Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Update; Monday, 12/26/11

Thank you all for making our homecoming so magical. There are innumerable people who made this Christmas possible for Forrest and his Team. We can't possibly name everyone who has given their time, love, and talents to get us home. But we have to mention a few of our special Christmas angels and elves: Jimmy Emmet who created Forrest's new Haven (The Man Cave!) Maylin and Whitney who meticulously stocked and organized the Man Cave, Tom Sweitzer for organizing the Christmas Carolers (more than 40 Carolers raised their voices here in celebration).

Marsha Woolman's homemade cookies & Robyn's spiked apple cider added to the flavor of the day. There was love and merriment in the air: Peyton Coles taking the lead in their family carol, Sundance jumping on a chair to take center stage for the group picture, Nick Weeden forgetting the words to Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Forrest SMILING at Matt Morency's antics...all in all... a great day thanks to you guys!

We are truly blessed to have such amazing friends and family to support Forrest. Whether you were able to make it out to the farm in person or were here in spirit, Forrest had a wonderful Christmas and a great start to a new year of progress. He even raised his arms on his own today!

Thanks to everyone who was able to share Christmas Day at BrightWood!

Forrest loved all the groups of carolers singing in his Man Cave.

Standing tall on Christmas Day with the Lees!

Brothers home together and enjoying the end of Christmas Day by the fire.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Homecoming Celebration!

Team 44 and Tom Sweitzer invite you to join us in celebrating Forrest's much-anticipated homecoming with some drop-in Christmas Caroling (Christmas Music Therapy)!

Please join us on Christmas morning from 11:30am to 12:00pm at Brightwood. We'll have hot cider and Christmas cookies and gather by the fire pit. Since the grass is soft, there will be parking by the garage at the house or at Virginia Equine Imaging. You can walk down from there! We can't wait to see everyone who can drop by!

Since Christmas Day is such a busy day, please text Austin if you would like to spend some quality time with him another day. Time with his friends is so very important to Forrest, but since he is still adjusting to being home and resting after the transition we are trying to keep groups small.

Finn and Robyn welcoming Forrest and Mum back to Brightwood.

Del Wilson and Forrest having a great Physical Therapy Session at home.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Update: Thursday, 12/22/11

What a day. That was by far the most complicated, yet also the most rewarding, move we've done. Our fearless leader best-Mom-in-the-world is seen below after riding the ambulance with him from the hospital. Maylin and Mom did a fantastic job breaking down his room at NRH that we basically spent 6 months seeing how many items and how much "stuff" we could cram in there.

It's safe to say we definitely miss the amazing support crew back at NRH that have been an integral part of Team 44, and will again when we go back after his last surgery. The amazing team of doctors, case managers, nurses, therapists, and others at NRH were fantastic and we miss their camaraderie as much as their help. We are painstakingly and sometimes humorously re-inventing our daily care routines that we had so well polished. Those definitely remain a work in progress for now.

But Forrest is holding strong as always. He gave a deep and knowing smile this morning that grew as Maylin told a story of things she saw in the parking garage. He's very much still "in there" and comprehending much more than he can express for now. He loved seeing his friends that welcomed him home and he can't wait to see more friends and supporters in the days to come. It's important for him not to be overstimulated, these next few days of adjustment will be tough and he needs to get some well deserved rest. Please feel free to call or text me (540-729-2620) and I will let you know when is a good time or not. Both Forrest and ourselves can't wait to see everyone, we just have to make sure Forrest isn't overloaded.

All the best from MIDDLEBURG!

Forrest catching up on a long overdue healthy dose of Brightwood Farm sights, sounds and smells. Arriving at the house.

A few friends welcoming their buddy home

Monday, December 19, 2011

Update: Monday, 12/19/11

Forrest is coming home. If all the last pieces come together… this Wednesday. He'll be coming home for 4-8 weeks until his next and last surgery in DC. It may not be the situation we were all hoping for but it will be home for Christmas. Mom is juggling the medications he is getting and the capable NRH staff, Docs and nurses are helping us get organized. Rae has organized a Forrestmobile to move 44 and his wheel chair around. Rae is working on the nursing and PT Staff to help us at home.

We are urgently looking for LPNs (licensed practical nurses) or RNs (registered nurses) to help us for the next 4-6 weeks while Forrest is at home. They need to be happy positive individuals, have experience, reliable transportation and ideally live not too far from The Plains. (Apparently we are considered to be too "rural" for most nurses!) Valerie Lee has graciously offered to be the point person for us, so please email her at if you have a lead for us!

Austin and Maylin are working feverishly to put things together for the move. There is a lot of work to be done to move Team 44 from DC to Brightwood. Austin will still be working on his consulting job at the National Zoo Seal and Sea Lion construction project and will be spending half the week or as much time as possible with Forrest at the farm. Maylin will continue to do all things for Team 44, she will now be doing most of it at Brightwood until we move back to DC for the surgery for a while.

Jimmy Emmett and crew have been working tirelessly to ready the Man Cave for Forrest. Jimmy is downstairs painting as I write to make sure things are ready for our boy. It is very impressive and we will make sure we post some pictures as soon as the long awaited Forrest arrives.

Dad and the crew at VEI have been working on making sure we have all of the tools we need to take care of Forrest. His new electric bed has arrived at Brightwood and is the Ferrari of beds, way cool!

Forrest is trying so hard is and making slow but steady progress. We are excited to have him coming home and think it will do wonders for his spirit which continues fighting to soar no matter what obstacles are thrown at him. Forrest this year has faced more struggles and challenges than any twenty of us have in most of our lives. He has never given up even though he wakes up every morning to pain and the knowledge of what he has lost and how far he has to go to try to get back to where he was at any point this year. We thank all of you for staying with him and us through this struggle to have our boy back. So, Home for the Holidays, we can’t wait to have both our boys and our family back to Brightwood.

Dad and Team 44

Gio and Shayna drove to Brightwood to decorate our tree and Forrest's mancave with Caroline before coming to visit Forrest

Sundance must have said something funny

Forrest raising his arm for a thumbs up with Peyton and Sarah!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Update: Thursday, 12/15/11

Today is Forrest's birthday, and although he turns 19 in a hospital, we are optimistic and hopeful for a number of reasons. Forrest had a great day and we continue to work hard toward moving him home next week. He's been moving his arms intentionally a few times, and he stood tall with his Physical Therapist today. Although the botox injections were yesterday, they seem to be helping him relax his muscles already.

Additionally, we had another great outing today to the National Aquarium in DC, as both a birthday present to Forrest and a test of his stamina. It was the first time out of the hospital since his last trip to theNational Aquarium in October, and they graciously opened their doors to us again and made us feel welcome. He did great and seemed to enjoy getting out of the hospital, if only briefly. Forrest also had a visit from the Selfe's today, who've visited him many many times over the last year. Forrest even smiled for the camera today when taking a picture with the Selfe's (that hasn't happened in months!) We're looking forward to being home for the holidays and being amongst friends in Middleburg. We also can't wait to have Forrest's friends over to the farm. Thanks for the blog posts and facebook comments and videos, you all help us keep up the charge.

Best wishes from DC,

Headed off to the National Aquarium in DC!

In front of the albino alligator exhibit

Forrest smiling seeing the Selfe's

Monday, December 12, 2011

Update: Monday, 12/12/11

As I sit watching you sleep, Forrest, Christmas Carols are playing softly and the white lights on your little Christmas trees sparkle behind your hospital bed. You have been battling relentless demons for eleven endless months. I pray that as you sleep tonight, your demons dissipate, leaving you in peace. I pray that you slip away to happier places and times, filled with laughter, where you wrestle on the Great Room floor with your brother, taunt your father as teen age boys should, and dash off to spend time with your friends. Eleven months in six hospitals and seven major surgeries. Thursday is your 19th birthday and you will have spent almost your entire 18th year in the hospital. In the face of all the heartbreak and setbacks, the resilience and determination you share with your brother never fail to amaze and inspire your father and me.

It's time to bring you home to BrightWood Forrest, in preparation for your next and God willing last surgery, to regain your strength, to reconnect with familiar surroundings and the community that we all sorely miss. Team 44 is working feverishly around the clock to get you home for Christmas. You have to be "medically stable" and we have to amass a plethora of equipment and supplies to keep you safe and comfortable at home. This week you will undergo a variety of lab tests, a cat scan, radiographs, and another series of Botox injections under general anesthesia to relieve the muscle contractions that hobble your progress. Consultations with your team of specialists; physiatrists, neurosurgeons, nurses, as well as speech, physical & occupational therapists will help us fine tune our medical & logistical plans. We are determined. We are convinced that the healing power of being home with friends and your extended BrightWood family will brighten your days and reinvigorate your recovery!

We have so much to be grateful for, Forrest. So many talented and compassionate people have embraced your journey, amazing doctors, innovative therapists, delightful nurses, dedicated friends and colleagues. We are a blessed family. We are with you every step of the way. And together we are coming home. I will read the poem below that Shannon sent to you every day, while you are building the bridge that will carry you across the abyss, to a new shore and a new beginning.

Wishing all who have offered their love and support a joyous Christmas and Healthy Loving New Year,


It Takes Time To Heal
Ted Hibbard

It takes time to heal.

Build a bridge
from now to tomorrow.
Sink the piers
deep into the Earth.
Pour in concrete
day by day,
a little at a time,
and let it set.

It takes time to heal.

It may feel very awkward,
as if you're making empty promises,
as if you're simply spanning empty space.

But someday, somehow, somewhere,
you'll find yourself
upon a brand new shore,
glancing back at the bridge
which you alone have built.

It takes time to heal.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Update: Tuesday, 12/6/11

Wow, less than 3 weeks till Christmas, where did the time go?! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... even in Forrest's room. Dad went to the store and bought not one, but two 3' lighted fake Christmas trees to put in Forrest's room. We're supplementing the holiday decorations by downloading Elf, Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer (1964), and of course by playing Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas" over and over again.

Dad, Maylin and I are anxiously awaiting Mom's return late tonight, but from our Skypeing with her she seems to be in high spirits and ready to return. We were graced by a visit from Shayna and Giovanni last weekend. They drove 4 hours from College to see Forrest! It was lots of fun having them tell stories of Forrest and play wii with him. Forrest truly has some incredible friends.

Forrest is working very hard every day. Usually at least once a day he is able to make an effort to fist bump or raise one of his arms on top of a pillow. While we are waiting for the consistent fistbumps and thumbs up's which will make communication much easier, we are focusing on improving his strength and endurance. He continues to spend 2 hours in his chair twice a day, and is doing a few minutes of standing each day. He's holding his head tall and gaining strength in his arms, legs, and core every day. We are still working towards getting him home, even if only for a day trip in the near term. We will keep you updated as we know more.

Love from Austin and Team 44

"Gio" showing him a Mercersburg poster Danny Quinn made.

Shayna and Gio playing wii with Forrest

Even with it raining this morning, the Christmas tree helps make the room feel cozy and warm

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Update: Thursday, 12/1/11

Forrest continues to fight back. He has been back at NRH struggling to get back into the rehab therapy schedule. After fighting infections and laying in a bed for 6 weeks he is working hard to get back into a wheelchair and doing various types of therapy for several hours each day. He is very deconditioned and perilously low on reserves after 10 and ½ months in hospitals. The longer he can stay up even in a chair and keep working on therapy the more he can make the effort to return to us. He keeps trying every day no matter how hard of a day he is having.

Over the last few days we have seen slow but steady progress. He made an effort at a fist bump with one of his therapists Tuesday and tonight made an effort to hug Maylin. He continues to smile and occasionally chuckle at movies and videos or even better visits from classmates and friends. He truly enjoyed visits from The Weeden clan. Madison Lee and Matt MacMahon came by and spent time with him and Austin has told me that he thought a large part of 44’s enjoyment has been visiting with his friends.

Team Forrest has been working hard to keep an eye on our guy with Mom working on a project a long way away and skyping with 44 when she can. Maylin is working hard and keeping us organized and making smoothies for Forrest as well as sitting with him for hours a day. Austin is doing his usual phenomenal job at NRH and the National Zoo. He covers everything from part time physical therapist to smoothie maker expert to discussing Forrest’s case with the phenomenal NRH Doc’s and nurses. Dad is coming in more to cover for Mom and we continue to work here at the farm to prepare for Forrest’s arrival whenever that may be.

Thanksgiving was made memorable with visits from all of Forrest’s Stone-side Aunts and Uncles and family and the Lee family watching over Forrest on Saturday so Kent, Rae and Austin could cook for them at the farm. Thanks Bill and Valerie and Stone Clan.

Forrest continues to make superhuman efforts to return yet again even though some days that progress is measured in inches. The rest of us are supporting characters to the champ who won’t stay down no matter how many times he gets knocked about. Keep coming back Buddy we are all in your corner.

Thanks for your patience and for following Forrest’s blog.

Dad and Austin and Team 44

Forrest working hard and reaching up to give Maylin a hug!

Mom at work. Taking water samples in Southeast Asia