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, January 31, 2011
He also received first muscle injections of Botox - prescribed to combat muscle tension. It will take 5-7 days before we see the maximum effect of these injections.
Granny Betty & Jill departed for Kentucky Saturday morning. Soon after they left, we had a wonderful visit from Terry Stork, a friend of Larry and Connie Bryant. He inspired us with scripture and prayer. As part of his prayer, he quoted Judges 5, "Wake up, Wake up, Break out in song! Arise Barak(Lance)." I don't know how many prayer circles you have been involved in - but if you get a chance, gather with family and friends around a loved one in a wheel chair and call on God for His help and strength. Join hands with each other and lay your hands on the patient. It not only is a plea for God's help, but it acknowledges Him as the Healer, the Source of all things good, Almighty God, Our Creator. It is healing for the one that is being lifted in prayer but also serves as wonderful medicine for all in the group.
Shauna used her training and provided Lance some occupational therapy in the afternoon, even though she is not on the Shepherd Center staff. They have given us exercises to help loosen his arms/shoulders - she rendered them in a professional way. Papaw John and Granny Marlene enjoyed their visit; it was the first Shepherd center visit for all three grandparents. A little trip to mall for the three generations of girls - Gena, Shauna, and Madelyn - were part of the afternoon. Overall, Lance still seemed tired today and rested most of the day.
That brings us to Sunday; it has now been 9 weeks since Lance's accident. This was a special Sunday because it was his first time outside since the Sunday afternoon after Thanksgiving(other than ambulance transfers). The Atlanta weather was blue skies and 70 degrees. We went to the first floor and into a garden which lies between the hospital and Peachtree Boulevard. For thirty minutes we slowly moved around to different places in the garden. He seemed to enjoy the fresh air and the sunshine. We all anxiously await his first words; I keep wondering what he is thinking.....................
(PS by Chelcee: I've had lots of questions about bracelets and tshirts...
Live the Lion bracelets and Dance for Lance t-shirts will be available at the zumbathon on Saturday)
Friday, January 28, 2011
It feels so good to be able to look at my brother again!
My Grandma Betty, Ben and I drove down from Kentucky today. We arrived at the Shepherd Center to find Lance moving more than I had ever seen him move. It was probably the second week at UK, when he started rolling his ankle around in the bed, and he has hardly let it be still since. But today, his toes were curling and his whole leg was moving under the sheet. He can even lift his knee up off the bed and put his foot flat on the bed. Plus his head, he keeps moving his head around. I might have mentioned before that he had a tendency to look only to the right. However, this evening, he was going back and forth from his left to his right. My step-sister, Shauna bought my Grandma Marlene and Papaw John down today as well. They were so excited to see Lance. They last saw him on December 21st, the night before he left for Georgia. My niece Maddie also came along! She was able to thumb-wrestle with Lance.
I only saw Lance for a few hours this evening, hence the short update... I'm not feeling well, so I mostly sat in the corner of his room. I have since dosed or maybe even overdosed myself with nyquil, tylenol and vitamin c, so that hopefully I will be able to see him all day tomorrow.
So many people have complimented my dad, Brock and even me on our writing... Thanks so much. I have to warn you though. Wait until Lance is able to finish this blog. He is the writer of the family. He will have what we have written covered in red ink. I can't wait.
In other news...
The DANCE FOR LANCE has been set...
its going to be Saturday, February the 5th. at Lewis County Central Elementary. 4:00pm-6:00pm
so, go Zumba!
A huge thanks to Kayla Willis, Grace Bentley, Karen Killen, Penny Liles, and Betty Poynter and many other for helping put all of this together.
LIVE THE LION bracelets...
we sort of... kind of..ran out! yikes! we had no idea that so many people would want them.
However, I have ordered more. If you would like one, you can leave a comment on the blog or email me. or facebook me. There will definitely be some available at the zumbathon next Saturday.
Also, If you know Trish Bloomfield Weddington, you can contact her. She's is helping me distribute them!
A couple weeks ago I was trying to explain to everyone how the physical and occupational therapists have casted all of Lance's limbs and then made them in to splints to keeps his muscles stretched while he sleeps. Brock and I thought that strapping all of the splints on his limbs would be a good way of showing you how they look. After I strapped Brock in, he didn't think it was the best idea after all.
I apologize for the scattered thoughts this evening. Dr. Johnny will be back with blogs that make more sense and flow much better.
Please keep Shannon Gilbert in your prayers as she continues to make improvements at Cardinal Hill. Also, Michaela Harr. and so many others... as I watch the news tonight. :(
Love to you all!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
2. DANCE FOR LANCE! If you are into Zumba, there is going to be a zumbathon in Lewis County on Saturday, February the 5th. If you aren't into Zumba... come anyway. I think it will be a good time. More information to come as soon as times are set.
3. Shannon Gilbert! Shannon is now at Cardinal Hill. She is up walking, and is talking more and more each day. She actually spoke to my dad on the phone last Friday. We are so excited. I plan to go visit her this week.
4. Lance will definitely be in Atlanta until February the 3rd. Prior to that date, we will have another family conference where we will learn what the team (made up of Lance's doctors, nurses, and therapists) thinks is his best course of treatment. He may be ready for therapy at that time, he may be granted an extension of the PREP level. Or he may come home to Kentucky. Should that happen, we will be waiting and watching for him to completely emerge out of his unconsciousness state. Tentatively, once he has emerged he will go back to the Shepherd Center for his therapy. Like, I said... tentatively, we are taking this one day at at a time.
5. Dad mentioned in his blog last week that Lance had been making some noises since his trach had been capped. Mom said that when she put the guitar in front of him yesterday, he was a distinctively different sound. Lance will also wave... his friend, Mary and her mom came to see him last weekend, when they were leaving, Lance waved to them. He is also reaching out for the phone when mom tells him someone wants to talk to him.
6. Some of my friends have been telling me that they couldn't leave comments on the blog unless they were signed in. I think that I have fixed that. Everyone should now be able to leave us a comment without having a username. Hope this helps!
7. We have Live the Lion bracelets.
They are red eco-friendly rubber bracelets. One side says LIVE THE LION and the other, Isaiah 40:28-31. That scripture has been printed on cards we have received, written on the inside of others, scribbled on a scrap piece of paper, sent in text messages, posted on facebook, left on voicemails and even embroidered on a quilt since Lance's accident. If you don't know it, I encourage you to look it up.
If you want a bracelet, please let me know and I'll do my best to get it to you soon. And a HUGE thanks to Shauna and Deah for purchasing the bracelets!
We want everyone to feel connected, to know that we appreciate your prayers, and to remind you not live everyday as a sheep, but as a Lion.
Friday, January 21, 2011
A new set of x-rays was taken to measure healing of the surgical sites; the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Murray, cleared him for full weight bearing on all areas except left leg. The pelvis needs a few more weeks to be ready; we had been advised at UK that 3 months would be considered a typical wait, so we are still ahead of schedule with that area. This release allowed the therapists to do more and they were anxious to do so.
In physical therapy, Danielle placed him on a tilt table and brought him up to 40 degrees(right leg down only) with no problem on Wednesday. Thursday's schedule included a ride on an FES bike. With this therapy, his wheelchair is positioned and locked in front of the device. His feet (in tennis shoes) are strapped to the pedals, then electrodes adhered to the skin over the appropriate muscles. The muscles are stimulated with electric impulses and as they fire the pedaling begins. The pedals are also motor operated, therefore can continue to rotate, even if patient muscle strength is not adequate. What do you think Lance did? After a 2 minute trial with total motor activation, they changed resistance and he participated in the pedaling for the next 18 minutes. At the half-way point, the staff asked me to encourage him, as he showed fatigue. I told him to pretend he was climbling Big Hiney(cute name, eh!). This is an actual place between Maysville and Dover - a challenging 1 mile incline that Lance had pedaled with Kirby Wright, Chris Mcglone, Randy Lucas, and me. Of course he kept up with us, on that climb, even though he was riding a hybrid while we were riding road bicycles.
The occupational therapist, Allison, concentrates on his upper body. She was pleased with his tooth brushing attempts, snapping his fingers, and giving a wave to nurses at the nurses station as they yelled and waved at him. Her major therapy challenge right now is the high degree of tonicity in his muscles. Multiple treatment modalities are planned to decrease this tone over the next week. One will be botox injections. This med has multiple applications. If there is some left over, I may use in some dental syringes to deal with these wrinkles that have appeared on my face - out of nowhere and for no good reason.
The speech therapist, Heather, works in many ways that I had not realized. She is involved with hearing, vision, and generalized awareness, as well as speech. Today she and Lance listened to music on his Ipod while he had a large control that connected to it with large buttons. She is also the team member that will help with his eating this week, as more opportunities to eat something solid are on schedule. He has not pronounced any words yet; we all anxiously await. Gena has been able to get him to generate some sounds as she talks him through deep breathing exercises. Also yesterday after their daily Bible reading Lance and Gena were listening to music from the Passion conference. During one song, she said, "Let's praise God by raising our hands!" His right hand raised from the rest on the wheelchair as the song played!!!!!!!
The big event for me to occurred today. I played a couple of songs on the guitar (actually my entire repertoire). Then I positioned the guitar so that it he could get his right hand on the strumming area of the strings. (His right hand and arm, with his limited mobility, does not at this time wrap around the guitar body in the customary way.) Then we waited........his finger moved and the string sounded. He moved the fingers again and noise could be heard more clearly. He continued moving his fingers and making sounds but that is not what made Gena and me cry. It was his countenance - as the look of joy spread across his face - that caused our weeping. He continued to move his fingers for a few minutes; it was the most beautiful music I've ever heard him play........all because of what I could tell it was doing in his heart.
What have I learned? I will continue to appreciate beautifully coordinated music which is played flawlessly, but will know that the heart may be playing a masterpiece - even if the pitch or tune is imperfect.
My advice to those with whom I worship: "Don't sit behind me and expect me to keep my hands in my pocket. It's time to praise God for who He is, what He has done, and for what He wants to do in each of our lives!"
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The most significant part is that the tube is capped off. The cap can easily be removed if needed should food become lodged in throat, but unless it is removed, Lance breathes all his air through his nose and mouth. The respiratory therapists and pulmonologist are pleased tonight as his oxygen saturation is staying at 98-100%. Today as I sat in his room in the quietness and listened to him breathe, I remembered middle of night experiences all parents have. I thought back to when Chelcee, Brock, and Lance were infants......quietly looking in on them in a dark room, holding my breath as I listened for theirs. This event today went well for Lance; his repeated breaths were like a cadence of beautiful music to my ears. (More on breath at end of this entry)
Also Lance ate real food for breakfast - yes it was yogurt, applesauce, and pureed eggs chased with orange juice and milk. It was the closest thing to a real meal he has had since the Sunday after Thanksgiving when were still hitting the leftovers with vengeance. I kiddingly said to the nurse that Jesus fasted 40 days and nights while Lance's fast lasted 52 days. She mumbled that Jesus fasted willingly; not everybody digs my humor. So Lance has had a good day - blessed be the name of the Lord.
Now let's tell our Huck Finn story which happened about 3 summers ago behind our house in the Ohio River. Lance and I had spotted a dock that had ended up on the river bank after the river had receded quickly. It had been nestled in a clump of brush and trees up river from our property for several weeks. We had discussed reclaiming it but knew it would require much manpower to wrestle it from its resting place and move it to a useable location - behind our house. Our moment came when, after several days of heavy rain, the river level was quickly rising. I looked off our deck and thought I saw the dock bobbing. I got Lance and we hurried over the riverbank to check out our coveted prize. Sure enough the water level was just high enough that we felt we could dislodge the dock. Sometimes boys (and even men) evaluate challenges with Alfalfa-and-Spanky-like mentality...this may have been one of those times when the excitement of conquest overrode all common sense. I did postpone the mission for a few minutes to go up to garage and get a life jacket (and a camera); then with a facade safety measure mandated that my reluctant son strap it on before the mission began. He was not reluctant in the manner that Isaac may have been with Abraham; Lance just didn't see why we should mess up a good photo-op.
After the life jacket was in place, on Lance, I got cold feet. What would the neigbors say? What would Gena say? How would I explain if something bad happened? I continued asking these questions as we are now in waist deep water rocking the dock and getting it untangled. It started to move and.....in just a few moments it was out in swift water and picking up speed away from the bushes as Lance used his arms to lift himself up on the the dock which had now become a river borne raft.
I ran along the water's edge, took a couple of pictures, and wondered how he could ever steer it to the shore with the oar we had taken with us on this poorly planned fiasco. If he could not turn it toward shore line, would he jump into the muddy, swift water or would he ride the raft, Huck style, on to western destinations such as Vanceburg, Concord, Sand Hill, Maysville?
I can add no more drama. He, Fabu-Lance did it! I'm not sure how because the physics and the water dynamics do not make sense. But somehow he maneuvered the pirated vessel back into shore; he jumped off in the water and we together pulled it to the water's edge. Why did we take such risk? We never really analyzed it, which is odd because we tended to overanalyze everything. Lance may have said "Why? Why not? It is the American way to ask why. It is the heart of the explorer to tackle the unknown, to try the untried." That is enough speculation. It just shows Lance's adventurous nature (and my foolhardy nature). The nickname Fabu-Lance was dubbed by some of Brock's friends during high school, who thought Lance could do no wrong. The confessors, Alison and Jordan, recently admitted this story in an email; it is not a Wiki-leak.
****Breath notes: Sandy Bertram teaches yoga; Gena and I attend her classes and Lance had attended a few with us. In yoga, the breath is your focus. Many people are surprised to hear this as they believe yoga is all about strength and flexibility or some may think it is about being in a hot room wearing tight clothes. Yoga is good for the body and the mind...but the entire practice(as the yoga experience is called) has a rhythm that coincides with the rise and the fall of the breath. The cultures that practice yoga are probably on to something in that the older members are the most flexible. Contrast that to most modern cultures where along with the decades of life we can expect stiffness of joints and muscles.
The Greek and Hebrew words interpreted as breath or wind in the Bible also mean Spirit. The spirit of God is life. Some look at our existence as one which will last until we die - period. I see my existence as eternal.....my soul is eternal and my natural life is just a small piece of that time line which will never end. Each breath is precious, each one is a gift from God - a gift I will never again take for granted. The combined breaths we have make up our life, something else which is a precious gift from God; our life is much more fragile than I used to think. Let's use each day, let us use each breath to let God live through us and in us. We have a fabulous God and he wants you to have a fabu-life.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Therapy sessions were fun today as Lance accomplished new tasks. During occupational therapy, he looked at a toothbrush, it was placed in his hand, and then ............opened his mouth as he brought toothbrush close to his mouth. Gena and I looked at each other with our mouths hanging wide open, right before we started crying tears of joy.
The speech therapist raised a glass of water to his mouth and he pulled water through a straw and swallowed. While these may seem like small things to most of us, these are huge developments for a man who has been injured like Lance and spent the last 50 days in comatose/minimally conscious state.
It has been a good day and we rejoice in it because it is a day that the Lord has made. We also give praise to God for the healing that we see day-to-day. Our continual prayer is that Lance's healing will bring glory to God. One take-home I have had from the past seven weeks is that I, as God's creation, should reflect his glory each and every day......whether I am alive and well and at my best or when I'm tired or sick or old (that's all relative) or just not on my A game or ...dying.
Yes, it seems that death can in fact bring ultimate glory to God. Think of how we feel at a funeral of one who died in Christ; names of some of my heroes - Lyda Brayfield, Lottie Johnson, Thelma Irwin, Tom Bowman, Eva Bivens, and more recently MissVirginia Cooper - come to my mind as examples of individuals who just lived each day in faith. They were not heroes in the eyes of the world but God knew their hearts, their kindness, and that they lived in His grace and just wanted His glory to be reflected. The comfort felt in those circumstances....that is the type of solace that each of us want others to feel when the date is set for our funeral. There are many others I could have named that have left me a legacy of fond memories - people that helped me, loved me, and pointed me in the right direction....toward the cross of Christ.
Paul, in 1Timothy 1:14 begins, "And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. NOW TO THE KING ETERNAL, IMMORTAL, INVISIBLE, TO GOD WHO ALONE IS WISE, BE HONOR AND GLORY FOREVER AND EVER. AMEN." I've told you my prayer for Lance; I have a prayer for you tonight. "God I thank you for your grace. I pray that in my life or through my death, people would give You glory and honor. I am thankful for each person who follows Lance's life; I pray that each reader would consider Your grace and realize it is Your gift to them. In Jesus Name, Amen."
I will close tonight with a Martin Luther King quote; now there's a man who left us a legacy. Marilyn Scaggs shared this in an email to Lance today:
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. - MLK
Thursday, January 13, 2011
|If ever you have wanted to go to the coliseum with me, just cut yourself in~ I dont mind|
He was a little confused. He thought we were going to the UK's bowl game. Instead of the basketball game against UGA the same day. So, as a joke, Ashley brought his UK football snuggie that he would have worn to the football game.
:) He's the best. I am very fortunate to have such amazing friends.
Brock stayed with Lance, while the eight of us traveled to Athens to watch Coach Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats play the University of Georgia Bulldogs. It wasn't the best game. In fact, it was a horrible game. But there was good food and good friends, and all of us were wearing blue.
The title is January in the Arclantic. Credit to Brock, for coming up with that one. I'm sure some of you have seen on the news that Atlanta is in quite the situation with the snow. Or as the locals call it, THE BLIZZARD. I assure you, we are not in a blizzard, not even an ice storm. Not by Kentucky standards anyway. There has been snow and yes, there has been some ice. Here is the problem: No snow plows, no salt trucks, and no one knows how to drive in these conditions. But I digress.
This has turned out to be an extremely long update... I apologize.
Sometimes I feel like I type a lot about what is going on with Lance physically, and while I want to keep everyone updated, I know that there are many of you who are reading this and don't really know Lance. So, thats when I try to incorporate who Lance is and who we are as a family. I've done that a lot the last couple days... So here is the nitty gritty on my baby brother. (He hates when I call him that)
All casts are off! So thankful for that. The therapists have made the casts that were on Lance's arms and legs into splints and he has to wear those at night. But at least, his limbs are free during the day.
He was on his stomach for 45 minutes today. This is a big deal around here. He tolerated it very well. He held his head up almost the entire time.
The physical therapist also tried some electrical stimulation today on Lance's right leg. She was thrilled with how he responded to it.
With his pelvic fracture and the nature of the surgery, he won't be weight bearing for another couple of weeks. They are trying to get his legs into the best shape for when he is able to stand on them.
Because of the snow, Lance's regular speech therapist hasn't been able to make it in. Today, we had a fill in. She gave Lance some ice and told him to look at his sister. I had to speak to get him to look up at my face. But I think he could follow my voice and knew it was me. She also found him a small set of bongo drums. Brock played them this evening. Lance studies them, but hasn't made an attempt to play them... yet.
I think that's all for now. As always, keep the prayers coming. And remember, Shannon in your prayers as well. Two days ago, she was able to move out of ICU and into a regular room. Hopefully, tomorrow I will have more of an update on her progress!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
That is a question that I get asked everyday... and a question that I ask myself every single day.
The truth is... we are unsure on how awake he really is. The brain is a very unique organ.
He is not in a deep coma.
He keeps his eyes open for hours at a time. He can see. He can thumb-wrestle. He can blink his eyes if he wants more ice and shake his head no, if he doesn't want to go back to bed.
However, he is still being scored in the minimally conscious state. Sometimes when his eyes are open, he is just staring blankly. Sometimes, he wants to look to the right more than he looks to the left. Sometimes, he won't open his eyes when we ask him to. Sometimes, when you are telling him something that you think is really important, he just shuts his eyes. (That may also be because I talk too much. Come to think of it, he did that to me before the accident)
The kind of injury he has is called a DAI, a diffuse axonal injury. The first day they told us that, I googled it... it said it was the most common type of traumatic brain injury. I remember reading something that said, 'persistent vegetative state' and then I read that 'over 90% never regain consciousness'
That would be when I stopped reading.
I'm not positive that I'm quoting wikipedia correctly because I read it one time. on November 30th. And I haven't read it since.
The brain is still trying to heal. Lance's accident happened on Cranston. We all know how dangerous this road is. However, we still drive 55-60 mph on it all the time. Lance was probably driving that fast, and the other car was also. Most of the impact was on the drivers side door, that is a lot of impact for a brain to withstand. Lance may lose some of what he had once known. I have said from the beginning, that even if Lance only has half of the knowledge he had before the accident, he still would be smarter than most of us.
Its confusing to me that he can still be in somewhat of a comatose state and be able to see. its strange. But its happening.
Lance was always good with extreme facial expressions. This is one of them >
My dad can get close to Lance and make this same face and Lance will mimic it. The other day, when we had some visitors, I just showed him this picture on my phone and he did it.
I have had excellent luck with writing him things on a dry erase board. He studies it for a long time. But I know he is reading it, and taking it all in. I have written that he was in a car accident, that it wasn't his fault, that he was alone. I told him that he is breathing on his own. And that we came to Atlanta to get the most awesome therapy in the world to make him better. All of these things I know Lance is concerned about, even though he can't voice them.
I also am convinced he can read... this is something I wrote for him a couple weeks ago:
and this, was what I got:
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Lance has had a quiet weekend; much activity will occur starting Monday morning with all the therapy teams back to work. Thanks to all who have followed with interest and for each prayer that has been offered for these two young people. Ted and I have discussed the news, as we receive it, of prayers offered around the globe on their behalf. Thank you God for your wonderful Kingdom and for all those who dwell therein.
We talked of life, it's ups and downs, and the inevitable decisions that come our way. I was so proud of Lance on that day; he had worked diligently on the challenging science classes during the semester, but he had also sorted through much of life in recent months. I frankly was surprised at how he had handled the "pre-med experiment" - earning decent grades despite being away from Biology, Chemistry, and Calculus for several years. Anatomy under David Saxon had been very challenging but Dr. Saxon's zeal in teaching had inspired Lance; he provides great testimony of how one can remain enthusiastic through a long career of teaching and working with young people. Also Lance had been in a spiritual awakening, realizing that serving God and being in relationship with Him is our life's primary purpose. Secondary to that is our relationships with one another - befriending others, developing relationships. Lance's screen saver, at the time of his accident, was a picture with the inscription "Be kind - everyone you meet is facing a hard battle."
To me, that is like a paraphrase of the Golden Rule......and that combined with all I was oberving in his life and character......made a father proud. Lance had made decision to return to Lexington and accept a part-time position at the Nunn Center (UK Library). It was not necessarily what his training had prepared him to do, nor was it glamorous like living in a remote part of the world may have been. But it was who Lance was right now - and the cool thing was - he was comfortable in that skin. His faith was strong and his future was in God's hands; he just thought he would step through the next door and see where it led. We laughed(easy to do now) as we talked about a close call I had earlier in the summer on another boat outing with several family members, including all four grandchildren. (To learn more about this adventure, request "Johnny's Big Swim" from Chelcee or me.)
The boat ride was way too short, for both of us. Wayne was waiting for us on the ramp; we closed out the 2010 lake season as the boat went on the trailer. Lance and I walked to the car and I told him how much I had enjoyed the aftenoon. His reply; one many of you may have heard accompanied by his big smile....... "Good times!". I headed back home and he went back to his house for a weekend of study after one of our usual, long man-hugs.
Today is day 43 of Lance's journey: I decided to liken it to Noah's journey (not that I have often been likened to any of the heroes of the Bible). I do like that the story of God is told and the mysteries are unraveled through rather ordinary people, like you and me, who He uses in extraordinary ways. Noah worked on the ark for over 100 years; God has been getting each of us prepared for what lies ahead. I have said over the past four years that He is getting me ready for something; maybe this is it - Lance's journey or his accident and resulting injuries.
Noah boarded the ark with his wife, three sons, and three daughter-in-laws (and a boatload of animals) one week before the rain started. Then it rained for 40 days and 40 nights; also water was gushing from the earth in this cataclysmic event in which the pre-flood water canopy, which had created a greenhouse effect, provided even more water - adequate to cover all existing land. What I was considering on day 40 (of our journey), was how those eight individuals on the ark, had experienced 40 straight days/nights of pounding rain; with no motors, they were probably tossing to and fro as they heard many storm sounds while the earth went through the radical changes which the Bible simply calls The Flood. It is during these dark hours of the storms of life that each heartbeat is heard and each hour drags by slowly.
Finally the rain stopped; the boat ride however, was far from over. (An excellent accounting of the days on the ark can be found in a book entitled the Genesis Record by Henry M. Morris.) If the math is right, Noah and his family (and all those animals) were on the boat 371 days. That my friends is a long boat ride....too, too long. If Lance, all of us, and all of you journey that long - it means there are 328 days left. If the doctors are accurate in their predictions, we may be on a journey which is that long, or longer. Some have mentioned 18 months as the time length for nerve recovery.
When Noah deboarded the ark, they walked into a world that had not been annihilated, but was new and different. Our world, at the end of our journey, will be that way as well. I think most of you will agree that the world will look different AND each of us have already changed. That is ok because change is needed for growth; I believe we have all grown in faith, love, and hope. Our prayer lives have changed. We see acquaintances through different eyes - with more acceptance, with greater compassion. We are hugging our kids, our parents, our spouses, our friends - longer and tighter than before. In this we will show our love and it will bring glory to God when we do. Tonight or tomorrow, before you pray, read 1 John chapters 3-5. chapter 3, verse 10 says "In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother." Remember, everyone you meet is facing a hard battle.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
So, the past couple days as I have thought about things to put on the next blog, I keep adding notes to a post-it. I have no idea where that post-it is. I'm more like my father every day.
I'm going to do my best to remember all of my points.
1. If you want to get a hold of Lance, you can click on the link below to get the address here at Shepherd or can you actually send Lance an email. His friend, Trish has been emailing him nearly every day. We read these to Lance. And I think we enjoy them just as much.
2.Vanceburg Christian Church was very fortunate to have a youth minister named Todd Hyatt and his wife, Megan working with the teens in our church from September 2006 to May 2007. They have since relocated to Georgia, which has allowed them and their new son, Parker to visit with Lance and us here at Shepherd. He is now an Associate Student Pastor at First Baptist Church in Snellville, GA.
He has a very special friend, Lex Luger. I'm sure some of you recognize the name. He was a pro-wrestler.
Lex had a spinal stroke in 2007 and came to The Shepherd Center for therapy. Coincidentally, he occupied the exact bed as Lance is in today. 316-B. He was paralyzed from the neck down, however, yesterday he was able to walk into Lance's room.
Lex comes here often to talk to patients and encourage them.
Brock and his friend, Robin had just arrived from the PASSION conference and were able to meet Lex, as well.
3. Lance is being scored on multiple scales. One of them is the Rancho coma scale. In order for Lance to be accepted into PREP (the program that stimulates and coaxes him out of the coma) he had to score a 2 on the Rancho. For him to move out of PREP and into the therapy program, he has to score a 4. He is now scoring a 3. The next phase for him is agitation. Lance didn't let much of anything bother him. So, I've wondered how agitated is he going to get? Is he going to push someones hand away? Is he going to get mad? Well, for the first time... I hope he does. Because that means he is improving.
4. Another scale that he is being scored on is the JFK Coma Recovery Scale. The highest you can score on this is a 23. When Lance got here, he scored a 3. Last week, a 7. Yesterday, a 13! This is telling us that he is no longer in the coma stage, but in the minimally conscious stage. The speech therapist is the one that measures these improvements. She is amazing. She also measures his swallowing abilities. He was able to tolerate a few ice chips starting on Monday. Yesterday, she gave him a couple bites of applesauce, and today, chocolate pudding. She feels that the cold sensation of the ice triggers the swallowing reflex. Lance's friend, Mary sent me a message saying how she thinking that he would love some ice cream. So, I'm going to mention that to his speech therapist tomorrow.
5. the speaking valve...
Lance had a pretty bad wound on his left calf. He has had a wound vac on it since the first week at UK. Its healing wonderfully, but we are still waiting on the plastic surgeon to decide whether or not he will need a skin graft. Once the skin graft is finished or they determine that he doesn't need it, he will be able to move to a smaller trach. They want to make sure all surgeries are completed before they change his airway. The smaller trach will allow for a speaking valve to work easier for him. The respiratory Therapist actually tried a couple trials with the speaking valve on the trach he has now. His oxygen levels stayed up, but they said he wasn't quite ready for it yet.
6. Lance got a shower today! He was up in the wheelchair for 6 hours. He went to the gym for therapy. This has been his biggest day as far as therapy goes. So, he is totally wiped out tonight. Just listening to Robert Johnson on his iPod. Occupational therapy has been working with his arms, trying to get the muscles to relax. He has a cast on his left arm. They are taking it off every couple of days, and recasting it in a more extended position. Physical therapy have fixed him a splint for his left leg that he wears at night. And he has a cast on his right leg that is preparing his foot and ankle in the right position and angle that he will need when he can bear weight.
7. Update on Shannon... You can search for Shannon Gilbert on Facebook.
January 4th, 2011
8. Miracle Happen.
9. We have so much to be thankful for. Its been over 5 weeks, since Lance's accident and our friends, family and people we don't even know are still praying for his recovery. Please keep Shannon and her family in your prayers. I went through some of the cards we have received, two of the verses that keep reappearing in those cards are Isaiah 40:28-31 and Jeremiah 29:11. If you know them, share them with someone. If you don't, look them up.
Monday, January 3, 2011
The speech therapist was in earlier this morning, she said Lance's swallowing reflex was excellent. He is up in the wheelchair right now, and went out for a spin with physical therapy.
Brock was given the opportunity to attend the PASSION conference here in Atlanta. You can watch the live feeds here...
My dad is on the phone with Ted right now, getting an update on Shannon. They have removed all chemical sedation and she has been fluttering her eyes a little bit.
If you are on facebook, you can search for Shannon Gilbert. The updates on a page created about Shannon. Not her actual facebook page.
If you aren't on Facebook, I will try to post updates on this blog. Here is Sunday's update: