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




Sunday, August 28, 2011

November 28th to August 28th

Today marked 9 months since that fateful day, the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the day the world turned upside down.  Putting that in perspective, it is the same time an expectant mom would wait as she carried and nurtured the child developing inside of her body.  I guess we inpatient males could never have survived that mission of love; for me this has been a long nine months.  Today was a special day as Lance attended worship service at Vanceburg Christian Church for the first time since his accident.

The past month has gone well as Lance makes progress through 4 outpatient therapy visits per week-3 in Ashland and 1 in Lexington.   His therapists are so special and we appreciate each one; thanks to Amy, Ryan, Leslie, Lacey, and wow Susan, you are so very special to us.  During these visits he gets speech, occupational, and physical therapy.  He continues to be treated for muscle tone-a common problem for patients like Lance.  It is improving.  We are seeing movement in the left leg; I praise God for this ,after watching it lay still for 8 months.  He can move his right arm/hand much better now and has been eating much more in the past week.  One of his favorite things has been fresh peaches from the orchard. 

Communication has improved also.  We have been surprised at his memory of the past: people, events, important numbers(such as social security number).  It is wonderful when he expresses his own thoughts.  I had taped a Ben Harper concert and we were watching it Monday evening.  I paused it and Gena asked if he was ready for shower; without moving his eyes away from the TV he said "Maybe later."  We laughed and watched the concert in its entirety.

Thursdays are for Cardinal Hill; we often run into old friends there as Lance takes his "walk" on the lokomat, supervised by Shelby.  Always as the van goes through Lexington, he watches out the window and takes in the familiar sites.  He seldom sleeps as we travel and has tolerated the many miles well.

Back to church.......we had discussed church attendance a few times but it was evident that it was a troubling topic for Lance.  Three weeks ago, on a Friday evening, we drove to Vanceburg Christian and went inside.  Ed and Teresa Bryant were there and we visited with them for a few minutes. Then Lance and I went to the back of the sanctuary and paused behind the back pew as we gazed toward the stage.  After a couple of minutes Lance became very emotional.....and cried out.  I'm not sure what was going on in his heart during those moments but I know that God was there comforting Lance.  I believe Lance felt Him then and that God has made His presence known to him on this journey; I look forward for Lance to be able to tell us about that part of the story.  What did Lance remember as he looked over the pews to the front of the room?  Was it the beautiful stained glass?  (One of my favorite scenes is Jesus holding a small lamb....just like He holds us when we are frail.)  Did he recall plays in which he had participated?  Did he recall being behind the pulpit when one of the shortest sermons in history was shared, by him?   Could he have been thinking about playing music in worship?  This was one of his loves and he had stood on that very stage and played his bass guitar to the Lord just seven hours before the crash. 

Whatever happened that night, I figure Lance knew best - it wasn't time for him to attend.  I continued to raise the question 2-3 times per week and each time the answer was negative.....until this past week.  I asked multiple times, to be sure I was not getting the wrong impression; each time the answer was yes.  I am thankful tonight that Lance had followed Christ and accepted His grace.  The Comforter, I know, will be there meeting his needs from this day forward.

-John

Saturday, August 6, 2011

well, you must be going to the right church

This blog has been viewed over 100,000 times. I can not even begin to express my gratitude for all of you. For all of your cards and calls, texts and dinners, they have all helped us help Lance.
The past two weeks have been truly amazing.
As most of you know, in early July, Lance was whispering a few words every day. That has certainly continued. He came home from Cardinal Hill on July 11th. We've been busy since then. He is still traveling to Ashland three times a week and to Lexington once a week for therapy. We thought this would wear him out. Nope. He does fine. We are the ones that are worn completely out :)
He has continued to work hard in every therapy session he has been to. The therapist at Kings Daughters have been amazing at helping him. He continues to get stronger in his legs and his arms. He will follow commands better with his right arm and right leg. Even some with his left arm, which we've been so worried about.
One morning about 2 weeks ago, my dad walked in his room and said, Hey Lance, How are you? and Lance said, "I"m fine, How are you?"
Is it ok that I'm italicizing and changing the color of his words? well, I am anyway.
Since then I've pretty much been grilling him. Trying to see who he remembers, how far back he remembers and how recent he remembers.
He knows his birthday. Very clearly, he will say March 10th. 1986 is sometimes muffled. His voice will sometimes be weak. Sometimes the speech is slurred and sometimes he gets tired and doesn't want to talk at all. I asked him how many years were between us, he told me three. I asked him how many years were between me and Brock, he quickly answered six.
He knows all of the months of the year, the days of the week and who the president is. He also answered yes when I asked him if he thinks the questions we are asking him are stupid :)
I started saving simple headshots of friends and family and saving them to the iPad. I've tried to get a hold of everyone to let them know that he can say their name. Among the famous are... Brock (of course, he's his favorite) Ben Harrison, Derrick Reeder, Alex McGlone, Jean McGlone, Chris McGlone, Megan McGlone, Clay Lykins, Brandon McDaniel, Spencer Walters, Jasper LeMaster, Chad Kidwell, Lacey Collins (not Patton), Travis Patton, Corry Eveland, Ashley Cooper, Jared Dixon, Matt Voiles, Randy Lucas, Patrick Barker, Trish Murphy, Doug Boyd, Aaron Kegley, Mary Rohrer, Chase Plummer, Colton Halverson, Kaylee Cooper, Daniel McClurg, and Mike Halcomb.
also... Bill Clinton and John Coltrane.

Lance had an appointment with a neurologist last Thursday. It turned out to be quite a long day, with an extended time in their lovely waiting room. We went through a facebook album of one of his classmates from Patterson. He told me a name for almost every person in the album. I showed him the famous Kinneydip picture from the new years day of 2010 and I asked him where it was, he answered, Kinney. I think that all of this information is still in Lance's head. He just needs some help getting it all out. Once we finally were back to see the doctor, he was certainly amazed that Lance had been nearly comatose for so long and then began talking after 7 months. After Lance told him his name and birthdate, the doctor said "well, you must be going to the right church."
Thats right. We are. Good things are happening.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers and continued support. and Give God All the Glory!
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