Will To Live: Meet Mr. Keet Abernathy

“Why do I want to tell my story?

I want other people to have the courage to go on, like I have since losing my leg,” says Eastmont participant Keet Abernathy.

Mr. Abernathy had an above-knee amputation in 2013 and has been working with CEI rehab staff, hoping to walk again. He has a power wheelchair, continues to live independently in a senior apartment, and often takes care of his grandchildren, reports Physical Therapist Susan Musicant. Here is his story in his own words, as recorded by Susan:

“I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. I guess I was a natural athlete because I played every kind of ball we had. I played basketball in basketball season, I played baseball in baseball season and I played football in football season all through my school years. In Kansas City, even after graduating from high school, my friends and I would hang out after watching the game on Sunday, rain, sleet, or snow and play a pick-up game.

“It took total control”

“As a teenager I was tall, thin and fast. So during football season I played the tight-end position. That meant I could have six guys after me, and I had to be faster and smarter than all of them. I had to leap in the air and pull that flying football down, tuck it into my body. Then I had cut to the side to avoid the guy (or guys) bearing down on me, get out of the way, and take off to score the touchdown. I loved it. The thing I learned and still helps me today is how to control my body. It took total control.

“Now I have to learn how to control my body so I can stand up and walk without my left leg. I know my doctors did all they could to help me, but my circulation wasn’t very good, and my leg wasn’t healthy. I can hardly even remember that time now. They say it’s hard to remember pain.

“I can go anywhere…”

“That was really hard. But, of course, I wanted to go on for my children and my grandchildren, my friends, even my friends and helpers here at CEI. It’s been three years now; I ride around wherever I need to go in my electric wheelchair. Sometimes I go to San Francisco to shop for a special cut of meat I want to cook. I used to be a chef. I can go anywhere on public transportation.

“As for walking, that takes a lot of body control as well. I take pride in still working hard on it. I’m hoping one of these days to show my grandsons how I walk. It was really hard for them, too, when I lost my leg. I work on it here in rehab every time I come. But I can’t walk very far yet. And I don’t feel ready to walk by myself at home.

“I want to be an inspiration”

“There are a lot of folks here at CEI who are older or more disabled than me. I want to be an inspiration.”

Is there a local senior we can help? Contact a CEI enrollment specialist now at (844) 319-1150.