Jeff King lives his positive attitude. That and his family have helped him make a remarkable recovery from a traumatic brain injury suffered Dec. 30.
He's done so well that Saturday or Sunday he will leave the rehabilitation program at QLI in Omaha and head home to Callaway, Neb., where he will continue rehab.
Last year, King fell 10 to 12 feet off a friend's roof, landing headfirst in the driveway in rural Callaway. He doesn't remember the accident, but he knows he is lucky to have survived.
Four hospitals and two surgeries later, he arrived April 4 at QLI.
“This facility is simply amazing,” King said. “I've come so much further here.”
Since he arrived, he has relearned to walk unassisted, although he uses a wheelchair, too. He also is building strength in his left arm and hand.
King spends four to five hours daily on some kind of therapy, including physical, occupational and speech.
“I've learned a lot because of this,” King said. “I've learned so much as I've met people.”
He's also given back.
He greets fellow residents daily as they arrive at QLI's Lied Life Center. And he's the first to give an encouraging word or full-scale pep talk to a discouraged resident.
King plans to continue similar work, volunteering at a care home in Callaway.
“He's very big on helping others,” said King's wife, Misty.
His challenges include controlling his emotions, a common occurrence for persons with brain injuries, getting dressed and “remembering everything I have to do to progress.”
The biggest hurdle, though, is being away from his family.
“This is almost impossible,” King said. “It breaks my heart” to be away from Misty, daughters Kodi and Kacee and 3-year-old son Jakob.
“It's been hard on (the girls), but it's been harder on Jakob. We were inseparable at home. He was with me in everything I did,” Jeff King said.
The King family has visited its patriarch nearly every weekend.
“They've made it very homey for us,” said Misty King. Even Oso, the family's long-hair Chihuahua, knows his way around from the many visits.
Jeff and Jakob King were an impetus behind building a campus playground this summer, said Carsten Froehlich of QLI. The new playground helps residents, who have brain and spinal cord injuries, reconnect with their children.
When Jeff King returns to Callaway, he'll be going to the family home, not a care center. For now, however, he won't be able to use the back door.
“I've got a hammer. I can adjust it if I need to,” King said while laughing.