OKINAWA, Japan --
It's been a relentless journey for U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kamerin Hervey, a Longmont, Colorado, native. Emotions were tugged left and right; he was unsure whether his shins would heal. Against the odds, Hervey was told good news .
Hervey, an administrative law clerk with the Legal Services Support Section, Headquarters and Support Battalion, was in a wheelchair for seven weeks due to an injury he sustained at recruit training. He was diagnosed with bilateral, tibial-stress fractures extending 60 percent through the tibial bone.
Bound by a wheelchair, on March 26, he entered into the physical therapy office, prepared for the worse. With a racing heart and a timid voice, he asked his physical therapist for the news. He knew this moment would determine his future forever. Little did he know, this would be the last time he would be wheeled-in to his treatment.
“Your shins are healed; you no longer need to use the wheelchair,” said his doctor. He soaked in every last word.
It was a moment of pure joy.
“After she told me, I felt like a bird learning how to fly for the first time,” said Hervey. “I felt free.”
He explains that he was not expecting the good news. While in the wheelchair it was common for his legs to be in pain even when sitting down. He was puzzled why, and he thought it was because they were not healing. However, it was the contrary.
U.S. Navy Lt. Jacey Brown, the physical therapy division officer, explains that since Hervey has been dealing with a bilateral, tibial-stress fracture for over a year and a half, she anticipated a prolonged healing period. She was happy to see that just after seven weeks, it was completely, bilaterally healed.
“Once I was told they had healed, and I was good to start walking around again, it was probably the best feeling I've had in a while,” said Hervey. “I am a lot happier now. I can come and go as I please. My overall mood is just better. I don't have to roll around in a wheelchair and get odd looks. Then, explain to everyone who passes me as to why I am in a wheelchair.”
“Know your limit. Know when to stop because I didn't, and I faced the consequences. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because it may just change your life.” U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kamerin Hervey, a Legal Services Support Section administrative law clerk
He still maintains his limited duty status to preserve his newly healed shins. In the meantime, he attends physical therapy once a week at the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Additionally, on his own time he performs exercises, provided by the physical therapy technician, 3-5 times a week.
“When I told him that he was good to come out of the wheelchair and progressively return to weight-bearing as tolerated, he was elated,” said Brown. “He was excited to not be confined to the wheelchair, and to not be dependent upon his peers. He was also very excited to move forward in the next phase of rehab.”
Despite the good news, his shins are still susceptible to injury. The very idea that his shins have a high chance of refracturing looms over Hervey. Therefore, he expresses it is imperative that he stays cognizant of his surroundings and actions during this transition off the wheelchair.
“I am nervous because last time I thought my legs were healed, and when I started to get back into things, they just refractured, and I was back at square one,” he said. “The possibility is constantly in the back of my head. One wrong move and it could happen again. I don't want to go through that experience again.”
As of now, Hervey shall only perform functional activities and refrain from high impact movements. For the next eight weeks, Hervey and the physical therapy team will focus on strength training and slowly transition into impact exercises.
After his first physical therapy appointment, Hervey describes that he felt soreness in his legs which he has not felt in over a year. However, he reminisced in the unfamiliar feeling.
With a month into his newly found ‘freedom,’ Hervey continues to dedicate his time into training and getting back into his desired routine.
“Since I am not restricted to a wheelchair anymore, I can truly be a Marine again,” he said. “Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy taking the physical fitness test and combat fitness test. When you’ve been in my position long enough, anything is fun. Once I am able, I will start getting back into it and training for the fitness tests.”
Once Hervey is cleared for full duty, he aspired to be a Marine Security Guard. This was Hervey’s original goal prior to his injury. As Hervey progresses in his treatment, he is getting back on his feet, one step at a time.
“Lance Cpl. Hervey has been compliant from the start with all recommendations discussed,” said Brown. “At each treatment visit, he has given our team his full effort and that effort continues today into his second phase of rehab. With patience and adequate time, I believe Lance Cpl. Hervey will be able to progress well and return to full duty once he completes his rehab program.”
His journey ahead may be long, but there remains a light at the end of the tunnel.
Although Hervey is not completely injury-free, he explains that he’s joyous that walking and other activities that used to give him pain, do not anymore. With his newfound knowledge gained from his injury he continues to share his story and pass along his own insight.
“Know your limit,” he advises. “Know when to stop because I didn't, and I faced the consequences. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because it may just change your life.”