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.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Unexpected Paths

Lance has demonstrated a few signs of awakened awareness today.  His eye movements are increasing, his left arm which has laid dormant since the accident has moved and left fingers squeezed Chelcee's hand, and his right hand pushed an ice pack off his left hand.  These may seem like small steps to the casual observer, but are victories that call for celebration for those of us who watch every breath.  I thank each of you for your prayers and support and it is wonderful knowing that so many hearts have reached out to him and us.  

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 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 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.


  1. What a wonderful post, John. I know it wasn't easy to write, but it touched my heart greatly. Not a day or night goes by that Lance isn't in my prayers. I thank God for the small steps that He is doing for Lance.
    I wish you could have had a better Christmas but remember you have your son with you and that is surely a miracle in itself.
    My wish for the new year is for Lance to rejoin his family fully healed and in God's time, this will happen. My love and prayers continue for you all.

  2. John so glad to hear there is progress and yes they are big things considering were Lance has came from to this point! you know the saying the little things really are the big things in life and that proves so true for Him. I feel we will be hearing about a lot more of the "little""big" things in the coming days! Lance is blessed with a truly wonderful family and a positive attitude! Thanks to you all for keeping us up dated. Know there is not a day were not thinking about and praying for Lance and your entire family. May God hold you all close and comfort you at this very trying things will get better....

  3. John, your post made me want to shout, made me smile, and almost made me cry. The call you received was one every parent dreads and prays never comes; but, thank God Lance is still with you and making progress each day. No progress is too small when a loved one is injured and you are seeing improvement and more evidence that prayers are being answered. Lance will undoubtedly have some stories to share with you when he fully wakes up and he will be an example to many. God bless each of you and stay strong.

  4. Just remember, where there is life there is hope. I'm so glad to hear the progress that Lance has made over the last several weeks. It seems like yesterday that your kids were babies and the pictures were posted all over your office. That was my favorite pasttime while waiting in the "chair" to look at their pictures and enjoy those adorable little smiles. I believe that a far higher power than medicine has been with Lance since the beginning and will see him through this journey. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time in your life. Just remember, "Footprints in the Sand"...through this time is when the Lord will carry you through. God Bless you all!
    With love and prayers,
    Michelle Logan

  5. Praying for your entire family. Lance will overcome this!!! God
    Is on your side and so are we! Sending love your way!

  6. Tears ran down my cheeks as I read your blog entry. Speaking of the virgin birth of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. It made me think of what Jesus did with Lazurus, you see he was dead and Jesus called his name Lazurus, come forth, and Lazurus was raised from the dead. With the faith that is instilled in your heart and with all of the prayers being sent to that Saviour that we all know is here for us, I believe that Jesus is listening and that He will touch Lance in a way that only He can. Many prayers sent to you and all of your family.

  7. John and all--You, Lance and your family are in my thoughts daily. You are ever close and in my prayers. I would like to hook you up with a resource in Atlanta--can you call me? I've lost Chelcee's phone #.

  8. What a thrill to read your words. Those 'little' things are so monumental in the long run. We have been through 3 months of 'little' things with Mom, so I know the joy that is filling your hearts. God bless everyone of you as you travel the road ahead. Gina

  9. I remember when Johnny had his accident. I often felt overwhelmed with the load that I had to bear. I would close my eyes and imagine the two fo us held close in Jesus' arms. It may seem childish, but that image would bring a calm and a space for me to pray. I reminded me that whatever the outcome, God would always be there. I was in tears when Shauna shared the news that Lance had attempted to write his name and now I hear he has answered yes/no questions with hand signals. Please know you guys are constantly on my heart and in my prayers. Billie Jo

  10. How blessed I was to read that Lance has progressed enough to be at another facility. I will keep him on the Southland prayer list and update it from this blog. Blessing to all of you. I will continue to read the posts.
    Blessings to all of you,
    Mary Helen for Southland Christian

  11. The O'Cull Family-you have always been a very special caring, and strong willed family,reading all of your posts and sharing it with friends have touched mine and my families heart, you are in our thoughts and prayers.
    Amy W Blackoak