Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Day in the Life...

Hey Forrest.  It is dark here in the ManCave as you have settled in to take an afternoon nap.  I just peeked around the corner and your eyes were drooping closed.  You have had another busy day at "BrightWood Rehab" and are so deserving of a rest for your body to prepare for more therapy tonight.  I do not know if everyone is aware of what your busy days look like and how hard you work, so I thought I would share with all of your dedicated blog followers a bit of a "day in the life" of you - Super, Amazing, Rock-Star, Champion - Forrest Allen!

The active part of your day started today at 10am.  You got dressed with some help and got into your wheelchair to begin your morning routine of shaving, brushing your teeth..etc.  Although you are still not able shave your face on your own, you have recently begun doing your teeth brushing almost completely independently.  We stay right next to you during this as you are still at risk of aspiration, but you are determined to do as much on your own as you can.  I love watching for all of the new little things you can do - like squeezing the toothpaste onto the brush.  It takes you SO much concentration and effort, but you never want help!

We all loaded into the van and headed down to the stable around 11am.  It was a beautiful sunshiny morning, you needed to get your hands on a horse and we wanted some pictures of you and your horse Riley!  While Mum gave Riley a talk about behaving, Nurse Gayle and I safely wheeled you out of the van...and into the mud!  Your wheelchair was stuck!  Always ready for a change of plans, we quickly adapted and got you standing and Pops and Gayle helped you walk to where you would take pictures with horse Riley.  (Some of the pictures are included below)  Riley was a bit excited this morning, so we had to work hard to keep you safe.  You are only now beginning to stand steadily on your own for short periods of time, so we had multiple spotters right by you and had Riley under extra supervision!  After our adventurous, yet successful "photo shoot", we headed back up to the house because you had school!

Your Homebound instruction teacher, Sharon, arrived at 12:30 and you spent the next hour and fifteen minutes learning more about the Executive Branch of the US Government.  You always stay focused and interact with Sharon and I enjoy hearing the conversations the two of you have about the class topics.

After school, you had a little bit of time before your next scheduled therapy, so we used the time to catch up on the speech and swallowing exercises you had missed this morning.  You had 6 bites of thickened juice today and showed us some strong swallows.  You had a few coughs during swallowing, which had us on our toes - ready to help you if you were not able to clear your throat on your own.  I often wonder if you get sick of us hovering around you whenever you have the hiccups, cough or sneeze. Throughout your recovery, those have been strong pre-indicators of throwing up, so we are by your side at any of these signs. Someday maybe you will run around telling us all to "take deep breaths" whenever we hiccup!

After some reading and other activities, 3:00pm rolled around and with it, your Music Therapist Tom Sweitzer.  You spent an hour with Tom, making up new songs, doing breathing exercises (using a harmonica) singing and working on strengthening your voice.  At one point, you were talking about surfing and writing a song about it with Tom.  He misheard you and thought you said an "89-foot wave" when you actually said "A 9-foot wave".  This, of course, led to some laughs and the creation of a very interactive story about an 89-foot wave and a surfing adventure.  You try so hard to be clear in your voice and it must be frustrating when you are misheard or misunderstood.  It is great how patient you are with us when we miss something.

That leads us up to where we are now...rest time.  This is so important for you, Forrest.  Your body continues to need rest and your brain needs some quiet time.  Tonight you have Physical Therapy with Del, more swallowing, memory exercises, a shower and your nighttime routine, so your busy day is not done yet.  Most of your days are full like this, often with back to back therapies and few rest periods.  You are a champ and always keep going, even when the exhaustion is clear on your face.

This entry has turned out to be quite long, Forrest, but I just want to share one more thing with your blog readers.  Earlier this morning, you and your Mum were talking about your perseverance and attitude.  Mum hurt her back on her trip back from Malaysia and is quite uncomfortable today.  She asked you how you keep your wonderful attitude despite everything you have gone through and you told her:

"Just think about the things that make you happy"
and then later today, you told her: "Fake it until you make it"

Forrest, you have such a brightness about you and a great attitude, and now we know what it is that you do in that courageous heart of yours to keep on going everyday.  Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us and always brightening our days.  When we have rough days, we think of you - YOU are what makes US happy.

- Tami (aka "Coach")

"Howdy Ma'am"


  1. A great post Coach Tami (I like that and you sure are one!). So glad there was a nice day where you could get out and down to the barn. I'm sure Riley was delighted in his mischievous way! Your days are busy and you keep at it. It was nice to share with all of us a glimpse of it!! Hurrah for team 44!

  2. What great photos! Forrest, I get tired just hearing about your day. Your progress is nothing short of miraculous! And Mom and Dad and Austin and team 44 are too!!

    Lots of Love,

    Gail (Wofford)

  3. The pictures are wonderful and such a sign of the great progress that you have all made. Congratulations to your amazing family. But the best part "Just think of the things that make you happy" and "Fake it until you make it". Such profoundly insightful lines. I am going to do my best to remember that today and everyday as I think it will help me to live my life better. You are a star and a role model!!
    Lots of love from Chris, Donna and Ashley Heslop

  4. LOVE the pictures!! It's so wonderful to see you out with your folks and your horse, and in a cowboy hat to boot! Can't beat that! God be with you all!! What great progress! Now, I'll go back and read the blog!


    Joyce Ellis

    PS; We are on a trip to Az. (Wilbur and I). We're in Springerville, Az for tonight, and we'll head down to Tuscon tomorrow. Plan to visit my sister in Mesa next week for several days, then go to Sedona and Grand Canyon. Yeehaa!

  5. Just beautiful....all the way around, especially the stunning photos! Amazing to think what the human spirit - especially yours Forrest - is capable of and incredible to realize how YOU have helped and continue to help so MANY of us in our lives through your journey. Sending love from 5 grateful Shermans.

  6. What an amazing post to read and to take a peak into your life Forrest. It's just incredible how far you have come and I can't wait to see what lies ahead! Your attitude is simply inspirational. Love how you said think about things that make you happy! I want to remember that one! What a gift from God you are to us all. Keep up the amazing work Team 44 and most of all you Forrest! WOW!