Sorry to be out of touch this week with just Austin and Mum here, every waking hour has been busy. It's hard to believe it's been four months this week-end since Forrest's accident. Four months spent living in four hospitals can take its toll… Fortunately, we are blessed with an amazing, supporting cast of devoted family members, friends and colleagues. And each day Forrest lights up our world with his courage, tenacity and determination. This week the speech therapist used electrical stimulation to help him strengthen his ability to swallow. Even though having the electrical impulses on his throat was uncomfortable he indicated by touching the yes sign to keep going. After several sessions, with much effort, he is able to swallow a few spoon fulls of pudding-like consistency! So, we are bringing organic vegetable and fruit juices in to thicken and feed him. (Don't tell, but Mum's been slipping the organic green juice in his feeding tube for the last week…) The treatment also seems to be improving his vocal cords. He has been able to say a few more words which is such a huge relief. There was growing concern that there was significant damage to his vocal cords caused by the endotracheal tube that was in his wind pipe for so long. He still struggles to find his voice and his words. He rarely is able to communicate verbally, but we know he can speak. As we say in Team Forrest, "we can work with that."
We are reminded that there are lots of ways to communicate. Today, I wanted to get Forrest back to bed from his wheel chair, but the nurses and techs were all tied up. I've been "cleared" to transfer Forrest, but he is so tall and so unbalanced on his heavy casts that I haven't attempted it by myself. He was in a lot of pain and needed to lie down, so I decided to go for it. I got all the belts and leg braces undone, organized the tubes, aligned the chair just so with the bed, made sure the brakes on the chair were on, double checked his helmet, tightened his stabilizing waist belt, got his attention, looked him straight in the eye and explained it was just him and Mum so I'm counting on his help. "Okay, Forrest, on three. One…two…THREE." Up he came out of the wheel chair, towering over me. With the casts adding to his height and the fact that his tendons are so contracted that he is balancing on his toes, he must be 6'7”. OMG I've got my arms around him, but can I keep him balanced and pivot him 90 degrees so that he can sit on the bed? I am frantic. I crank my head back and ask him to put his hands on my shoulders so we can turn. Instead he calmly places his left hand on my head and gently strokes my hair. Okay, I hear you Forrest. Breathe. We stand there for 2 or 3 minutes, letting his tendons stretch. Finding our Balance. Reconnecting. Now we can pivot and slowly lower all his height safely to the bed.
This is not the journey any of us would have chosen. And I ache for Forrest's losses. But we are blessed daily in many ways. I never would have had so much time with both of my boys. Some of the time is painful, much of it is very hard. But all of it is special. I am forever grateful for Austin's strength, his devotion to his brother, his character and his love. I love them both beyond all measure and I want them both to have the opportunity to live their lives with passion, purpose and great joy.
Electrical stimulation to strengthen swallowing and vocalization