Sunday, May 15, 2011

Update: 10:30pm on 5/16

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.

With love,


Electrical stimulation to strengthen swallowing and vocalization

Cousin Troy and Austin helping with his walking

Danny Quinn, Forrest's friend from Mercersburg Academy, took leave from the Naval Academy to visit this weekend


  1. Excellent Blog, Rae! Your panic when you got Forrest in a standing position came through loud and clear. And Forrest, you continue to amaze me! Like your Mum said, you calmed her, then you both stood there quietly until you got better balance and then you both "Got 'er Done!" Our prayers are being answered--God is in your corner!!!!!

    Keep up the wonderful work! We love you!

    Joyce and Wilbur, Missouri

  2. Thank you thank you, Rae for your heartwarming post and thank you thank you Forrest for your bravery and loving touch to your mother's hair. After anxiously pushing the refresh button day after day on my browser, to wake to this inspiring post and new pictures of Forrest was indeed a joy. To hear on progress, despite the pain, to see pictures that clearly show an improving Forrest helps us all stay connected to this wonderful family. Bravery, courage, determination, love and loyalty know no bounds in your amazing family.

    Much love from the Laughlin Family

    Abby Laughlin

  3. It is such a long way to go!
    I am feeling with Forrest and "his" Team!

  4. Rae,
    What a wonderful, heartwarming post. Our hearts go out to all of you. How lucky Forrest is to have you as his Mom. Hope and prayers to you all! Good job on all the hard work Forrest!
    Much love from the Huppenthals

  5. Rae,
    I just just feel you holding your breath -- and in fact, had to force myself to breathe! You've given your boys an unparalleled legacy of strength.

    And Forrest, you are amazing!!!
    Blessings to you all, Kathy

  6. It's a beautiful thing, picturing you and Forrest sharing those special 2 or 3 minutes. I cannot speak to a mother-daughter bond, but know first-hand how very much that mother-son moment meant to you, Rae, and I am glad for it. Forrest, not surprisingly, your kindness and compassion continue to know no bounds. Hard to estimate the incredible worth of moments like these in the midst of your pain and struggle. Like so many of us, I am extremely grateful for your posts, wish there was much more we could do for all of you, and continue to be with you in thought and spirit - believing in the power of connections and the healing power of the spirit, mind, and body. With love and hope, Lisa S.

  7. Whoa!!! Those 2-3 minutes I was feeling them too Rae, you were able to hold him for that long!!!! Great job and not a fall.

    He is trying so hard and he will get there. He encourage me to take care of myself while I can. He looks good at the pictures and men... he's tall!

    We think of all of you everyday.

    Hazel, James and Rebekah