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.


Monday, March 28, 2011

i know, i know... its been a while!

i've been a slacker blogger. i apologize.
busy days, sleepless nights, and crazy schedules equals not much time for blogging.

Lance is doing wonderful!
Most of you remember from our postings when Lance was still in Atlanta, he was moving his right hand quite a bit and his facial expressions were more pronounced than ever. However, when Lance was readmitted to UK a couple weeks ago, all of those things ceased. Lance's therapists assured us that if he did it before, he will do it again. So... we had to be patient, and let him rest.
Finally, this week we think that he is where he was before, and possibly even succeeded.
He can mimic the frown face on demand. I can't make the frown face very well, but when he looks at me, he crinkles his nose up. He has also given us a couple smiles. Not as big as they were before, but its an improvement. Lance is also moving his hand a little bit more. Saturday evening, I had him hold up one finger, then two, then three.
In early January, I started writing to him on a small dry erase board because I was convinced he could read. Knowing Lance, it only makes sense that he would read before he talks. I have a feeling he may even write before he talks. That was second nature to him.
Three of Lance's friends went in together and bought him a pretty sweet birthday present. An iPad. We've been downloading apps to help him in his communication. I also found some music apps, a piano and bongo drums. Thank you Ben, Derrick and Noah! If anyone has any information on more apps that we could use to help him, please let us know!
Brock was on spring break last week, Lance responds really well to him. He was able to get Lance to form some words with his mouth, even though no sounds are coming out, I think he is trying to talk to us.

The most exciting thing is that we haven't had to use the Hoyer lift to get Lance in and out of bed in a week! He is transferring with just one person. Its much easier on him to not put him up in the lift all the time. His legs are getting much stronger, and he is putting weight on the left leg. Which we have been so worried about. Today when I put him back in bed, he was reaching his right arm around my back.
He is still wearing the splints at nights, which causes nights to be restless. They will help the tone in his arms, so we want to keep them on as much as he can stand it.
His trach site is getting smaller every day. I don't think he will need any further medical treatment for it. Just covering the opening with a small piece of tape.

A huge thanks to everyone who has called and brought food and sent cards. We really appreciate all thoughts and prayers. Its awesome to be a part of a small town!

I will try my best to be better at updating.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

road trip

Lance's first full week at home went much better than the last attempt in February... 
Home health comes to see him, the nurse as well as all of the therapies. Gena is here in the morning usually with someone helping her. Then my mom is here for the afternoon shift. My grandmas come to help, and my aunt Sue Jane. I've been trying to help out at night, when I'm not working. My dad has gone back to seeing patients on a semi-normal schedule. Basically, we are just trying to figure out what works for all of us and our schedules and most importantly, Lance. 
On Sunday, Lance was exposed to a normal right after church dinner here at the O'Cull house. All four grandkids running around, food cooking, leftovers being warmed up, other visitors stopping in from church. It was good. and he actually did very well with it all. We have stood him up several more times since the initial time on his birthday. He has done exceptional. He amazes me.... 

So, lets get to the road trip. 
When Lance was discharged from UK on March 4th, the doctors scheduled a couple follow up appointments. The first one was with the Blue Surgery Team on March 15th at 1150am. I thought, oh thats good... that gives us plenty of time to get there. yeah right. 
We recently purchased a van from the McKinney's. Some of you may remember Drew McKinney. He was involved in a very serious accident last year. He fell from Lockegee Rock in Rowan County. After UK, he also went to The Shepherd Center for rehabilitation. Drew is actually walking and no longer needed the handicap accessible van. This worked out great for both of us. He no longer needs it and we were able to get it very quickly. The problem was with all that had been going on lately, we hadn't been able to practice with it. So, on the evening before, my papaw was the guinea pig and climbed in the wheelchair for multiple lifts up into the van.  I was at work... or you know there would have been pictures :)
The plan was to leave at 830. We pulled out at 9. Before we got to Black Oak Market, we realize we forgot something, turned around and we were off again. We only made a couple stops. repositioned... parked. and somehow once we got into the waiting room is was 1145. sheesh. 
Lance is used to being up in the wheelchair for around 6 hours a day. But not 6 hours a time. Usually just 2 or 3 hours at at time. So, at 1:00 I was thinking, he's been up since 830 and he won't be able to lay back down until at least 4... thats almost 8 hours... But as usual, Lance was doing great. and we were the ones worrying. In just a few minutes, his surgeon came in. He feels that Lance will go back to where he was before the bowel-pneumonia-sodium issues. He also thinks that with Lance's activity he doesn't have to be on blood thinners anymore. And then... the big thing. We said, what about this trach? When can it come out? I'm sure many of you remember that we were anxiously awaiting the removal of the trach when we were still in Atlanta. The pulmonologist felt like his cough had diminished and it wasn't the right time. Dr. Chang decided it could come out. and it about 90 seconds, it was gone. Just like that. 
He put a piece of tape over it, told us to have a good day, call him if we had any trouble and we were off. Lance gave us the strangest look. I'm sure it felt very strange for him to not have a tube in his throat. 
The trip home was very rainy, but we made it safely. Since I had worked the night before, I crashed as soon as we got him settled. Mom came up for the evening shift with him. I've checked on him a couple times during the night. He doesn't sleep well when he has to wear his splints on his arms. Hopefully, as his arms stretch that will feel more comfortable to him and he will rest better. 

My cousins, Robbie and Bopper Stenzel are playing in the state tournament today. Lance loves going to the ky state tourny. He actually likes to go, pick a team, buy a team tshirt, sit with their fans, and cheer with them like he lived there his entire life during the game. I probably won't do that. 
I'll just stick with Clark County. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Happy 25th Birthday Lance Harrison!

As I mentioned before, March is full of birthday for our family. Today, Lance celebrated his 25th.

I remember sitting in the waiting room during one of Lance's surgeries in early December and thinking about how much he was looking forward to his quarter of a century birthday. Even though he didn't celebrate it like he usually would have, He is here. and He will celebrate again.

We had a busy day today, with physical and occupational therapy visits this morning. My aunt Christa came with lunch and cheesecake. Ben stopped by on his lunch break. Home health nurse was here this afternoon. Tom Cox came by, followed by Jasper who is in for spring break. However, the most exciting part of our day was when Shauna came by for second shift therapy.

We stood Lance up!!!

Shauna set Lance up on the side of the bed with this feet on the floor. After Dad, Gena and I were in place behind him and on both sides, Shauna wrapped her arms around Lance and lifted him straight up in a standing position. We did this three times. The first time, he leaned a little to the right. The second time, Shauna told him to try to stand up... and after a couple of seconds, he did. I could feel his leg tightening, trying to make himself stand taller. and I was on his left side, where most of the damage occurred. On the third time, he stood for two whole minutes. Dad was behind him and could feel him moving his hips forward to get his back in alignment. During this time, his left heel was on the floor. Gena was on the other side, that heel was on the floor as well. She asked him four times to stand up, and four times, he did.
This is the first time in 103 days that Lance has been on his feet!
Dad, Gena, Shauna and I were all crying. I think our home health nurse had some tears in her eyes. and Peyton was at the door, taking pictures.
It was the best birthday ever.

Today is also Kim Lykins' birthday. She has doubled Lance's age. and now I'm very concerned she will never make me zucchini bread again since I announced her age on the world wide web. Happy Birthday Kim!

hope everyone has safe travels. I hear there is snow on the way.
Goodnight. and God Bless.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ok folks, let try this again

we are back in Vanceburg!
after two nights in Fleming County Hospital and ten at UK, and what seems like 50 tests and 20 blood draws, Lance is back home.

the bowel obstruction has resolved, potassium is up, swelling is gone, pneumonia has cleared and sodium is down. OH! and the weight bearing restrictions have been lifted!

On Friday morning rounds, the doctors told my parents that he was going to be discharged. This sent us into somewhat of a whirlwind. However, not as chaotic as when he came home from Atlanta. Mom stayed with Lance, Dad packed up Lance's belongings and Gena headed home to help me get the house ready.

This trip home on Friday evening was hopefully a little easier on Lance's body. only 2 1/2 hours on a stretcher instead of the 10 hour trip made a couple weeks ago from Georgia. Plus my dad was riding in the ambulance as well. I was in the driveway when they rolled the stretcher to the new ramp on the side of the house. Lance was wide-eyed and looking around. I think he knew he was home. When he arrived in February, I don't believe he realized where he was. It was so extremely wonderful to see him, to see him look back at me.
Over the weekend, Lance seemed much more restful than he was when he came home before. He watched the Louisville-West Virginia game. He tolerated the wheelchair very well. He hasn't been out of bed since the Sunday we took him to the hospital. Although, he is skinny, he looks more like Lance than he has in 3 weeks.
We have once again been overwhelmed by the support of our community, people bringing us food 'by the truckloads' as my dad said.

So, its March... when means that everyone has a birthday. everyone but me. My mom's was last week, on the 1st. She usually gets a Lewis County win on her birthday. My dad's was yesterday. Brock and Peyton share a birthday, today. Brock is 22. geez...
 Lance's 25th birthday will be on Thursday. He has done more things in a quarter of a century than most people do in their lifetime.
My aunt Christa's is Friday, and Shauna's on the 31st. Do you think this family might get tired of birthday cake? no way.

Because of Lance being in the hospital, I was driving from Lexington straight to work. Which left me zero time to deal with the tshirt orders. I have a mini-vacation coming up at the end of this week, so I plan on getting all of the orders in for the Dance 4 Lance shirts.
Also, Brock has designed another shirt. These will be gray with red lettering. They will just simply say Live the Lion. If you would like to order one of those, just let me know.
I apologize for the delay in ordering the shirts and if you haven't received a bracelet yet. There are some at Dad's office, you can just ask the girls up front for one. Also, if you know either of my grandmothers, they should have some at their houses. If you can't pick it up at any of these locations, let me know. email, facebook, text.

I think thats all I have for now.
Prayer is powerful.


Friday, March 4, 2011

No News......Good News ????

"No news is good news"; that old saying is usually used by the person who is busy, or having fun, or doesn't want to use their travel time to give report on their cell phone or by changing their Facebook status.  I cannot say that these are excuses I can use as it has been a few days since an update; I realize it caused consternation.  I was in tension as to how to report what was occurring.  That is why I shared a simple report and asked for prayer during last blog.  It has been hectic - spending time with him, discussing his condition with medical staff, thanking folks here at the Chandler Medical Center who provided Lance's acute care during November and December, quick trips home to work a few hours, and occassionally laying down for a 2-5 hour nap.

Lance is much better and has been improving for the past 72 hours - slowly.  The improvement seems sustained and if progress continues, we will be home soon.  The intestinal blockage resolved after much pain medicine to give him relief.  It has taken several days for the digestive system to work again and entire episode caused more weight loss as there were several days without receiving nutrition in his stomach.  The lungs have cleared significantly and we hope will continue as he becomes able to sit up again and resume therapy activities.  The bizarre part of this cascade of medical events was the imbalance in his sodium and potassium levels which had huge impact on his overall appearance and body function.  His entire body, but most noticeable in his face and neck,  was swollen for several days.  The anxious (and scary) part for us was the impact the illness had on his level of consciousness.  It was like we rolled back several weeks in time.  Lance was once again in the darkness (more like a coma) for several days and this was painful to accept and difficult to explain to you who contiinue to pray and trust God to be at work, healing Lance, restoring him with His miraculous power.

Lance is now interacting again.  He is not back to level which he had attained one month ago but has made large strides Wednesday and Thursday.  Today medical staff members were able to witness what we had been describing; it seemed hard for them to believe until they saw for themselves.  Our journey continues; this has been the most significant setback Lance has had, but once again he amazes me with his resilience.

I remember telling Lance, "No news is NOT good news; no news is scary!", before he left for extended trips.  The long ones were to Italy for a semester during his undergraduate years at UL and Turkey during his graduate work at UK.  I could usually depend on him to call, with news updates, so that my worries and sleepless nights were minimized.  As you read these verses from 2 Cor. 4:16-18, remember that the grace that Christ offered on the cross is available to all who will receive.  The love God has for us is better than good; it is GREAT NEWS.  Because of that love, He commanded light to shine out of darkness - when we allow the light (Jesus Christ) to enter our darkened hearts, you and I awaken to our created purpose and reflect the glory of God.  "Therefore we do not lose heart.  Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

"Here is Our King" is a David Crowder song that held one of Lance's favorite lines.  The chorus goes like this:   "He is our King, He is our love, He is our God who's come to bring us back to Him, He is the One, He is Jesus".  Lance's fav lyric was hidden in the second verse...."And what was said to the rose to make it unfold....was said to me here in my be quiet now and rest."  A rose, that can reflect God's glory, lies within each of us.  We just need to allow a hush...........some quiet time with God and we can soak up His power and His light.  The light, as it enters our heart, will unfold the rose that He created when He made you.  The miracle that occurred when you were formed in your mother's womb will be followed by the miracle of your unfolding rose.  Then the miracle of continual inward renewal, as promised in the scripture, can begin.  Now that is eternal good news we can all celebrate regardless of our temporary circumstances.