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.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Papaw, John Fleming, is in his new home.

Most of you know, our papaw John passed away this past Saturday and as my Aunt Christa said, he is in his new home, moved in at 7:36 with a clean bill of health and a brand new body.
We will miss him greatly.

John Fleming O'Cull moved on to his eternal reward on Dec. 10, 2011, surrounded by family, which he cherished.
He is survived by his wife Lois Marlene (White) O'Cull; they were married July 16, 1952. They have three children: John D. O'Cull (wife-Eugena) of Vanceburg, Christa Beth Little of Tollesboro, and Kimberly Sparks of Maysville. They have been actively involved in the lives of their six grandchildren: Chelcee, Lance, and Brock O'Cull and Bethany, Shelby, and Lucas Sparks. Step-grandchildren are Shauna (Larry) Spencer and Deah (Chris) Dunaway. Great-grandchildren include Maddie and Peyton Spencer, and Noah and Grant Dunaway.
His final breath, in this life, occurred in the Tollesboro home he and Marlene had occupied since Christmas 1953. This was also the home of his childhood - having been reared there by grandparents Leander and Matilda Applegate Trumbo, as well as his father, Charles Barnes O'Cull. This history unfolded because John's mother, Elizabeth Trumbo O'Cull, died three weeks following his birth on Dec. 27, 1928. Charlie Barnes remarried Virginia McCarrihan. She then was step-mother to John, and later grandmother to John and Marlene's children.
After graduating Tollesboro High School, O'Cull continued his education at Morehead Teachers College/Morehead State University where he received his Bachelors and Masters Degree, then a Rank I and Principal Certification. His 42-year career, in the Lewis County Schools included teaching math at Tollesboro High School, then serving as principal of Garrison Elementary (10 years), Lewis County Central (seven years), Tollesboro High (two years), and Tollesboro Elementary (nine years).
John served as elder in the Plumville Church of Christ where he and Marlene have been members since 1998. Previously, he had served in leadership at Tollesboro Christian Church. Additionally, he was a 60-year Mason and was a member of the Tollesboro St. Mary's Lodge No. 240.
Marlene and the rest of the family wish to celebrate John's life, his commitment to God, and his loving kindness during a visitation to be held in the Tollesboro Christian Church on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 5-8 p.m.
Services will be the following day at 11 a.m., also at Tollesboro Christian; visitation also Wednesday from 8 a.m. until time of service.
Interment will follow in Lewis County Memory Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Lance O'Cull Trust, Bank of Maysville, 20 West Second Street, Maysville, 41056.
Barbour and Son Funeral Home is assisting the family.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Peace....and Strength

2011 Thanksgiving weekend was much different than 2010; I guess we are changed forever as people and events affect change around and in us.  This year, as the weekend ticked by, I could recall most every hour from Thanksgiving last.  There were similarities as well as stark contrasts.  Thanksgiving Day included a visit to my mom and dad's in Tollesboro. Dad is in a battle with colon cancer that has been diagnosed about 3 months.  I have wondered what role the stress that we have endured in the past year has played in dad's disease process.  Lance made this trip; when dad and Lance are together it is interesting to watch.   These two men are much alike in many ways - both are well read and can recall/discuss materials that were reviewed at anytime in their respective pasts.  Both have mathematical minds and love a wide variety of music genres.  Both can make a dollar go farther than the rest of us could imagine.  When Brock is in the room, the three most important men in my life are assembled.  On that day as dad and Lance held hands and gazed into the other's face, I realized that two of the three main men in my life are down.  "Dear Lord, I pray for Your strength."

On Black Friday we had nearly 30 gathered at our house for Thanksgiving dinner.  It was fun, but different than 2010.  Dad didn't feel up to attending, sister Kim stayed with him.  Lance is in a wheelchair; last year he ran 7 miles before we sat sown to eat.  Things change.....sometimes alot in a year....sometimes alot in a second.  During this weekend two of my wonderful boyhood and lifetime friends are hospitalized - Mike Ginn and Bill Barbour.  "God, please send me Your peace."  I need something that passes understanding cause I cannot figure it all out.

On Saturday and Sunday, I spent lots of time with Lance and enjoyed every minute.  The weekend counted down the same as when I drive the road between Vanceburg and Morehead - as the miles click by my heart pounds, as Poe described in the Pit and the Pendulum.  As I got closer and closer to the Sunday evening anniversary of the crash, I figured others could hear the violent pounding in my chest.  I did have one total meltdown on Friday night; it was a time much like old times, with lots of people in the house staying over.   Grandkids were watching movies - Maddie, Noah, and Peyton with Gena and Chelcee - Grant with Brock and Sarah,  Lance was asleep.  I crashed in bed for an hour and a half - laying on a tear-soaked pillow, knowing what blessings and heartbreak really mean.  "Thank you Lord for teaching me so much in the past year - thanks for putting around me people filled with Your love, Your compassion."

Monday, the 28th; this is the actual anniversary of Lance's second life.  On this day I accompany dad for medical consultations in Lexington; it is a long, dark, rainy day and the reports are as dismal as the weather.  Since this day Kim, Luke, Shelby, Christa, Chelcee, Mary, and I have taken turns staying the night with mom and dad.  "Please Lord, Keep reminding me to 'Fear not!'"

On November 29 Lance made his regular pilgramage to Lexington for Lokomat walking therapy.  That night he sat at the kitchen table and ate chili and a grilled cheese sandwich while seated in a regular chair.  This was a first time accomplishment and a huge feat.  For me.......I recall 11-29-10 as I watched his broken and swollen body in a hospital bed.  There was so much equipment I could not even be close to him.  The respirator was inflating his lungs as we, full of fear, watched monitor readings: intercranial pressure, heart rate, blood pressure, so much more that I did not understand.

The following Saturday, Lance had his longest day since the crash.  During the morning hours we listened to LCHS Jazz Band play and attended breakfast with Santa.  During the afternoon Lance visited with Pappaw John, then returned home for standing therapy and a shower.  The evening event was traveling to Morehead to listen to Brock as he and the Celtic Band of the MSU Traditional Music Program performed at hometown holidays.  "Thank you Lord for blessings abundant.  Thank you for this season which commemorates your great gift to mankind - Jesus Christ.  We are forever grateful for the grace He each of us who accept the gift."

Daniel 10:19 "The angel said, "O man greatly beloved, fear not!  Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!"    The angel, the voice of God is still saying that to me........and to you.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

one year ago...

One year ago this very second, I was laying my bed trying to go to sleep. 
My dad was leading worship at Vanceburg Christian Church, so most Saturday nights he would be on the piano, practicing. Since Lance was home for the Thanksgiving weekend, he was going to play the guitar and accompany dad on stage at church the next morning. 
I can't remember what I had done that day, maybe I had been at work. maybe I had just eaten a lot of turkey. Either way, I was tired and wanted to go to bed early. 
As dad was on the piano, Lance was bouncing around playing his guitar. They were playing and singing Days of Elijah. At the end of the song, it says, 'There is no god like Jehovah" and its repeated about 50 times. 
I remember even after dad quit playing the piano, Lance was still playing his guitar right outside my door and quietly singing over and over... there is no god like Jehovah, there is no god like Jehovah, there is no god like Jehovah.... 
he was probably dancing too, knowing Lance. 
Some of you might be shedding a tear, because you think thats the last time I heard my brother play the guitar and sing. It wasn't.
I heard that song again in church the next morning, Lance playing and singing, maybe even with his shoes off... 
And I've heard him sing those words quite a few times the past couple months. He wasn't standing outside my room, but I was standing outside of his. 

we made the paper! 
Counting Their Blessings - Ledger Independent
Misty contacted us about doing a followup story. She had written about his early stages of recovery and then when he went to Atlanta, this time she wanted a picture and to interview Lance. 
I didn't realize we were going to be on the front page, on Thanksgiving morning! anyway, thanks Misty. :)

Lance can write. 
I remember when we were at the Shepherd Center with Lance, I would hand him a marker and hold a dry erase board out, praying that he would take off writing me a note, telling me his every thought, in his small cursive script. He would hold the marker. he would even twirl it like he always did while holding a pen. He would sometimes put the marker on the board, but then... nothing. well, nothing I could understand anyway. Brock got him to hold a pen and make some marks on a paper one evening. What we think were the makings of an L. However, since then, not so much luck on the writing front... until 10 days ago. 
On the Thursday before Thanksgiving, Lance and I were hanging out at the house by ourselves, I usually have a pen stuck in my ponytail, I leaned over to get something off the floor and it fell out on the couch and Lance reached for it. When I handed it to him, he clicked it on, twirled it around, clicked it off. Then, well, I don't know what he did because I ran into the other room, grabbed the small dry erase board, took my pen, handed him a marker and said, write your name. this is what i got:

So, I screamed, took a picture erased it, and told him to write Brock, then O'Cull, then Chelcee, then Dad, then Mom... it was crazy. I was snapping pictures, texting them to everyone. He didn't need any help spelling, that's for sure. Sometimes he tries to write in cursive. And I think we might need a huge dry erase board, because sometimes his perception on how much room he has is a little off. But nonetheless, it was remarkable! 
here are some more:

and this above... is 3.14
I asked him what pi was, so you know, he told me. I wouldn't expect anything less. 

We have some adaptive tools to help him be able to use the computer. Yesterday morning, I asked him if he wanted to sign in to FaceBook. I put the laptop in front of him and he very carefully hit every letter for his username. Sometimes his fingers will move when he doesn't want them to, so he might have hit some extra keys. But he knew exactly where they were placed on the keyboard. I was impressed. 

Also... Lance has been cheesing. A lot. All of my life whenever we had family pictures done, I had to hold my smile until Lance and Brock got their act together. They would make funny faces, make sad faces, hide their faces, hide my face, sometimes it would go on for an extended period of time. Not anymore, Lance is the one that's smiling first. 

Chelcee, Luke, Lance, Brock, Shelby, Bethany

Brock, Grandma Betty, Lexi, Chelcee, Lance, Jazz, Ian, Kaylee

So... its been a year. Its been the longest and shortest year of my life. We have been so busy traveling to and from hospitals, to and from therapy. Busy with work, busy with school. Busy doing whatever will make Lance better. So, yes in a way, its flown by. 
However, when I think back to a year ago when he was singing and moving his arms and legs freely on the small stage... his voice strong, his hand writing definite, his random texts showing up on my phone, his footsteps quick, and his jumps high, those things seem far away in my past, but not so far away in our future. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hey guys... Lance, Brock and I have a very dear friend, Bekah who will be traveling to Haiti in March of next year. I've talked to Lance quite a bit about this and we've decided to help sponsor her trip. It's an adventure that Lance would be love to be embarking on himself. Please read this beautiful letter, maybe you will find it in your heart to help as well.

Dear Family & Friends & Others Who Find Themselves Reading This Letter:

God is good.  My life is nothing but blessed.  From the people I am surrounded by, to the school I attend, to the health that I have, to the material goods that I cherish and use everyday.  I absolutely have no need to complain about a thing.  And I am not.  But there use to be something missing in my life.  

Usually when someone says there is something missing in their life, it is God.  Or a spouse.  Or kids.  God...I have.  Spouse...I do not want yet.  Kids...I do not need yet.  This was something deeper.  It was purpose.  It was passion.  I knew God had me where I was for a reason, but the curiosity was killing me, and I was running out of patience in finding what filled this hole in my heart.  

But that missing thing in my life...I found it two and half years ago.

I found it on filthy streets filled with trash and animals and disgust.  I found it in the eyes of a woman who had no way of feeding her children for the next week until she washed my laundry.  I found it sitting in the middle of a orphanage floor with six toddlers playing with my hair and fighting to sit in my lap.  I found it in a silent moment holding a blind elderly man's hand while rocking in rocking chairs.  I found it standing in a brothel looking around at a group of women who held their children who had lost all hope in their future.  I found it in a small church building listening to a city of people praise a mighty God.  I found my passion in a nation that has the most beautiful people who understand what it is to have nothing, but yet have everything.  

Haiti has a part of my heart.  I have no idea why God decided to send me there in June of 2009, but He did, and I will be forever grateful.  Those ten summer days has changed my life in every way.  My perspective of life...of God...of poverty, is completely different.  That trip hit hard.  I felt guilty, ashamed, stupid, uneducated, lost, and like a complete failure.  How did I not know that people lived like that?  Why did I not have faith like these people?

Even though my first trip made me feel absolutely horrible about myself as a human and as a Christian, I had to go back.  I was addicted.  I had to be around those people.  I had to serve them.  After the earthquake in January of 2010, the opportunity arose for a group of us to return in March.  Again Haiti stole more of my heart and I learned more about myself and my God.  After returning once again, I found myself thinking of the country and its people more than I already had before.  They had become my friends.  I was ready to go back and this past March, I did for the third time.

I have been to Haiti three times and I fall deeper in love each time I travel there.  God has taught me about joy, service, and hope - three words I hear everyday here in the States, but have never truly experienced until I walked on the soil of Haiti.  Those people know what it is to have joy when you have nothing else.  They understand that we are called to serve even when you have nothing to offer.  And the Haitians have hope when they have no reason to.  

Here is the point - I love my God.  I love Haiti.  And I will return to serve His people there as many times as He allows.  

In March of 2012, I plan on returning to St. Louis du Nord, Haiti for a fourth time  I am so excited to be able to once again see God's work being done in this Fourth World country.

Not only am I traveling along with a group, but this time I am leading the group.  Yes, I am super excited about this opportunity to lead 34 people on a trip that will completely change their life, but I am also super nervous.  I am beyond humbled and shocked that God is using me to help this group of young people have the opportunity to see what breaks His heart.  It is a huge responsibility, however I know God is going to be with me every step of the way.  

So the bad part - this trip is going to cost $2,136.  Additionally, my trip must be paid off by mid-January.  Yes...that number is big.  But my God is bigger.  And I have seen Him work in some amazing ways to provide and I have no doubt after three different times of having to raise a similar amount, that He will come through in what seems a small amount of time.  

Here is where you come in.  I need help.  I do not have this kind of money.  However, I have been told to return to Haiti once again to serve and to lead a group of people that God has put together to do work for His Kingdom.  I cannot argue with that.  So I very humbly ask that if you can financially support my upcoming trip in any way, I would be beyond grateful.  

I know that not everyone can travel to Haiti...or Africa...or New Zealand...and not all of us need to.  There is mission work that needs to be done right here in our own towns in the United States.  But God's children is not limited to our borders.  Some of us are called to other countries and I have no doubt that I am one of those people.  But I cannot do it alone.  I also know that God uses people like you to help spread His love and HIs truth through your finances. 

If you feel led to help support my trip, you may make a check out to Northwest Haiti Christian Mission.  By making your check our to this mission, your gift is tax deductible.  Please send your check to:
Rebekah Bryant
1828 Foxport Road
Wallingford, KY 41093

I must ask of one other favor.  Please keep Haiti, Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, my group, and myself in your prayers.  God is sovereign and He listens when His people lift their voices.

If you have any questions, or would like more information about my trip or Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, please feel free to email me at or you can go to their website at

For Him,
Rebekah Bryant 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I know we haven't been very good at updating this blog lately and for that, I apologize. 

Dad has gone back to seeing patients at least 3 days a week, Brock has been super busy with school and playing in any musical group he can. Mom is working longer hours during the week to be able to take off to stay with Lance. Gena is trying to work a day or two mornings. and I'm back in school and working part-time. And sometime, during the week, we all try to go to a therapy visit with Lance. Gene and Helen Hickle have also been accompanying Gena on many trips to Ashland, Lexington, or Flemingsburg. Also, Chris and Deah. Carol Thomas, Charlie Stapleton and Ben. 
**This just in** I just heard that to distract Lance one day when he wasn't feeling good, Charlie sang Michael Jackson's Thriller. We have great friends. :)

Lance was traveling to Fleming County Hospital for antibiotic therapy to treat a kidney infection, every day for the last 10 days. Since he has finished that treatment, he has made great strides in his cognition and muscle tone. The therapist at Cardinal Hill have been impressed with his continuous hard work of the right leg, while on the lokomat. And more recently, the beautiful firing of the muscles in the left leg! 
Also, Lance has been eating more and more in the past couple of months, and its a good thing, since his feeding tube fell out one day last week. It was been placed back in March, and it seems the bulb had disintegrated. So, we are very thankful for all the beans and cornbread that he has eaten lately!

In other news, my papaw John was diagnosed with cancer around a month ago. After multiple doctors visits, scans, lab work, etc, they decided to start radiation last week. They estimated do to about 25 radiation treatments, then let him rest for approximately 5 weeks, followed by surgery to remove the tumor in the colon. Then, they will re-evaluate and see what's next. Papaw was feeling pretty rough over the weekend. The trips to Lexington have left him tired and weak. They decided to admit him to Fleming County Hospital a couple days ago for pain management and antibiotics. I've been with him all day and He looks better to me than he has in a week. He appears stronger and is, as usual, cracking his hilarious jokes. Probably will be discharged to home tomorrow and he hopes to start back to radiation treatments early next week. 

I know we say this a lot, but our entire family is so very thankful for every single thing our extended family, neighbors, friends and community have done for us. So many people have been so supportive in helping my grandparents get to doctor appointments, bringing them food (which is big since my Grandma is ALWAYS cooking) and even mowing the yard. 
Since the first day of November, everyday, I've been uploading something that I'm thankful for to a facebook album. The way its looking, I may not be able to end at the end of the month. We have so many things to be thankful for.  
My family. we call, we text, we facebook, whatever it takes to get to each other fast and efficient. I'm thankful to have the dad that I have, the mom that I have and the stepmom that I have and the baby brother I have. Together, we have been able to care for Lance almost 24/7. He hasn't been left alone for almost a year. Which brings me to my next thing to be thankful for... Lance. He is alive! He has been one of the most inspirational people in my life. Through all of the therapy, the trips to and from, the admissions, the stretching, the paperwork, the questioning... Lance doesn't act aggravated, he doesn't appear to be mad. He may give us a questionable look every now and then, but for the most part he is very compliant. I think about that whenever I'm complaining about something silly. 

Chelcee's Thankful album < Here is the link for the album, if you want to look at it. but its not finished yet. 

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

if only i had an app for this...

I think if I had an app for this blog, I could update on a more timely manner. Or maybe Lance needs a twitter, would you follow him? Hmm, he might not like that.
Ok, anyway, we haven't updated in over a month, lets see... what all has happened.
Lance spend a whole month at Cardinal Hill. He was able to walk on the lokomat two or three times a week. Lisa, the therapist that helps him with that was able to make great strides this time in the flexion of his left knee. Physical therapy and occupational therapy (Kelly and Deanna) were working with him on a daily basis, stretching his muscles and helping him with daily activities. Gretchen cleared him for eating! Lance can now eat almost anything. We started with soft, moist foods. However, he can chew most anything. In fact, he has been eating so well, that we no longer have to give him the 7 cans of tube feeding every day through the tube in his stomach. He is down to only 2 cans. Lance was discharged from Cardinal Hill last Friday. Since then he has been eating lots of homecooked meals. Vegetable soup, brown beans and cornbread, meatloaf, etc.... I would say that we will be taking the last 2 cans of tube feeding away soon. He is also taking all of his pills by mouth now :)
Lance has stepped up his singing game quite a bit lately. I can youtube any song I can think of and he can sing it to me. Born to be Wild, Bennie and the Jets, Boy Named Sue. It doesn't matter, he knows the words and sings right along.
We went to church this past Sunday and he sang to all of those songs as well.
Since he is back home, we are back to trips almost everyday. Which is tiring but very helpful for Lance.

So, things are going well. Thanks to everyone who sent me gentle reminders that no one had posted anything in weeks. We appreciate ALL of you sooooo much!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Back to Lex and Cardinal Hill, Here We Go, Go, Go

Lance has relocated; he is back in Lexington - at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital.  This time it is clearly a progressive move for him, one that was recommended by Dr. Salles and the outpatient therapists from King's Daughters and Cardinal Hill.  They feel that he has the energy to endure three hours of therapy per day and make some gains.  We enjoy him being home, seeing him everyday, and just serving as his family and friend......but we know this is the next step, and a necessary one for him to recover.  We continue to trust and wait on God - just wondering what He has in store for us, how he intends to use Lance for His glory.

We witnessed the Cardinal Hill expansion project as it was nearing completion while here from early May through July.  Now we are occupants of the new wing - in fact the first to use room #212, as this unit was just opened yesterday.  As would be the case, there are many kinks to be worked out in the addition; in spite of that, it is very nice and has many amenities that should make it good for him.  We have enjoyed renewing acquaintance with friends made during Lance's first stay. He was restless the first night but has had a good day with assessments from occupational(Kim and Joe) and speech therapy(Karen).  During admission we got to see Dr. Nickerson, as well as Kelly - fresh back from her Utah trip.  Also this afternoon we spent a couple of hours outside at our Lexington "tailgate party"(in the Cardinal Hill lot).  As I type this I am listening to the Cats and Cards do battle at Commomwealth Stadium.....and thinking about how Lance would probably have been there, had things been different.  (TV is one of the kinks that I mentioned so I'm tuned into WLAP on my laptop.)

Chelcee and Brock and Sara were able to stop in for visit yesterday.  Also Grandma Marlene, Christa, and Mary Corns .  Lambert Farmer, a friend from Southand Christian, stopped in this afternoon and Jill was here this evening.  So Lance's welcome has been more that adequate and if I know Lance he will quickly adapt to new surroundings.  His attitude has been so pleasant - lots of smiles and today a spontaneous shared humorous moment as he and I worked on lyrics for our new song - a tribute to the late Amy Winehouse.

Daddy says I gotta go to rehab - I say no, no, no
It' not 'cause of drugs; and man is he glad, don't you know, know know
Headed back to Lex and Cardinal Hill, here we go, go go
Good nurses there and one is Bill - that we know, know, know

I know they'll work me hard on Monday morn
They say everyday seems like a marathon
Like a Lion, I will try to be brave and strong
Life - with all its tears - is really not too long 
Gonna put my faith in God - I know that He will save the day, day ,day
I will keep on trusting Him - all along the way, way, way


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm almost positive that this picture doesn't really need a caption. However, who has ever known me to be speechless?
I hadn't posted a picture of Lance yet. Except for when he was walking on the treadmill, but I've stayed away from his face because I wasn't sure how he felt about that. However, I can't help but post this one... He looks wonderful!
Today, my dad loaded Lance up in the convertible and took him for a ride around town. He went to tell our Grandma Betty, happy birthday. Then they drove out to Clarksburg, hoping to run into Mom or Ben, stopped by the dental office and even drove out to the high school.
Since Thanksgiving weekend, Lance has only ridden in a helicopter, ambulances and the handicap accessible fan. The Sebring was a nice change of scenery.
I was wondering this evening if it was scary for him to be back in a car. Especially one without a top. I wondered if he would be anxious. But, Lance continues to impress us all. He seemed relaxed and had a good time.
Lance continues with trips to Lexington and Ashland for therapy every week. They are doing such good things for him. Sometimes, they ask him if its hurting and he says yes. Then, they will ask if they need to stop and he says no. He has such determination. He went back to church again this past Sunday. He is also able to eat more.... homemade ice cream, small pieces of fruit and he is drinking from a cup by himself. Sometimes, I feel like things are slow. But all I have to do is think back to 9 1/2 months ago and then I remember exactly how far he has come and how powerful prayer is.

I'm sleepy... maybe I will update more soon!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

November 28th to August 28th

Today marked 9 months since that fateful day, the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the day the world turned upside down.  Putting that in perspective, it is the same time an expectant mom would wait as she carried and nurtured the child developing inside of her body.  I guess we inpatient males could never have survived that mission of love; for me this has been a long nine months.  Today was a special day as Lance attended worship service at Vanceburg Christian Church for the first time since his accident.

The past month has gone well as Lance makes progress through 4 outpatient therapy visits per week-3 in Ashland and 1 in Lexington.   His therapists are so special and we appreciate each one; thanks to Amy, Ryan, Leslie, Lacey, and wow Susan, you are so very special to us.  During these visits he gets speech, occupational, and physical therapy.  He continues to be treated for muscle tone-a common problem for patients like Lance.  It is improving.  We are seeing movement in the left leg; I praise God for this ,after watching it lay still for 8 months.  He can move his right arm/hand much better now and has been eating much more in the past week.  One of his favorite things has been fresh peaches from the orchard. 

Communication has improved also.  We have been surprised at his memory of the past: people, events, important numbers(such as social security number).  It is wonderful when he expresses his own thoughts.  I had taped a Ben Harper concert and we were watching it Monday evening.  I paused it and Gena asked if he was ready for shower; without moving his eyes away from the TV he said "Maybe later."  We laughed and watched the concert in its entirety.

Thursdays are for Cardinal Hill; we often run into old friends there as Lance takes his "walk" on the lokomat, supervised by Shelby.  Always as the van goes through Lexington, he watches out the window and takes in the familiar sites.  He seldom sleeps as we travel and has tolerated the many miles well.

Back to church.......we had discussed church attendance a few times but it was evident that it was a troubling topic for Lance.  Three weeks ago, on a Friday evening, we drove to Vanceburg Christian and went inside.  Ed and Teresa Bryant were there and we visited with them for a few minutes. Then Lance and I went to the back of the sanctuary and paused behind the back pew as we gazed toward the stage.  After a couple of minutes Lance became very emotional.....and cried out.  I'm not sure what was going on in his heart during those moments but I know that God was there comforting Lance.  I believe Lance felt Him then and that God has made His presence known to him on this journey; I look forward for Lance to be able to tell us about that part of the story.  What did Lance remember as he looked over the pews to the front of the room?  Was it the beautiful stained glass?  (One of my favorite scenes is Jesus holding a small lamb....just like He holds us when we are frail.)  Did he recall plays in which he had participated?  Did he recall being behind the pulpit when one of the shortest sermons in history was shared, by him?   Could he have been thinking about playing music in worship?  This was one of his loves and he had stood on that very stage and played his bass guitar to the Lord just seven hours before the crash. 

Whatever happened that night, I figure Lance knew best - it wasn't time for him to attend.  I continued to raise the question 2-3 times per week and each time the answer was negative.....until this past week.  I asked multiple times, to be sure I was not getting the wrong impression; each time the answer was yes.  I am thankful tonight that Lance had followed Christ and accepted His grace.  The Comforter, I know, will be there meeting his needs from this day forward.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

well, you must be going to the right church

This blog has been viewed over 100,000 times. I can not even begin to express my gratitude for all of you. For all of your cards and calls, texts and dinners, they have all helped us help Lance.
The past two weeks have been truly amazing.
As most of you know, in early July, Lance was whispering a few words every day. That has certainly continued. He came home from Cardinal Hill on July 11th. We've been busy since then. He is still traveling to Ashland three times a week and to Lexington once a week for therapy. We thought this would wear him out. Nope. He does fine. We are the ones that are worn completely out :)
He has continued to work hard in every therapy session he has been to. The therapist at Kings Daughters have been amazing at helping him. He continues to get stronger in his legs and his arms. He will follow commands better with his right arm and right leg. Even some with his left arm, which we've been so worried about.
One morning about 2 weeks ago, my dad walked in his room and said, Hey Lance, How are you? and Lance said, "I"m fine, How are you?"
Is it ok that I'm italicizing and changing the color of his words? well, I am anyway.
Since then I've pretty much been grilling him. Trying to see who he remembers, how far back he remembers and how recent he remembers.
He knows his birthday. Very clearly, he will say March 10th. 1986 is sometimes muffled. His voice will sometimes be weak. Sometimes the speech is slurred and sometimes he gets tired and doesn't want to talk at all. I asked him how many years were between us, he told me three. I asked him how many years were between me and Brock, he quickly answered six.
He knows all of the months of the year, the days of the week and who the president is. He also answered yes when I asked him if he thinks the questions we are asking him are stupid :)
I started saving simple headshots of friends and family and saving them to the iPad. I've tried to get a hold of everyone to let them know that he can say their name. Among the famous are... Brock (of course, he's his favorite) Ben Harrison, Derrick Reeder, Alex McGlone, Jean McGlone, Chris McGlone, Megan McGlone, Clay Lykins, Brandon McDaniel, Spencer Walters, Jasper LeMaster, Chad Kidwell, Lacey Collins (not Patton), Travis Patton, Corry Eveland, Ashley Cooper, Jared Dixon, Matt Voiles, Randy Lucas, Patrick Barker, Trish Murphy, Doug Boyd, Aaron Kegley, Mary Rohrer, Chase Plummer, Colton Halverson, Kaylee Cooper, Daniel McClurg, and Mike Halcomb.
also... Bill Clinton and John Coltrane.

Lance had an appointment with a neurologist last Thursday. It turned out to be quite a long day, with an extended time in their lovely waiting room. We went through a facebook album of one of his classmates from Patterson. He told me a name for almost every person in the album. I showed him the famous Kinneydip picture from the new years day of 2010 and I asked him where it was, he answered, Kinney. I think that all of this information is still in Lance's head. He just needs some help getting it all out. Once we finally were back to see the doctor, he was certainly amazed that Lance had been nearly comatose for so long and then began talking after 7 months. After Lance told him his name and birthdate, the doctor said "well, you must be going to the right church."
Thats right. We are. Good things are happening.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers and continued support. and Give God All the Glory!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lance has been home for a week now! The first evening, he was able to go outside on the back deck and look at the river. However, since then, its been too hot for him to be outside. He continues to mouth more words each day. Most mornings, he will say "Good Morning." He can say almost everyones name... except mine, of course. If only I had an easy name :(

Lance is traveling to Lexington once a week for Lokomat therapy and to Ashland for outpatient therapy, 2 or 3 times a week. We are so excited to meet all of his new therapists and see what they can do to help Lance in his recovery. One, we know and already love, Leslie Weddington! 
Since the schedule is so hectic, we ask that if you want to come visit Lance, just get a hold of one of us. He needs lots of rest since most of his time is spent on the road. But I think he has enjoyed people visiting him. 

Its been a rough week in Lewis County. I'm asking that you keep both of these families in your prayers. They need renewed faith and strength to get through the days, weeks and years ahead of them.

A couple days ago, a 17 year old volunteer from Chicago drowned in Kinniconick Creek. You can read about it here.

A week ago yesterday, a 16-year old from Garrison, passed away. Drew Riffe. His mom is Tracie, a cousin to my step-mom, Gena. His dad, George and step-mom, Tessa are great friends of mine. Drew loved to ride horses. The day of his burial, 153 horses rode along side him for his last ride here on earth. 

To honor Drew, the the Rough Riders Saddle Club of Lewis County will host its July trail ride on July 23rd at George and Tessa Riffes' on Bill Chain Road in Garrison, KY off of Route 3311. 
They will be riding the entire Mountain Trail from start to finish, roughly 8 or 9 hours. This is a difficult ride. The ride will start promptly at 9:30am. Riders need to include a trail lunch. A cookout will follow the ride on the Riffe farm at the days end. 

Please RSVP to Kirk Collier at 606-541-4207 or Reah Stone at 606-541-5009 or Becky Horsley 606-541-0157. 

Directions: If traveling East on AA HWY: Turn right off of AA onto 3311, If traveling West on AA HWY: turn left off of AA onto 3311. Go approximately a mile, and turn onto Bill Chain Road, his place is on the right. Signs will be posted.

I know many of you aren't from Lewis County and won't be able to attend this trail ride, but please keep this family in your hearts and prayers this Saturday.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tour de Lance

Hello to all and I continue to be so grateful to each of you for your interest in and prayers for Lance.  My last blog described Lance's move to Cardinal Hill Rehab Hospital in Lexington, Ky.  Sorry it has been so long but hours of driving the 100.5 miles from our driveway to the C.H. parking lot, 3-4 days per week for treating patients, a little sleep, and every possible hour with Lance has busied me the past 2 months.  He has been blessed with 2 months of time at C. H. in which he received wonderful nursing care, outstanding therapy, and excellent medical supervision by Dr. Nickerson.  These truly are a dedicated group of individuals who have rallied around Lance and family and have played a huge role in his recovery.  There have been bleak days during the stay - times when progress seemed very slow.  But there have been exciting days as well.  The past 10 have been like traveling when you were young - you are very anxious to get to the destination, you feel that something special is going to happen, but it seems like you will never arrive.

In the past few days he has eaten his first food since Thanksgiving weekend.  It seems to be going well and Gena cannot wait for him to be home so she can cook some of his favorites.  The current plan has him returning home by this weekend; we will start outpatient therapy as soon as consults can be done.

Lance has been trying to get some words out for the past 3 weeks - thanks in a large way to Gretchen, his speech therapist for the past 8 weeks.  Jill had seen him move his lips to "mom" and other times we could make out names and phrases "I love you" and "God is good".  A week ago Thursday about 6AM he said the first syllable of Chontale, a member of the nursing staff; this was with enough volume that it surprised me.  Later that same day he whispered "dad" and I had never heard a more beautiful sound than that faint whisper.  Since that time he has said (or attempted to say each of our names).  Chelcee asked him "Who is our dad?" and "Who is our mom?" - he quickly whispered "John" and "Jill".  That was middle of last week.  On Friday he said "Gena" to her.  Saturday morning, during a visit from Tom and Karen Cox, he faintly whispered "Tom".

Tonight was really cool.  The speech therapist called Lance after she had gone home for the day; Jill was there in the room and answered phone, then handed it to Lance.  He whispered "hi" and "bye" to Gretchen.  Soon afterward, I called and Lance said those word to me as well.  I asked him about Brock(who was also in the room) and he said "Brock" audibly.  When you have not heard from someone you cherish for 7 1/2 months, these are big events.  We celebrate and give God all  the glory for the good that is coming from this experience.  We know and trust that God is taking care of Lance, consoling him during fearful times, and providing the Holy Spirit abiding presence so he knows that the Creator of the universe is still watching over his every  breath - knowing the number of hairs on his head.

After the phonecall this evening and after watching Stage 9 of the Tour de France earlier today, I felt the compelling need to take a bicycle ride.  It was dusk and it was very hot/humid but I jumped on Lance's  Felt bicycle which he had purchased with graduation cash he received after earning his Master's Degree at the Patterson School of Diplomacy.  I rode 3 miles to one of my favorite spots - the peak of the Ronald Reagan Road.  This is a connector road from the AA Hwy to the Black Oak community; it is one mile road and is a decent challenge on a bicycle because of the grade.  Just as one begins the descent, you get a beautiful panoramic view of the Ohio River valley.  Tonight the sun looked like a bright red molten ball as it dropped over the mountain.  I enjoy the beauty of this place for many reasons.  Often I would stop as I gazed across the valley and call Lance - he would always give me time to describe what it looked like at that moment.  He would say I wish I was there with you, dad......and I felt like he meant it.  Tonight seated on his bicycle, listening to his voice, realizing the long and grueling tour he has traveled (and knowing there are many miles left before we arrive in Paris) made me feel him very close.  Thank-you, his fans and friends, who line the narrow mountain path and cheer him on each day with your prayers, with your love, with your tears.

An FFH song goes something like this: "This would not be the road I would choose for me; but it still feels right somehow.  I have never felt Him as close to me - as I do right now, as I do right now."  Him is capitalized because Him is God.  Thank you God for victorious days like today.  Thanks for being close though, even on days that seem gray.


Monday, June 27, 2011

c'mon baby, do the locomotion

The past couple of weeks at Cardinal Hill have been wonderful!
Lance has shown great improvement in almost all areas. There are several coma recovery scales that have been used to measure Lance's consciousness. He is now measuring a 4 on the Rancho scale. Some might say that he is awake... I still have faith that there is more emerging to come.

I mentioned before that during speech therapy, not only are they working towards vocalization, they are working on all kinds of communication. Lance has a mouse that can plug into a computer, its a huge mouse. with a baseball size trackball. And left and right color coded buttons. When you ask Lance to roll the trackball up and down, he does. He can also roll is from left to right. When dad ask him to right click, he follows that command. One day last week, he moved a card on a solitaire board using the mouse. He will also mouth not only single words, but phrases. Such as God is Good. and I Love You. He can count from 1 to 10. So even though he can't move the noise up and out, most of us can read his lips.
Yesterday, Ted and Holly Gilbert came to visit him. Ted taught Lance how to play guitar several years ago. Ted, Lance, Brock, Dad and Kevin Angel were in a band called Joyful Racket. Ted played several of their old songs, and when he played How Great is Our God, Lance mouthed almost every word!

After continuous casting on his arms, botox injections and strenuous stretching, I think that the tone has been broken in Lance's arms. He is able to stretch them out almost straight. His left arm still doesn't do as much as the right. But his hand will squeeze yours. and sometimes he will rotate his shoulder while sitting up. Last week, they began pool therapy for Lance. The warm pool water has really helped in many areas. Lance loves to swim, and we get to get in the pool with him.

A couple weeks ago Lance was eating bites of pureed chicken. However, something has caused his swallowing reflex to decrease. We think this may have been caused by the Botox that was administered to the muscles in his arms. In some rare causes, Botox has been known to temporarily paralyze muscles that are involved in swallowing. So, until that effect wears off, we will be only giving him ice chips.

Back in March and April when we were at home, Lance had great strength in his core. He was able to help us stand and sometimes he even wanted to continue to stand. Because of seizures medication and medicine to help with the tone in his arms, that core strength has been lessened over the past several weeks. However, last Tuesday the therapist decided to see how long he could sit on the edge of the exercise mat with his feet on the floor. They were watching their watches closely, hoping he could make it to 30 seconds. Lance sat perfectly still, with zero support for 30 seconds, then a minute. then two minutes. Then... as more of the staff gathered around, he continued to sit. There were calls being made to the insurance company and all eyes were on him, as he sat upright for 20 minutes!

The other big thing is the Lokomat! The Lokomat is a robot.. sort of. Lance is strapped into a harness and is suspended over a treadmill. More straps secure his shoulders and legs, all of this is hooked up to a computer which assist Lance in locomotion therapy. The machine lets Lance move his legs in a walking motion, but will kick in to help if he gets tired. Its a lot like the FES bike he rode when he was in Atlanta. When they tell him to kick harder, or bring his knee up higher, the sensors on his legs show that his muscles are working.
The first time, Lance walked for 15 minutes, 1421 feet. The second day, 26 minutes. and 4373 feet.  I hope all of you can open this video!

Lance is working hard... so, please keep praying for him!!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

3 More Weeks...

So, Lance has been at Cardinal Hill since May the 11th. He has been making great progress and the insurance has approved for him to stay 3 more weeks! 
Lets start with Speech. 
  -They are awesome. He likes Gretchen. and she is very patient and is as determined as we are that Lance will communicate!
  -When he was at house back in March and April, I was giving him ice chips and he was doing well with chewing and swallowing those. As well as some bananas. Once he had the seizures, he had to go back to a nothing by mouth status until we were sure his swallowing was up to par. So, a couple weeks ago, he had sort of a modified-modified barium swallow. His swallow was in fact, good. However, he manipulation that he needed to get the food to the back of his mouth needed some work. They advanced him to a pureed diet. Within a couple days, he was back to taking bites of mashed up fruit. He even tried eggs for breakfast and chicken for lunch. Sometimes, with medicine timing, he gets very sleeping and its hard to keep him alert for mealtimes. 
  -On Monday, Lance met all of her goals for the next week. He can visually choose between 2, then 3, and now 4 items based on their function. We, of course know that Lance knows that a cup is for drinking, a toothbrush for brushing and a phone calls people. However, getting him to look and hold his gaze on that object is an accomplishment! 
  -One day last week when I was with Lance was the first time that I felt like I knew exactly what he was trying to say. I have felt like Lance has understood what we have been saying to him for months now. But, the other day when I knew exactly what was hurting, it was a completely overwhelming feeling! Even though some of the meds make him very groggy, he has been doing an excellent job at consistently answering yes/no questions with one finger or two. Its wonderful to be able to know if he wants to listen to more music or watch tv or go outside. :)
  -Today when Brock was with him, they were trying to figure out what kind of mouse would work the best for him so he could work a computer. Lance tried a mouse laying on his chest and then a handheld mouse, to move cards from one side of the screen to another. I'm pretty exciting to see this tomorrow. 
  -Lance has also been working on lots of tongue and lip exercise, which will help him in mouthing words and forming sounds. One day with therapy is was able to count to five on his fingers and mouth one through five! He will also make some new noises, like clearing his throat. 
Occupational/Physical Therapy.
  -I'm sure most of you know, Lance has a lot of tone in his arms. He isn't contracted, but he is very tight. They casted his arms and legs when we were in Georgia, that seemed to help quite a bit. However, when he gets sick (bowel obstruction, sodium imbalance, seizure) the wearing of the splints goes out the window. At Cardinal Hill, they started casting again, after his 2nd round with botox. More range was gained with this casting than before, so he know has bivalves again. He doesn't like them much, but we tell him, they will help him in the long run. 
  -The medicine they have put him on act like muscle relaxers. Which greatly impairs his ability to stand. When we were at home, I was moving him from the bed to the chair without any trouble because he would stand straight up. Now, he has some trouble with that. He will stand in a standing frame, where he is strapped in securely. They have also put him in a lift to simulate walking. I haven't been there to see this, so I can't really explain it very well. 

As always, we can begin to express the kindness and support of our community. We continue to feel this every single day. When we walk in to the post office or the grocery store, the prayer sayers shine through. 

Please keep Tom Ginn in your prayers. He has has a tough week, but from what I understand is home from Cleveland Clinic. Also, the Bertram family. Ann Dudley Bertram passed away on Saturday. 


Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Ride to Remember: In Memory of Zach Ruble 06.04.11

There will be a 8, 17, 30, or 50 mile loop. Plus the added, "Ruble Challenge" this year. The Ride begins at the Mason County Track Facility in Maysville, KY on Saturday. June 4th at 8am. 

To pre-register, go to Limestone Cycling League

Sponsored by the Limestone Cycling League and Kentucky Gateway Museum Center in Maysville, KY. All event proceeds go to the Zachary Ruble Memorial Scholarship Fund administered by the Hayswood Foundation.  

Find it on Facebook. Zach Ruble Memorial Ride

The first Zach Ruble Memorial Ride - "A Ride to Remember" - was the brainchild of Kyle Pitakis. Kyle wanted an event that brought together people with the same mindset that his friend Zach Ruble had ... a love of nature and respect for the outdoors. His vision of a small group bicycle ride in memoriam for a lost friend turned into a much larger and more inspired event than anyone could have anticipated. The turnout and show of... support that first year made for dreams of a larger event each year to follow.

Lance was able to participate in the Zach Ruble Memorial Ride the past two years. Of course, this year he will be cycling on a stationary bike at Cardinal Hill instead of in Maysville. But I know that if was able, he would be there. Lance shared Zach's love for nature and respect for the outdoors. He loved exercising and pushing himself, and I know he would be trying out the "Ruble Challenge".

So, if you are around Maysville this weekend, go out and ride a few miles.Do it for Lance. Do it for Zach. But most importantly, do it for yourself.