love and gratitude overflowing,

Team 44


Forrest is homeward bound!  BrightWood here we come!  Thanks for all of the prayers!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

First Post-Op Lap & Last Day at Hopkins?

You made it Champ through a challenging Post-Op Day 8, without even one dose of oxycodone!  

And when PT didn't make it to your room this afternoon, we took matters into our own hands!  Ben and Toliver did a great job of spotting you for your very first lap around the unit since your big surgery last Monday. 

The lap understandably tired you out a bit, but you made it back to Room 48 in good shape! And with enough energy to send a message from you and Toliver to your friends, family, prayer warriors, and Johns Hopkins medical team: 

A rousing game of chess leaves you and Ben in stalemate,  each with only your Kings remaining! 

And you and Tom had a blast using Face Time to practice your song for the Holiday Recital on December 4th at Salamander.  

Only ONE more hurdle before we break out:  Dr Kumar wants to lay his own eyes on your Noggin one more time, tomorrow morning, Day 29.  If he gives you and your Noggin his blessing...we are BrightWood Bound!!!  Stay Tuned...

With love and gratitude for your prayers, visits, encouraging messages, blog comments, videos, Face Times, pumpkin bread, coffees, friendship, and most of all...your unconditional faith in Forrest,


Monday, November 23, 2015

Two More Hurdles Cleared

Bolstered by Pops, Tami, all the amazing week-end visitors, and countless prayer warriors you attacked this day with renewed energy. 

Toliver trots alongside your gurney early this morning and impresses the transport team by pushing the remote door openers. The technician at interventional radiology is visibly disappointed that Toliver is not allowed into her operating suite.  Surgically placing the central "Hickman" IV line will allow us to safely administer the intravenous antibiotics at home for the next six weeks. Although this is the third time we have tried this approach, now that most of the hardware is removed from your skull, the antibiotics should be able to clear your bone grafts of any lingering infection.  Hickman  Central IV Line in = First Hurdle cleared! 

After the Hickman is placed Dr Kumar arrives to remove both of your surgical drains. A painful procedure for sure so a little extra pain medicine is ordered.

"That wasn't so bad," you reassure Dr Kumar!  Then Dr K shows us today's post op 3D CT scan of your new Noggin. 

On the left is the top of your skull before last Monday's surgery showing your bone grafts from March and multiple titanium plates "knitting" all the pieces together.  The gaps between the bone provided opportunities for the skin to break down.   In today's image on the right, sections of your ribs have been used to fill-in most of the open spaces so that the vast majority of the hardware could be removed. While it does still look a little bit like a patchwork quilt, it is a nearly solid and complete cranium constructed almost entirely of your own bone! With your skull 90% complete and with the shunt totally clamped off, our hope and prayer is that your body and CSF will establish its own new equilibrium.  Dr. Kumar knew this was going to take multiple surgeries and that it would be difficult, but he is clearly pleased today with the CT and with your appearance. CT and clinical progress approved = Second Hurdle cleared! 

Dr. Kumar and you have an interesting conversation reminiscing about the first time you met. Dr. Kumar remembered that you seemed to have trouble processing language fast enough to keep up with the conversation. You agree that it was hard to figure out what people were saying fast enough to respond in time. But now you exclaim, " I get what you are saying, quick as a snap! " Dr Kumar laughs out loud and agrees. He wants to lay his eyes on you Wednesday morning and if all your incisions look good and you are still "quick as that snap", we are BrightWood bound on Thanksgiving Eve!!!

Saint Toliver has been so patient. Wednesday will mark 30 days in 12E Room 48 for you and Tollie.   His eyes say it all, "When Champ can I take you home, already"? 

Soon Toliver Soon.  

God Bless,


Sunday, November 22, 2015

"Thumbs Up" for Weekend Visitors!

Forrest had great visits from Kim Tapper and APTB friends Megan and Abby on Saturday.  He was able to get out of bed and sit in the chair for an hour and a half during the visit!  The pain in his ribs was quite bad at times and the pain medicine makes him drowsy, so he napped occasionally throughout the day.  He and I watched some football together, but some intensely painful episodes made it hard to position him where he could be comfortable.  Finally last night, we got the position and the pain medicine working together and he had a quiet night. 

As we often do, we got a hospital sitter to watch over Forrest last night so Tami (Caregiver Extraordinaire) was able to get some rest. SuperMom got a short but well deserved break to go home to BrightWood to visit with sister Lobie and her husband Clarence.

Forrest's Sunday morning and afternoon visitors were from long time chums, Nick Weeden, Whitney Weeden and Alix Morgan.  Nate Chambers and Maley Coombs came up tonight and had dinner with Forrest.  Maley keeps the farm and the horses organized, and has been helping out extra with Martin and the ManCave fish during Forrest's hospital stay.  It was great to have all of these visitors this weekend and are so thankful for the extra smiles and laughs that they brought to Forrest!  

Tomorrow brings a procedure to surgically place a central line for another 6 to 8 weeks of continuously  administered antibiotics as well as a CT scan to see how the new noggin' is doing.  We are hoping to have Forrest try some walking tomorrow and we will continue adjusting the pain meds as well.  But everyday is another day closer to going home!

Pops of Team 44
Lunch with Abby, Megan and Kim, followed by making turkeys out of hospital gloves to go with the stack of
awesome Thanksgiving pictures created by Forrest's Immersion friends at APTB and delivered by Kim to brighten up the hospital room!
Whitney and Nick
Thumbs up with Alix
Maley and Nate
Enjoying a Skype session with Austin while sitting upright in the chair!

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Good Day

Hey everybody, it's Forrest.  Today I've been chillin' here at the hospital.  The pain has been a whole bunch better today and I was able to get out of bed to sit in a chair for an hour and a half.  Here are a few pictures from my day.
I let Mum win this hand of Blackjack, but I won the rest!

My real cool nurse from today, Christine. 

FaceTime with Austin, practicing our eyebrow raises!  We are planning xbox games and Bagel Bites for Christmas break!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ups and Downs

Day Three has been full of ups and downs and some pretty awfully painful episodes. We're about out of steam so we'll just share a few of our Ups:

Forrest has loved hearing all of your blog and Facebook messages and each picture and fun message on the new FB Community page Paws Up For Forrest! Thank you Thank you! I wish we could respond to each and every one!  Aren't we blessed to have so many wonderful animals in our lives!

Big accomplishment for the day Forrest clawed his way out of bed and stood for the first time since surgery with beautiful and cheerful PT Brianna.  The first thing he did was pat her on the shoulder.  Dr. Kumar was there in person for the momentous occasion and remarked, "Forrest, I beat you up pretty bad, but couldn't that keep you down for long!"  While there are still huge hurdles to overcome, it was great to hear Kumar observe that he has never seen your Noggin look this good before!

She sure was pretty but how could she compete with this face? 

Del sent you his funny sad "I miss working out with Forrest face".  So you returned the favor:

This is your funniest thumbs down , "This sucks I want to go home face" which we rarely see and has never before made the blog... for obvious reasons! 
We miss you, Del!!!

The best part of the day might have been  Face Time with Ben Tom & Kim at APTB today, which put your smile , perhaps still a little strained, right back on your charming face:

So as we sign off tonight we have a special request for our many loyal prayer warriors. Please keep Forrest in your prayers and if you could please add a prayer for Joshua and his family. Their journey with TBI began last May. Like Forrest he's had many complications and setbacks and he began another series of major surgeries with Dr. Kumar just last week.  And like Forrest, he's a fighter too. Sadly, he and his family spent his18th birthday today back in ICU with more complications. So please include Joshua in your prayers tonight.  

God bless.