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, May 20, 2011

Hello, again.

So, I haven't blogged lately. Ive been laying under a blanket of Live the Lion tshirts. All of the shirs have come in. Now, its just a matter of getting them organized and delivered. Marilyn Scaggs has been so helpful in delivering several of them. Since I'm off today, I plan to deliver more to central and the middle school. If you are one of my dads patients, that lives out of town, your shirt will be at the dental office. So, come to your next appointment :)
If I can meetup with you somewhere else, I'll be doing that in the next few days. A huge thanks to everyone who ordered a shirt. The tshirts were not really meant to be a fundraiser. But more of a way to get the word out there. The word, that prayers works. As well as what Live the Lion means. And what it means to Lance.
Live the Lion was a saying that Lance frequently enjoyed talking about. E' meglio vivere un giorno da leone che cent'anni da pecora translates to [It] is better to live one single day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep. These words were written as graffiti in 1809 on city walls in Italy after the victorious Battle of thhe Piave River. This was believed to have originated from Psalms 84:10, reading, "Better is one day in your house than a thousand elsewher. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God an dwell in the tents of the wicked."
Lance always said to Brock that when you decide to be a lion, you might only live for one spectacular day. But it will be spectacular! And when you decide to be a sheep, you wake up and everyday for a hundred years, you have to say to yourself, "Today, I'm just going to be a sheep." This was Lance's way of encouraging everyone he was around to make their day spectacular. Make each day count.

Lance has been at Cardinal Hill for over a week now. They are amazing there, he has each therapy twice a day. Sometimes, they group together for a therapy session in an attempt to keep him awake. Lance is still on some seizure medication, and I think that makes him drowsy at times. Visiting hours at Cardinal Hill are from 8am-8pm everyday. They recommend that if you can come later in the day, after therapy, that is best for Lance.

My Aunt Christa's husband, Chief lost his battle with cancer this past Monday. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

The sun is shining today, so I'm going to make the best of it.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Lion Has Landed

It has been a busy day; it started at Chandler Medical Center after an early morning drive from Vanceburg. Lance's mom had stayed the night with him on his last night in # 879.  Lance rested during the morning hours.  Chelcee and I wheeled him out of the UK hospital at 2:00 PM.  After loading Lance and wheelchair in the van, we made the short trip over to Cardinal Hill.  Lance was very interested in the sights on this beautiful summer-like day as we drove across Waller and past the previous home he shared with Jasper, Spencer, Brandon, and     . (We had an opportunity for short visit with wonderful friends, Billy and Lisa Barbour, before leaving UK.)  

The reception for Lance was friendly, and busy, as multiple staff members entered his room, made introductions, reviewed history, and did their assessments.  It is a relaxed atmosphere, compared to the hospital.  Shauna, Madelyn, and Gena arrived to check out his new digs later in the afternoon.   Lance has an early therapy appointment at 7:00AM; his morning hours will be busy.  We are so grateful to all the fine HCW who have provided Lance's care.  Thank-you for your prayers as you continue to cheer for Lance.  The Lion has Landed - for now, at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital.

Many haved asked about Shannon Gilbert.  She had a planned surgical procedure last week and all went well.  She had a few challenges over the weekend, but if all went well, she hoped to come home today.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Next Stop - Cardinal Hill

It's Kentuckyy Derby Eve in room # 879 of the Chandler Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky.  The discussion is not about horses or jockeys but about another race.  This race is much longer that the two minute Run for the Roses which Lance had opportunity to attend four times while playing saxophone in the University of Louisville marching band.   Lance is on this incredible race that seems to be more like a coast-to-coast run or an endurance run in Death Valley.  Lance admired individuals who put their bodies through incredible stress while participating in such events.

A week has passed since the day of seizure activity.  Lance received excellent medical care; it was very aggressive management, but what was indicated for the magnitude of the circumstances.  He has had no recurrent seizures - this was important to avoid.  Now the anti-seizure medicines are being titrated so that the control continues without over-medication.  Other concerns have been overcome as his lungs are clear.  Administration of  IV anti-viral meds will continue for several days as viral infection was part of seizure etiology.  

On Wednesday, he and Gena watched a movie - the first hint that he was feeling better.  Thursday brought many good signs as he attempted to form the sounds for "mom" to Jill, listened to Chelcee and Brock on the phone, and blew kisses to his mom and step-mom.  I had the night shift; he and I got some much needed sleep from 10 till 2.  We both were awake when nursing staff entered room at 2:00 AM; then Lance stayed awake..........watching me sleep till about 7:00 AM.  That's when we had first doctor visit of the day.

Since that time Lance has been sleeping and I thought I should give an update to each of you who have followed him during his recovery and have prayed for God's touch and watchcare in his life.  I also want to express my appreciation to all our patients in the dental practice.  These past few months have brought many challenges there.  The patients have experienced rescheduled appointments and often appointments during times that were less than convenient.  When I am at the office I am in a rush as I try to provide consultations and treatment in most efficient manner.  I have less time to talk and that probably makes me aloof; thanks for understanding and thank you for continuing to use our office for your dental care.  I say a major thank-you to each member of our staff as they have walked through this valley with Gena and me.  They have provided much friendship and fervent prayers while tolerating my emotional times and much inconvenience as we constantly modify the schedule.  To Dr. Jill Price - you have been a blessing in so many ways; thanks for stepping up in difficult times.  I appreciate each and every one of you - to say thanks is a huge understatement.

Where is Lance on Friday May 6, 2011?  He (and we) have had a setback.  It is our continued prayer that he will return back to April status quickly.  Arrangement have been made for him to be transferred to Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital here in Lexington.  This was not the ticket into rehab for which we had hoped, but it is what is needed at this time.  The staff there will provide 3 hours of therapy each day as they help him bounce back to "pre-setback" level.  Once that happens he will be re-evaluated; following that he may be ready to enter a more aggressive rehab program (6 hours per day) or he may need more time at home for healing.

This is a good place to discuss rehab hospitals; we certainly experienced great treatment at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia and now Lance is about to enter another facility with a national reputation.  The staff at Shepherd were fabulous and the many friends we made while in Atlanta continue to follow and support.   The nice advantages are: Lexington is two hours from home instead of eight and Lance does not have to bounce down I-75 in an ambulance for the 6 hour ride from Lex to Atlanta.  Back in December, as we watched him lay in coma, we anticipated that his next stop would be Cardinal Hill.  However his status at that time made the Shepherd Center the most appropriate choice.  Now the best decision seems to be Cardinal Hill.  The future may include Atlanta, Lexington, or other locations; we certainly hope that God continues to open doors that lead to wonderful opportunities for his recovery.  We put it in His hands.  The move to Cardinal Hill could occur over the weekend - we will wait for the call.  Lance's past certainly was filled with chances to travel and meet new people.  Leave it to Lance to find the one place in Lexington, Kentucky where the word "Cardinal' can be spoken aloud.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I enjoyed the seasons of 24 and watched them more than any TV over past 10 years.  The last 72 hours, since I last blogged, have unfolded much like that series.  The clock ticks off the seconds/minutes in "real" time as we live out this reality which seems more like a nightmare.  Lance was on the ventilator until noon Saturday which was when the 20 hours of continuous EEG monitoring ended.  I have a whole new appreciation for patients who spend long periods on an emergency room stretcher....which is what was wheeled in the room-for visitors use .  (Actually it felt like a Sealy at 4:30 AM.)

He quickly weaned off the ventilator; it had been used only during the heavy sedation that was needed to stop the seizure activity and to monitor the brain waves.  We transferred to the Critical Decision Unit which is one of the intensive care areas of the UK Hospital.  Lance was very unsettled and inconsolable during the next several hours as we awaited diagnosis.  Each real time minute seemed to contain more than the 60 seconds on which our time system is based.  During neurology consults on Sunday morning we were advised that white blood cells in spinal fluid indicated a viral encephaltis.  The physician said that this level of virus, for most of us, would cause little more than a 2-3 day headache.  For Lance, during this healing phase, this was  significant.  Different medical opinions exist; it is known that many patients experience seizures after an acute brain injury.  Lance had been fortunate to be seizure free during this past 5 months and it is possible that scar tissue, in areas where healing is underway, could be a contributing factor.  Regardless of cause, the seizures ceased and did not re-occur over the weekend.  There are multiple medicines for seizure management-some are recent developments  We will do recommended trials, then we will know which medications offer him the best protection  with the least side affects.

Aspiration occurred during seizures and caused lung problems(pneumonia).  This seems to be improving by the hour.  The unpredictable sequalae of the seizure activity is where Lance will be in the next day, week, month.  Tonight, this is a difficult report to share-because of uncertainty.  The good news is that 2 of the neurologists feel that he will return to baseline(where he was last Thursday) in a relatively short period of time.  The scary news is that there is a variety of different outcomes.  As I sit here beside his bed and observe him sleeping soundly, I do not know if it is a post seizure response or .......response to new medications or.......a return to a lesser degrree of consciousness.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) holds multiple consults and these should enlighten us.  We will continue to keep our eyes on Christ  and to know that faith is what we need  to experience miracles in life.