Family Man, Marine Veteran + Business Owner.
It’s late Summer and he is arriving home after giving his brother-in-law a lift. As he walks up to his house he is greeted by his cat, sunbathing in the North Carolina sun. His spritely children run around as he sits down at the home computer, excited to review and edit a recent photo shoot with his then pregnant wife. Now, she cradles the newborn in her arms and joins him, pointing out the best shots.
On December 29th, 2015, Ken reenlisted during his fifth year in the Marine Corps, committing to another four years. Out of the 21 Marines who reenlisted and applied for his job position, only seven were accepted, including Ken. “What I didn’t know at the time was only two months later I’d cut off my fingers.”
The Last Cut
The day of his accident, Ken had joined his nine-months pregnant wife, Shy, a professional photographer, and his daughter at a nearby field for a photoshoot. Once they were home Ken delved back into his workshop to finish a vision for their new son’s room: his name on the wall in a pallet style. “It was the last cut, I only needed a piece about an inch long.” His hand behind the blade, pushing the board through, the table saw cut off. As he pulled his hand away it turned back on, throwing his hand across the blade. “We were living on base at the time in North Carolina, so all of my neighbors were Marines. As soon as my buddy next door heard me cry out ‘I cut my fingers off!’ he was already running over.” Ken recalls his friend whipping off his belt and quickly making a tourniquet on his arm. “It was so fast, he was already on the phone with the medics. I looked back at my wife and asked her to get Nate, our other neighbor, to bring his tourniquet.” At the same time, a military officer arrived quickly followed by the ambulance. Ken stood up and started walking toward the ambulance, claiming to the officer trying to get him to stay seated “my fingers are chopped off, not my legs.” His adrenaline was peaking.
“I passed out in the ambulance, waking up in the hospital room surrounded by my family and friends.” Unfortunately, not all his fingers could be saved. “My thumb was already black and the only finger with circulation was my middle finger.”
My occupational therapist, Jennifer, heard about Naked Prosthetics at a conference. “She knew after our first appointment that this was the device for me. She was my therapist, occupational therapist, mental therapist, everything.”
After therapy and recovering, the Marine Corps expected him to maintain the same standard of physical ability as before his accident. Instead of forcing himself through this process, he closed that chapter of his life. After seven years as a Marine, Ken retired and shared with us he was ready to move on with the help of his Naked Prosthetics devices.
A New Start
With his device he has gained the confidence and functionality to embark on a lifetime dream, his own woodworking business. KB WouldWork started as a passion project for Ken, spending time in his garage creating beautiful cutting boards and experimenting with burning techniques.
With the addition of three MCPDrivers and a ThumbDriver, he has been able to regain fine dexterity and perform natural grip patterns necessary for these skills. Now that he has retired from the Marines, the business is a full time effort. Check out some of his work! “I let myself mourn for a day and move on. I realized after that I love woodworking and once I had my device I was able to do it more than just a hobby, I’ve made it a business.”
Ken is an active member of the Facebook Group, helping to facilitate group calls and sharing milestones like doing his daughter’s hair again and throwing up the peace sign after recovery! Ken and Shy live in a cozy home in North Carolina with their four children and two pets. At the time of the accident his daughter was only two years old, now four years old she proudly replies when asked what dad wears: “a prosthetic!”