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!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

"I am ME again!!!!"

When Dr. Kumar came to check on you today you were munching down on a monster bacon cheeseburger.  He stood transfixed just enjoying watching you enjoying that cheeseburger! He was also pleased to hear that you are regaining your sense of thirst and are beginning to drink voluntarily again. After you devoured the last of the cheesburger, He asked you pointedly, "how are you feeling, REALLY Forrest?"   Your answer, "Faster.  Happier.  I'm thinking faster". Followed by your big grin and "I am ME again!"  Well Darlin'you are thinking faster but you have always been uniquely You. You're just more recognizable now. Even it seems to yourself. 

Dr. Kumar is overwhelmingly pleased and cautiously very optimistic. He still wants to keep you through the weekend for observation, remove the drain hopefully tomorrow, and repeat the CT scan on Monday morning. If he and Dr. Jackson agree that all is well inside your blessed Noggin we will be headed home to BrightWood Monday afternoon!!! 

In the meantime we keep making the most of each and every day:

Forrest and Toliver made a new friend on 10 N.  Anna Grace, a courageous TBI survivor herself.  Toliver was quite smitten with Anna Grace and hopes to see her again! 

Learning new dance moves with Gina.

We pieced together some putt putt golf sticks and cones to make jumps and You practiced your canine agility exercises with Toliver. Remarkably you both remembered the jumping sequence beautifully!!!

Our most momentous news was that the gelato machine at Balducci's was finally repaired.  This was a call to action for an outing to the main level with nurse Steph to test out the gelato. Toliver walked so proudly by your side.  He was clearly thrilled to get you out of the unit! 

Nick Sybertz and Christina are both visiting this evening and Ben is coming on Saturday, so you have a busy happy week end ahead!   

With a grateful heart,

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Keep on Keeping On"

That was your response to Dr. Kumar yesterday evening when he explained your "markedly" improved CT and his desire to keep you here at least 5 to 7 days in order to ensure your continued progress.  While we were surely hoping to get home sooner there've been so many complications and setbacks that staying a few more days to make sure you stay on the right track sounds like a good idea.  

        Keep on Keeping On with Dr K!

So the days progress and you are making the most of each one: 

With Nick spotting you and he kicked your soccer ball all the way around the unit TWICE!

With "fun sized" ( her words) PT Amy you worked on balance and strength. Gotta have you ready for Del time when we get home! 

Hamming it up with Christina while beating her at Connect Four. Laughter truly is the best medicine! 

Today your team of neurosurgeons, plastic reconstructive surgeons, neurologists, and infectious disease doctors will continue their great collaboration on your behalf. You have a lot of important and fun things yet to do in your life Forrest, so we will as you say, "Keep on Keeping On"! 

With love and gratitude for each day of healing,

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Recharging with Friends!

It's been a good weekend Forrest. Your vital signs have stabilized.  You are resting well and regaining your strength and appetite. The challenge now becomes how to break up the long hours in hospitals, hours that seem to run endlessly together.   This weekend we had a lot of great help with this particular challenge!

Yesterday Pops returned and brought Aunt Bev and Cousin Susan from Phoenix to visit. You took the opportunity to read some of your favorite Calvin and Hobbes to them! 

Today, One of your best pals from Hill School, Nick Weeden, came to join you on your stroll around the unit and....

to demonstrate his preferred bandana wearing style!  A rousing air hockey tournament ensued which included celebratory Sun Chips! 

Before your FIRST Nick departed for Dartmouth this afternoon, your SECOND Nick (Sybertz) arrived to join in the fun! 

               SunChips all around! 

What great friends you are blessed with Forrest!  They brighten our days and encourage you to stay happy and strong.  God Bless their generous hearts!l!

Refreshed and reinvigorated from your weekend visitors, early tomorrow morning we begin again with a follow up CT scan, lab work, and consultations to determine the next steps in your journey. We are hoping and praying that the CT will show great progress and we will be headed home this week! 

With love and gratitude,