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,

Friday, July 17, 2015

Post op Fever

The morning started out with a bit of a worry over a low-grade fever and a serious case of the "blahs". We relied heavily on all of your thoughtful and caring messages and blog comments to lighten Forrest's load.  Your faith and optimism really helped recharge Forrest and his team today!  We can't thank you enough!!!

Polypharmacy is the term used for just too many drugs!!! Even when they're individually necessary,  they all have interactions and side effects.  Thankfully today we were able to discontinue one more of the seizure meds and your temperature began to come down mid day. 

Culture results came back this afternoon. Five of the eight cultures taken intraoperatively grew the same bacteria, a Klebsiella. Unfortunately it is resistant to most common antibiotics, but the terrific infectious diseases doctors here have chosen correctly and the big gun intravenous antibiotic you're already on has good bone penetration and is effective against this organism. So while it's terrible to have osteomyelitis, or a bone infection, of your new graft we have the culprit's name and it's number. And we are going to destroy it!!!  

After a nice long nap with Toliver at your bedside and your first Post-op shower you rallied and completed THREE laps of the unit! Making friends and introducing Toliver to other patients along the way. There are a lot more Labrador induced smiles on 10 North tonight! 

I'm not sure who had more fun on your stroll around the unit, you or your terrific RN Steph??? 

We are grateful beyond words for the amazing Johns Hopkins nursing staff.  They are smart, caring, gracious, meticulous and talented professionals. They stop in just to see you and are so encouraging and upbeat. 

Pops will be back tomorrow and maybe, if you're up to it, we will get you off the floor for a change of view.   Sweet dreams Champ. You are on your way! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Game On!

Forrest is having a much better day today.  His speech, balance, and energy have improved remarkably since yesterday.  His spirits are brighter and in turn, he is brightening all of our spirits with his characteristic charm and sense of humor.  With Toliver at his side and PT Amy spotting, Forrest was able to walk a lap of 10 North this afternoon, and he told Amy he was as "cool as a cucumber" before singing out "I'm alive!!!"

We are still working through medication adjustments with multiple specialists.  Earlier today, Dr. Kumar said that managing Forrest's case is like landing a jumbo jet - there are a lot of little adjustments to be made and each tweak affects many other things.  We don't want to make any big moves, we are just going to go slow and take things one day at a time - to which Forrest replied "Game on!"

Celebrating the first lap around 10 N

Austin's jokes were much more entertaining today, earning applause instead of snores.

Toliver attentively stays by Forrest's side each day at the hospital.  

When not at the hospital this evening, Toliver brought Mum one of 44's slipper to let her know he missed his boy.

We are so grateful for the continued prayers, encouragement and messages.  
- Team 44

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Out of ICU!

It has been a hard day for you Forrest,  but we have been blessed with progress, Tami graciously stayed by your bedside overnight, keeping watch along with ICU nurses. Since you were unable to take your current seizure medicine last night we were grateful for Tami's presence and everyone's prayers. 

Today you are struggling with postop pain but you are still offering your characteristic thumbs up, an occasional brief smile and even a pat on the back for nurse Caitlin when you finally got up right on your feet for a minute. Your strongest clearest words were for your best bud Toliver. who has remained faithfully at your side. 

You were released from ICU and returned to 10 N, where you and Toliver are well known and loved. There are numerous consultations on going regarding medications and concern about interactions between antibiotics and anti-seizure meds. But for now we are grateful to have the surgery behind you and are looking forward to A brighter tomorrow.   Sweet safe dreams, Champ.

Thank you all for the prayers, messages blog comments, positive energy, and texts.  We share them all with Forrest. 

Thumbs up for Austin and Martin even though you couldn't keep your eyes open!