Live the Lion was created in an attempt to keep everyone up to date on Lance O'Cull and his road to recovery.
Lance was involved in a car accident near Morehead, Kentucky about 30 miles from where we grew up Thanksgiving weekend of 2010. He was airlifted from the scene of the accident to UK Medical Center in Lexington. The doctors told us that they could fix everything below the neck, but his brain was in God's hands. On December 22, after multiple surgeries, Lance was transferred to The Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia for an intense rehabilitation program.
It was there that Lance began to gradually emerge from a coma. Lance was discharged to home, in Vanceburg on February 17th, to continue his therapy with family.
On March 10th, Lance's 25th birthday, he stood on his feet for the first time in 103 days, with lots of help. On May 11th, Lance was accepted into Cardinal Hill's brain injury unit. There he impressed and amazed our family and friends, as well as his therapists through the progress he made everyday.
Between September 2011 and April of 2012, Lance was back and forth between Cardinal Hill's inpatient program and Shepherd Center's inpatient and outpatient program. He has had a couple minor surgeries to enhance his healing and a baclofen pump inserted to help with the tone in his body.
For the past year, Lance is back in Lewis County splitting his time with both parents. He continues to travel to Ashland 3 times a week and Lexington once a week. He is learning to walk again and we couldn't be more thrilled.
It hasn't been easy, Lance has had some setbacks and tears still fall. But he is up and running this marathon. And we are all running right along beside him.
Most of the blog entries have been made by myself, Chelcee, the big sister, Brock, our baby brother, and Dr. Johnny, our dad. Our goal is for Lance to finish this blog as soon as he is able.
God has been with Lance and our entire family, giving us strength. We give Him the Glory. He is the God of Miracles.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
We haven't lived together since 2004, until this fall semester. He showed up a week late for classes having just signed up and plopped on the couch with little more than a computer, a pair of sandals and an eager alacrity to learn something. I'm a little disappointed that the closest and longest periods being together only occurred sporadically in the summer and during the holidays and it took us six years to find a city that we both could fit in. Weird it was Morehead.
We had fun this semester. We argued. We played music. We went to class. We talked about philosophy, girls, how to change one's life, et cetera.
I think this picture depicts our relationship somehow. He's the fool in the wetsuit and I'm the one with blue hair.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Today was day # 30 of this unexpected path. I could never have guessed what would lie ahead as he slept on the couch - after playing guitar for worship and eating lunch - on Sunday after a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. As he slept I had caressed his head and ran my fingers through his hair, enjoying a quiet father-son moment, and thought how quickly 24 years can pass. A short time later, I helped Lance load up plastic containers full of left-overs from kitchens of the great cooks in our family. These would go into refrigerator of brother Brock and roommate Malcolm and be consumed as the semester at MSU concluded. Before he climbed in his car, we had embraced in a good-bye hug, almost toppling over as our feet were too close. Repositioning our feet in a wider stance, we renewed our hug and laughed as we squeezed one another tightly. Without voicing our thoughts, I knew we were both remembering a scene from movie "Eat, Pray, Love", which we had watched with Chelcee and Gena the previous night. The humorous scene was a loving father who kissed his 20yo son on the lips. I didn't kiss Lance, and I didn't mention the movie, but I surmised that he may have been holding me so close to minimize the risk.
A few hours later the call came that every parent fears; mine came from long-time friend John Northcutt. He shared the difficult news gently and truthfully......my heart has not been the same since. The unexpected path led to a wonderful staff and doctors at UK's Chandler Medical Center - to these folks we are so grateful. Now the path has led us to Shepherd's Center........I would never have predicted that as the destination for Christmas Day, but traveling with Gena and Chelcee, we arrived in Atlanta in time for their first white Christmas since 1882. Brock and Jill were already with Lance, as they had escorted the ambulance three days earlier.
While it was not a "Merry" Christmas, there is Joy that comes with the Advent. To know that God had the power to originate a virgin birth is comforting because that is the type of miracle power that Lance needs for healing. To know that God loves us this much.....through Christ's life and death.........is as real as the last month of feeling His love and comfort during this great sadness. This unexpected path has enabled me to see that God is bigger than I ever realized.
Friday, December 24, 2010
If you know my number, you're free to send a voicemail, which can be done, by the way, without calling the actual number. Just access your own voicemail (usually done by holding down one on your phone) and follow instructions on sending a voice-message. I know this has some potential to be a little confusing, but it's not hard, and I think it can be a good thing.
If you leave a voicemail recording directed towards Lance, I will certainly play it for him.
If you don't have my number you can email me, or message me on facebook and I will do my best to reply.
It's great to hear from family and friends, as the environment here is definitely different. Still, we're ever grateful for support.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
This place is crazy. The people are super friendly. We've got plenty to do and plenty of strength to be given to do it. Recovery--not just Lance, but for the whole family--depends on attitude, disposition, and forward thinking. Cookies don't hurt either. I'm looking forward to finding out more about this facility and its occupants, which is coming soon.
As always, all the love, prayer, positive energy is incalculably appreciated.
Also, we listened to a little Al Green on the way down today. It's Lance's cd. Somehow, it found its way into my case. He's got a funky toe or two.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Will be continuing posts as well now. More to come, much more. Got to get some sleep first, however.
Positation of negativity y'all,
The insurance has approved for Lance to go to Shepherd's Center in Atlanta, Georgia. He will be transported there tomorrow morning, leaving Lexington at 6am. Mom and Brock will be going with him. Dad, Gena, and I will be going as soon as I get off work on Christmas Day.
Keep safe travels in your prayers. Brock or I will update as soon as we get a chance!
Sunday, December 19, 2010
On a side note, Becky Sullivan did arrive wearing her UK blue Santa shirt. She said she knew making Lance mad enough would get him awake. We all know he will be shouting out the real KY colors, RED and BLACK upon his awakening.
We cannot thank everyone enough for coming out this evening. We hope that each of you continues the 7:00 prayer time for Lance. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME! ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD!
In difficult times like this we are often reminded of a song by Mercy Me, "Bring the Rain". Sometimes people wonder how you can continue to worship even in hard times........ but as the song says, "If that's what it takes to praise You......JESUS BRING THE RAIN!"
Leslie and Lori
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I may have misled a few people with my last post. First of all, I want to thank everyone for their continued prayers, support and encouragement. We couldn't do this without you!
Secondly, Lance is making improvements every single day! Each day we see something else that he does that he didn't do the day before.
Everyone at UK has been amazing in their care with Lance and the steps they have taken to put him back together and make him whole again. He is now finished with his bone surgeries. And is stable. So, he won't be able to stay at UK forever. Now he needs therapy. We have been told that he can't go to Cardinal Hill just yet. But there is a program at Shepherds Center in Atlanta, Georgia. They specialize in brain and spinal cord injuries. A representative is coming to talk to us about this on Monday. We don't even know yet if he would be accepted. We are willing to travel across the world for him to get the best opportunity possible. And those of you who know me and my family, know that he won't be going alone.
Our prayer every day is that he wakes up. Please continue to pray for this.
I'm sorry if there was any confusion.
Thanks again & God Bless!
Friday, December 17, 2010
Also, we got some information on a rehabilation center that will accept Lance. Its not Cardinal Hill. They can't take him yet. This place looks amazing. But its not in Kentucky. A representative is coming on Monday to talk to us about it. I, however want him to wake up before then. So, he doesn't have to make that trip. We will do whatever it takes to make him better and exhaust every option. But I think that he is doing things everyday that he hasn't done before, and thats progress.
They told me today that they set him up on the side of the bed! I can't wait to see that!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
He has done really well with not needing as much suctioning. Physical and occuptional therapy have been working with him to keep his arms and legs in shape. It's not equal to his usual everyday 7 mile run or 30 mile bikeride, but it will work for now. He has a wound vac on his leg that has to be changed every 3 days. When they did that today, they gave him some stronger pain medicine. So, he was sleepy for most of the day.
A lot of people have been asking me about a timeframe. And that's something that we just don't know. No one does. Lance's brain is trying to help his body heal from all the broken bones, internal injuries, loss of blood and trauma, in general, from the accident. Plus, he does have a brain injury. And until his brain wants to wake up, we aren't going to know the extent of that injury. We can just pray that Lance is in there and he will soon make an amazing recovery.
My Aunt Christa had a hip replacement on Monday. She was up walking on Tuesday. She actually came home from the hospital today. She is doing wonderful. Walking better than she has for a long time. After Thanksgiving dinner at our house, Lance was showing her how well she would be able to do lunges. And if I know my Aunt Christa, she is probably pushing herself to be able to do those as quick as possible, so she can show Lance. Maybe they can do some therapy together.
Apparently, we are in a wintry mix advisory. I was scheduled to work today and Friday. My dad has given me strict orders to not be out in the bad driving conditions. So, I won't be back in Lexington until Friday after work. Thats a long time to not be laying eyes on Lance or holding his hand. However, he is in good hands.
If anyone has come by the hospital and couldn't find us... I'm sorry. We moved around quite a bit last week. If you are coming for a visit. Give one of us a call or a text, and we can let you know where we are. We have been trying to limit his visitors at times. Infection is a big concern right now. So, please, if you aren't feeling good, drink some orange juice and come back when you are well. We also dont want him to be overstimulated. We don't want to offend anyone, just thinking in the best interests of Lance right now.
As my parents would say, "Don't hold back, Chelcee, tell them what you think" :)
Visits, prayers, hugs, stories of encouragement are always welcome!
Monday, December 13, 2010
I came back to Lexington this evening and found my brother with his eyes open! He, however is still in a coma. The neurosurgeons are not sure of the extent of his brain injuries. There isn't a way to measure thought processes, so we will have to wait until Lance wakes up and tells us. He sometimes opens his eyes, but they don't focus yet. But I'm praying its only a matter of time before that happens.
He is being seen by physical therapy to work on his range of motion. His right hand is moving continuously. and he moves his right foot a lot, like he is rolling his ankle. He doesn't appear to be in as much pain as he did when I left on Sunday.
He continues to remain off the vent and breathes well with the trach collar. He is able to cough up his secretions on his own and doesn't have to be suctioned as much. Which means he may be able move out of Trauma ICU and into a progressive care room.
Please keep him in your prayers. God has great plans for him.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Lance got to spent lots of time in PACU. My good friend, Leanna was there to watch over his care. Then they decided he could go to a progressive bed. However, this morning they saw he had a little bit of pneumonia. So, we are going to go back to ICU as a precaution. They can watch him closer there. Lance never did like to stay in one place very long.
Pneumonia isn't uncommon for patients with Lances injuries. He has still been running a little fever. So, for now, only immediate family has been going in to see him. We have been meeting visitors out in the lobby. Just get a hold of one of us.
Mom, Dad, Gena and I have worked out somewhat of a schedule. its not the best routine. but we are all sleeping in a real bed for more than 4 hours every 24 hour period. its progress.
I'm actually in Morehead tonight. I'm going to work tomorrow and Monday. and I think my Dad is going to work on Tuesday. We don't want him to be alone, so we are just going to alternate shifts for the time being.
Again, we cant begin to express our gratitude to everyone. To picking up extra clothes or prescriptions, to coming up with amazing ways for us to sleep better on chairs and coffee tables, and baking cookies, and all of the countless trips everyone has made to Lexington. We cant thank you enough.
Please, keep the prayers coming.
Our God is an Awesome God. He can do Awesome things.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Last night, Lance was very agitated. I think he was hurting. So, his right arm was very mobile. His dressing had slid down about 4 inches on his forearm because of all the movement.
His pelvic fractures were fixed by my Dad's old college roommate, Billy. and Dr. Wright. and from what I'm told he is 'THE pelvic guy'. He was able to put a screw across Lance's sacrum. and place a plate on his acetabulum. They did find something that they didn't see on the ct scans. He has some shearing of bone and cartilage of the femoral head. This could cause Lance some arthritis in the future. He also had to have a couple units of blood. Other than that, the surgery went according to plan.
By the time, the doctor came out and talked to us, he was already off of the vent. He looks wonderful. He is breathing easy, and the traction is gone! He also had a wound vac for the open wound on his calf. They had to place him on his stomach to perform the surgery so they had warned us that he might be a bit swollen post-op. However, he doesn't appear to be swollen to me. Just his eyes, they are a bit puffy.
We are done with surgeries for a while, thank goodness.
Thanks for your prayers, cards, calls and visits.
Please keep the members of the other accident victims and their families in your prayers.
Also, if anyone is planning on coming to visit, please let me know. Facebook is fine, or a call or a text. So that we can let you know where we are.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I just got to see him for a few minutes. He has a bit of a fever, but they have started some new antibiotics. This evening, his right foot and right hand are moving quite a bit.
He has surgery tomorrow, on his pelvis. They need to put a screw in his sacrum and fix his acetabulum. probably with more plates and screws. I think his surgery time is 715. Its probably going to be another long one. One of my Dad's old college roommates is a PA with the orthopedic surgery team and he will be scrubbing in for the surgery again. That makes us rest a little easier.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I am waiting to go back and see him in a few minutes. Then I'm going to Morehead. I have some things that I have to get done. I'll still try to update after I talk to my parents.
I hope that everyone is keeping warm. and being careful on the roads.
Monday, December 6, 2010
They are going to put the pin in the sacrum when they fix the rest of the pelvis later this week.
Surgery started around 130 and lasted a little over 5 hours. I haven't been able to see him since he came back into ICU. Thats why I'm updating, to keep my mind off of that for a few.
Thanks for checking on my brother. and keep the prayers coming!
He is preparing for surgery tomorrow. its going to be a big day. They are going to fix the radius and the ulna in the right arm with screws and plates. Then they are going to fix the left humerus fracture that will probably involve work on the clavicle. Its very swollen. i'm anxious to get this fixed, I feel that its causing a lot of his pain when he is turned on his left side. They are also going to put a pin in his sacrum. He will have to have another surgery to fix the rest of his pelvis. but that will be later on in the week. Hopefully, they will also be able to take a look at the wounds on the left leg. and the pin placement for traction.
Up until today, I've had my friends updating my notes on facebook. Since today was a quiet day, i was able to update all by myself. Its nice to have a quiet day.
I want to express my gratitude for everyone's thoughts, prayers, visits, and calls. our community and the ones that surround us are amazing.
I know everyone has been praying but extra prayers for the surgeons would be great. That they get enough sleep and are prepared for their day tomorrow.
Its just another race, Lance.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Mom and I left for a while to take a shower. Dad and Gena left to get something to eat with Shauna and Larry. We needed to get out of the hospital for a few minutes.
Lance's icp has been staying down, so after the results from the ct scan came back this morning, it was decided that they could take out the drain and the monitor that was measuring his intracranial pressure.
With the bandage off, he had a huge bald spot. So, my dad's good friend, Mike Ginn came and we shaved off most of the rest of his hair. There is one spot I cant get because of moving him and the neck brace he has on. I'm sure he will be thrilled to know that I shaved his head. I can only imagine what he will say. Some of you know that he was participating in noShavember. So, he still has a beard and a moustache. I'll be working on that tomorrow.
This evening they did another weening trial. this time, 4 hours off of the vent. He can run for 4 hours straight, so i knew he could be off of that machine for 4 hours.
Yesterday, one of my good friends from high school came to the hospital. Brandon Hughes. he was in an accident a few years ago. and he was also diagnosed with what Lance has. DAI. Sometimes, people with DAI dont have a good prognosis. But Brandon had a billion people praying for him. and from what i understand, so does my brother. Brandon gave my parents some hopes and I'm so thankful for that.
This evening, they decided to see how he would do if they took him off the vent. he did well. after about an hour and a half he got a little tired. He is resting now, with the machine helping him breathe. They will probably try that again tomorrow.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
When you decide to live as a sheep for the next hundred years, every day you wake up and for a hundred years you have to tell yourself, "Today I am going to be nothing more than a sheep."
Live the lion.