Monday, April 30, 2012

Update: Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh Forrest, it's your Mum.  I'm sorry I haven't written in a while.  The days are so full and to be honest, I've been kind of blue lately.  Maybe it's the incongruity of a brilliant Spring day when you should be out and about with your friends, or coming home from your freshman year at CNU for a visit... all long legged and grinning, brimming with some mischief.

I know the rules:  " Never look back, Never look down, Count our many blessings, and Focus only on the next twelve hours." 

And we do have many blessings. We are almost 6 weeks out from your ninth surgery without any big complications. You are still gaining weight, up to 145 pounds now. You are regaining some control over your hands again. Amazingly, most mornings you wake with a smile on your face! Your private duty nurses and NRH nurses, therapists, and doctors are talented, devoted and enthusiastic about your every effort.   Austin, your incredible brother charges in after a full day at work and brightens up your world and mine.  Day after day he tries to engage you in secret handshakes, balloon tosses, lacrosse practice, sword fights, or animated stories of your many shared escapades. And every day you struggle to respond to him. Yesterday, you finally managed to lift your index finger, open your hand to slide your palm against his and finish the, almost secret, handshake with a fistbump!  The best since the first week in October! 

The bond you share gives me courage, hope, and renews my faith each day.  Neither of you will ever give up. In spite of all the set backs, the endless months of hospitalization, and the grueling task of just getting through the next twelve hours again and both still shine. You both still face each day with a smile and a "Bring it On" Attitude.  That attitude is the most powerful force imaginable. And so one day at a time, we will succeed.   We will keep building this twelve hours on the next until our Forrest is strong and whole again.

As Your Pops often points out our twelve hour plan almost always changes and so it has again.  The doctors decided to dial down your shunt yet again today. So we must stay put at NRH for another Cat Scan on Wed and if all is well, we hope to return to BrightWood on Thursday. 

With Love & Faith, 

Forrest focusing on gaining control of his hands


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Update:Saturday, 4/21/12

Forrest has been working hard and making progress this past week at NRH. He's had intensive therapy sessions as usual, working on physical and cognitive improvements. He's been continuing to fight dystonia, or muscle tightness/spasms, that hamper his ability to control his movements, despite effort and will power on his part. This muscle spasms are caused by neurological tremors and he's on a number of medications to try to alleviate the symptoms. Yesterday he went to Children's Hospital to undergo a procedure which he has had several times before and has helped in the past. It was quite an undertaking, involving an ambulance transport, heavy sedation, and more than 30 Botox injections in his arms and legs. In the past the injections have helped but they wear off after a number of months.

This morning we made it outside to the NRH garden again and incorporated some therapy with just plain having fun and relaxing. He really seemed to enjoy being outside. His humor is still there as always, and was given a great boost by Tom Sweitzer visiting last week. When he just walked in the door Forrest got a huge lopsided grin. We stirred up the unit with our singing and dancing in Forrest's room. Forrest has been working on giving a thumbs up and was able to raise it a bit yesterday. He helps occasionally put his arm through a shirt sleeve, and during his active moments makes some herculean efforts. We are still aiming for moving home on May 1st, if everything goes well. The incision site is still healing well and looks good so far, no infections. We are keeping a close eye on it and keeping it clean. He still has some upcoming medical adjustments, included "dialing-down" his shunt again on Monday. Thank you so much for the support, it will be good to get home and closer to his friends and our friends.

All the best,
Austin & Team Forrest

Forrest standing tall with Mom and his Occupational Therapist, Sarah

Forrest having fun while Tom Sweitzer is a blur of motion dancing and singing

Epic Swordfight with Alpha, one of Forrest's private duty nurses

Even though Forrest can't push his legs just yet, we work on connecting the thought with how the action feels

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Update: Saturday, 4/14/12

New Team Forrest Member Found!

Thank you to those that applied and to those helping look for the next Team Forrest Member. After some time interviewing we found a perfect match. The new Team Forrest member had worked with Forrest before, is a friend in the Middleburg community, and has a lot of experience to bring to the table. She will be starting in May, and we will have another blog introducing her later on. We are enjoying every last day with Maylin and will have to have a proper goodbye, but luckily not just yet!

Forrest continues to do well. We got some smiles watching Rush Hour 3 today, and made it outside to the NRH garden in his wheelchair to sit by the Koi Pond in the sun!

While we wish we weren't on this journey, it's been truly amazing the level of support Forrest and the rest of the family have received. Forrest's life has touched so many people and continues to inspire many. You all will never know how much your support means to us and Forrest. But I'd like to share some amazing statistics that shows how global Team Forrest really is. Below is the number of times people have visited Forrest's blog in the last month, broken down by country:

United States
United Kingdom
Turks and Caicos Islands

Thank you for believing in Forrest, all the best from Team 44,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Team Forrest Position

As most of you know, Maylin has been an integral part of Forrest's core team for the past year. Maylin has helped Forrest overcome unimaginable hurdles on his way to recovery. Maylin now has a wonderful opportunity to pursue her personal goals in education and will be returning home in May. We will sorely miss Maylin, but we know that she has made a connection withour family that will last a lifetime. We are now faced with the challenge of finding someone to carry on her important work with Forrest.

In order to find the best fit for this special position we are casting a wide net! Ideally we would like to fill this position through our network of friends and supporters. Please feel free to share Forrest's story and the following job description.

With love and gratitude,
Team Forrest


Team Forrest Position

Job Description: Looking for a full time member for Team Forrest. An exciting opportunity to help make a difference in Forrest Allen's recovery from a traumatic brain injury. The Plains, VA. Housing available. Non-Smoking work place. Salary commensurate with experience. Flexible hours.

Desired Attributes: Flexible, organized, positive and upbeat, creative, comfortable with technology (ipads, facebook, etc.) Prefer college graduate with experience or an interest in special education.

Duties: Collaborate with family and therapists in creating and implementing activities to help strengthen Forrest’s cognitive skills, as well as fine and gross motor skills. Assist Forrest in practicing speech, occupational, physical, music and other therapy in order to reach goals set by his therapy team. Being positive and encouraging around Forrest, helping to elevate his spirits. Coordinating Forrest's visitor schedule. Helping with inventory, shopping, and preparing his organic "smoothie" diet. At times, running errands and assisting family and staff in day-to-day rehabilitation operations. Forrest has 24/7 Private Duty Nursing care. However, all Team 44 Members pitch in to help with his daily care. For more information about Forrest's journey see: Interested individuals should email a cover letter and their resume to Austin at

Monday, April 9, 2012

Update: Monday, 4/9/12

A little more than a week at NRH. It's been a big week for Team Forrest, thank you for being patient. Forrest has been getting stronger since his surgery. Great therapy sessions, upbeat visits from friends, and time spent out of bed have done wonders for his mood and spirit. He smiles, as usual, at subtle humor as well as slapstick movies. Sometimes we create pillow fights in his room and he smiles knowingly. For those detail oriented folks, here's some of the highlights of the last week: The 40 staples from the surgery came out, he's reached 143lbs on his homemade "smoothies!!, we took him outside briefly in his wheelchair, he underwent a Cat Scan that showed the surgery went well, his "shunt" pressure was dialed down, and he tried to give a fist bump to Gio and myself!

Forrest had some excellent visitors! Gio and Shayna, Sarah WB, and the Selfes, all came to spend time with Forrest and cheer him on. Thank you so much for all your support, big and small, it helps us every day. And I've said it before, I just want to say it again, thank you for the videos to Forrest on facebook, many times they elicit the best smiles of the day.

Our hope is that Forrest will be medically stable and able to come home to Brightwood by the end of the month to continue his recovery at home.

All the best from Team 44,

Forrest chilling with his friends. He is able to relax with Sarah, Shayna, and Gio by his side.

Forrest smiling at Pops and Gio as they spar with each other during a pillow fight.

Forrest's struggle to regain control of his hands is rewarded with a fist bump from Gio.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Update: Monday, April 2, 2011

We have made it safely to National Rehabilitation Hospital and are gearing up for the next chapter in your journey, Forrest. Today we begin again. Although you are still battling the side effects of your last surgery, and struggling with the demons that plague your body, your spirit is strong. Somehow, in spite of all your travails, you still keep trying. You can still smile.

So much love surrounds you, Forrest. Our nurse left yesterday in tears after watching your brother take care to help you stand. Austin is always there for you encouraging you, helping you find your new equilibrium. As you struggle to hold your head up again, he injects humor into your hard work and makes you smile. Your father has your back, physically, emotionally and medically. With an amazing balance of strength and tenderness, he is your champion. Maylin, your teacher and gentle caregiver, shares her many talents and unshakable optimism with all of us. Your friends still send cheerful video messages, texts and call to check in on you. You light up when you hear their voices. Their endless faith infuses our daily lives with energy and hope. Your nurses from home insist on spending time with you, keeping their all night vigil by your bedside. They keep you safe, and celebrate your every victory. The nurses, therapists, and doctors at NRH welcomed you back with open arms and hearts.

It is early Monday morning. I am watching you sleep. Listening to Robyn Spielburg's piano on Pandora with you as the unit comes to life. As we face this next chapter together, I pray that you will find some relief from the dystonia that torments you. That you continue to feel the love and faith that enfolds you. That your body will embrace your new prosthetic and allow your tortured brain to blossom and heal. I pray that you will find your voice and once again be able to share your thoughts & feelings with us. A mother 's prayer for you, Forrest.

Okay, now it is time to shake off sleep, recite our many blessings together, and tackle this day. We will make the most of today and every day we are blessed with. As your friends like to remind you, if anyone can do this, YOU can. You ARE "The Come Back Kid"!

With love, faith, and determination,


Forrest standing tall this weekend for the first time since surgery.