Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Update: Tuesday 2/14/12

UPDATE: The surgery has been rescheduled for next Friday, Feb 24, because the prosthesis has to be re-engineered to better fit Forrest. We're grateful that we found this out before arriving at the hospital. It also gives him another week to keep getting stronger! Thanks for the warm wishes and prayers.

Oh Forrest, its your Mum. We've been home almost eight weeks and we've all been re-energized by the sights, sounds, and smells of home. Friends, neighbors and colleagues have rallied around you and our family, lifting us up with their faith and love. So many people have made this precious time possible. Your friends were by your side constantly while they were home from school. Austin, Maylin, Tom, Melissa, Del and Valerie made sure that you didn't loose any ground in speech and physical therapy while you've been home. The Medical Team has provided you with a top notch team of nurses to help us care for you around the clock. Drs. Falkenstein and Lee have made sure you remained medically stable. Dr. Tim Weed has helped you relax and recharge your positive energy flow. The OCH Ladies delivered nurturing meals on wheels. Jimmy Emmett and Kent Deeben created a healing outdoor space and a safe access for Forrest's van to the Man Cave. Your Pops and Big Brother, Austin, have linked arms with you day and night as your steadfast companions and defenders, protecting you against all potential dangers.

And you Forrest, have made it all worthwhile. Deep in the core of
your being, you are healing, gaining strength from your surroundings and those who love you. Each day you struggle to find a way to reach out to us. Occasionally now we see your eyes fill with tears as you become more self aware, as you grieve for all that you have lost. Sometimes you try so hard to communicate with us that your whole body begins to tremble with the effort. But you never give up. Your courage and faith sustain you, as you battle to regain control of your thoughts, to find your voice, to become master once again of your hands and long long legs. Just yesterday, with a herculean effort you were able to lift your right hand and although you couldn't quite straighten your fingers, the "high five" you gave to me was a brilliant sign of your spirit and determination. We see many more expressions play across your face now; humor for sure, often kindness, also we see frustration, fear, pain, sadness, and sometimes despair. But never have we seen anger there. Your core personality, what makes you uniquely Forrest remains intact. I pray that you can hold on to that core through this next chapter of your recovery. I won't lie to you, Forrest. It will be tough. But you are young and strong and resilient. Like your brother, you are a warrior, a champion. You will persevere. You will succeed and we will be by your side, holding your hands, cheering you on for as long as it takes.

With the help and encouragement of our community, we have accomplished what we set out to do. After almost a year in six different hospitals, we brought you home for
the holidays. Here you have gained eight pounds. Your blood parameters have all improved. You are stronger now and, once we help you get up on your feet, you can support your own weight standing up to 14 minutes. Your smile comes more easily and the color has returned to your face. You are ready now for the next huge hurdle. This Thursday we will return to Washington Hospital Center and Friday will be your third cranioplasty.. This time the skull prosthetic is made of titanium. We have begun already to prepare for surgery with twice daily surgical scrubs of your scalp. Hopefully the more inert composition of this "lid", your improved health and condition, and our aggressive skin preparation will prevent the devastating infection you developed last October. We can't know now how long we will be in the hospital this time. We may be home as soon as two - three weeks or we could be gone again for two- three months. Our first priority is to get you safely through surgery, then we will transfer back to National Rehabilitation Hospital until you are medically stable and strong enough to return home to BrightWood.

Our family is eternally grateful for our amazing community. The outpouring of love, prayers, cards, visits, and words of encouragement have made the journey possible. This has been a devastating injury for Forrest and an unimaginable heartbreak for his family and friends. But together, we have all learned the true value of family, friendship, the power of a kind word, a generous deed, the meaning of faith. We have never felt alone. And together we will conquer the next hurdle and whatever comes after. Together we will bring Forrest home again to soak in the healing power of Spring in our beloved Virginia countryside.

There is a possibility the surgery date will change, so we will update the blog if anything does or post-surgery on Friday.

With love and gratitude from BrightWood,


Below are some of the treasured memories gathered during our time at home:

Forrest soaking in the winter sunshine at home.

The Medical Team visits on Valentine's Day.

Forrest offers Mum his first high-five since October on her birthday!

Acupuncture with Dr. Tim Weed helps Forrest relax and regain his positive energy flow.

Forrest is able to open his hand in order to reconnect with Snickers.

Maylin reads to Forrest outside by the fire-pit.


  1. Oh! Forrest; and your brother, Pops and Mum: you just can't know how much it means to hear
    about you via this blog. It's like I am right there beside you hearing how things are coming along. You've, as your Mum says, come so far since that January day last year. I'm so happy you have such faith, strength love and perserverance. You are a strong warrior and I know how much it means to you to have Austin, Mom and Dad right there fighting this battle with you. With God watching over you, and family and friends caring for you, you have what it takes to WIN. I love you Forrest and am planning - with your Dad's help - to see you one day this spring. Grandmom

  2. This is a wonderful post full of the hope and determination we have come to know as "Team Forrest." It is inspiring. We are so proud. The community and friends have amazed us. The family...well, you guys defy words. We continue to have our community here in Colorado lift you up in prayer for things to go without complications this time around. You are ready. We are ready. I can't wait to see the results of this next round. I feel that this third time will be what we've been waiting for. Love you all. Thanks for the updates and pictures!! God's blessings.

  3. It was so good to see Forrest yesterday and to get to say my silent prayer for his healing and safety through surgery. Forrest, you have an incredible family and support system. It was lovely to get to spend a birthday moment with your Mum, in front of a fire, and share lunch and DQ Crew moments. May God bless all of you and give you strength and protection on this next journey to your recovery.

    Love & Hugs,

  4. I was so disappointed to miss the QGM outing to see Rae and Forrest on Rae's birthday. It sounded wonderful! I will be sending all positive vibes and wishes Friday and in the post op period. I firmly believe that "the third time is the charmer."
    Giant Hug,

  5. Forrest, we continue to pray for you and your healing. Trusting completely that there is much purpose to this difficult journey you and your family are on. Owen is hoping to get some dubstep to you soon.

    With love,
    Donna, Owen and family

  6. Dear Forrest,

    One more big hurdle to jump and then we all want the recovery road to be a smooth cantor home. You've come such a long way already! You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers every moment.

    We're sending love to the whole team for this next big event!

    Diane and Jay

  7. Great post. Awesome to see all the new pictures and how much he has improved since being at home.

    Keep it up Forrest you can do it!!!!


  8. Hi Forrest,

    What a wonderful post your Mum updated us with! Of course, the pictures are always great to see, too. It looks like being home has worked it's magic for you, and I'm so thrilled you gained some weight!

    Happy Birthday to you Rae, and many more to come!


    Joyce and Wilbur

  9. It was so good to see you last night, during my special Valentine's delivery from Caroline. You look so much healthier, and, wow, that Man Cave is the ultimate rehab center!
    Your family is amazing, but I know you know that. We will be so happy when we hear this surgery is behind you, and you will really be able to make progress again.
    We love you all!
    Your neighbors

  10. Forrest, we love knowing you have another week of Brightwood magic. It means you'll be all the more ready for the 24th.
    Big hug,
    The Weeden

  11. Forrest, My mom and I went on a long trail ride yesterday and thought of you as we rode past your farm and all the places you grew up enjoying. We are glad you have another week home surrounded by your wonderful family and this beautiful part of the country. We will be thinking of you during your surgery and recovery, and looking forward to when you can return home to the blooming daffodils.

    Fraley Coles

  12. Hi Forrest, I'm sorry you've had this delay for your surgery, but I'm also happy that you'll have more time at your wonderful home. It's good that your Dr. discovered that the "lid" wasn't correct before all of you had traveled back to the hospital. Enjoy your extra week!

    Love and Prayers,

    Joyce and Wilbur

  13. Forrest,
    We are so excited about how well you are doing and are glad they are working to be sure your new prothesis will be "perfect"!! I love all the pictures of your new "Forrestspace",it looks perfect and I am happy you are getting to see some of the horses again. I'm glad to hear how hard you are working and as always, your team is doing such a great job of support. Keep it up and good luck on the surgery. Love, Aunt Bev and all your family in Arizona

  14. Austin, thank you for the head's up - Meg had shared the news of the delay, and again, I'm a HUGE believer this was meant to happen. As you say, another week for Forrest to gain strength and likely lots of other factors you / we may never know. All part of the plan. Brightwood Magic. The Weeden's are so right. :)

    Rae, I love your writing. You bring us right into the heart of your family. Please know that we feel such love for all of you and have been covering you in prayer. I've been on the road a ton the past 6 weeks, but have faithfully read the blog on whichever device I had that would work! We missed you last night at the Hill School event, but to a person, your family was asked after....it's so incredible how our Hill family is just that: family. You are one of our own and we think of you daily, and love and pray for Forrest faithfully.

    Forrest - I love the pictures of your chiseled, gorgeous face. The ones of you smiling or staring intently into the eyes of your parents bring tears of gratitude. The pictures of your devoted team - your mom, your dad, beloved big brother, Austin, and the indefatigable Maylin inspire me beyond measure. I am thankful for their devotion to you; I am moved by their servant's hearts. So you had to hold hard this week. No sweat, buddy. Not for you. You and your indomitable team do what you always do - change course and look for the open trail. Rest up, eat well, enjoy some winter sunshine until Sunday, then perhaps our first true snowfall. All viewed from that incredible Man Cave.

    All - I pray a lot for Forrest and your family. As you might imagine, I focus my prayers on complete healing for Forrest, and for strength, encouragement and hope for all of you. I try hard not to question why something is happening, but it's only human to be frustrated for you. To wonder at this timing and the boulders on your path. I recently came across this great quote:

    Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another. Walter Elliott

    Wow. Many short races. That indeed characterizes what the last year has been like for all of you. And boy have you ever stood the test and then some. Only growing in love and determination. Oh, I know in your heart of hearts you have your moments of faltering, but the message of perseverance you put forth is loud and clear. And so I was reminded by another bit of writing. Words that have comforted me in times of distress:

    We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God poured out his love in our hearts. Romans 5:1-5

    And my favorite:

    For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

    Your family has taking this suffering and persevered. And not only persevered, but you have strengthened your already fine characters and richly woven hope into your lives and by your example, all of ours.

    I don't know what the future holds, but I am confident of this: your great hope is not displaced, nor will it disappoint. And God's plans for Forrest future will indeed not harm him, but will prosper him, his family and all fortunate enough to have crossed paths with you.

    We love you dearly and pray for you daily.

    Shannon & Jim

  15. What a wonderful update! As always I'm so inspired and full of hope for you Forrest and Team 44! I am praying this new lid will bring new progress and continued healing!

    We love you!
    kelly and Family