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.



~Chelcee




Thursday, February 3, 2011

Two Weeks and Counting Down

Thanks to all of you who follow the blog; the emails and other contacts we receive are so kind.  We continue to appreciate your prayers for Lance and the family.  Often as I read emails or cards, I cry as your amazing stories of faith leap off the screen.  When I hear from individuals who have lost a child or a spouse or other relative in the past, it makes a difference in my day because you care for us; thank-you.  I have a whole new appreciation for families (and especially parents) who care for those with disabilities.  Thank-you for the kindness so many of you demonstrate as you care for and minister to those who are sick or impaired.

While Gena and I are here, time goes by so fast that posting starts to feel like I'm in school again and I have a paper due tomorrow.  While we are home, and Jill is here, each 24 hour cycle is filled with sleep and work and getting ready to return.  The best report is that he looks better, more like Lance than anytime since the accident.  That was certainly the consensus of Granny Betty, Granny Marlene, and Papaw John after their weekend visit.  (Thanks to all of you who have ministered to them; what an awful 2 months they have had, grieving for this grandson they have spent the last 24 years cheering on.)

Lance had a couple of restless nights, but last night was much better.  Today has been his best day of the week; he has been alert during therapy sessions but able to rest in between times.  Wednesday morning on the FES bike was good; he rode 2.55 miles in 22 minutes with stimulation during half the ride.  Today was amazing;  he rode 3.6 miles in 22 minutes with no stimulation after the two minute warm-up.  He is 6 miles ahead of me on cycling for the week.

One discouraging report came with Dr. Zadoff's visit Wednessday afternoon.  He is the pulmonologist who manages Lance's airway and lungs and is the decision maker regarding the capped off trach tube which is still inserted in his throat.  It has not been used to aid in breathing for over 3 weeks and it no longer has to be used for access to remove secretions.  We had hoped that this would be out by now and had thought that when the skin graft surgery was off the table, it would certainly be removed.  He explained that Lance's coughing reflex had diminished over the past two weeks and that his advice is to leave the trach.  It decreases pneumonia risk, helps avoid an airway blockage, and is just in Lance's best interest to leave in place.  This should not be considered a major setback; the cough reflex should return with time.  Some of you who witnessed Lance's strong cough while visiting him will probably have a hard time believing this paragraph, especially those of you who were targets. 

Today Lance's left arm had a new cast placed-from armpit to wrist; this is to stay until Monday, when it will be converted to a bivalve(see earlier blog for examples-Brock is the model). This is part of the continuing efforts to get his muscles to relax so that coordinated function will hopefully return to arms and legs.  He continues to wear the casts in sections for multiple hours, usually 12 hours during evening/night hours.

Much time this week has been in family training because of the two weeks mentioned in the title.  Lance is scheduled tentatively(and most likely) for dismissal from the Shepherd Center on February 17, two weeks from today.  He was admitted here with purpose of emergence from comatose state, on Dec.22.  The staff has worked diligently and he has progressed significantly during that time, however he has still not emerged to the level which  enables him to begin the rehab phase.  Things could still change during the next 14 days; if they do, all will celebrate.  However, the education process is in high gear.  Today training was given for stretching of lower extremities, respiratory care(specifically for trach), and nursing.  Also, as Lance enters this "out of facility stage" called the Bridge program, the doctors and staff will be able to see him via Skype and therefore continue to aid in his care.  Most importantly, they will stay involved as he hopefully will be able to return here for the Rehab program.  Therefore the name - Bridge, represents this time he enters on Feb 17- bridging the time between the coma prep program and the rehab program.

The best news of the night comes from data collected during the bicycle ride.  The information display shows how much each leg is working.  The left leg is doing its share of the work.  This is very exciting news because it diminishes the chances that there is paralysis in the leg.  There are so many complex mechanisms at work each time we take a step.....we take it for granted as we run through life.  Enjoy each step, each arm movement, every word you can deliver.  In fact, do more than that.  Run or jump or dance at every opportunity!  Use your arms to hug or to give a helping hand!  Use your mouth for kind words, never for gossip......share the Good News!

PS-Karissa, thanks for your comments.  If you could email me some more info from Communality worship, I would appreciate.  He told me about it and I have been trying to put together a blog entitled "Lance Loves Church".  My email, which anyone is welcome to message, is eujohn@windstream.net.

-John

1 comment:

  1. Wow 3.6 miles! that is great! I sure hope you can have that celebration and Lance can cross the bridge before the 2 weeks are up! But if that is not to be well how wonderful would it be for him to fully emerge at home surrounded by familiarities and so many people who love him! I believe there are very special plans for Lance but we are not to know yet only God knows that. Looking around well I see things that have happened already because there is Lance. like so many people coming together to pray for Lance and now a community is able to come together and be a part of helping out through the "dance for Lance"! you see its happening already! Even being so far away and in the condition he is not being able to speak just yet, he has brought so many people together because he is who he is....The "Dance for Lance" shirt's are awesome! I for one can't wait til tomorrow to put one on and "Dance for Lance"!

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