Saturday, April 16, 2011

Update: 4/16 at 12:30pm

Well Forrest, you and I had another good night. It is 8:00am and your Mom just walked in. You immediately focus on her as she leans in and tells you how much she loves you. I can see you processing that. You are focused on her. I can feel you coming back. You are taking your time. But you are headed back.

Let me tell you what your days have been like lately. Your Mom, and Austin and I rotate shifts with you so you are never alone. Your Mom is with you most of the day, then Austin comes in the afternoon and then I come in around 11pm and stay until morning when your mom comes in and the whole thing starts over again.

Your Mom stays with you most of the day. She relieves me about 8am.  She talks to doctors, chases down medical records, looks at other TBI research on the internet and is constantly in touch with your Dad.  She also does PT three times a day, even if PT comes to work with you and if they missed your appointment because you were having an MRI or other procedure. This is how your Mom does your PT with you.  First, she takes off your fancy sheep lined boots you wear during the day.  These boots keep your feet at right angles so your tendons and ligaments don't get too tight.  So she takes off her shoes and climbs onto the foot of the bed with you. Then she gently rubs your feet and calves and starts to slowly stretch your long, sinewy legs.  She holds your legs and maneuvers them into the range of motion so your leg muscles remember how to move and it stretches you out from lying in bed all day. She works on one leg at a time, and then she gets out of your bed. She goes to the side of your bed and leans over to stretch your arms, starting with the hands and fingers and wrists. Then she gently lifts your forearm up and rotates a little at elbow and all the time she is talking to; you come on Forrest, relax, lean your arm out, ok back in, that's good.  It is important for you to keep your range of motion in your arms, shoulders, and legs. Then she talks about the stories behind all the photos on the wall. She reads you the comments entries from your blog.  She also reads books to you. Currently, she is reading you "To Kill a Mockingbird". 

In the afternoon, Austin comes in so your Mom can run a few errands and get home to meet me for dinner. That is in an ideal world when there haven’t been any complications during the day. Last night, she did not leave until almost midnight, which is a 16 hour day.  I try to get her home for dinner so I know she will eat something.  Sometimes she gets to bed around 10pm, but usually it is later than that, then I head into relieve Austin.

Austin stays with you in late afternoon until about 11pm. He keeps up on nurses and technicians and makes sure you get the right meds at the right time, he makes posters of photos for you to look at, updates the blog, shows you videos that friends have sent you, tells you stories of your adventures together, and helps turn you in bed if the nurses are short staffed. He speaks for you. When doctors show up, he knows your case as it evolves every day, so well, that he can convey concerns and ask questions.  I am so proud of your brother for being so rock steady for you. He is an amazing big brother.

I come in and watch over you at night. I make sure nurses are on schedule and that you are getting your meds. There is wireless in the hospital so I can check emails and look up stuff on the internet, sometimes if you are really quiet and all is well, I will watch a movie on Netflix while you sleep. As I watch the movie, I see your head over the top of my screen, the lights from your monitors blink and all is quiet. You are peaceful and sleeping well and I am awake, ready to intervene if necessary.  We all constantly watch over you and document everything that you do, everything the nurses do, all the meds, all of your signs and symptoms, what you like and what you don’t, your reactions to procedures, lights, sounds, what the docs say when they come in and any other issues that come up. Let’s just say, there are a lot of notebooks we have filled up in an effort to track your progress and your declines. Your mom writes letters to you and when you are ready, you can read them yourself.

During all this, nurses and technicians come and go, day and night. Every two hours your get turned in bed so you don't get bed sores and it also helps you avoid pneumonia. If the nurses are running behind schedule and there are two of us, we will do it ourselves. Then every 4 hours they take your temperature and every 6 hours they stick your finger to check your blood sugar. Almost every four hours you get some medicine or just water that goes into your feeding tube. This is called a NG tube (Nasogastric) and goes in your nose, down your esophagus, into your stomach and ends just inside your small intestine. This is how you get your nourishment for now and some of your medicines.  Soon when your fungus clears up, the surgeons will insert a PEG (Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) into your stomach and that is how you will continue your nourishment. This will allow them to pull the NG tube so the Speech Therapist can start working with you on how to swallow. Then you can learn how to eat and drink again and of course talk. We can’t wait to hear your voice and your laugh again. So you can see that to get that to that point a lot of other things need to happen first and each one of those takes time. You have been through this all before and so have we. Now we just keep looking down the field for more hurdles and jump those, sometimes daily, sometimes every hour.

But we keep going.  We see you at the end of all this craziness.  We see you at the farm, with your friends and family, I see you on a horse, galloping up a hill with Rae and Kent and Austin, laughing all the way.  I see you shoveling snow with Sundance.  I see you watching an old movie in your man cave (basement).  I see you sitting around the dinner table laughing at something Austin said.  I see you playing Lacrosse, running down the long grassy field. So we keep seeing you Forrest and we keep telling you that we see you.  And soon it will not be a dream, but a reality.

Last night a night nurse told me about the amazing recovery of young women that had an aneurysm rupture and right sided massive cerebral bleed.  She spoke at a conference the nurse attended. She speaks of hope and what she overcame. She is now at college earning a Master’s Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation. So we pasted her link below for others that follow your blog to see another success story. She got over the hurdles Forrest and you will too.

Aunt Tricia and Team Forrest
Aunt Tricia reassures Forrest during on of his "storms." "Sometimes a tender, reassuring touch is the most powerful medicine." - Forrest's Mum


  1. I'm so happy to see a new blog!! It sounds like things are moving along, and that's what counts. I'm so glad you "connected" with your Mom this morning when she walked in. Keep up the good work Team 44!

    God Bless you all,

    Joyce and Wilbur

  2. Hi Forrest!
    It's a very windy, rainy day here in Maryland -- a definite transition day as we leave the cold of early spring behind and look forward to the lush green of May here in the Northern South.

    I like to think of the time you're going through as a transition time, too -- a time for your body and brain to self correct and catch up with your healing. We're all waiting patiently for you. I hope you can feel all the love we send your way. Fondly, Kathy

  3. Forrest, we're glad to read you are healing...slow and steady. We all want it to go faster, but your body knows what it needs, rest and time. Caroline and I went to Busch Gardens yesterday on a school trip, and a sign I saw in the Kettle Run hallway reminded me of you right now: "It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop- Confucius." You are regrouping inside, reloading those batteries, so that you can come back strong. Keep moving forward, you awesome guy. We can't wait for your next charge towards the goal!
    Your Elgin cheerleaders!

  4. It's wonderful to hear all your different voices on the blog. Austin's posts are so encouraging and also playful to Forrest. Aunt Tricia's are detailed reality logs. You are all fully engaged in an admirable journey of devotion and love that Forrest surely feels. We hope the faithful support of those of us far away is also providing a cushion of comfort for you all.
    A systemic fungal infection is a low blow, for sure, but the good news is that it's being treated. Forrest, you are doing exactly what you should be doing - focusing your resources on rest and healing. Your team is keeping the pillows fluffed, your feet massaged, and the healing course on track. We know you will have a lot to say soon. We are there in spirit helping to spread the love!
    Diane & Jay
    Sent from my iPhone

  5. Dear, dear Forrest - hoping today was a good one for you. Even though I am the one who is the writer for our family on the blog, wanted to be sure you know how much all of us - George, Greg, Kevin, and Christopher - are in your corner - we think about you all the time! We are saddened by this setback but trust that soon your body will be back on track, rested and able to conquer the challenges ahead one little step at a time. It is so meaningful for us to feel a part of your blog's "circle of care." We send our love and big hugs to you, your wonderful family, and your entire Team 44. Peace to all of you, Lisa

  6. What a loving sister and aunt you are, Tricia. I am humbled by your devotion to Rae, Kent and their sons.

    Thank you for painting such a vivid snapshot of Forrest's recovery and the roles each of you lovingly fulfill.

    I am like many followers of this blog who refresh their browsers regularly waiting to read the latest good news. Please know how many of us pray for Forrest and his continued steady progress. I wish the timeline were faster, but deeply believe there is wisdom and purpose at the foundation of the
    current one.

    We love your family and we are grateful that they have you to lean on, Tricia.

    God bless you all.