Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Continuing Journey - 10/20/13 Update

It has been a while since we have checked in with you and like usual, Team Forrest has been busy!  Forrest is continuing to attend Kettle Run High School for US History and he is doing great in the class.  He is showing signs of improved memory and retention as well as increased initiative in class participation and interactions.  He has been making almost weekly trips to his surgeon in Washington DC for injections into his scalp expanders, which he says, “really sucks and hurts a lot”! His scalp wounds and “noggin” are closely monitored and treated daily by his nurses and parents.  Last weekend, Forrest had the opportunity to participate in a community event during the Middleburg Film Festival.  Forrest and other individuals from “A Place to Be” performed various musical offerings in two locations amidst the activity of a busy Middleburg autumn afternoon.  It was exciting to be a part of this inaugural event!

Forrest and part of his team (Mum, Tami and Nurses Laura and Dawn) are currently in Long Island, New York at Canine Companions for Independence.   For the next two weeks, Rae (Mum) and Forrest will be participating in training for Forrest to receive a skilled companion dog.  If all goes well and Forrest passes the training, at the end of the two weeks here, he will return home to BrightWood with his very own assistance dog!  The training is intensive, 9:00-5:00 every day, listening, learning, interacting, practicing and taking quizzes.  Forrest is attentive, volunteers to demonstrate or practice tasks and is working on improving his voice volume and clarity while giving commands.  If that was not enough, he also spends his evenings doing school work with Tami to stay on top of his class.  We are so thankful for the incredible Fauquier County School staff that helped make this trip a possibility, despite the challenge of keeping up with the rapid pace of the US History course. 

Monday was the first day of training here at CCI, and Forrest has already shown sparks of his growing independence.  He is taking initiative in participation and is making his way around the CCI facility with the confidence of pre-injury Forrest.  He is staying in a dorm hall with his team and has been keeping track of his own room key each day.  We see signs of independence at home, but it is amazing to watch him here, in a place unfamiliar to him.  He got up from the table at dinner last night, scraped his plate, rinsed it and asked me where the dishwasher was.  Then he wandered into the pantry seeking “dessert”.  Despite all of these amazing steps of independence, Forrest continues to require 24/7 care – there is someone with him at all times day and night, just like at home.

Sometimes I think we must seem strange for marveling at and celebrating little things like keeping track of a room key or scraping a plate clean, but then I remember where Forrest was a year ago, and I want to marvel and celebrate even more.  One year ago, Forrest was not talking.  He was not walking independently.  His arms and legs were tight with tone and it took stretching and extreme effort just for him to complete a simple task.  He was 100% fed through a stomach tube.  Travel was a major undertaking – motion sickness was frequent and long trips were made on a gurney.  His smiles and facial expressions were limited and he rarely laughed out loud or made vocal sounds.  Every moment of his day required major assistance of nurses and others, from getting dressed, repositioning himself in bed, to brushing his teeth, communicating and everything in between.  What a difference a year makes!   We are looking forward to see what great things are next for Forrest and are excited at the prospect of a new canine Team Forrest member!
Thank you all for never giving up the faith in Forrest and for supporting him every step of his recovery!

With gratitude,
Tami and Team Forrest  
"Life is Better With a Dog"
Forrest in his dorm room at CCI
Homework time with Tami


  1. Wow, Forrest. Your schedule makes ME tired. It is incredible how much you are accomplishing each day. What great goals you are working toward. I hope you are enjoying working with the animals; you are so good at that. And it will be exciting if indeed you get to bring one home. How very cool. I think you would be very good at dog training too. You have made such huge progress over the past year. It is exciting to see what the next year will bring. Thanks for sharing what you are up to in New York.

  2. Hey Forrest.
    That is so cool that you are in NY learning all of the intricacies of dog care, and working with an assitance dog. You are putting in some long hours, but look at all that you have gained over the last year! Your progress is amazing to all of us on the outside cheering you progress and holding our breath when challenges arise.
    Way to go Team 44 for once again seeing the goal ahead and doing whatever it takes to get there.
    love Aunt Tricia

  3. Forrest,
    Hi buddy. It's nurse Karen. I am so thrilled to read about how well things are going. You are so amazing! I can't wait to see your new dog. I know he/she will be a welcomed addition to your team. Sounds like you are really working hard up there. But then that is just like you, always going above and beyond, reaching for your goals. Keep up the great work!! Hope to see you soon.

  4. Dear Forrest, You inspire me everyday, keep up the good work. You are amazing!
    Caring for animals has been a blessing for me. They can help you to!!!!
    God bless you and your family!
    Laura Glennon DVM