Ken Earnest lost his right leg more than a year ago. After going through his own rehabilitation, he's now a volunteer at the Covenant Rehab Center in Waterloo offering information and advice to fellow amputees.
"Now I can give back to people I can really relate to," said Ken Earnest.
One person Ken relates to is Nick Rodgers. Rodgers lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident about four months ago.
"It's hard. It's real hard," said Nick Rodgers.
Rodgers comes to rehab three days a week, and he said it's great to talk with someone who's already been there.
"It helps you because then you know more what to expect," said Rodgers.
"A big phrase that stuck in my mind is that you have to learn to do things differently. You can still do things, but you have to learn how to do them differently," said Ken Earnest.
Earnest's amputation journey starts about four years ago. He had a knee replacement, then he fell and dislocated the implant. He had to go back for surgery to replace the implant and got an infection, which he battled for a year and a half.
"But it got worse. You've heard of MRSA, there's something worse than MRSA called VRE. I went up to the Mayo Clinic trying to find a cure. They couldn't," said Earnest.
Doctors believed amputation was the only way to get rid of the infection and to save Ken's life. The amputation was May 18, 2011.
"Your life changes in an instant, so what can you do to make it better," he said.
Ken Earnest said besides the obvious physical part of an amputation, a person also needs to adjust mentally, which is something he tries to address while volunteering.
His biggest piece of advice for another amputee is to not be afraid to ask for help. He needed it, and that's what he's here for now.
For his efforts to help other amputees, Ken Earnest was honored as the 2012 Rehabilitant of the Year through Covenant Rehabilitation Center.
Ken was surprised by the award, but happy to know he's making a difference in the lives of other amputees.
Ken and his wife also started an amputee support group. It meets the third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Clark Prosthetics in Waterloo.
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