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.


Friday, January 21, 2011

There's Within My Heart A Melody

     With the winter blast slowing businesses and schools, I am sure the blog searchers have been disappointed.  Time for an update:  Lance has had a good week, making progress each day.  The steps are small and the journey is long, but we have many wonderful people to meet as we move along;  I feel Lance likes that.  The severe wound on his left leg is healing and it appears that a skin graft is not going to be needed.  This is amazing and I continue to hope that he is healing on the inside the way this wound and the incision areas are healing on the outside, which we can easily observe. 
     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!"


  1. Praise God, how wonderful to read this!! I am so full of joy and thankfulness for the progress being made. Keep up the good work, Lance!
    God bless you all!

  2. John, I am sure that this is the most beautiful music ever. The Lord is so good! Tell Lance hello.

  3. What wonderful miracles! Ah, to read about Lance and the family's joy is wonderful. God is great!

  4. Oh You go Lance!!! I am so happy tears of happiness flowed as I read this I can feel the joy of it all! This is wonderful. Music is wonderful and can help heal the soul and this music made a lot of happy hearts and souls!! Keep up the good work! I know God has something special for you in mind...

  5. We truely serve a might God that is worthy of all our praise! I'm crying tears of joy with you guys as I read this blog! I have followed each entry of this blog and all have touched me, but this one is buy far the best! Keep up the great work Lance, God has wonderful things instore for you! God Bless!

  6. Praise God for all the small steps that lead to a big finally for Lance!

  7. Yesterday, as I was reading Ted and Emily's comments, I felt the spirit of God so strong and raised my hand and praised God for His miracles! I fell God has tears of joy when Lance played the music!! I join all the other in giving Him praise for the steps Lance in taking!! Praise God for His faithfulness!

  8. My tears join your own at this wonderful sound! I am praying that Lance continues to improve and I am also praying for all of his support team: family, medical staff, friends, etc... God Bless!

  9. Jessica (Morgan) AlexanderJanuary 29, 2011 at 9:14 PM

    I never really got to know Lance that well but he was a grade below me in school, and I have kept up with the blog very regularly adn have been praying for Lance and the family, as you all wwill most definetley stay in my prayers. You all are most definetley a very amazing family!!!! But this blog by far really brought tears down my face as I read it. That is so great and I'm sure the music was absolutley the most beautiful that you all have ever heard!! I'm soooo very thankful to hear of each new step Lance seems to be making DAILY which is incredible!! Way to go Lance, keep this up I love hearing the great news!!! God Bless you all!!

  10. John, Gena & all of the family:

    We are so happy that Lance is progressing so well in his therapy sessions. The strength your family has shines through out this blog, and is such a wonderful example of how family should be for so many others.

    If possible, have Shauna drop off a bracelet to me whenever she makes a visit to the nursing home. I have spoke to her a few times regarding Lance, when she is there visiting a couple of other special people.

    MaryAnn, Newell & Nathaniel Lightner

  11. This touched my heart <3 He is in my prayers.