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.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A River Ride it might have been; Let's call him Huck "Fabu-Lance" Finn

     Tonight's blog will be light as a summer breeze, not filled with fearful stories or lines that will make you cry.  Perhaps the moms, step-moms, and grandmas will tighten up a bit as they read - but when told in the past tense, stories don't seem so scary.  Tonight I can report that Lance has downsized his trach AND it is capped off.  This is the next step in series toward removal of the trach tube.  ( Much has been in the news the past week about tracheotomies, brain injuries, and the medical care that is being given to Cong. Giffords.  I pray she can recover form this horrific attack.  I can also report that Shannon Gilbert was transferred to Cardinal Hill in Lexington where she will begin rehab therapy. We celebrate this step with the Gilberts. )
     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 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 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.



  1. Johnny,
    Thanks for all the posts and for the call the weekend of the 8th; it's always great to hear from you and seems so long since you've visited Trish and I here in the DC area. I wanted to let you know I've finally caught up on all posts, updates and comments made by all interested people. Thanks to all of you. Trish and my Mom got an iPad for me as Christmas gift probably as combo birthday gift as well since January 30 is just around the corner. It has wonderful accessibility features and reads all posts/comments to me. I love having that option as it keeps me from intruding on others to read to me. Typing is not easy, but DragonSpeak is going to take care of that particular shortcoming of mine. Listening to all of these posts has enabled me to do the same as I do with my audio books; place myself where the characters are both geographically and emotionally. I find myself in northeastern KY with you, Atlanta with Lance and all points that Chelcee Brock and Gena may be.
    The river story made me smile thinking of a summer memory from long ago when we were both about 14, following the creek north toward the river looking for a shaded cool swimming hole.

    We are all the accumulations of our experiences and most of mine have been within the rails of a Hill-Rom bed causing my family and friends more grief than anyone has a right to cause another, especially when those people love so freely and so much. I've always thought it was easier to have been the patient than the often overwhelmed caregiver; Lance's current recovery hasn't changed my mind. I can feel but a slight portion of what parents, extended family and friends felt during the years following my accident. I have been to the abyss and stood far too close for far too long. I don't remember stepping back, but I do remember being tugged from a morass of darkness that literally has no real life color match at the Home Depot. I remember hearing snippets like "not your time" and "you're not finished" and I can say I've never asked why, but have gone on with my life trying to do the best I can for those I can when I can. I hear so much of my progression in Lance's up until now timeline and look forward to having him visit as soon as he is able.

    I apologize for the rambler; Johnny's post just brought a 40 year old memory from the area to the fore and I know if God thought I wasn't done or He wasn't done with me then Lance most certainly has plenty ahead for him to do!!
    Always love,
    ~ Scrap

  2. John, There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think and pray for Lance and your family. I am so excited to hear of the improvements Lance makes everyday. I spoke with Chelcee about how time seems to blur when you are in a situation like this. I know that it helped me so much to write, much like you are, in a journal for Brandon. I know that Lance will really appreciate that you are logging his recovery, and will be able to read it and ask so many questions one day! I know God works in ways that we don't always understand, but one day we will be able to see His purpose. Hang in there, and know that you guys are loved by so many!

  3. Loved the update and thanks for sharing the dock story with us John. I can relate somewhat to the breathing story because when Eric was just a baby and started sleeping through the night, I would creep into his room and kneel down to be eye level with his back to make sure it was moving up and down. Back then we put the babies on their belly when they went to sleep! What was I thinking? ha. So glad to read Lance and Shannon's updates; it shows prayers are definitely working.