Local morning-drive radio announcer does show from rehab hospital after leg amputation
We all have our trials and tribulations in life, and most of the time we prefer to deal with them in private.
But a local radio announcer is sharing his health crisis with his listeners to inspire them to persevere through hard times.
57 year-old Rod Kittleman is a 40-year broadcast veteran who's a popular morning drive DJ on KADI-FM, a Christian hit music station. Normally he does his shows from their studios at Sunshine and James River Freeway.
But for the last couple of weeks he's been dong his shows from the Mercy Rehab Hospital after having his right-leg amputated up to the knee.
"Broadcasting live from what I call rehab radio," Kittleman says to his listeners during his morning show from the hospital. "I play a tall buff guy on the radio that walks sideways now."
Rod hasn't lost his sense of humor despite a number of health issues. Already dealing with diabetes and in need of a kidney transplant, he suffered a stroke and then had his toes and part of his foot amputated in May.
"I'm going 'I can do this'," he recalled. "I can still walk around on my heel and all that."
But by the end of the month, doctors told him a second amputation was necessary and that he might not survive.
"So we went through surgery, and I woke up in recovery and go, 'I'm still here'," he said with a laugh. "So I don't know what God's got planned but I'm here for a reason and part of that reason is to be on the radio and talk to my listeners.
Kittleman says doing his show from his hospital room is good therapy for him and his audience.
"I've got to admit I've had some hard, dark times," he said. "But I am so thankful that Mercy has let me do this because that is part of my recovery. But I also want to share with my listeners that faith can get you through."
Kittleman has received a lot of feedback from his fans including some inflatable fish and shark heads after he jokingly said that it was a shark that had bitten his leg off.
But his most touching moment came when a five-year-old listener showed up at his hospital bed.
"He said 'God told me to come and pray for you'. And I was like, 'Wow. Five year-old hears from God and comes to see me. That's about as good as it gets'."
Kittleman still has many struggles ahead from learning to get out of a wheelchair under his own power to getting a prosthetic leg and eventually a kidney transplant. But he's doing it all with a brave face.
"I don't have phantom pain, but I have phantom feeling like I'll go, 'somebody will you scratch my toe'? And it's not there. Yes, my life has changed and it will never be the same as it was again. But don't let your dilemma define you."