Thursday, December 27, 2012

Picture of the Day 12/27/12

After more than a year of patiently working with Forrest, encouraging, challenging, and Believing in his potential for recovery, Del helps Forrest make another huge milestone. Today, for the first time since March 2011, Forrest was able to lift himself up from a prone position to all fours and then inch by inch slowly push himself up until he was balancing his own weight as seen below.

Quote of the day: "Once you choose hope, anything is possible." Christopher Reeve

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hi Team 44 Followers,

Merry Christmas from Forrest, Austin, Rae and your author today Kent.
Forrest continues to make progress almost daily.  He has recently had a birthday and turned 20.  He had a fun party with his friends the other night and the family was home and had a great Christmas together.

As usual SuperBro and SuperMom have been doing a great job and spend an inordinate amount of time working with 44 and no doubt have helped him progress so well.  We have had a great team healing him throughout this year.  Tami, The Medical Team nurses, Dell, Steven, Tom Sweitzer, his teachers, therapists and Rebekah and many others have helped him.  We also appreciate the many great friends who have come to visit him, party with him and Facetime and Skype with him.  It really keeps him energized.  He got the new Wii U for Christmas and is anxious to play it with his friends.

The amazing things that he has done in the last few weeks is unbelievable.  He has started to form words and then has started speaking very quietly as well. The words are very quiet and few and he has trouble with some of the sounds but continues to make progress on a daily basis.  He continues to improve on other fronts and can walk several "laps" around the room with balance assistance.  He is making progress on almost every front, some of it is hard but he continues to work and make progress every day.

The medical issues are still daunting and we continue to tackle them with our great group of nurses and Doctors. He still is fighting the infection that recently sent him back to the hospital but his incision is healing well and he continues on with antibiotics via the PICC line.  He will likely switch to oral antibiotics after he finishes this course of IV.  He battles vertigo and is working on his swallowing and medication issues.  So he fights on making progress on many fronts.  After a rough almost two years it is great to see him smiling and working so hard.

Forrest has always been the comeback kid and he continues on!
Friends at a Brightwood Christmas party
Forrest enjoying great friends

An obviously candid Christmas photo

Video above of Forrest playing "pong" while practicing his standing coordination & duration

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Miracles

A couple of months ago, Rae told Forrest that what she wanted more than anything for Christmas was to hear his voice.  At the time, it seemed like a bit of a long shot.  Forrest was faintly humming occasionally, but was unable to do it on command. With an enormous amount of effort, he was just beginning to be able to move his tongue, but again, it was limited.  He was communicating with hand signs and slight nods.  Then came his Dynavox, a speech generating computer that Forrest nicknamed “Frank”.  Forrest and Frank soon became partners-in-crime, with Forrest using the computer to type and then “speak” various messages and communicate with others.  Frank is loud and clear enough that even friends could hear it via Skype and FaceTime!  It was amazing to see Forrest’s sense of humor come out in his thoughts and jokes and to watch his typing skills become faster and his spelling and word choice become more complex. Sometimes he would share his frustration, typing "There's no word that can explain the way I feel." and "Why can't I talk normally?"  But even with all of this, Forrest’s voice remained silent, still only humming occasionally.  

That is, until last Wednesday.  The day started like any other...Forrest’s mood had been happy and energetic all week…it was as if he knew he was about to surprise us all with the first of our Christmas miracles.  During music therapy on Wednesday, Forrest was working so hard to make any noise, but was clearly struggling.  We decided to try the hug trick.  Forrest tends to hum when he gives and gets a hug – I always tell him that it is his way of saying “hi” or “good morning”.  So, I leaned in to give him a hug, asking him to tell me “good morning” with his voice.  I was expecting to hear a slight hum, but in true Forrest fashion, he did something quite different.  He very quietly whispered “good morning”.  What followed was a flurry of activity and excitement as Forrest began mouthing and sometimes whispering a word we asked him to.  It was mostly silent, but he was very clearly mouthing words and it was easy to be able to determine what he was trying to say.  We were basking in this new step and celebrating the advancements Forrest was making…but Forrest was not done with the Christmas miracles.

He next began humming more consistently on command, a new skill.  Then he started opening his mouth while humming to quietly say the word “mum”, which made Rae's homecoming yesterday truly extraordinary.  Then last night, during physical therapy, when asked how many pull ups he wanted to do, Forrest quietly but clearly stated “ten”.  A simple word, but filled with promise of amazing things to come.  Forrest, however, was still not done with his miracles!  While sitting around talking about all his great accomplishments, someone stated that Forrest was awesome.  Forrest nodded his agreement, and then with prompting and encouragement, clearly said his first sentence, since May 25, 2011, “I’m awesome”.  The ManCave exploded with cheers and whooping as amazement and excitement filled us all.  Forrest really IS awesome – bringing us a Christmas miracle and making Rae’s Christmas wish come true, all with two magical words.  
We can't wait for  Forrest to share this life changing new step with friends and family over the holiday season.  Contact Tami or Austin to get yourself on Forrest’s social calendar!
With excitement and the warmest of holiday wishes,
- Tami 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Picture of the Day

Forrest has settled back in at Brightwood.  We were so excited to see that Forrest's little detour to Washington Hospital Center did not result in any apparent physical or cognitive setbacks!  His dedicated nurses from the Medical Team have been keeping a diligent eye on his new PICC line and incision sites, and a check up today with Dr Falkenstein resulted in a great report!  It has been a busy few weeks with travels and visitors.  Rae left Saturday for work in Malaysia, waving at Austin in the sky as he flew back from a conference in Hong Kong.  Kent returned from a conference right before Forrest broke free from the hospital.  Amazing Aunt Tricia left yesterday and we now are enjoying the help and company of the wonderful Aunt Lynn.  We are so thankful for all the people that have been here during Forrest's journey to recovery!
Today, Forrest has been busy, with Music Therapy and school then some new physical/occupational therapy exercises with his team. He has been frequently sharing laughs with us and it is great to hear and see the laughter that sometimes shakes his whole body.  He is currently engaged in a competetive game of chess with Austin.  Forrest has only needed a few reminders of the rules, even though he has not played since before the accident.  That's our champion!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Yahoo Heading Home 12/6/12

Forrest busted out! while we are grateful for the wonderful nurses doctors & therapists at WHC, we are thrilled to be on our way to BrightWood! Thank you for the love prayers and positive energy! Team Forrest.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Update from WHC 12/4/12

Oh Forrest, after a rough night of post-op fevers and emesis, You managed to rally today. This morning with help you struggled up to sit beside and were able to sit for a while. You were game to try standing, though that didn't go so well with nausea taking hold again. Aunt Tricia and you share a special connection. She has a way of bringing calm and confidence that smooths many tough hours for both of us. And when you need a laugh, Tami ad libs jokes until your sense of humor bubbles up to the surface. The highlight of my day was watching your smile when Shayna reached out to you via FaceTime! You showed her your new PICC or Central Venous Catheter line that terminates in a large vessel near the heart, placed so that you can receive long term IV antibiotics to fight the infection at home. If all goes well tomorrow we are planning to liberate you on Thursday. We can't wait to return to BrightWood for you to continue your blessed journey of recovery. With love, Mum

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Come Back Kid 12/3/12

Thank you all for your love, prayers, messages and above all, belief in Forrest and his full recovery! With monumental logistical and emotional support from Aunt Tricia, Tami, and his Medical Team nurses we mustered Team Forrest's mobile unit yesterday and set up what will hopefully be a BRIEF camp at Washington Hospital Center. Many of the nurses remember Forrest from his earlier surgeries here and have come by to offer their warm wishes. Forrest sailed through surgery this morning. The doctors are optimistic that the infection is superficial and his lid is safe! Although he is in some pain he rallied to send his characteristic thumbs up to his friends and extended family. We hope to get home in a couple of days as soon as the preliminary lab work indicates it is safe to break out of here! We are grateful that we were able to get this taken care of so quickly and now Forrest is anxious to get home to his Man Cave and friends. With love, faith, and longing for home, Team Forrest