Once upon a time, we celebrated Memorial Day on May 30. Now, the date moves to the first Monday of the last weekend in May, a device that gives everyone a three day weekend holiday. Our troops don't usually get three day weekends. They don't often get weekends off...period. Today on the Sunday of the traditional Memorial Day commemoration, I'm giving you a bonus preview from "Once a Soldier." Please help me support our Wounded Warriors by purchasing a copy. All my royalties support The Wounded Warrior Project.
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“I’m going to swim?” Shocked dismay mixed with a glimmer of hope spread over Marco’s face.
“No, not exactly, although you’ll swim laps again before long. I’m going to show you how to use the water for some additional exercises. This particular exercise is beneficial because the water supports most of your body weight and takes the stress off your joints. I need you to think about a few things. If you submerge to neck level, the water supports ninety percent of your weight, but if you’re only comfortable in water chest deep at this point, the support will drop to seventy-five percent. I’d really like you to try the deeper water. You’ll use a flotation belt to give your form more stability.” Rafe wrote some comments on the yellow pad on which James had made notations all morning.
“The resistance of the water makes the muscles work harder to perform any movement, so it will allow you to increase their workload without stressing the joints, or in this case—the hip bones, and the bruising still left in your lower back.
“The warm water will loosen you up, reduce the pain, and make the exercises easier to do. As you progress, you’ll start water walking across the width of the pool. The water will hold you upright and give you the support for which you now use the canes.” Rafe sipped his iced tea.
“Your problem is two-fold, Marco: the neck of the femur broke close to the pelvis and the hardware inserted to put you back together, and the bruising to the vertebrae in your lower back, both place continual stress on the spine. Since you are still in considerable pain, you’re not performing up to your usual physical standard and as a result, your core muscles have weakened. It’s a vicious circle, but the broken hip has healed well, the bruising will disappear, and the proper exercises will strength those core muscles. You will walk unassisted again, Marco.”
“Yes, I will.” His jaw jutted out with determination. “Let me rest for a while and give the food time to settle. I don’t need to add stomach cramps to the equation. We’ll go over to the clubhouse pool, say in an hour.”
By the end of the day, Marco wanted nothing more than a light dinner before making an early night of it. When he awakened the next morning, he soaked out his soreness in the tub before he and James left for the clinic.
He maintained his regimen non-stop for the next ten days, and it appeared even to him, his progress showed noticeable improvement. However, sleepless nights spent deep in thought convinced him no matter how much improvement he made, his Army career would never be what it was before the chopper when down. He’d never be a Delta operative again. What am I going to do? What if I have to retire? What will happen if the Army doesn’t give me a choice? How will I make a living, worse yet, what kind of life could I offer any woman I might meet? I don’t want to spend the rest of my life as the Sugar Bears’ bachelor uncle. He must come up with some plan for the rest of his life.
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