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.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lance has been home for a week now! The first evening, he was able to go outside on the back deck and look at the river. However, since then, its been too hot for him to be outside. He continues to mouth more words each day. Most mornings, he will say "Good Morning." He can say almost everyones name... except mine, of course. If only I had an easy name :(

Lance is traveling to Lexington once a week for Lokomat therapy and to Ashland for outpatient therapy, 2 or 3 times a week. We are so excited to meet all of his new therapists and see what they can do to help Lance in his recovery. One, we know and already love, Leslie Weddington! 
Since the schedule is so hectic, we ask that if you want to come visit Lance, just get a hold of one of us. He needs lots of rest since most of his time is spent on the road. But I think he has enjoyed people visiting him. 

Its been a rough week in Lewis County. I'm asking that you keep both of these families in your prayers. They need renewed faith and strength to get through the days, weeks and years ahead of them.

A couple days ago, a 17 year old volunteer from Chicago drowned in Kinniconick Creek. You can read about it here.

A week ago yesterday, a 16-year old from Garrison, passed away. Drew Riffe. His mom is Tracie, a cousin to my step-mom, Gena. His dad, George and step-mom, Tessa are great friends of mine. Drew loved to ride horses. The day of his burial, 153 horses rode along side him for his last ride here on earth. 

To honor Drew, the the Rough Riders Saddle Club of Lewis County will host its July trail ride on July 23rd at George and Tessa Riffes' on Bill Chain Road in Garrison, KY off of Route 3311. 
They will be riding the entire Mountain Trail from start to finish, roughly 8 or 9 hours. This is a difficult ride. The ride will start promptly at 9:30am. Riders need to include a trail lunch. A cookout will follow the ride on the Riffe farm at the days end. 

Please RSVP to Kirk Collier at 606-541-4207 or Reah Stone at 606-541-5009 or Becky Horsley 606-541-0157. 

Directions: If traveling East on AA HWY: Turn right off of AA onto 3311, If traveling West on AA HWY: turn left off of AA onto 3311. Go approximately a mile, and turn onto Bill Chain Road, his place is on the right. Signs will be posted.

I know many of you aren't from Lewis County and won't be able to attend this trail ride, but please keep this family in your hearts and prayers this Saturday.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tour de Lance

Hello to all and I continue to be so grateful to each of you for your interest in and prayers for Lance.  My last blog described Lance's move to Cardinal Hill Rehab Hospital in Lexington, Ky.  Sorry it has been so long but hours of driving the 100.5 miles from our driveway to the C.H. parking lot, 3-4 days per week for treating patients, a little sleep, and every possible hour with Lance has busied me the past 2 months.  He has been blessed with 2 months of time at C. H. in which he received wonderful nursing care, outstanding therapy, and excellent medical supervision by Dr. Nickerson.  These truly are a dedicated group of individuals who have rallied around Lance and family and have played a huge role in his recovery.  There have been bleak days during the stay - times when progress seemed very slow.  But there have been exciting days as well.  The past 10 have been like traveling when you were young - you are very anxious to get to the destination, you feel that something special is going to happen, but it seems like you will never arrive.

In the past few days he has eaten his first food since Thanksgiving weekend.  It seems to be going well and Gena cannot wait for him to be home so she can cook some of his favorites.  The current plan has him returning home by this weekend; we will start outpatient therapy as soon as consults can be done.

Lance has been trying to get some words out for the past 3 weeks - thanks in a large way to Gretchen, his speech therapist for the past 8 weeks.  Jill had seen him move his lips to "mom" and other times we could make out names and phrases "I love you" and "God is good".  A week ago Thursday about 6AM he said the first syllable of Chontale, a member of the nursing staff; this was with enough volume that it surprised me.  Later that same day he whispered "dad" and I had never heard a more beautiful sound than that faint whisper.  Since that time he has said (or attempted to say each of our names).  Chelcee asked him "Who is our dad?" and "Who is our mom?" - he quickly whispered "John" and "Jill".  That was middle of last week.  On Friday he said "Gena" to her.  Saturday morning, during a visit from Tom and Karen Cox, he faintly whispered "Tom".

Tonight was really cool.  The speech therapist called Lance after she had gone home for the day; Jill was there in the room and answered phone, then handed it to Lance.  He whispered "hi" and "bye" to Gretchen.  Soon afterward, I called and Lance said those word to me as well.  I asked him about Brock(who was also in the room) and he said "Brock" audibly.  When you have not heard from someone you cherish for 7 1/2 months, these are big events.  We celebrate and give God all  the glory for the good that is coming from this experience.  We know and trust that God is taking care of Lance, consoling him during fearful times, and providing the Holy Spirit abiding presence so he knows that the Creator of the universe is still watching over his every  breath - knowing the number of hairs on his head.

After the phonecall this evening and after watching Stage 9 of the Tour de France earlier today, I felt the compelling need to take a bicycle ride.  It was dusk and it was very hot/humid but I jumped on Lance's  Felt bicycle which he had purchased with graduation cash he received after earning his Master's Degree at the Patterson School of Diplomacy.  I rode 3 miles to one of my favorite spots - the peak of the Ronald Reagan Road.  This is a connector road from the AA Hwy to the Black Oak community; it is one mile road and is a decent challenge on a bicycle because of the grade.  Just as one begins the descent, you get a beautiful panoramic view of the Ohio River valley.  Tonight the sun looked like a bright red molten ball as it dropped over the mountain.  I enjoy the beauty of this place for many reasons.  Often I would stop as I gazed across the valley and call Lance - he would always give me time to describe what it looked like at that moment.  He would say I wish I was there with you, dad......and I felt like he meant it.  Tonight seated on his bicycle, listening to his voice, realizing the long and grueling tour he has traveled (and knowing there are many miles left before we arrive in Paris) made me feel him very close.  Thank-you, his fans and friends, who line the narrow mountain path and cheer him on each day with your prayers, with your love, with your tears.

An FFH song goes something like this: "This would not be the road I would choose for me; but it still feels right somehow.  I have never felt Him as close to me - as I do right now, as I do right now."  Him is capitalized because Him is God.  Thank you God for victorious days like today.  Thanks for being close though, even on days that seem gray.