Friday, September 27, 2013

A Special Invitation from Forrest 9/27/13

As many of you know, Tom Sweitzer and Music Therapy have played a pivotal role in Forrest's journey to recovery - in the beginning creating essential connections to his past, then helping him regain control of his breathing, and miraculously regaining his voice.  For the last few weeks Forrest along with 25 other A Place To Be students have been working on an inspiring new performance.  We hope you will support them all by coming to watch Same Sky.  You will be amazed and inspired!

Same Sky is a musical journey into the hearts of 25 students with unique life challenges in two parts.  "How Far I've Come" is based on the life of Amy Stone, a young woman living with Cerebral Palsy.  Amy views her CP as a gift to teach others about acceptance, kindness and courage.  The second part  is "Behind the Label" in which students share their personal experiences about living with different labels.  They encourage us to look beyond those labels to see the unique capabilities of people in the world around us.  Here at Team 44, we have seen parts of the shows during rehearsals, they are heartwarming, creative and most of all...inspiring!  We encourage everyone to bring their family and friends to a performance and support these talented kids. It takes a lot of courage to do what they are doing - going on stage to share special parts of their lives;  their challenges, hurts,  humor,  dreams,  and beyond.  

Here is a special invite message from Forrest:
Check out this video link for a glimpse at "A Place to Be".

Friday, September 20, 2013

Aunt Tricia' s Message to Forrest 9/20/13

This blog is written by your amazing aunt Tricia who steadfastly supported your early recovery in the darkest of days, taking turns with Austin sitting by your bedside to keep you safe through endless hospital nights, taking care of all of your caregivers, and tirelessly moving the Team Forrest command center from hospital to hospital. It was a thrill to have her and your aunt Lobie visit this week to celebrate your progress and new accomplishments! 
With unending gratitude for the generosity of family and friends, Mum

Hey Forrest,
Last time I was here at BrightWood was almost 10 months ago. I was here for a few weeks helping out.  Back then, you still needed support to attempt walking. First we had to get you into a special seat harness with lines attached to this rolling walking crane
Fall of 2012
that hovered over you.  Then we would activate the crane's electric motor to help lift you to standing position and also take up some of your body weight as you stood.  It took all the strength you had to walk 20 steps across the Man Cave. It took 4 people to make it happen. One person faced you with your hands on their shoulders to guide you. One person had to operate and roll the crane, one person was on their knees to help you begin to lift your left foot up to initiate a step.  And a nurse was next to you to take vitals and operate suction if necessary. In the beginning, we would stop about half way across the room and the nurse would take your blood pressure and pulse. Sometimes you would need to sit down in your wheelchair, which was always close by, like a loyal tired dog. 

September 2013!
Sometimes we sat across from each other, so close our knees touched, and slowly passed a nerf ball underhand to each other. Sometimes you would miss the ball and sometimes your hand could not release the ball. I never saw you get angry, you just kept trying.  This was just a small part of your daily routine. Your physical therapy was arduous, every day, and you were always ready for more.

Then this Saturday, I watched in awe as you walked down to the side of the house to toss the football with your Uncle Clarence, your Aunt Lobie's husband. From twenty feet away, you tossed the football with Clarence for at least thirty minutes. You spiraled the ball about 95% of the time, caught almost every toss and never seemed tired of the play.

Then with your mom on one side and your nurse on the other, you walked across the pastures, unlatched four gates, and walked into the stable aisle where you were welcomed with the neighing of horses and the smell of scattered straw. Then you stood on your own, while holding Finn's lead line, as he grazed on warm September grass. 

It was a wonderful day. I continue to be amazed at your progress and grateful for all of the numerous people who have touched this family's  life as you have found your way home to us again. 
Love Aunt Tricia

Monday, September 16, 2013

Message from Pops 9/16/13

Forrest has been learning again to focus in class and at home studying for his US History class.  He works on Flash cards with Tami and Mom. It is a lot of material and a lot of work to keep up with especially as he has been missing a day a week or more on therapies or doctors appointments.

His most recent surgery on the devitalized skin on his scalp has had a minor setback even with 33 staples removed last Friday. We are treating it aggressively and we are optimistic that it will continue healing.  He continues the demanding work of physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy as well as his music therapy and school work. So his days are incredibly busy.
Mom and Tami and the nurses keep him going on a regular basis and were able to cover for me this weekend when I had to go to Missouri to attend a funeral of a beloved uncle.  It was sad but also good to see my Mom, uncles, aunts and cousins and a lot of family and friends, they all wished you well, Forrest.  It was amazing the number of people who came up to me and asked "how is Forrest doing"?  "We check the blog all the time", so you have quite the following in Missouri too, Buddy. They are all amazed at your courage and your capacity to not give up but try it one more time.

Your Mom's sisters came to visit this week and I'm sure you had a great time visiting with them.  Your Mom sent me a great picture of this week's novel Physical Therapy, having you walk in the tall grass and climbing the pasture fence on the way down to the barn to help feed the horses, things we couldn't imagine you doing even a few months ago. Knowing your Mom, she, your nurse and others are by your side spotting you, just out of the viewfinder on Aunt Trish's camera, as you climb your first fence in three years!

You have been doing a great job working with training Sundance and I know he has enjoyed your training sessions and you have both learned lots.  As your Mom put it so well in your last post from a Jimmy Buffett song, "there's something about a dog."  You certainly haven't lost your connection to animals.
So you keep keeping on no matter what, enduring surgeries, painful staple removals, therapy, schoolwork, retraining your brain and rebuilding your physical body.  Every morning I go down to see you in the morning, you still have your normal reluctance to get up and face the morning, but when I ask you how you are and you always say, "very well, Pops".

With Love,

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

There's Somethen' About A Dog. 9/4/13

It was a gorgeous day. You made it safely to school and stayed after to finish your make up test. When you got home it was just too beautiful outside to start your homework right away.  So Nurse Gayle and I gathered you, your gear, and Sundance up in the van and headed down Logan's Mill Rd to the creek crossing.  A handsome herd of Angus grazed nearby in the tall grass and the sunlight filtered through the trees onto the gravel road and the banks of Barton's Creek. 

Sundance is a wonderful therapist, attentive, encouraging and enthusiastic.  He had you throwing the ball across the creek in no time, stretching your shoulders and strengthening your balance.   With his eager Labrador smile and wagging tail, he got you to walk half way up the hill on the gravel by his side.  We drank in the crisp clean air and gave thanks for magical healing moments in the Virginia countryside, good dogs, and your daily progress. 

With love, joy, and gratitude,

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to School 9/3/13

Hey it's Forrest. My head where they did surgery five days ago feels better. Today I went back to school and took a history test. It was fun. It was about the American Revolution and how we became a country. It's exciting to learn all the facts and to study again. Thank you to all my class mates and teachers for being such good people and friends.

Quoting Thomas Jefferson who helped write our Declaration of Independence, "We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Your buddy, Forrest Stone Allen

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bandage Change 9/2/13

It was a momentous occasion. The first post op bandage change. With two veterinarians in attendance, you still managed to keep your gracious sense of humor.