Monday, December 30, 2013

One Day at a Time 12/30/13

Oh Darlin Forrest,  the surgeons had to operate again yesterday to try yet again to repair the incision that seemingly refuses to heal.  Your poor tortured scalp is holding together by the sheer effort of your unfathomunable resilience and thousands of prayers.  We are slipping our power packed protein smoothie into you to fuel your body while we feed your spirit by replaying video messages from your amazing friends. Austin adds his powerful potion of You Tube Comedy and incomparable brotherly love. Your Pops wraps us all in his protective arms while he tirelessly researches the latest developments in craniofacial reconstructive surgery.  And your Warrior Aunt Tricia stands guard at night to keep you safe and help you sleep between endless neuro exams and medications.   We are rereading "The Secret" out loud and refusing to envision any future other than your complete recovery. We are praying for a respite from all these surgeries so that your scalp can heal enough for us to safely get you home and then for a long term plan that restores your health and vitality.  

Through this interminable nightmare you still maintain your characteristic humor and grace under fire, thanking your nurses and doctors even after their efforts made you howl.  You remain entirely completely miraculously the Forrest we love and adore.  This is our greatest blessing of all. 


Sunday, December 29, 2013

True Friends ~ The Best Medicine 12/29/13

Yesterday Forrest and his Family received an infusion of life giving love, powerful music, and the purest form of positive energy, true friendship!

When we realized Forrest was not going to make his own "Open House Celebration" yesterday, we reached out to of few of his close friends and.....

SHAZAM the party came to Forrest at WHC!  The hospital generously accommodated our crazy request to have a surprise Birthday/ Christmas party and lent us a corner of the cafeteria. Their staff quickly got into the idea, finding poinsettias, rearranging tables and chairs, baking loads of pizzas and even a big birthday cake! 

Nathan, Kyle, & Mike hauled in a keyboard and guitars and friends texted and called each other and carpooled into DC. The neurosurgery team got Forrest cleared to travel down to the cafeteria and Grandmother Norma provided the cover story with an invitation to get Forrest out of his tiny hospital room and go down for lunch.  Of course, Forrest told us later he saw texts on my phone and knew something was up, but he graciously played along!

There was music, laughter, animated tales of shared adventures, joking and merriment, all sorely needed at this particular time. Since Tom Sweitzer couldn't be there with you in person, he sent a recording of himself singing "The Impossible Dream" so that you and he could sing your duet for the gathering.   It was a magical interlude, providing Forrest and his bedraggled team with renewed energy, faith, and hope for a brighter future. 

To Forrest's friends:  Donna Roberts wrote, " A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." Together, you all have helped Forrest hold on to his song and have given him the courage and motivation to keep singing even when he couldn't find the words.  As you head back to college, know that you are loved and admired.  Thank you for giving Forrest the most precious gift in life, true friendship. 

With a grateful heart,


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Today We Begin Again 12/28/13

Forrest is strong and he is determined. 
Together we are going to make it. 
Austin shared the following wisdom with us...
 and we believe it. 

Team Forrest 

"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them."
George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Out of ICU 12/26/13

Yesterday before surgery we all agreed that it couldn't really be Christmas because Forrest wasn't home. So we made a pact and decided we would just have our Christmas on the day we all get back to Brightwood! One more thing we have to look forward to! 

And today we celebrated The Best Brother in the world, Austin's birthday, by getting Forrest out of ICU. We managed balloons and Forrest wrote a very thoughtful note to his big brother. The cake and candles may have to wait, but there should be no doubt that Austin is adored and admired.  

The comeback kid is definitely on his way back again.  Forrest was able to eat a little bit today, keep it down and beat his aunt Tricia at their signature thumb war dual. Not the most gracious way perhaps to thank Tricia for sitting bedside with you all night, but you both seem to enjoy the challenge.  

It's too early to predict how long Forrest will have to stay in the hospital this time around, but we are likely to be here until the middle of next week. We are taking it day by day and are thrilled that Forrest has already improved from yesterday morning. Unfortunately, this means we will have to postpone Saturday's open house victory celebration once again. But we will get there eventually and it will be a wonderful celebration. 

Thank you all for your prayers, messages, blog comments, and support.  We read your messages again and again.  They bring a smile to Forrest's face and lift all of our spirits immeasurably. 

We are counting our blessings again  tonight.  And though we don't know yet how we are going to solve the current medical challenges, we know that we will.  Team Forrest remains unfailingly  committed to Forrest's full recovery and we are optimistic about the future. 2014 is bound to be an amazing year.

With love and gratitude,

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day Surgery 12/25/13

Unfortunately the comeback kid is going to have to comeback again.  Due to a series of setbacks and a recent infection Forrest titanium cranial prostheses ( the lid ) had to be removed today.  He will have a PICC line put in his arm again and will get antibiotics for a prolonged period of time and will have a short term drain placed until he is recovered from the infection .
We appreciate both his neurosurgeon and his plastic surgeon coming in and leaving their families on Christmas to operate on Forrest.
Austin and Aunt Tricia doing whatever needs done are here with us at Washington Hospital Center with Grandma Norma standing by with cousin Lee and Lisa in Reston waiting til he can have visitors.
Mum is going thru his medication schedule for the umpteenth time with the ICU nurses to make sure the med charts are correct. Luckily we have a nurse we know and who knows and loves Forrest taking care of him and that makes life easier.  Life is once again measured by shift changes.

Mum writes:

Thank for the messages and love this morning. Forrest is out of surgery. They found infection under the plate when they removed it. His CSF and brain do not appear to be infected so we believe, as hard as it is to part with his plate, it was the right decision. We are back in ICU and he has spoken his name , the hospital name, the correct date and offered his characteristic thumbs up.  He is resting now, on enough pain meds to float a big horse. If he can avoid complications,  we hope to be out of ICU in a day or two and he will be able to enjoy some visitors Much love. Rae

So we would much prefer not to be here again.  It's like being in a loop of the movie "Groundhog Day", again and again.  He is such a trooper and hardly ever complains despite the pain, hardship and struggles he endures.
The Doctors assure us that all these particular problems are related to the number of procedures his poor scalp has endured and the resultant lack of circulation.  There are treatments and procedures to address this but they are increasingly more risky and prone to complications and failure which is why they haven't been attempted yet.
We hope that this cranioplasty removal won't set him back significantly like the last one did.
So this Christmas finds us disappointed and somewhat depressed that we are here again.  But we are hopeful and encouraged that he is alive and in a position to make progress again. So thanks for prayers and words of encouragement and well wishes and messages from friends.  With this current turn of events we will try to update the blog and Facebook frequently.
Kent and Rae and Team 44

While we waited for surgery, the whole family had a magical Christmas morning, with Forrest and Austin reading out our favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoons and singing Christmas songs

Forrest in the ICU after this morning's surgery with Pops watching over him

Familiar nurses are here to take excellent care of Forrest in the ICU, with Mum collaborating closely on treatment plans

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas detour, back to WHC 12.23.13

For those looking to visit Forrest at home, unfortunately we'll have to postpone, hopefully not for long. He's being re-admitted to Washington Hospital Center tonight for tests. He's running a fever and has a few other symptoms, hopefully it's not a infection from the latest surgery. 

He'll keep reading your messages, and hopefully we can FaceTime/Skype a few of you tomorrow afternoon. He's likely to be there for a few days at the least. Thanks for supporting him!


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Come Celebrate With us!

FORREST'S "OPEN HOUSE." Instead of being at the farm, we are hosting this celebration at a very cool restaurant /pool hall named "Carpool" in Herndon, VA:

208 Eldon St. 
Herndon Virginia

Saturday, December 28 
3:00pm-  5:30 pm 

We'll have food, drinks, music, play pool , shuffleboard , darts & Foosball!   Please come share laughter, love and holiday cheer.

 Dress is holiday casual. 

We have so much to celebrate and to be grateful for. Most importantly everyone who has believed in Forrest. No need to RSVP. If you know and love Forrest, please come! Carpool is opening early just for Forrest and his friends so let's gather together and celebrate his 21st birthday and three amazing years of recovery!

Forrest hopes to see many of his friends, teachers, doctors, nurses, therapists, prayer warriors, and fans there! 

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year! 

Team Forrest

Friday, December 20, 2013

Made it Home 12/20/13

We were discharged today and made it home to Brightwood! Forrest is very happy to be back home! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. 

-Austin and Team 44

Forrest walking out of WHC

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Searching for a new Team Forrest Member! 12/18/13

As we approach the third anniversary of Forrest's injury we have many blessings to be grateful for. One of the most significant has been our incredible Medical Team nurses. They've been instrumental in helping Forrest through many challenging medical conditions and we will miss them dearly. But it is our expectation that Forrest will be strong enough in the very near future that he will no longer need 24/7 nursing care. This is a tremendous milestone for Forrest, but he is not quite ready to be entirely on his own yet either.  Therefore, we are looking for a new Team Forrest member.  Tami will continue to work with Forrest primarily on school week days and to help him with his homework assignments. Forrest would like to find a guy pal to hang out evenings, maybe play chess or cards, and stay over five nights a week.  The Man Cave could in essence become the BrightWood dorm. Forrest doesn't need a lot of help overnight but it's important to have someone nearby, like a roommate!  From Austin's perspective, for a responsible college student or young adult, this could be a cool way to earn some money while you chill with Forrest or sleep! So we're looking once again to Forrest's wide circle of friends and followers to put out the word and help us find a terrific,  caring, and kind weeknight roommate for Forrest!  Please send interested inquiries to me at for more details. 

Forrest is in good spirits today, playing a chess game with Toliver & Kaki and anticipating the possibility of going home from the hospital tomorrow! 

Thanks for your help,
Forrest, Austin, Kent & Rae

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Out of ICU: 12/17/13

We're out of ICU! Forrest is holding steadfast and strong. He did great in PT and OT today at the hospital, and Tolliver and visits from friends were great for his spirits. 

No signs of the plate being infected, but there is still too much drainage post surgery to go home. We are hoping to be discharged and head home to Middleburg on Thursday. 


Monday, December 16, 2013

24 Hours Post-Op 12/16/13

Forrest has made it through the hardest part... recovery from the anesthesia and the first 24 hours post operative, without any seizures! Forrest said it hurt "a whole bunch" last night but now he can smile and says the pain is "tolerable". The surgeon decided there were still multiple areas in danger of breaking down and elected to perform a much more extensive surgery than he had anticipated doing. He excised Forrest's entire cranioplasty scar from ear-to-ear creating a new union and hopefully a lasting closure of Forrest's scalp. He was able to examine most of Forrest's titanium lid and saw no obvious signs of infection.  There's still a lot of drainage from the surgical site which is collected into a drainage bag attached to his newest "turban". 

He's been passing the long hours in ICU napping or reading encouraging comments from friends on Facebook and the blog, along with visits from wonderful nurses who have cared for him during his many hospitalizations at WHC. The night was made complete when Austin and Toliver arrived, literally lighting up the faces of nurses and techs as they marched through ICU and into your tiny room.  The joy and healing energy bubbled out of the room as the three boys gleefully embraced one another! 

With a grateful heart
Goodnight and God Bless,

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Post Op Recovery 12/15/13

Forrest made it through surgery. Kent made it back from France and Austin made it home from Hawaii.  The four of us reunited  in the post-op recovery unit in time for Birthday wishes. The cake and candles will have to come later but we were all together and we are grateful. 

Love to All,
Forrest, Austin, Kent & Rae

Pre- Op birthday hug 12/15/13

Good morning birthday hug from the Bro! 
Forrest slept reasonably well considering hospital schedules. We are Reading Forrest messages from Facebook and waiting on preop bloodwork and doctors.
No firm schedule for surgery yet. Thank you all for your love prayers and messages.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Yet Another Hospital Detour 12/14/13

Darlin' Forrest, 

Your road this last three years has certainly been tumultuous. Full of exhilarating summits and disheartening lows, followed by unexpected hairpin turns. 

Yesterday your wounds started seeping through your head bandages.  So we find ourselves once again at Washington Hospital Center with another scalp incision breakdown. We had so hoped you were done with these surgeries and had planned a surprise 21st birthday lunch with Austin  for you tomorrow. Instead, we will lock arms and hope and pray that tomorrow will be the LAST surgery. 

On a good note, the postage stamp size hospital rooms we are so familiar with were all full so we upgraded to a sweet suite. We are jokingly calling it the Birthday Party Suite. Wish we could order in a bunch of pizzas and beer and have all your friends over!  Next year Darlin' for sure. Meanwhile your faithful sidekick Toliver helps you charm all the nurses and encourages you to get out of bed and do your PT in the hospital hall.  

Wishing and praying for the best 21st birthday gift ever, a smooth recovery from a successful FINAL surgery,


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas in Middleburg celebration 12/6-12/7/13

What an incredible, miraculous, amazing difference a year can make. This time last year Forrest you had not spoken in a year and a half, you could not stand unassisted, swallow water, or eat solid food. In spite of several minor setbacks and three surgeries this year we have been blessed in so many ways. As we sit by the fire enjoying pizza and our first snow of the year, we are basking in the warm glow of this weekend's celebrations. 

Friday night you participated along with many other courageous and talented individuals from A Place to Be music therapy. The audience was movied to laughter and tears as each performer shared a special piece of their own journey through the power of music. 

Unfortunately,  the room was too crowded for your sidekick, Toliver, to safely join you for this performance. But Saturday he was faithfully by your side as you both greeted visitors and passed out CCI brochures at the Community Center. Then you, Caroline, Amy, Rob, and your CCI companions Toliver, Shelley, Redmond, and Sterling proudly marched together in the Middleburg Christmas parade with other amazing individuals and their CCI companions. This time last year you could not stand up without assistance, but Saturday you walked the entire length of Middleburg, smiling and waving and bending down to introduce Toliver to the children as he graciously offered them his paw to shake. 

We have so much to be thankful for Forrest; your unconquerable spirit, your resilience, your unshakable friends, and all of the nurses, doctors, therapists, teachers, and prayer warriors, who have made this miraculous year possible.  Next week you turn 21 and your brother Austin will be home to celebrate with us. We can hardly wait to see him home again!  With love and gratitude overflowing, Mum

Monday, December 2, 2013

Miracle Reflections 12/2/13

Darlin Forrest, 
We have lost count of exactly how many times you been hospitalized since your injury in January 2011. But this time on our drive home we were able to joke together that "like airplane flights, any hospital visit you can walk away from is a good one!" You were clearly exhausted from neurological exams every two hours around-the-clock during the five days you were hospitalized, but with a couple of good nights sleep at home and a wonderful gathering of your friends on Saturday night, you were back in action again.  Yesterday and again today you practiced with Tom and Toliver for the upcoming Christmas recital this Friday at A Place to Be Music Therapy. Last year, you were still unable to talk but we were looking forward to your Carol of the Bells performance at the 2012 recital, which you missed due to another unscheduled hospitalization. We are not going to let it happen again this year (knock on wood)! We hope your friends and followers will join us at the APTB Christmas recital in Middleburg this Friday at 6:15 PM or 7:45 PM to celebrate our many collective blessings. Below is a picture of your wonderful friends preparing for an animated homecoming billiards tournament last Saturday. 

With some trepidation, we looked back at our UTube video of your practice for last year's recital for the Carol of the Bells:

Your determination practicing the bells last year was heartbreakingly courageous while your practice just yesterday singing with Tom brings tears of joy to my eyes. 

The Miracle of finding your voice began with Tom on Decemer 12th last
year. Together you and Tom have made our dreams come true.  We will give thanks again at the recital on December 6 as we celebrate the miraculous power of love, faith, and music! 
Sweet dreams in your Man Cave tonight,