Live the Lion was created in an attempt to keep everyone up to date on Lance O'Cull and his road to recovery.

Lance was involved in a car accident near Morehead, Kentucky about 30 miles from where we grew up Thanksgiving weekend of 2010. He was airlifted from the scene of the accident to UK Medical Center in Lexington. The doctors told us that they could fix everything below the neck, but his brain was in God's hands. On December 22, after multiple surgeries, Lance was transferred to The Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia for an intense rehabilitation program.

It was there that Lance began to gradually emerge from a coma. Lance was discharged to home, in Vanceburg on February 17th, to continue his therapy with family.

On March 10th, Lance's 25th birthday, he stood on his feet for the first time in 103 days, with lots of help. On May 11th, Lance was accepted into Cardinal Hill's brain injury unit. There he impressed and amazed our family and friends, as well as his therapists through the progress he made everyday.

Between September 2011 and April of 2012, Lance was back and forth between Cardinal Hill's inpatient program and Shepherd Center's inpatient and outpatient program. He has had a couple minor surgeries to enhance his healing and a baclofen pump inserted to help with the tone in his body.

For the past year, Lance is back in Lewis County splitting his time with both parents. He continues to travel to Ashland 3 times a week and Lexington once a week. He is learning to walk again and we couldn't be more thrilled.

It hasn't been easy, Lance has had some setbacks and tears still fall. But he is up and running this marathon. And we are all running right along beside him.

Most of the blog entries have been made by myself, Chelcee, the big sister, Brock, our baby brother, and Dr. Johnny, our dad. Our goal is for Lance to finish this blog as soon as he is able.

God has been with Lance and our entire family, giving us strength. We give Him the Glory. He is the God of Miracles.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

so... is Lance awake?

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:

When we were in Lexington, we started taking pictures of people who came to see Lance. We thought it would be a good way to show him how many people cared about him. We have continued that in Georgia. I couldn't possibly upload all of the pictures from the people who came to UK. It would take forever. But I'm going to upload some from here in Atlanta. 

You have seen the picture of Lex Luger and Brock. Another visitor was Scotty Hunt. He has some Tollesboro connections. He was in a horrible car accident in 1985. Scotty was a patient at the Shepherd Center. He has a magnificent story. He and his mother came to offer encouragement and bring a book that they wrote about his accident and recovery. I haven't been in the room either time they have been here, so we don't have a picture of them... yet. 

Brock was given the awesome opportunity to attend the PASSION conference this year. They had a specific part of it that is devoted to Prayer. During that time, Brock wrote a prayer request on a small piece of paper for our brother. and it fell into the hands of these two girls. Sarah and Jennifer. They came to visit us last week. And WOW, such passion they have. Gena and I were able to sit down and talk with them, tell them about Lance and how wonderful he is. They told us how they are going to be in this for the long haul with us. To pray for us, and with us. To visit, to rejoice, to do whatever we needed. I'm convinced they should be motivational speakers. They have a special place in their hearts for The Shepherd Center. Who knew we would come to Atlanta? Who knew Brock would go to Passion? Who knew that he would write what he did and one of these girls would receive it? GOD knew. 

Brock was accompanied to PASSION by Robin Watson. I've only known Robin for a short time, but I love her already. She's a big fan of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. She's funny, sweet and most importantly, a great friend to Brock and Lance. Robin is the Missions Coordinator for the BCM, which is the Baptist Campus Ministries on Morehead State University's campus. Brock and Lance volunteered their time and talent at Tuesday Night Live, the BCM's version of Saturday Night Live.  After the conference, Brock and Robin came to The Shepherd Center. Robin was able to get in a little thumb-wrestling action with Lance. 

My grandma Marlene is one of the best cooks I know. She's awesome. She can make anything on demand. And usually she can have it done in the time it takes me to get from my house to hers. Her best friend in high school was Sue. They must have learned to cook together. Sue is married to Wendell Hull. Wendell is Janis Barbour's brother. They live in Georgia. They brought us the most amazing meal, ever. Chicken with artichoke and mushrooms, squash casserole, green beans and potatoes, rolls, and a cherry dessert.                               So yummy! We thank you guys so much for coming, bringing back-home cooking, and visiting with us. And of course, meeting Lance. 

I have been here since Christmas Day. Dad & Gena have been switching each weekend with Mom and Brock. Last week, Dad and Gena were here. My Mom's plan was to drive down on Thursday evening, so Kim Lykins came with her. Kim somehow, managed to get out of Georgia without getting her picture taken. So, I had to steal this picture from Whitney and crop it.                                                       Kim is our neighbor. She moved into the house across the field from us 16 years ago. Her daughter, Whitney is the same age as Lance. She also has worked as a dental hygienist at my Dad's dental office for as long as I can remember. We go to church with her. She walks with my mom in the evenings. She is a best friend to all of us. She holds many roles to the O'Cull's. She also makes the most amazing zucchini bread. 
The list of loving friends doesn't end there.  However, for the sake of time and space, this blog post will. Tomorrow, I'll have more to share from the loving support we've received here at the Shepherd Center.



  1. Awesome update. It is good that you are so close to Lance beside you can understand his wants and needs even if he can't ask for them yet. His brain is still healing and you guys are doing great things helping him in his recovery. Nothing like prayer and love to beat the medical book statistics. Also, nothing like good homecooked meals to ease the soul. Stay strong and thanks so much for your updates.

  2. I check this daily--you can't imagine how important it has become to Chad and me. We talk about Lance daily and find great hope in your updates.

  3. Once again Chelcee you have out done yourself! I sure hope you are keeping a copy of all your blogs so lance may have them later when he is back on his feet. I think it would mean so much to him maybe just make him a keep sake Blog book! I am more amazed each time I read a blog. Thank you so much for letting us into your lives and letting us know what progress is being made. To hear any good news from Lance or Shannon is like a bright spot in my day and makes my heart a lot more Happy:)