Forrest has made it home!
6 weeks after his third and last cranioplasty (putting the lid back on), we got the ok to return to Brightwood. The weeks in between have been taken up with recovering from surgery and healing the incision. There have been multiple “dial downs” of the shunt. That means the shunt that transfers excess cerebrospinal fluid via a pressure sensor down to his abdomen to be absorbed. The dial down technique uses a magnetic control that lowers the shunt pressure operated opening and then is checked by an x-ray. A couple days later the size of the brain ventricles are evaluated by a CAT scan which is essentially a 3 dimensional x-ray. This checks if there is a change in the size of the ventricles. A slight decrease in the size of the ventricles is desired.
While all this has been going on Forrest has been participating in various therapies at NRH and now at Brightwood. He has been working hard at it and in the last week or two (after the second and third shunt dial down) has made more progress. He is able to make occasional purposeful movements with his arms and hands. While it is still a struggle and he has to work hard at it he has made more progress this week than he has made in the last 6 months. This reinforces the theory that part of his issue has been the equalization of pressures and the negative effect atmospheric pressure has had on his brain.
The rest of Team 44 has been busy too. Rae, SuperMom, holds everybody else together, scheduling therapy, nursing and checking medications as well as working long hours each day with Forrest. Rae is working on a new Dolphin Quest project. She’ll be able to ride more now that Forrest is home, as it is definitely her therapy. She was able to do a quick trip (can you do that to the far side of the world) to work on the new project. Austin continues to be caretaker and physical therapy worker extraordinaire and working on the still under construction Sea Lion exhibit at the National Zoo. It is making progress and will be open sometime this summer. In his spare time he works on the large freshwater aquarium in the basement and is building a new saltwater one there as well. He will take a well deserved break in a couple of weeks and go to Cancun for R and R with a couple of buddies for a long weekend soon. Kent was able to get away to Europe recently doing the World Cup Event with the rest of the Olympic Veterinary Commission in preparation for the London Olympics; he will do the job of the Veterinary Technical Delegate or Veterinary Judge. He then came home worked a couple days and went to the Rolex 3 Day Event where he worked his 15th year as treating vet with Dr. Johns. In his spare time he has given four lectures to Veterinarians this spring and with his staff published two scientific papers to go in the veterinary literature and he and his group run the busiest second opinion lameness practice on the east coast.
Forrest’s transport home was uneventful but we are very careful because he frequently gets car sick and is at risk of aspiration pneumonia. Chad an EMT and LPN and one of his primary caregivers at home and nights at NRH was there as well as Austin and Mom in the back with Dad driving. After spending 12 of the last 15 months in hospitals, Forrest seems relieved to finally be at home. Sunday with a lot of encouragement, he was able to raise his hand yesterday while on the tilt table and make a basket. We also went to the stables and he fed carrots to some of the horses. We are keeping a close eye on him and his progress and are reassembling his rehab team and hopefully will continue to make steady progress. His friends are an important part of that progress and we encourage you to visit him as your time and schedule permits. If not then video messages are something he watches on a regular basis often during therapy and they always bring the biggest smiles.
It is hard sometimes to think about where we were two years ago on this weekend. We were all four at Gold Cup, laughing, both boys having great fun with friends. There are great times ahead of us and it does no good to look backwards other than the lesson that we should all hold on to these moments with our family as they pass too quickly.
-Dad and Team 44
|Home at last!|
|Treat time with TJ.|
|Finn, our horse therapist!|
|Sarah, Corina, and Forrest make a slam dunk!|