Monday, May 7, 2012

Update: Monday, 5/7/12

     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!


  1. What a great, exciting, and hopeful post. There are so many things that make us happy for your family. First and foremost, it seems that having his pressures corrected, Forrest will be able to make more consistant progress, and also it is wonderful that Rae, Kent and Austin have been able to get some important individual projects completed. We're thrilled that you are home, Forrest--all things are possible at Brightwood.
    Stay strong.
    All love,
    Jim and Gail (Wofford)

  2. Woo Hoo! Fantastic news...Forrest is back in the 'hood! Awesome. There is no better healing place than Brightwood with the rich sounds, smells and sights of the country which will all conspire to help Forrest heal. I pray that God puts his healing loving hands around Forrest and guides him to a rich and rewarding future. Love and strength to all Anne

  3. So glad to see you made it home. Excellent news...and slam dunked a ball too. Well, close enough to call a success. Well done. And the family picture is wonderful. Brightwood is good therapy for sure. Bless you Forrest and helpers and keep up the good work. Can't wait to see you and the gang soon.

  4. This is the best news! As I go about my daily activities, Forrest is always in my thoughts. He has been through so much these past 16 months. The challenges that he and all of you have faced make the daily ups and downs of life seem like gifts to all of us. Forrest has taught us all to appreciate that.

    As we marvel at the developmental progress of Baby Sheridan, almost a year, we can see the incredible depth of her understanding of the world already. Although she has only a few spoken words so far, she is masterful at communicating her intentions and she totally understands what's going on around her. So, too, is it with Forrest. His brain has been healing and building new connections and soon he will find his words again, I am sure. Being at home will give him the deep comfort to move to the next level of healing.

    You have all been engaged in challenges of near-mythical proportions and you have persevered with grace. We are so deeply touched.

    Love to all,
    Diane & Jay

  5. Welcome home, neighbors! Tremendous news that you are back home and making progress! Forrest must be so much more comfortable.
    We continue to marvel at your positive attitudes and energy. On top of everything you also managed to locate the Stonehedge peacock,Pierre,doing a welcome home walkabout over at Brightwood! Much love, The Netteres

  6. I'm glad Forrest is at home! Throughout my day I always think about him.. last night I had a dream about him..

    Mikk and I were in a movie and, walked out to Forrest lying on the floor very upset, we surround him and started to comfort him, and he slowly picked up his head and then Mikk said one word, and his whole face lit up and he starting giggling and repeated it back nodding. We told him we were about to go to a lake and asked him if he wanted to come. He got on his feet and walked with us through the forest (my cat followed closely behind him) and when we were at the lake, i was on a hill on the other side, and a bunch of elders came up on horses and were talking with mikk and then this HUGE brown monster thing started coming out of the forest and I was trying to find something to help with but once i picked my head up again, Forrest had shot the monster three times, and it dissapeared and we all meet up and the elders explained that is why they protect the young.

    Im not sure if words can express how intense it was. It reminded me of being a little kid and thinking there were things under my bed and getting the courage to look under it. I know Forrest it accepting and taking on these monsters head on! His inner light is shinning with his inner child weaving around it, i know he'll break through and keep having an increase and take down more and more 'monsters'. He is being watched and protected by many. Always thinking about you Forrest, you are wonderful and I know you will become centered in your body and understand it sometime along this timeline...

  7. Kent, thank you for a very good blog!! In reading this last one I am reminded how very busy this family of four always is. So-o much is accomplished by each one of you.
    Kent, I know you remember when you began learning all about hard work. You were quite a young boy when your Dad started teaching you and your two sisters about the value and reward of hard work on our horse farm in Missouri. It also had it's rewards. :)

    Forrest I am so impressed and happy with the reward of how hard you work at recovery. You now get to be at home in Brightwood and go feed carrots to the horses. I love the picture of you four hanging out just outside your mancave as well as you at the barn feeding carrots. :) I'm looking forward to being at Brightwood very soon. Love, Grandmom

  8. We are so proud of all of you.
    love from down the hill,
    Carina, Caroline and Sajen (who says "Hi, Sundance!")

  9. Hi Forrest,
    I don't know if you remember me as we have only met twice. My name is Sheila, and I went to William and Mary with your brother. I met you two years ago at the Gold Cup for the first time. Last year at William and Mary I got updates from your brother, but until a few days ago I did not know this blog existed. I must say I am immensely glad that I found it. I spent the last few days reading every post from start to finish. Forrest, you are a champion and a hero. Since graduating, I have moved from Virginia to Arizona for military training, up to Alaska, and I am currently deployed in Afghanistan. I am jumping on board as a long distance supporter of Team 44. I hope you don't mind another addition to your dedicated and caring network. Keep up the good work.

    “So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you'll move mountains.”
    ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

    With lots of encouragement
    Sheila Wilson