Monday, January 31, 2011

Update: 10:15pm on 1/31

Forrest is doing better everyday. The storms have subsided but are replaced by agitation and still coughing up nasty junk out of his trach tube from being on the ventilator. His xrays of his lungs, blood work are all improved. He is definitely more purposeful and responsive but still can't talk and occasionally responds to commands. He seems to spend time looking at the cards and pictures on his wall. There have been discussions about replacing the cranium but after a CAT scan it was determined it is too early and more swelling needs to subside.

We are now preparing the logistics of pulling up stakes in Charlottesville and preparing to move to Atlanta for the beginning of his rehabilitation phase which may happen by the end of the week. The beginning will be in the Acute Care facility at Shepherd Center, considered to be one of the best and very few brain trauma and spine trauma rehab facilities in the nation. Hopefully he will soon transition into the more active part of the rehab where he will concentrate on the physical part (but always being careful of his fracture at the mid back) and he will also work on the cognitive part, speaking, etc. as well as many of the other parts of brain trauma rehab.

Rae opening cards, letters and posters from today.
Team Forrest will be relocating soon from the Courtyard Marriott in Charlottesville where they have been wonderful in putting up with our mail and command center and people sleeping in shifts. The new command center will be in Atlanta at the Shepherd Center and we will post the address. One of us will travel with Forrest and a medical team (Dad), Mom will fly and Austin and Trisha will drive vehicles down to the apartment provided by the Center and right by the center for the first 30 days, at that point we will regroup based on his progress. Austin and Rae will stay in Atlanta and Dad will shuttle back and forth between Middleburg and Atlanta.

We will maintain the blog and continue to enter at least once a day (usually evening) as to Forrest's activities during the day. As we have been cautioned some days will be marked by amazing firsts and bursts of progress and other days will have setbacks. We look forward to hearing from you and you checking in, he really needs his friends and backers. We were cautioned by some that it is easy for the patient to get disillusioned during the very challenging rehab portion and after and feel forgotten by his friends, we are counting on that not happening with Forrest and this blog being one tool to help that. Thanks again for your prayers, support, blog posts, donations, cards letters and pictures. Team Forrest is making daily strides of progress, as Colonel Stone, his Uncle stated, "any other option is unacceptable."
"The art of medicine is to amuse the patient while nature cures the disease."  
                                    -- Voltaire  French Philospher  1694-1778

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Update: 9:15pm on 1/30

Forrest's day started with a shave by his mom, followed by visits from some close friends and then a visit from a Therapy Dog named Corey.

Forrest was tired by the end of the day, but it was great to see him with his friends. 

Visit from Sara
Visit from Peyton
Visit from Nick

The therapy dog was also a wonderful boost to all staff and patients on the Neuro ICU floor. Apparently never had a therapy dog visit dog before! We are breaking new ground every day.

We continue to be awed by all the support  from around the world by friends, family, and strangers.

Quote of the day:
"If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it." 
                                              - William Arthur Ward

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Update: 11:30pm on 1/29

Hi All,

Thanks again for all of your prayers and thoughts. Grueling day for everybody today but with good results. Forrest had Austin, Aunt Trisha and Susan Fitter Sloane have daytime shifts and Austin and Trisha right back on all night duty. Forrest still having some lung problems but hanging in there. Our boy sat up for two hours plus in the chair and is still off the respirator but on supplemented O2 thru the Trach tube. He shows a bit more response every day and continues to try. A couple friends will see him for a very short period of time tomorrow and he will see a Therapy Dog briefly tomorrow. This is all news to most of the people on Neuro ICU, where this rarely happens but they have embraced the fact they have a Rock Star in their midst and have been very accommodating.

The other news is after Stan Sloane flew us down to Shepherd Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta today. We are applying to get Forrest transferred there for the finish of his acute care and rehab. It is an amazing place that only deals with brain injury and spinal cord injury and treats largely people in Forrest's age range with incredible success. If the Doc's at UVA say he is ready to go, this could happen as early as next week. We are saddened that he will be away from many of his friends but we feel that this will give him the best chance for recovery which is the bottom line. Mom and Austin will probably stay down with him and I will get down as often as possible.

Don't worry, the blog isn't going away, this is just the first lap of a long race and we will need all of you to help pull Forrest thru, even if it is from a distance.The quote of the day appropriately is from the Bette Middler song "From a Distance":
 "It's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves.
This is the song of every man.
And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance."
Please watch your boy Forrest from a closer distance, God, because some of the rest of us will be further away.We all hope and pray he continues to recover.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Update: 11:30pm on 1/28

Forrest is still in Neuro ICU but most of his meds are administered via his stomach feeding tube ( he will have a cool scar right above his belly button) and has only one IV line running fluids now. He is definitely much more aware of his surroundings. He will respond to the "wiggle your toes" command to everybody but me and Austin, what a surprise. He is moving rapidly through what are called the Rancho Cognitive Scores much to the nurses and Doctors' surprise.

You can google the scores, he is just about a 4 now, compared to a level 1 three days ago. Unfortunely this is a level where he still can't meaningfully communicate but can occasionally follow some simple commands. The plus and the minus at this stage is that while the storms are subsiding, he is also now aware of his situation and can't talk to us about that. This stage is associated with increased agitation and that is almost as bad as the storming. He knows something is wrong and is worried but can't do much about it other than move his limbs more. He is working constantly with his flexible squeeze balls in both hands and it appears to be a way to release some of the agitation. He reached up and touched Rae's face today and he can listen to all of us when we talk to him and explain to him he is in the hospital and that he is going to be ok.

A pair of wonderful young adults with the UVA brain injury support group came by. Very nice and articulate young people who came by and talked to Rae today about their previously serious brain injuries and their road to recovery. They were a walking talking advertisement that young brains can rewire and do wonderful things. We certainly needed that and it was a wonderful addition to our day.

Cindy from the UVA Health Foundation came by and told us she was amazed at the outpouring and contributions that have been made to TBI work in Forrest's name. If any of you feel like contributing to UVA Health Foundation the info is on the right on the blog, some of the stories that come out of Neuro ICU are inspiring and heart wrenching at the same time. Rae and I are hoping we can contribute as graciously as you all are doing.

Thanks again to the cast of hundreds who are praying and following the blog. It is worth noting that he opened his eyes and started tracking the morning after the world wide prayer service (the world being centered around Upperville of course).

Bill and Valerie Lee who came down the night of the accident came back last nite and Dr Bill sat in on rounds this morning. They have been a tremendous resource of research and ideas. Stan and Susan Sloane are flying down tomorrow in Stan's plane so we can visit a rehab facility in Atlanta and not be gone all day. Austin and Aunt Trisha will do extended hours and Susan Fitter Sloane will take a shift bedside with Forrest tomorrow. We have multiple offers of housing here in Charlottesville from friends and appreciate them all. We still don't know where we will take Forrest for the next phase in his rehabilation but we know it will be grueling on him and scary for us since we have to worry about the brain and the back fracture at the same time. We do know we will take him wherever will give him the best chance to make as complete a recovery as possible. As I used to say in healing horses "I'll swing a dead chicken over their head if it makes them better." Whatever it takes, Forrest is coming back! The advances in neuroprotective hormones, neuro transmitters, stem cells and hyperbaric oxygen are astounding as well as the top of the line surgical and medical care we have received here at UVA. So as Uncle John said earlier "Forrest has yet to vote," well it appears like he is voting to get on with it. We know it will be hard but with family, friends and well wishers behind him we have faith he can do it.
The quote of the day came from a veterinary friend of mine who reminds me there is still a world out there even though it doesn't seem like it in our little microcosm.
"Don't worry that your children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you." Robert Fulghum We know Forrest is watching and we are watching the miracle happen!
Thanks to all of you.
Kent, Rae and Austin and Aunt Trisha

Picture from Colleen

Update: 1:00am on 1/28

I promise the 1:00am posting isn't a trend, the last couple days have just been extra busy. Today was a hard day for Forrest. He had his physical therapy, where they worked with him trying to support himself sitting up. He also had two hours of sitting in his chair, which is helpful for his lungs, but tiring on him. He continues to have a lot of secretions from his lungs that the docs suction out and he coughs up. His vitals are good and overall he seemed to have less storming events than yesterday. While he was sitting up in his brace he received chest x-rays to check the alignment of his spine. He's continuing to fight the fever, it will retreat to a normal temp and then creep back up again. Ibuprofen is proving to be effective at giving the fever a good beating.

One big success, he is completely off the ventilator!! Hooray! He is breathing on his own through his trach tube in his lower neck, with warm, humidified oxygen being pumped around the opening to help loosen the secretions and make it easier for him to cough up. He is tracking with his eyes a lot more. When a person comes in the room he turns his head slightly and focuses on them. He's showing more facial expressions, yawning, grimacing when the doctors manage to upset him, which is inherently almost every activity that they do. He is moving his arms and legs more. If he doesn't like something he will move his hand up to try to swat it or push it away. He is still not following commands consistently, but it is still early. He is very taken with the squishy neoprene balls he has. He plays with them and twirls and squeezes them constantly.

Mom and Dad are looking at places that provide acute and intermediate care, the next step. We will keep you updated on that. Thanks for all the love, we definitely feel it from everyone. We will try to post earlier tomorrow evening.

Austin, Forrest, and family

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Update: 1:00am on 1/27

Forrest had a morning of progress that surprised all of us. He is still not awake in the sense that most of us would think which doesn't surprise the doctors But when I walked in this morning his eyes were wide open and he immediately looked at me and then tracked me around the room, I expressed my amazement. Rae said he has been doing that all morning. He also has been moving his arms and legs more Some of it seems to have purpose, other movements appear to be just stretching or extending a leg or arm with no purpose that we can determine. The most amazing thing today is he is continually squeezing a soft rubber ball in each hand. He really appears to enjoy it and can sometimes reach a short distance for it but will not drop it if we ask him. If he drops it and it is within reach he will pick it up and start kneading it again. That is purposeful beyond doubt. He will look at you now and immediately looks at people entering his room, but it is hard to tell if he hears you yet. He is much lighter on the meds than he was and the change in 24 hours has been amazing. He sat up today in his special chair out of his bed and it is always stressful for him. He seemed to settle down and relax for a time and then he had a massive storm that lasted for an hour and finally was controlled with medication.

Overall the Doctors and the staff seem enthusastic about the eye tracking and the playing with balls which they say is ahead of schedule. But he is not responding to commands yet consistantly, maybe it's because we don't have his teacher's here asking. Thanks again for the cards, letters, blog responses, prayers and thoughts, please keep Forrest in your heart he clearly is trying to get back to us all as rapidly as he can.

Thanks also for those of you who have already donated to the UVA Health Foundation for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Forrest's name. We have included a picture of just one of the many daily rounds that discuss Forrest's case in detail and the group was clearly touched when they heard that people were already giving. It will let them help the next young boy who may not have Forrest's support network. They also have been wonderful about letting two pesky veterinarian parents participate and ask questions in rounds.

Quote of the day " If nothing is going right....Go left" Forrest Allen
Kent, Rae, Austin, Forrest, and Aunt Trish

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Update: 10:30pm on 1/25

Forrest has had a day full of challenges and bits of progress and hope. He is fighting his bronchitis/pneumonia and sometimes the coughing caused by suctioning the mucus out sends him into a full blown storm. He is still not awake but shows the occasional sign of purposeful arm and leg movement which the doctors assure us means the wiring is intact. They tell us that he is making good progress for only being off the drugs for a very short period of time (today). They have him on oral pain relief and other drugs to help him with his agitation and stimulate wakefulness. He is now sitting up once a day and doing physical therapy. Today that set him off into a series of storms that lasted for an hour or two. While the storms are hard to watch the staff assures us they will pass and they are trying to come up with a combination to help control them. Reading the blogs and cards and telling him how much people miss him does seem to calm him somewhat. We see him trying to focus eyes and squeeze our hand on occasion but then the storm takes him and he's gone.The storming activity is him trying to reboot the injured brain and make his muscles do what he wants them to do. We know he is trying hard to get to us in there but between the drugs and the storms it is hard for him. We have one of our favorite doctors (one out of many of the amazing staff here) that stopped by just to chat with us about him and assured us he is making good progress. We were so excited we went and had dinner at Mellow Mushroom nearby and the waitress told us a amazing story of brain injury recovery from a friend of hers. We shared his blog with her and left with her wishing us the best. The kindness of friends, family and strangers continues to amaze us.The anomymous stranger who read our blog and brought us a pie dropped off at the hotel. A veterinary friend who I haven't seen in years who came and found me in the hospital (hard to do) and told me to hold on to hope. So many wonderful family, friends, clients, business associates that have emailed texted and blogged to help us with God's and the doctors help give him every chance to heal and come back.

Thank you so much for those of you who donated to the UVA Neuroscience Center, they emailed us today to tell us that they recieved a number of donations in Forrest's name today He would be so proud hisand our friends are helping with this critical research and helping other people in his situation. The addresses are on the right side of the blog, right by the song Good Vibrations by the Dolphin Quest crew (backup vocals by the dolphins and orchestrated by maestro Jason Price). He listens to it every morning.

"Once you choose hope, anything is possible" Christopher Reeve

"Hope is like a road in the country; there never was a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence" Lin Yutang

Thanks again for all of you giving Forrest and us HOPE.We were deeply touched and inspired by the prayer gathering held at Trinity Church last night for our Forrest. We've received amazing pictures from several attendees, the guest book and personal notes organized by Gail Wofford and today Nadia and Susanne hand delivered a CD of the service (along with homemade banana bread and more provisions from home). Friends and family members who couldn't attend offered prayers and lit candles for Forrest in Bangkok, France, Berlin, Bermuda, Hawaii, and at least a dozen different states……..

Kent, Rae, Austin and Aunt Tricia

The prayer service in Upperville

The four of us with Forrest during the prayer service

Stuart Weinstein-Bacal placing 99 coins and saying a
prayer at the Temple of the Reclining Buddah in Thailand

Sharing A Few Forrest Moments

We received the note below from the Reilly family and wanted to share it here because it illustrates Forrest's spontaneous kindness that some people praying and hoping for his recovery are unaware of.

I remember once he and I (Kent) were going through an airport and I went to check something at the gate and then had to backtrack to find him. He had stopped to help a lady in a wheelchair who had no one to assist her. He not only helped but then sat down and talked with her for 5 or 10 minutes. Not a lot of young boys could be pulled away from their iPhones long enough to see a problem, much less talk long enough to make the other person comfortable. He is and continues to be someone I'm proud to know and daily throughout his life he has made his family and friends better people by his example.
We got a call late last night from our daughter Lauren, a student at Mercersburg. The students got the word about your son on Monday evening. She is a big fan of his and so are we. When we all were staying at the Mercersburg Inn the night before the first day of school (Lauren's first day ever there), many students looked at her, walked by and never even said "hi". She was already nervous and that didn't help. Your son was different - he shook her hand, welcomed her, let her know it was going to be a great year. This coming from your son, then "opened the gates" - the other students then saw this act of kindness and relaxed and talked with her. That night she was on cloud nine - an upperclassman talked to her and according to her, he was also "cute" - a bonus!!!

Forrest is a winner and will continue to win over this battle he is in right now. He was an "angel" for our family that night and the piles of prayers going his way will bring healing angels to his bedside. We pray for you and your family in addition to Forrest - it will happen, he will get better and continue on strong.

The Reilly Family (Lauren, Charlotte and Frank)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Update: 9:30pm on 1/24

Forrest is resting more comfortably with the tubes out of his nose and mouth and the doctors think the fever is a combination neurogenic and pneumonia. He has been started on antibiotics and is coughing less. He has been resedated for the procedures today, which went well. So the weaning process of drugs has been slowed but he has had less "storms" since he has had more sedation. They are still searching for the right combination to wake him up and yet suppress the "storms". 

We were bedside at 6pm to add our prayers to yours that 44 can find his way home. We know that with your help, hope and prayers he will. We know that this is tiny step in a long process, but the longest journey starts with a single step.

Thank you all,

In the sidebar of the blog, we have added a link to the UVa Health Foundation to aid in traumatic brain injury (TBI). In lieu of flowers and food, the family would request donations be made in honor of Forrest Allen to assist any others who might go through this process.

Update: 2pm on 1/24

Forrest just got out of surgery. It took 3 1/2 hours but it went well.

We believe he is searching for the way back to us and your collective prayers will help him find his path. They'd surely throw us out if we light a candle in ICU so at 6:00 Pm tonight we'll break the 2 person limit rule, bring our whole family into his room, light Kent's and Austin's i-phone lighters (Forrest will love that) and encircle him with the light of our collective love and faith.

Gratefully yours,

Rae Kent Austin & Forrest

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Update: 11:00pm on 1/23

Today brought more hope. He's trying so hard to fight the sedation, which is still gradually being decreased each day. Earlier today, in two separate instances, he wiggled his toes when commanded by the nurse. He is also opening his eyes for brief moments and seems to be aware of us talking to him. These brief moments of increased wakefulness are followed by him slipping back into his coma or periods of "storming" as mentioned a few posts ago. But he is fighting to have his vote heard and each day brings more hope as his tenacious strength, that many of you have illuminated in terrific stories time and again, is made more clear and obvious by his actions.

I'm sitting by his bedside now, watching him rest. When he has wakeful periods I talk to him about diving and of his great friends out there rooting for him. I've been reading him your blog posts, which I want to thank everyone for again. We set up a digital frame next to his bed that shows a slideshow of his friends and experiences. The nurses love it and ask about the many great pictures of Forrest and his friends. I set up a playlist on an ipod and play that for him. I didn't include his dub-step and the bass heavy songs he loves right now, those will come when he's more ready for them. For now he'll have to suffer through a less eccentric mix of country, Mellencamp, Bob Marley, and some other calmer and quieter music. I even threw in some Disney Junglebook and Lion King songs.

He continues to fight his fever and the occasional "storming episodes," but his other vitals are strong. Mom, Dad, Uncle John, and Aunt Tricia have been doing a phenomenal job. One of us is by his bed 24/7, ready to talk to him and offer him reassurance. The nurses and docs are giving him great care. Thank you for all your support, words, and love, it helps give me the strength I need to by my Brother's keeper. As on any dive he and I have been on, he manages to conserve his air longer than I, but he's on his way up. He's slowly surfacing, and as he does he will discover his amazing network of support, along with the many smiling faces waiting for him, and that will be a beautiful thing to watch.


PS: your prayers and the prayer service tomorrow will help him get through a second set of surgeries tomorrow. He will be receiving a tracheostomy tomorrow and and feeding tube will be inserted into his stomach. Both of these procedures will allow allow all tubes in and around his face to be removed, making his waking up easier and more comfortable for him. They are planned out, quickly performed, and will make his waking easier. Both the tracheostomy and the feeding tube will be removed later as he progresses.

Prayer Service for Forrest

There will be a prayer service for Forrest Allen and his family on Monday, January 24, 2011 at 6:00pm at Trinity Church in Uppervile, Virginia. Directions are available on the church website

If you are not able to attend the service in person, please consider saying a prayer or lighting a candle at 6:00pm tomorrow night. It would be great to have people from all across the country participate in this collective moment of celebration and goodwill for Forrest.

Update: 11:30am on 1/23

Yet another early morning with Forrest. Early morning never used to describe his or my schedule, but here we are together. Austin took the midwatch and Uncle John the late watch. His vitals are stable at the moment and in times like this I am reluctant to disturb him in any manner. He has started movement and elevated temperatures and agitation that is called "storming activity". It manifests in muscular movements similar to mild seizures and profuse sweating and elavated heart rates and blood pressure and temperatures. It is worrisome to watch but is evidently a phase the brain goes thru as it tries to regain control of his body. We are told his version of it so far is mild, but could get worse before it gets better. Hopefully it will pass soon.

They continue to slowly back off the anesthetic and pain relief drugs but that is slowed or has to be reversed if the storming activity is significant. A concern at this point continues to be pneumonia and the irritation from the tubes in his throat. If things continue on an even course, with only mild storming activity, he may get a tracheostomy Monday. This would allow him to have his breathing tube moved down to below his adam's apple and get most of the tubes out of his throat and nose, which I think he would appreciate. The fever is being fought with advil and a cooling blanket that currently has his temp down to 38 Celsius or 100.5 F. It has been considerably higher than this but is somewhat cyclic and appears to be associated with the storming activity. He has moments when his arm movement and eyes are open that seem much more purposeful than random muscle activity. He has yet to respond to commands in a repeatable purposeful way. But then he is still on a lot of meds and he never did what I told him to do anyway! Just kidding!

On the non-medical front, we are amazed at the friends and family and well wishers who follow and especially post on his blog. Thanks also for the tons of cards, banners and food that you all have sent (updated picture of the wall from Forrest's perspective below). Sometimes we are so focused on Forrest and his care that we don't pay attention to anything else and the alternating shifts can be grueling. Then we read the blog and the cards and emails and are uplifted by the support, stories, prayers and care that is out there for Forrest and keep keeping on. Thank you Ted for the book and paper weight with Winston Churchill's message, "When you are going thru Hell....KEEP ON GOING! We are all marching thru it together and with Forrest's strength and your support and prayers we are going to march out the other end and look back at it and say to Forrest look how tough you are and how many people love you.

On a more pragmatic note, if any of Forrest's buddies know his passwords to his phone or computer, we would really appreciate knowing that. The pictures, messages and contacts on his phone and computer will help Forrest regain his memories and reconnect with all of you. Please pass along password suggestions to Dad or Austin's email. Dad is Austin is You can also send any pics you want posted to Austin.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Love from Dolphin Quest

Push play below to hear the amazing song created by Team Dolphin Quest (Thanks JP!). And above, another slideshow of great Forrest photos. Thanks everyone for sending!

Update: Early morning on 1/22

Forrest, I'm sitting here by your bed at 4 AM. You are resting quietly gathering strength for the big moment when you'll come back to us which I am confident you will do once you are ready.

I have been thinking about the road ahead for you after you wake up. Though you have lots of friends and family that you can count on to help you, it won't be easy. There are enemies lurking out there that will try to make you give up hard earned ground. Your family and many friends will be there to cover your flanks but you will have to fight the enemy attacking to your front. Despite the difficulties you will face I am completely confident you will succeed. How do I know? Well, I remember one event in particular that made a big impression on me at the time and I think says a lot about your tremendous confidence and tenacity.

When you were about six years old I was several months into my tour at Headquarters Marine Corps and it just so happened that I was to receive an award for actions during a previous tour. Your mom brought you and Austin to the ceremony. My boss was a big tough ruddy faced Marine Brigadier General and it was his job to present the award. At the appointed time, all my peers and coworkers filed into the room. It finally was filled up with hard faced Marines. The family was introduced to the general. He then greeted each family member in turn and got to you last. I remember you had on a little blazer and a "101 Dalmatians" tie. The general, wearing a chest full of decorations, bent down to you and tapped you on your tie with his finger and said, "I like your tie young man!" Well, that would be frightening to most kids... a big unfamiliar adult with a powerful voice getting right down in their face. Most kids would look away from something so frightening or hide behind their mother's leg. Not you Forrest. Without a bit of hesitation you popped him right on the nose with a left jab very clearly communicating that he had gotten in your space. He grabbed his nose and sort of jerked upright. I remember there was a collective gasp followed by dead silence. But after a moment the general laughed and then whole room burst out laughing too. It was certainly a unique ice breaker. You always knew how to make an entrance.

So, even at six years old, when you felt threatened you did not run away or falter or hesitate to act. You confidently stood your ground and defended yourself. That is just one of many reasons why I know you will succeed. When the going gets tough Forrest, i know you will stand your ground and defend yourself... and keep your eye on the prize. Besides, failure is simply not an option.  

Uncle John

Friday, January 21, 2011

Update: 8:00pm on 1/21

At 5:40 PM tonight Forrest opened his eyes for the first time. It was just a for a split second. He was coughing a little, but he definitely moved his legs and then he squeezed my hand oh so briefly. I know we have a long way to go, but he's there and he's on his path back to us. I've missed him so desperately. He's sleeping again now and still fighting the fever. They have his "NINJA turtle shell" back brace on now full time. They were able to put the bed up a bit for the first time earlier today, now that he has the brace on, which will help prevent pneumonia. Most importantly the brace helps protect his spine as he wakes up. The doctors all keep reminding us that there are no guarantees and that this could take months. Then again, they don't know our Forrest. SO, I keep reminding the doctors that he might just come up swinging any time now…

We had a meeting midday with the Neurology Department "head". He's a wonderful Doc and a very caring soul. He has 10 year old twins himself, so he gets it. He reassures us that at this stage, every day without complications is a good day. And he feels like Forrest is progressing as they expect him to right now. I finally got up the courage to ask him if Forrest had been wearing his helmet, would we be in a different place today. He was quiet for a moment and replied thoughtfully, "we ALWAYS want them to wear their helmets, and they should… but his helmet would not have been able to prevent the kind of brain injury Forrest has." He explained that helmets may protect the brain from a direct blow or a fall on ice. But his helmet wouldn't have prevented the brain contusion and swelling caused by the sudden deceleration from speed to a complete stop when he hit the fence. Somehow that makes me feel a little better tonight.

Friday night. I know he loves hanging with his friends on. Austin and I are on watch tonight. We're taking turns holding his hand and reading all your funny cards and heartfelt messages to him. So even though he isn't able to have you over just yet, you are all with him tonight on his journey home to us.

As his Hill School teacher Debbie Sharples reminds us all when she wrote in her note to Forrest… "Remember Forrest, Slow and Easy Wins the Race"…. He's on his way, Mrs Sharples…slow and easy he'll win this race….

Love to All,

Rae & Austin

Updated: 4:30pm on 1/21

Forrest's Mom shared some of your cards with him earlier this today.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement.

Updated: 8:30am on 1/21

Just finishing sitting thru the morning rounds bedside with Forrest, Uncle John took the night shift. There is a full moon setting over Charlottesville as the sun rises. It reminds me of the times in the summer when Forrest would show up in his hoodie, shorts and flip flops at ten at night headed outside with his dog Sundance. I'd ask him where he was going and he'd say, I'm going to look at the moon. Sometimes I'd go join him but most times he just wanted to be alone with his dog and probably think about many of you, his good friends. I think Forrest often subscribed to that saying "one's company, two's a crowd and three's a party." He has always been comfortable being alone but loves to hang with his friends a lot. We know he is keeping himself company in there with his memories, but I keep reminding him by reading him your blog posts that there is a whole party of friends and loved ones here just waiting on him. So for you youngsters, forget Facebook for a while and follow and post on here because I promise it gets to him!

On the medical front, he continues to fight his fever and there will be a discussion later this morning on his lung issues. He is fitted with a back brace to stabilize the back fracture and they would like him to wear it in case he moves suddenly during waking up or coughing but it will likely cause skin irritation, which is also a major concern with bedridden patients. So some time today they will attempt a sitting x-ray with the brace on to check alignment of the spine. His blood pressure is stable and they continue to wean the anesthetic drugs off slowly.

So another day, we watch over our young fallen warrior knowing that with the great medical care, love prayers and good wishes from family and friends and many more 44 stories, we will all walk out of here together. Thanks again for you comments, they make us laugh and cry and I know he hears them.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Update: 11:30am on 1/20

Dad and I (Austin) took the early shift, listening and talking with the Docs during the morning "rounds." Forrest remained stable overnight. His vitals are strong. His fever continues to fluctuate, which is being fought with Tylenol and a cooling blanket. The doctors are continuing to monitor his respiratory system for signs of pneumonia, a complication that sometimes occurs because of the respirator. So far his lungs are clear. The Docs began decreasing the sedation yesterday, and it continues to slowly and gradually decrease. His pupils, coughing, and other reflexes are showing increased activity, which is good. No purposeful movements yet, but it is early in the game.

We love all of the wonderful cards, banners, messages, and posts we have received. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE continue to post stories, wishes, and thoughts on the blog. Whether they be funny, motivational, or thoughtful, we really appreciate them. They buoy our spirits and we read them to Forrest each day. These stories and voices are valuable to him, they seem to calm him and will be even more beneficial when he wakes up. And we love hearing stories of Forrest that we didn't know. Below is a picture of Dad reading some of the blog to him:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Update: 8:30pm on 1/19

It's been a good day for Forrest today. They began this morning gradually decreasing his sedation. His fever has come down some, his heart rhythm has stabilized and his vitals remain strong. Although the doctors remain concerned and can't predict when Forrest will wake up, they said with every day that passes he's further away from imminent danger. They seem more hopeful that with time, support from family and friends, and hard work he has a good chance of making it.

Kent is reading your stories to him from the blog now and we've taped up dozens of cards and messages that came in the mail today. Your messages of encouragement and confidence in Forrest are priceless and help keep us all afloat. We are only 5 days into this journey, but with the extraordinary care he is receiving here and all your prayers and faith, we are bound to prevail.

His brother Austin and his Uncle John have set up a command center at the hotel with provisions, communication boards, PT schedules and even laundry services. Last night his Uncle John shared stories of young Marines who have come all the way back from traumatic head injuries. He reminded us that Forrest has a vote in the outcome too and that we  have yet to hear his vote. We imagine he would  tell us all… "Confidence…..Confidence" with great strength and conviction… and his knowing grin.

Love and Peace,
Kent, Rae, Austin & Uncle John

Update: 9:30am on 1/19

Austin and I (Kent) took the early shift with 44 (Forrest's nickname). Multiple services round on a daily or twice a day basis, Neurosurgery, Neurology and ICU. They discuss current blood work, X-Ray and CAT scan results and any problems with the individual patient.

Two groups have been thru this morning and areas of discussion include the persistent fever and it's origin and the stabilizing Red cell and platelet count. The cat scan of the brain showed no worsening but no significant improvement either. He is on Tylenol and a cooling blanket for his fever.

The new news is the gradual reduction of the anesthetic agent and corresponding reduction of the potent pain meds. We continue to be very careful on turning him because of the back fractures and the nursing staff is wonderful in their care of him.

Rae and I meet daily with various doctors and specialists to talk about what we can do to help Forrest. Some of the discussions are hard to have but we continue to focus on the positive.We continue to depend upon your prayers, best wishes and funny 44 stories to read to him and get us thru these challenging days. We have become believers in miracles.

With Love,
From Forrest, Austin, Rae and Kent and Uncle John

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Love from the Dolphins and Crew at Dolphin Quest Oahu

Update: 7:15pm on 1/18

Today we received some very colorful posters and pictures from Liza and Chris, which we have added to his Wall. (He will appreciate the anonymous "salute" in your poster Liza!) they brighten our day. The nurses said the pictures help them get to know their patients and that Forrest has the best room on the floor His vital signs remain stable. They pulled the drain from his surgical site and changed his turban today. The plan now is repeat his CAT scan in the morning and if that is stable, start decreasing his sedatives tomorrow and begin the process of waking him up. We're looking forward to this next step, but we've been cautioned again that because he's been under such heavy sedation, it could be weeks before he starts to wake up. Thanks to everyone who is posting messages to us and to Forrest. I wish we could respond to every single one. We just read more of them to him. We love the stories about moments you all have shared with Forrest. Some of them tell us something even we didn't know about him and others bring back fond memories. Some make us laugh out loud and others bring tears. They all bring love and hope to our hearts.

For Olivia from Hill School, when Forrest was in the 2nd grade he didn't like anything red or green until he had his Aunt Gayle's spaghetti sauce! Now, although he loves his father's grilled steaks and my Caesar salad, he's probably dreaming of bagel bites and red bull! Yes he does love to ride and Forrest truly loves his horse O'Riley. In fact we often say they have a lot in common. They are both real characters, enjoy a great gallop, and they both can be a little "frisky"… and when it's really tough going, you can always count on Forrest and Riley to make it through. We can't wait for them to get back together for a little lov'n and a good gallop!

Forrest, Austin, Kent and Rae

Update: 8:00am on 1/18

Forrest is resting well after the move from Trauma ICU to Neuro ICU,  he continues on high levels of pain relief and is still in a medically induced coma. He received some blood yesterday and he had a quiet night on the new floor here at University of Virginia Medical Center. There is a slight temp elevation that the team is watching closely and he is scheduled for repeat chest x-Ray and CT of his head later today. His Mom, Dad, Austin and Uncle John are alternating shifts supplementing the excellent care he is receiving here.

We read him the comments from the blog and email and assure him that all his friends and family love him.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Update: 11:15pm on 1/17

Forrest was on the move earlier this evening...

...and is now resting and healing in Neuro ICU.

Update: 4:00pm on 1/17

Forrest continues in a holding pattern today. His vitals look good and he continues to rest and heal. It is likely that this will be the trend for the next several days -- attempts to lower his medications to wake him up will not start until later in the week.

We are reading him all the blogs comments and stringing his room with cards, pictures, and notes. Thanks as always for your love and support. Kent and Rae think that is will be easier to collect cards at their hotel and bring them over so please send to the Marriott address on the sidebar on the blog.

Here's a quick picture of his room today:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Update: 7:30pm on 1/16

Forrest is resting quietly tonight. His vital signs all remain stable and he just looks more comfortable to us. He has a big ol' white surgical bandage around his head and more tubes coming and going than seem possible. But the nurses and doctors seem less tense which is encouraging to all of us. He is doing his part, just resting, or as Forrest would say "chill'n", and giving himself time to heal. We take turns holding his hand, recounting "Forrest stories",  and reading your messages to him.

Thanks again for all your love & support. It means more than you can imagine to all of us. 
Rae & Kent

Update: 1/16 at 1:15pm

Forrest is resting well today after his surgery. He is still in the medically induced coma, but his vitals look good and his chest x-ray was clear today. The Trauma-ICU staff continues to monitor him closely.

He is surrounding by a rotating wave of family members and we are mounting cards and well wishes on the walls of his room. We would love to have every inch of the walls covered so he knows how many people are thinking about him. While ICU does not allow any flowers or plants, cards can be sent to the address in the first post.

Thanks again for all the love and encouragement. At this time, the best thing to do is keep the thoughts and prayers coming and keep sharing your well wishes on the blog. It's been great to read all your kind words in the comments.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Update: 11:20pm on 1/15

Forrest is out of surgery. It went well - he handled the anesthesia well and they were able to remove a clot at the injury site. They did not see any other major hemorrhaging, which is good news. He will remain in a medically induced coma for at least the next 72 hours to allow his body to heal. The doctors have reminded us that he is not ready for visitors, but we will continue to share your well wishes.

Once again we appreciate your thoughts and prayers -- we will post another update tomorrow.

Update: 10:15pm on 1/15

Hi everyone. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support for Forrest-- thank you for your  messages,thoughts and prayers. We've set up this blog to keep all of our friends and family updated on Forrest's progress.

For those of you who may not be up to date on his condition, Forrest was in a snowboarding accident yesterday and suffered two broken vertebra along with head trauma. One of the concerns with this type of injury is brain swelling. The swelling increased today and his doctors decided a few hours ago that surgery was the best course of action. They are currently performing a craniectomy to alleviate some of the pressure. He is young and strong and in good hands -- UVA is one of the top trauma centers in the country and we are thankful that he is in the the hands of some of the best doctors, nurses, and surgeons. Rae's brother's John Stone drove up from NC today and Kent's niece & nephew, Lisa and Lee Bader are here to support us.  We will update again when we know more after the surgury.  

We want to say thanks to everyone for your messages of support. We've been sharing your well wishes with Forrest throughout the day. Please keep your thoughts and prayers coming. We wish we could respond to all of your texts, emails, and calls -- we are so grateful for all the support. Forrest is not ready for visitors yet, but cards and pictures can be sent to Forrest Allen 5th Floor, UVA Health System, Charlottesville, VA 22908 (no flowers or plants please!).

We hope this blog can serve as a central communication source while we're here at the hospital and we will be checking comments regularly. If you have any photos of Forrest you would like to share, please send it to his cousin Lisa ( and she will add some to this blog and we will share all of them with Forrest. We will keep adding updates here and will read the comments to Forrest so he knows how many people care about him and are wishing him well.

Thanks again for all the love & support --
Kent, Rae, Austin & Forrest