tagRomancePhysical Therapy For The Soul

Physical Therapy For The Soul

byTony155©

Chapter 1

Zerrick Collier pulled into the back parking lot of St. Anne's Hospital and saw the sign for the rehabilitation center. He parked as close to the entrance as possible, hoping to navigate the slick pavement with his crutches for the least amount of distance.

He had torn the anterior cruciate ligament and all the surrounding cartilage in his left knee playing basketball two months earlier. After extensive reconstructive surgery whereby the patellar tendon was taken from beneath his kneecap and used to replace his ligament, Zerrick was now ready to begin getting his knee back into shape.

A bitter February wind went right through him as he carefully made his way across the parking lot to the entrance of the rehab center. He now wished he had worn something warmer, but usually the cold didn't bother him. This day was different.

Shivering after entering the warm building, Zerrick crutched slowly to the reception desk. He was told to have a seat and someone would be with him in a few minutes. Through the glass, Zerrick looked into the rehab center. There didn't seem to be very many patients there that day, but they were scattered about doing various exercises and weight training. Some were working with trainers while others worked by themselves. There was a running track and Zerrick could see an entrance to a swimming pool in the far corner.

Fifteen minutes later, Zerrick was reading a magazine when he heard his named called. Looking up, he saw a small, slightly built female waiting patiently for him at the door. She looked to be five foot nothing and maybe ninety pounds soaking wet.

Slowly, he got up and walked with his crutches over to her where she held the door open for him. At five feet ten and around one hundred and seventy pounds, Zerrick felt like a giant when he went past her.

"I'm Theresa Stanton," she said in a pleasant voice. Theresa stuck out her hand and Zerrick took it. "I'm going to be your therapist while you're here." She glanced at her clipboard.

"I'm glad to meet you," Zerrick replied.

He looked at her more closely. She seemed even more petite than when he first saw her. Theresa appeared to have almost no bust under her loose fitting green polo shirt, but she did have very shapely legs coming out of her khaki shorts. Her wavy brown hair was shoulder length and matched her chocolate brown eyes. She looked to be about his age, no more than twenty five or so.

Theresa looked at his knee which she could see was encased in a bulky brace under his sweat pants. "How is it feeling today?" she asked.

"Not too bad," Zerrick answered. "I'm able to put a little bit of weight on it without too much trouble. Dr. Fitzsimmons wanted me to take it easy until I saw you guys."

Theresa nodded and jotted notes on her clipboard. "Well, today we're going to show you around and maybe put you on a stationary bike to start working on your flexibility."

"Great.".

He wanted to get started. Zerrick had been very antsy not being able to do anything since the surgery. He wanted to get his knee in shape so he could get back to work on a light duty basis. He was an insurance adjustor. His surgeon warned him that it could take between six and nine months for his knee to get back to one hundred percent.

Theresa walked with him slowly as she showed him the different stations of the rehab center. There were eight stationary bikes, four weight machines, two electronic stimuli machines, and other training apparatus. In the middle of the main area there were six sturdy padded tables where exercises and manipulations took place. She also showed him the swimming pool where most of his early rehab would take place. Theresa introduced him to the trainers in that area, too.

As they walked out of the swimming area, Theresa asked, "Did you wear shorts under your sweat pants today?"

"No," Zerrick replied.

"From now on," she instructed, "wear shorts. And bring along a swimming suit for your pool work. We have towels here so you don't have to worry about that. The locker rooms are through that door." She pointed to the left.

"Okay," he said.

They were near the middle of the room by then.

"Go ahead and take off your coat and we'll do a little bit of work," Theresa said.

Zerrick shrugged off his coat and handed it to Theresa, who put it on one of the tables. He then followed her to the stationary bikes.

"Hop up on the bike and we'll have you go about five minutes and see how it feels," she said.

Zerrick got on the bike with a little bit of difficulty while Theresa stood by with his crutches. When he got seated, his left knee was in the upward position and he was in quite a bit of discomfort. He tried to move the knee to start, but he found he didn't have the strength.

"What's the matter?" Theresa asked, although she already knew the answer.

"I can't get it started," he replied. "It's too stiff."

Smiling to herself, Theresa put the crutches aside and moved to the knee. With both hands surrounding the brace, she gently forced the leg down until his good leg was able to continue the cycle. Theresa kept her hands on the knee for a few more rotations until Zerrick got into an awkward rhythm.

The knee was very sore from his non-activity since the surgery and he grimaced each time he had to bend it. Theresa watched him as he continued his struggle. Sweat beads were starting to form above his eyebrows.

It was a nice change of pace for Theresa to get a patient who was around her age and a man, too. Most of her patents were of the geriatric variety and they almost always were female. Most of them had knee or hip replacements and she had to be extremely careful with their regimen. It was nice to have a young, strong individual whom she could work hard.

She liked the looks of Zerrick. He had black hair with eyes to match and below his high cheek bones was a sharp, angular jaw. As dark as his eyes were, they still had warmth about them.

Theresa could see he was fighting through the pain and discomfort and that pleased her. He had a pain tolerance with which she could work.

When the five minutes were up, Zerrick stopped pedaling and exhaled loudly. His knee was throbbing and tired.

"Okay," Theresa announced, "now we'll do it in reverse for five more minutes."

Zerrick looked at her in surprise. "You've got to be kidding," he exclaimed. "It's hurting enough as it is."

"It hurts because you've been too easy with it," Theresa countered. "This rehab of yours is going to hurt, so you might as well get used to it. I'm going to work you hard so that it gets better faster. That's what you want, isn't it?"

"Well, yeah..."

"Then quit your bitching and do what I ask."

Theresa looked at him to see if he was going to accept her challenge or quit. "Come on," she said a bit more nicely, "you'll get through it with no trouble."

She knelt down as before, wrapping her hands around the brace covered knee. She then started his knee in the opposite direction. This exercise was even more awkward for Zerrick, but he did the best he could. After about three minutes, though, he couldn't continue and stopped pedaling.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"It's just too sore. I don't have any strength left."

"You don't have much of a pain tolerance, do you?" She cocked an eyebrow.

"What do you mean by that?"

Theresa's eyes narrowed. "I've got patients in their sixties who can do five minutes after a knee replacement. I think you should be able to do five minutes of reverse cycling."

"You don't know anything about my pain," Zerrick hissed.

Theresa's eyes narrowed even more before she spoke, her hands on her hips.

"I know you quit when others haven't. If you haven't received the clue, let me spell it out for you. I am going to be very tough on you and I am going to be tough on you because the harder you work, the faster you walk or run out of here and not have me on your ass anymore. Is that motivation enough for you?"

She liked challenging guys and pissing them off. It usually made them work harder.

"Or," she continued, "you can find another therapist who won't work you very hard and then it'll take a year or more before you're one hundred percent. What's it going to be?"

With her arms crossed, Theresa waited patiently for his answer. Zerrick returned her stare and silently cursed her for putting him through so much pain. But, he was even more mad about the fact that he knew she was right.

"All right," he grumbled, "lead on, dungeon master."

Theresa smiled slightly. "Come on, then, we'll go to the table now."

Theresa handed him his crutches as he gingerly lowered himself to the floor. They went to the nearest table and she motioned for him to sit on it.

"Straighten your leg on the table as much as possible," she instructed.

When he did so, the back of his knee was still almost two inches above the surface. Theresa peered at the gap, measured it, and jotted something on his chart.

"Here's one exercise you can do at home. Sit on the floor and flex your thigh muscle so that you can get the back of your knee to touch the floor. Do that for five minutes, three times a day. Understand?"

Zerrick nodded. He flexed his thigh as instructed and tried to push down on the knee, seeing no movement.

"It'll take some time," Theresa said reassuringly, "but you'll see a difference fairly quickly.

Zerrick nodded again.

"Now, move your foot towards your butt and we'll see how far you can go."

Zerrick moved his foot back, but it wasn't very far. Theresa took out a measuring device and calculated how many degrees he could bend the knee. She jotted down more notes.

"By the time I'm finished with you, your heel will touch your butt. I promise you that. You can work on that at home, too."

She went to a nearby desk and produced a packet of papers. When she came back, she said, "Here are some exercises I want to you to do." She handed them to him before demonstrating each exercise and telling him how often to do them.

When she finished, she had him pull up the leg of his sweat pants and remove the brace. She handed him a huge bag of ice and a towel and told him to ice down his knee and that she'd be back in ten minutes. She set a timer so that he'd know when to take off the ice.

During that time, Zerrick thought about his session with her. He was still upset about her brusque demeanor and apparent lack of sympathy, but he didn't want another therapist. If she was true to her word and would have him back in shape in a quick amount of time, he could put up with her being tough. She was going to get his knee back in shape, even if it killed him, he guessed.

The ten minutes passed slowly as Zerrick's eyes roamed the center. He was surprised to see that he was one of only a handful of patients left. He saw Theresa in a remote corner sipping on a cola and writing notes in patient files. Zerrick thought she was cute; not a real beauty, but nice to look at. She seemed to be very fit and Zerrick always admired athletic women.

When the ten minutes elapsed, Zerrick took the ice and towel off his knee and examined it. It was red, swollen, and misshapen; not much different from when he first came in.

Theresa came to his side quietly, looking over his shoulder at the knee. "That doesn't look too bad. It's better than a lot of guys who come in here. Dr. Fitzsimmons did a good job, as he always does."

"You've seen his work?" Zerrick asked.

"Oh yeah, we get a lot of his patients. He's good." She looked down at his chart and her watch. "Is this a good time for you to come in? I work late on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday."

"It's a good time for me," he said.

"Good. Then, we'll set your schedule as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at five o'clock. You'll go to the pool first and then we'll find each other when you're done. Okay?"

"Sure." he replied.

"You're all done for today. Make sure you do those exercises every day, including tonight."

Zerrick looked at her in exasperation.

"I know you've had a good workout, but you'll feel better about it when you see the difference in the next few weeks." She closed his file and put her pen in her shirt pocket. "I'll see you Wednesday."

"See you," Zerrick replied, not too enthusiastically.

Chapter 2

As he completed his first month of therapy, Zerrick could see a significant difference in his mobility and range of motion. He had discarded his crutches after the first week of therapy and although his limp was quite noticeable, it wasn't too bad considering the time since the surgery. He looked forward to his pool sessions where the water provided the perfect resistance while putting the least amount of weight on his leg.

He was doing much better on the stationary bike and he actually looked forward to his sessions with Theresa. She seemed to be loosening up a bit and would smile a lot while around him. And he noticed she had a nice smile, too.

It during his Friday session that fourth week when something strange happened which would change the way he felt about her. It began as his sessions usually did. He spent the first half hour in the pool doing his walking and other exercises. After he toweled off and changed into his shorts and tee shirt, he made his way to the bikes where he began to ride.

For some reason that day, his knee refused to loosen. He fought through the stiffness gamely, but it got no better.

Theresa ambled up to him after she saw him laboring from across the room. "How's it going today, Zerrick?" She asked.

"It won't loosen up at all," he complained as he continued to pedal.

"Well, after you're finished, come over to the tables and I'll work on it."

"Wonderful," Zerrick said sarcastically. Theresa working on his knee usually meant pain involved. Oh, she could get it loosened up, but her methods made him grimace more than a few times.

"No pain, no gain," she chuckled as she walked away.

Once he was finished on the bike, he limped over to the padded table where she was waiting.

"On your stomach," she instructed.

He climbed onto the table and lay on his stomach. Theresa got behind him, grabbed his leg, and using her strength and weight, gently pushed forward moving his leg towards his butt. She would ease off after a second or two, then would do it all over again.

Zerrick grimaced every time his leg resisted her force. Although she was gentle, she was persistent in getting the knee working. If the pain got too intense, Zerrick would only have to say "time" and Theresa would immediately ease back.

After a few minutes, Theresa was satisfied with the progress and patted his leg to have him sit up. As usual, her polo shirt was too big, loose fitting, and billowed out at the waist. She was given a man's small size for her work, but even that was too big. She stood in front of him and bent down to take hold of his ankle for some stretching. As she bent down and forward, her shirt opened and gave Zerrick a perfect view of her braless breasts. They were very small, cone shaped from gravity, and Zerrick's jaw dropped at the sight.

"Uh..." Zerrick cleared his throat.

Theresa looked up. "What? Is there something wrong?"

"Uh...."

"What is it?"

Zerrick looked at her eyes and smiled sheepishly. He leaned forward and in a low voice said, "I think you should have worn a bra today."

Theresa's face reddened slightly, but she kept her composure. Theresa looked down at her shirt and tried to tuck it in better with her free hand.

"I rarely wear a bra," she whispered.

Zerrick looked around to see if anyone was watching.

"Why?"

Theresa didn't answer, but began to stretch and manipulate his leg.

"Why don't you wear one?" he persisted.

Theresa continued to work on his leg as she spoke. "Because I don't have anything and they're not worth looking at anyway." She looked down at his knee, avoiding looking at him.

"They looked pretty good to me," Zerrick said softly.

"Yeah, right."

"You don't take compliments very well, do you?"

Theresa dropped his leg gently and stared at him. "Can we talk about this some other time?" Her eyes were serious and a bit sad. She glanced around the room warily.

"I guess so," Zerrick replied.

She worked him long and hard that day and he didn't complain once. In fact, they were both pretty quiet during his workout, something that was unusual for them. They usually bantered with each other good natured; he telling her she was working him too hard and she telling him to shut up and quit being such a baby about it.

By the time they finished, only a few of the trainers and none of the patients were in the room. That wasn't too strange, though. Zerrick was almost always one of the last patients to leave and Theresa was always the last trainer to go home. It was her job to lock up the center on her late nights.

When she handed him his customary bag of ice, Zerrick touched her hand. "Can we talk now?" he asked.

Theresa looked around and then back to him. "Take your time getting dressed. Everyone should be gone by then." She hurried away.

After the ten minutes was over, Zerrick left the ice bag in a sink by the table and went to the locker room to change. He took a quick shower and dressed, thinking about Theresa and what just occurred. For some time now, he found he was having feelings for Theresa. He thought she was pretty from the first moment he saw her, but because of the closeness they shared during his rehab sessions, he was liking her more and more. When he emerged from the locker room, true to her word, everyone else had gone home.

Theresa was sitting at her desk making notes in her files. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Zerrick coming toward her. She had mixed feelings when it came to this patient. Against her better judgement, she started having feelings towards him almost from the start. She tried not to, tried not to let her personal feelings interfere with her professional conduct, but she found herself being drawn closer to him. She certainly didn't intend for him to see down her blouse. She always did have trouble keeping her shirt tucked in all the way. But, it didn't upset her when he pointed it out to her. In fact, it gave her a little thrill knowing he had seen her breasts, what there were of them.

She always thought about her bust size in disdain. Her mom and two sisters had normal breasts and she always wondered why she got short changed in that department. It often embarrassed her to go to the beach. She knew she had a nice figure, but she was self-conscious about her breast size, or the lack thereof. She even contemplated getting implants, but could never bring herself to do it.

He was coming closer and she sighed. She couldn't explain rationally why she was attracted to him. He was no more handsome than anyone else with whom she had been involved. He was no bigger or stronger. Maybe it was just the fact that she liked his quiet demeanor and his resolve to get his knee back in shape. Since that first rocky session, she could see he was working harder than any patient she had ever helped. She closed the file, put her pen down, and waited.

She pushed an empty chair his way and he sat down a few feet to her left. They looked at each other for a few seconds before Theresa smiled sheepishly and looked away with her chin on her hand.

"I didn't mean for it to happen," she said softly, looking back his way.

"I didn't figure you did. You've always been professional with me. I didn't want to embarrass you, but I thought you might want to know." Zerrick moved forward. "You're not mad, are you?"

Theresa smiled and patted his hand. "No, I'm not angry. I'm just wondering how many other times my shirt has flopped open." She sighed. "It doesn't matter. There's nothing there to see anyway."

"Au contraire," Zerrick said, "it was quite a sight for me." He grinned at her.

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