My Friend Keith
Edited – Keith sadly passed away on March 15, 2018. It was devastating to me, which is why I wanted to make sure this post was still up and available for anyone who knew Keith and those who did to see it. Please read Keith’s obituary here.
My last real post was kind of a downer, so let’s kick it up a notch, shall we?
Have you ever known someone who faced massive adversity, yet didn’t seem to let that get them down? Despite life seemingly grabbing them by the hair and kicking them in the nuts, they simply shrugged it off and continued on and said: “That was yesterday, what’s today?”.
That’s my friend Keith Troutman.
Sadly, I’ve yet to meet Keith in person. It’s something I have to do. Soon. He’s one hell of a guy and I’ll tell you why despite the fact I am likely violating HIPPA laws in the process.
A while ago, a diving accident paralyzed Keith. He went from, based on the pictures he showed me, a pretty badass surfer dude, to a wheelchair confined quadriplegic in the blink of an eye. For many of us, myself included, this would be a traumatic event. Hell, I’m sure it was for Keith. I’ve never really talked with him about what he went through when it happened, or what he felt like right after it happened, mainly because it’s not important. What’s important is the lesson he’s taught me now.
I’ve known Keith for years. I can’t remember exactly when I met him. I am pretty sure it was back from the time I was using ICQ, an ancient instant messaging program from the ’90s and early aughts. It blew my fucking mind when he told me that he was paralyzed. “How do you type?!?” I can remember myself asking, thinking he had some futuristic speech-to-text fancy shit.
“A stick in my mouth,” was his low-tech answer.
Dafuq? What’s more is that not only could Keith type accurately, using this method, but he has become a web developer; coding web pages in the same way he chats with me.
Meanwhile, after my seizures I fell into an ‘OMFG THE WORLD IS ENDING MY LIFE SUCKS WAAAA POOR ME’ cycle of self-pity, despite still having full use of my arms, legs, and a job. However the more I looked at what Keith has done, even while bouncing in and out of the hospital due to his condition, the sicker I made myself for being such a damned drama queen.
I realized that my friend Keith had within him the epitome of human perseverance. He wasn’t going to give up. He wasn’t going to surrender. He was going to continue to live his life, and if he had to stay in his chair, then so be it. He would use it to his advantage; becoming a skilled HTML coder and now a pretty savvy HAM radio operator.
Today is my friend Keith’s birthday. I don’t really have a gift to get him, so I will do the next best thing. I will take what I have learned from him and be sure to apply it to my life. Not look at obstacles as roadblocks, but rather as challenges that dare me to overcome them; as tools to make my life more rewarding and more complete. If you follow my friend Keith’s example, you realize a break in the road doesn’t mean that you’re stuck, but simply means that you need to find a different road to take.
My friend Keith did this, and he did it spectacularly. This is why I tell him he’s a huge inspiration to me.
Happy birthday, Keith. I wish you many more years of inspiring dopey, anime-obsessed knuckleheads like me.