Success Story: Amputee Motorcycle Rider
Choices have the power to alter a person’s life in ways unexpected. The impact a choice can have on a life varies enormously, but Kendall Keeling knows what it is like to make a powerful decision. Not the coin flip kind. One he never thought he would come face to face with.
A firework incident left Keeling’s hand in an unimaginable condition. Doctors kept trying to save his hand, but Keeling was brave and told doctors they did not need to save it. Instead, amputate. “The amputation was actually my choice. At first they were trying to keep my hand, but I decided it would be easier if I had an amputation.” Keeling woke up from surgery without the arm he was use to looking at because there was no hand. “It was an outpatient surgery, I was really just tired, I couldn’t feel much in my arm because it was completely numb. It was a little different not seeing a hand at the end of my arm.” In no way was Keeling a sit still kind of guy before his accident. He played guitar, rode motorcycles, worked on vehicles, and participated in multiple other activities involving his hands. Therefore, the loss of an important key to participating in his hobbies would not be easy. Most people are not aware of how much hands are used on a daily basis, until they are without one or both. Think about it. Opening doors, cooking, cleaning, driving, and so much more. So, why would Keeling suggest an amputation? Bravery. Keeling found SRT when he came in contact with an old friend his late uncle had made when he served in the military. Once contacted, the staff of SRT fit Keeling for his prosthesis because every patient’s device is customized, in order to have a comfortable experience.
“The fit of my prosthetic makes a huge difference, if it doesn’t fit correctly, then it may alter the use of my device. If it doesn’t fit right then I will have to get ahold of my SRT team and let them know. Usually they find a way to get me in and fixed up as soon as possible.” The resources and assistance SRT has been able to offer Keeling allows everyday activities to be a bit easier.
“My experience with SRT has been nothing but incredible, the team that works with me are amazing. They are very professional, they fix my devices when I need it and are honestly becoming a family to me.” No matter the amount of help or encouragement SRT provides, a patient is helping themselves out, tremendously, if they are wide open to suggestions when they are discovering a new normal. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it was not for all of the love and support I have received in the last 9 months. After all of the pain, tears, doctor visits, and surgeries, I still would not go back and redo it. Because of what happened, it has made me the man I am now. All I want to do is share my story and inspire those who may be down or going through a tough situation.”
Whether or not he realizes, Keeling’s skills with his prosthesis would not be possible without his motivation and willingness to learn its operations. When asked what he would say to a new amputee, Keeling’s response completely represents the positive outlook he has had during a difficult journey. “No matter what, there’s always a positive. Never look at it as a loss, because it could be so much worse. I may have lost my hand, but had that firework blown up near my head or if the propane torch I was holding blew up, it probably would have killed me. To be alive and only missing a hand, it’s all worth it. So if you are a new amputee, remember that it could have always been worse.”
What is Keeling doing now? As amazing as it sounds, he is working for SRT Prosthetics in the Kokomo lab as a technician. “I frequently use my prosthetic at work, it makes it so much easier to work, especially when I have to carry multiple things at once.” But wait, nothing is stopping Keeling from the hobbies he enjoyed before his accident. “My number one hobby is riding my motorcycle, either with my dad, my club, or just going out riding. I enjoy being outside, fishing, camping, working on vehicles, and I am slowly trying to get back into playing guitar.”