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 5, 2011

sometimes, I have a lot to say

I am a firm believer in list-making. It helps me feel as though I am accomplishing something. I can cross out a task, or throw the whole list away when I'm done. My dad used to leave us notes when he left for work... loving letters, in the form of a list. He says that he makes a list because he is afraid he will forget something. What happens most often is that he forgets the list altogether. :)
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.

Very Awesome!

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

Shannon had a good day today.  After 6 days of just being quiet and watching her rest and heal, we have been talking to her and touching her to stimulate her to wake up.   There was a lot of activity in her room today, including having the TV on pretty loud all day.  Shannon doesn't watch much TV, so for her the medical terminology for this would probably be "irritation stimulation".   She is responding to various stimulations from us and from the nursing staff.  She has been trying to open her eyes at times throughout the day, and her Aunt Angie got Shannon to squeeze her hand on a verbal command.  But it seemed that she responded the most when her Uncle Marvin was talking to her late this evening.  He was rubbing her forehead and talking to her and she was moving her arms and legs repeatedly.  Just about all of us witnessed something from our time with her today that caused us to praise and thank God.   The medical staff wants her to get back into a normal night and day routine, so the stimulation sort of ended around 9 or so and will probably resume tomorrow.  

The next medical goal is to get her off the ventilator as soon as we can, and they will be doing a tracheostomy Wednesday to move the vent tube from her mouth.  This is the first step in the process to get her back to breathing entirely on her own.  This will also be much more comfortable for Shannon.  We are praying for more progress tomorrow and the days ahead.  It is still impossible to predict anything, but we are hopeful and prayerful.  

A special community prayer service for Shannon is planned for Sunday, January 9 at 6PM at Fly Branch Church of Christ in Vanceburg.  Pastor Josh Book is coordinating the service with other local churches. 

I talked to John O'Cull this afternoon and am so happy to report that Lance continues to show gains.  You can keep up to date on Lance at the special blog  It is really hard on all of us who love Lance to not be able to be there with him, and I know that Lance's family feels the same about Shannon.  John and I are talking everyday and sharing news and support, and it really helps us both.  We are also so deeply grateful to our good friends Tim and Billie Jo Thornsberry.  They have walked in the same shoes we are wearing now, and they have been such a blessing to us.     

Please keep praying for Shannon and for traveling safety for all the family and friends that are coming to visit her and to support us.  And, please keep Lance in your prayers. 


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.


  1. Chelcee how I love what you have to say today!! If vibes, well wishes and prayers will make Lance and Shannon better then they are well on their way, because all of that is being sent their way daily! Love the Video Clip :) wonderful!! I have been in contact with Kayla and trying to get her and Betty together so the dates for the Dance for Lance and the one for a cancer patient don't collide! I Love being a part of something to help others and Zumba has been a wonderful thing for me. I have found that most of the Zumba people are all about helping others in a time of need and that is wonderful. I do not have my instructors certificate yet but by next month I am hoping to so I am able to help out more. I have found lots of new friends in Zumba as well as improving my healthy out look. I told Kayla that I was more then happy to help any way I can and I am sure many other zumba people will as well. Just as soon as she gives me a date I will be getting the word out!! You all take care and know you have a lot of people with you in spirit!!

  2. wow, what an aazming video Chelcee!!!!! Go Lance! Praying for him daily!!

  3. My list:
    1. Praise God!
    2. Trust those promises in Isaiah 40 and Jeremiah 29.
    3. Cheer for Lance's family who are doing such a great job keeping us Pray-ers informed and supporting Lance in his ULTRA-ultra Marathon.
    4. Pray for them to have patience during that agitation phase of recovery.
    5. Jump with joy at the anticipation of Lance moving further up the coma scales.
    6. Tease the losing thumb wrestler: Maybe it's a miracle that Lance thumb wrestled, but with his comptetitive spirit it's no miracle he won! :)

  4. Love the video of Lances hand. To actually see the improvement is awesome. Love all the details you are giving as well. You all have remarkable strength. That's God's love and mercy. Good to hear improvedments on Shannon as well. Love and prayers, ~Glenda Bloomfield

  5. I am putting up post-its with the number 23 on them to remind me to pray for the day when Lance reaches this wonderful number!!!