Scott Klement: Happy To Be On The Rebound
April 1, 2013 Dan Burger
You never know how good or how bad you’ll be at overcoming obstacles until you’re face to face with one of these hairy monsters with no place to run, no place to hide. You may already know the story of Scott Klement, one of the most robust RPG minds on the planet, an IBM Power Systems Champion, and a guy who is on a quest to overcome adversity. Back in early January, Klement encountered some unplanned downtime.
An illness left him tired and weak, but the unexpected swiftness of his deteriorating health that spiraled downward into something life threatening was shocking to Klement and his family. One day he walked into the hospital, was the subject to a variety of tests that lasted most of the day, and by that afternoon he had lost the use of his legs. That was an indicator that things were getting really serious. Hospitalized, then transferred to a facility better equipped to handle his rare condition, tests and more tests led to two major surgeries just two days apart. The second surgery saved his life. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that his condition left him unable to walk.
Those of you who know Klement know he has never lacked determination. If you can picture the IBM i development environment as a junk yard, Klement is the junk yard dog. He knows the territory inside and out, and he’s happiest when on the prowl searching for and discovering answers that benefit others in the IBM i development community.
He has that same high level of determination when it comes to his rehab. Small steps lead to big achievements. The road to recovery is not short or straight and the challenges are not small. At one point in this ordeal as he was healing from the surgeries, Klement remembers being so weak he had to take a nap because eating a bowl of Rice Krispies completely tired him out. But by mid-February, after about a month of hospital rehab (during which he managed to “reconnect” with work by answering questions via email and generally being helpful), he was back to work on a part-time basis with his employer Profound Logic. In early March he attended the Wisconsin Midrange Computing Professionals Association technical conference in his home state so he could be part of a panel discussion. And last week he was one of the session presenters at the DB2 & SQL Summit in Atlanta, Georgia.
So you can see he has gotten quite mobile, even as he continues to rehab with the goal of regaining the use of his legs.
Getting to and from the Summit and getting around during that conference depended on the use of a wheelchair and the assistance of his wife and son. “Unless you’ve ever been in a wheelchair you don’t realize how difficult it is,” Klement says. “I needed both hands to control my wheelchair, so carrying things at the same time was difficult. My wife helped me a lot. Without her, I would not have been able to get by.”
At the Summit, Klement presided over a half-day workshop session and two 75-minute sessions on each of the other two days.
“The speaking part went fine. I discovered that I can still speak at a conference. And I got a lot of good comments. But it took a lot out of me. My body is still not normal. It is still healing and I get tired easily. I was exhausted by the end of each day. When I got home, I slept a lot to recover.”
Klement saw the Summit conference as a challenge. No one was going to tell him he couldn’t do it. He set out to prove to himself that either he could or he couldn’t. Now he has the satisfaction of knowing he could handle it.
He has cancelled other speaking engagements in the near future because he needs a person to help take care of many needs and he realizes it is unfair to ask his wife, his son, or others to do that.
However, he is not giving up on getting back to doing all the things he has done in the past. He is working hard with his therapist to regain the ability to stand and walk. He is also talking to wheelchair technicians to modify his chair to better carry the stuff he needs to work.
A physical therapist visits him at home twice a week to assist in rebuilding leg strength to stand and walk and arm strength to help him in and out of the wheelchair in the meantime.
There’s progress every day and his spirits are up.
“I have a list of goals and I try to do more than I’m being asked to do. I want to work really hard. If they asked me to do 20 pull-ups, I do 40,” he says.
Working on relearning to walk is the hardest thing.
Group therapy with others helps. The help of doctors is certainly important. The doctors have told him not to expect to “get his legs back” in less than a year, but Klement says, “They don’t want to promise anything. Some patients never regain the ability to walk. But I’m going to try to beat that one-year estimated schedule. I’m very lucky working for Profound. I’ve worked from home since I started with the company. As it is now, the injury hasn’t really affected my job other than the travel aspect.”
For now he won’t be making customer site visits.
That’s tough on him. He misses the face-to-face interaction with people. As a prolific speaker, trainer, and educator, he believes there is added value in the type of in-person communication and interaction that is lost in webinars and other forms of remote communication. However, he has done many well-received webcasts in the past and he expects to do webcasts in the future.
Encouragement is excellent therapy. Klement says it is the encouragement he receives from well-wishers that helps him keep his spirits up and is the fuel that powers his comeback. If you are inspired by Scott Klement, let him know. He has a blog on the Profound Logic website that details his recovery and you can drop him a note there.
“When you come out of a life event like this you have choices,” he says. “You can complain, play it for sympathy, say it is unfair . . . or you can see recovery as a problem solved. I am getting better every day, and I’m going to fight for that. When you have those two choices, why wouldn’t you pick the choice of being happy? You have bad days. I can’t say that I’ve been happy every day. Things go wrong. You have to overcome.”