Thursday, March 24, 2011

Update: 11:45pm on 3/24

Forrest has made the move to Pathways the outpatient facility. He is now on a different schedule and basically everything has changed. His routine is now waking up in the morning later and getting dressed and eating breakfast. Then he is going to the car for the ½ hour ride to Shepherd Pathways. We have been staying with him for lunch after he does his first hour of orientation. He takes his lunch which we make up for him. He then continues on for another 4 hours after lunch in various types of therapy. We then pick him up and bring him back to the residence apartments at Shepherd. He is generally tired and needs a nap. We try to get a snack in him beforehand (he has lost 40 lbs) and then give him a nap and then wake him up for some activity. Last night it was lacrosse in the park, with mini-sticks and short distances. Tonight it was a friend from Hill School, Montana who came to visit him as she was traveling in the area.

After that it is back to eating dinner and some entertainment, reading or TV or a game. Then a shower and dressed for bed. Night meds and bed are next. Forrest is sleeping in a hospital bed with his brother in a bed pushed up against his so if he needs to get up in the middle of the night he has help. Meals tend to be long drawn out affairs as he eats very slow now and is easily distracted or forgets what he is doing. We commonly remind him to finish eating and encouraging him to take all of his meds can be challenging.

In between times, Austin, Rae and Aunt Lynn (who has been here the last week) and Dad when he is there have to restock, cook, do the washing and cleaning and pick up meds and drive him back and forth (which is a two person job).

He is still wearing the brace for his L-1 fracture which is still healing. His incision for the cranioplasty is healing well but he does seem to have problems with initiating or starting activities since the procedure. We are trying to get the Dr.s to authorize another MRI to make sure his brain is handling the new lid put on it. We hope to have that scheduled tomorrow.

His physical progress continues to be nothing short of amazing with him being one of the most mobile guys in his group. He has troubles with micro-tremors still and they have slightly worsened since the procedure.

So here is where we are. He has made monster progress since this traumatic brain accident almost 10 weeks ago. He has made it from the dire prediction that he might never wake up to walking around an outpatient facility in just 10 weeks. He has made cognitive progress and has his language and his voice, however quiet it is at the moment.

On the reality side he has suffered a major brain injury and has and will continue to have lasting effects from it. As the Doctors and nurses who have worked tirelessly to help him have warned us that the hard part for us is when they turn his care back over to us. They were right, this is much harder and time consuming and you can’t turn your back on him for a second since he is so mobile. So if you have noticed some gaps in the frequency of the blog, you are likely to notice more. Mom, Dad and Austin will have a discussion as what to do about the blog in the future this weekend and decide how we can go forward. In the meantime we will continue on as best we can with our efforts obviously devoted to Forrest’s care.

Some people have commented that we have sugar coated the blog on occasion and they would be correct. Some of the ugliest, scariest and worse and depressing moments and discussions have never made it to the blog. That is because the blog was never meant and is not a clinical medical record. The blog was always meant to keep people informed of Forrest’s struggle for life and then surviving his various medical complications and also his victories and triumphs. He may read this one day and we want to let him know how many people were pulling for him. He will be impaired from his injury we know but he will continue to struggle and get better over time. We don’t know how much help he will need in the future but we will give him whatever help he needs to reach whatever goals he can. We appreciate your reading, support and comments in the blog. Many of you may not know or ever meet Forrest, but know that he is a remarkable young man. Through a lot of struggle and perseverance he will continue to be a remarkable young man, just different than before, but with a lifetime of relearning ahead of him. While it breaks our hearts to see him go through it, it makes us admire him that much more that he continues to try.

Much love to all,

Dad, Mom, Austin and this week, Aunt Lynn.

Montana comes to see Forrest

Forrest and his bro playing lacrosse

Teaching Aunt Lynn some lax


  1. Kent, Rae, Austin, Forrest and Aunt Lynn, you are all SUPERSTARS!! Please keep the blog posts coming (when you can). I love looking each morning for an update on Forrest and of course am dissapointed when there is not a new entry, but I think everyone understands that you all are a little busy! And if I want scary or depressing news, I'll turn on CNN.
    So please, continue to share the funny, good, positive progress that you and Forrest, are making!
    All my love, Melinda

  2. Dear friends,

    First of all, whatever you decide to do about this wonderful blog will be the right thing for your family. As well, whatever you share will be lovingly accepted by your family and friends - the good, the bad, and the not so easy to say.

    I hear the fatigue and maybe a little worry in this post. SO UNDERSTANDABLE that you would be physically tired after assuming the full responsibility of sweet Forrest at this still very early stage in his recovery. The mental fatigue is also beyond understandable and is causing me to dial up the prayers for your strength again:

    I pray that you continue to feel the love and support of your family, friends, the wonderful people at Pathways, but most importantly, I pray that you feel the unwavering love and support of God particularly right now.

    I pray that the coming days demonstrate the healing power of God in the ways that Forrest shows progress, however incremental and in defiance of what may be "normal" for a brain injured patient at this stage.

    I pray that you do not feel discouraged, and if so, that someone or some thing lifts your spirits to let you know your prayers are heard and answered.

    I pray that you realize - while life seemingly goes on for others and that yours is super focused on caring for Forrest - that you come to know your friends think of and pray for you daily.

    Lastly, I pray that you come to know how powerfully influential the example of family love and perseverance that you have displayed through the care of your son and brother has been for all who know you.


    Keep the faith, dear friends, and do not be discouraged. You are not forsaken.

    Much love to your incredible selves.

    "In this world you will have tribulations," Jesus promises, "but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33

  3. Rae, I think you have to do what is best for you, Forrest, Austin, Kent and all of Team Forrest. Maintaining the blog should be the least of your worries. You are unbelievably busy right now. You posted this at 12:45, I would have rather have seen you sleeping. It should never feel like an obligation. I, too, check for an update every morning, but I will totally understand when there are large gaps. Write when you want to and when you have plenty of time. My heart goes out to you all as you prepare for the next journey. If there is anything that I can do for you all, please reach out. You are all in my thoughts every day!HugsXXOO Barbara Riddleberger and the gang at Rabbit Hill

  4. Team Forrest,
    We are there with you every step of the way and at every bend in the road. We love to hear of Forrest's progress and he continues to be included in our daily prayers. We know that you are all working very hard with Forrest to help him manage this next very important stage in his journey to recovery. We admire all of you and your strength and love and ability to find the positive in all of this. So, blog or no blog, we are here behind you supporting you and Forrest however we can! Please know how very much we care!
    Love and hugs,
    The Rafferty Family

  5. Team 44

    Its clear that the transition to outpatient, while exciting and positive, is a significant change in your daily life and routine. You have lived through so many different levels of emotion these last ten weeks, progressing from a life or death vigil, to awakening from a coma, to regaining basic physical function, and now to regaining as much cognitive capacity as possible. You have born the stress and burden of all of this with incredible strength, perseverance and grace.

    I will be so bold as to speak for everyone who follows this blog on a daily basis when I say DON'T SWEAT THE BLOG. Do not feel the burden of posting on a daily basis. We all wake up, go to the blog, and understand when there is not a new post that you have transitioned into full time care for Forrest that does not allow the time to write daily updates.

    While you feel an obligation to keep us all up to date, it is time that the blog change and begin to become a tool for us to refresh you. We should no longer wait for new entries to post comments for you. It should become something that you look forward to reading as often as you are able to draw strength and inspiration from all of us. Let us know how we can help with this transition.

    As far as Forrest's progress goes, take heart. None of the doctors in Charlottesville would have predicted the amazing progress to date and none of us knows the end of this story. It may not seem like it to you who are in the trenches, but there are many chapters yet to be written. This is simply the beginning of a new one. While we are uncertain of the ending, we are confident that Team 44 will attack it with the same strength, perseverance and grace that you have demonstrated so far.

    Remember, "Momma always said there'd be days like this".

    Love the Selfes

  6. Kent, Rae, Austin, and Forrest,

    Just keep doing what your doing to take care of each other and Forrest's recovery and don't worry about the rest. When you are tired, frustrated, and stressed things always seem dark. Most progress is made by taking two steps forward and one step back. I'm sure everyone reading this blog can read between the lines how hard this is for all of you. Just stay focused and you will make it through this. You are truly amazing!

    Christie Jones

  7. Echoing the sentiments of the comments above, please know that our care and concern for each of you, and especially Forrest at this juncture, is steadfast - regardless of whether amazing progress, little progress, or no progress is being made. Certainly each of those stages will be experienced at different points in the time ahead - and that is ok. We are here for each of you in whatever way you may need. Life altering changes are simply that and, by definition, extremely difficult in many ways - yours was beyond what any of us can imagine. So like Brian, I hope the blog can begin to work a bit more in reverse - that you, through our words, can be encouraged and strengthened, remembering how so many care about you and will be with you on every step of this journey, not just the amazing ones. We are so grateful for the progress made thus far, confident that there will continue to be healing in the time ahead, and sending love and prayers your way right now - The Shermans

  8. I just wrote a long, overly wordy (verbal diarrhea, a teacher once called it!) entry, only to have it disappear, so you may have been spared..

    But since the poem about going to Holland instead of Italy went over well, I am sending another piece I read to my self very now and then, as the mom of a special needs is for all of you, mom, dad, bro, blog readers, you celebrate the bionic boy moving from Phase 1 of recovery in record time and are slammed in the face with the realities of Phase 2, remember we love and care for all of you..

    The Special Mother
    by Erma Bombeck

    Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice,
    a few by social pressure and a couple by habit.
    This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children.
    Did you ever wonder how these mothers are chosen?
    Somehow I visualize God hovering over Earth
    Selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation.
    As he observes, he instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger.
    "Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron Saint, Matthew."
    "Forrest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron Saint, Celia."
    "Rutledge, Carrie, twins. Patron Saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."
    Finally he passes a name to an angel and smiles. "Give her a handicapped child."
    The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy."
    "Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a handicapped child a mother who knows no laughter?
    That would be cruel."
    "But does she have the patience?" asks the angel.
    "I don't want her to have too much patience, or she'll drown in a sea of self-pity and despair.
    Once the shock and resentment wear off she'll handle it."
    "I watched her today.
    She has that sense of self and independence so rare and so necessary in a mother.
    You see, the child I'm going to give her has a world of it's own.
    She has to make it live in her world, and that's not going to be easy."
    "But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."
    God smiles. "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness."
    The angel gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"
    God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive.
    Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect.
    She doesn't know it yet, but she is to be envied.
    She will never take for granted a spoken word.
    She will never consider a step ordinary.
    When her child says momma for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it.
    I will permit her to see clearly the things I see--ignorance, cruelty,
    prejudice--and allow her to rise above them.
    She will never be alone.
    I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life
    Because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side."
    "And what about her Patron Saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in the air. God smiles.
    "A mirror will suffice."

    Love and strength,
    Tean 44 Cheerleaders
    Carina, caroline and Sajen
    Dean, Kaki and Christina Elgin
    down the hill and to the left

  9. Dear Forrest and Team Forrest,

    I think that many of us who are following the blog have been concerned about the late night postings--because that means that you are not sleeping... I would like to echo the above comments that while we are always glad to have some news, we all certainly understand your number one priority needs to be the well-being, health and safety of Forrest and yourselves. So, I would encourage you to let the blog transition to posting news when you have time and not feeling obligated to make posts every day.

    I am touched by the many miracles surrounding you and all of us, for that matter. I marvel at Forrest's incredible spirit, perseverance and resiliance. In part, it is a testimony to the influence of the amazing ongoing love, support and dedication of his family and friends.

    Please know that your friends and community are here for love and support and that we want you to call on us if there are certain ways we can help along the way. You all are in our thoughts and prayers every day for peace, strength and healing.

    Maggie, Christina and Antonio

  10. What extraordinary and beautiful comments following this blog. We echo all of them. It is wonderful for us to be informed by the blogs-but if it is to much to handle,the adoring fans of team 44 would rather have you do the most productive thing for Forrest and yourselves-(like get some rest!!)We would guess that the uncertainty of of where Forrest's road will lead is one of the most difficult things to bear - but that road has already led farther than expected-and with your medical team, God, family, friends and loved ones his possibilities are infinite.

    With much love, thoughts, and prayers,

    Jim and Gail

  11. You are all remarkable. And sugar-coated or not, it's your story to relate and your business. We're here only to support and pray. Blessings, Kathy