Mike’s Bloody Cast
Uncle Mike spend nearly six months twirling in that bed. He was so sea sick when they took him off it, he would have rivalled any sailor in a wobbly walking contest. If he could walk at all that was. All the doctors were amazed at Mike's recovery, it was nearly supernatural.
"Thank God that's over, Doc," said Mike, as the orderlies were undoing the straps that had kept him in place, for nearly half a year.
"You've done great Mike, but you still have a way to go. We're putting you in a cast. You'll have to take it easy for a good while yet. Your bones have knitted, but they’re still very weak."
"Slap her on Doc, and let’s get this show on the road. Rita is driving up in the van to get me."
The doctor started laughing, "You're going nowhere in a van, or a car for that matter."
"How the hell am I getting back to Killblaney? I don't think you'll land a chopper in me yard."
"Were sending you home by ambulance."
"Ah that's daft Doc, there is nothing wrong with me. It's just a cast. I was going to have a go at driving home myself, I can feel my feet just fine."
"Now that is daft, Mike. You can’t walk, there is no way you can drive."
"I wouldn't be walking, Doc I’d be sitting. Once I get old Betsy into fourth gear, all I need do is guide her home. After all, it's downhill from Dublin to there."
The consultant started laughing again, "Don't count on sitting much either."
"What do you mean by that?" Mike called, after the consultant as he walked toward the door.
"You'll see," said the doctor, over his shoulder and left the ward.
When Mike was wheeled from the plaster room, he knew exactly why the doctor was laughing. From his neck to his waist, he was completely encased in a rock hard tube of plaster. His hands were jutting out of his body at a thirty degree angles, and braced with timber struts. The nurse that had applied the cast had been so quick, Uncle Mike told her if she ever got sick of the job, she could always come plastering for him.
Uncle Mike was laid out in the ambulance, like a pole-axed scarecrow. Rita tried to keep up in the overheating van, as they journeyed south. He was uncomfortable, but Mike felt great to be headed home after so long, discomfort was a small price to pay. When Mike got home, they had a bed ready for him in the sitting room, there was no way he was going to manage the stairs. Uncle Mike didn't think it was too bad actually, close to the fridge and the TV, what else could a man want. Over the next few days, he found a few other things that would fill his dreams.
The first of these is to be able to go to the bathroom by himself. It was embarrassing. But the real bane of his life was growing by the day, it was quite literally, an itch he couldn't scratch.
"Rita!" he called, from the sitting room. "Rita, bring a clothes hanger."
She left the spuds she was pealing and went into the sitting room. There was Mike wiggling around as much as he could. His face scrunched up in annoyance.
"What do you want a clothes hanger for?" she asked.
"I have a flipping itch, it's driving me crazy." Rita threw her eyes to heaven, but went to rummage in her wardrobe. It just so happened, shortly after that, Father Tom decided to call. The priest knocked on the door but got no answer. He could hear the sound of the TV coming from the sitting room, as well as voices. Father Tom tried the door and found it open. Back in those days, it wasn’t unusual to find a door locked. Friends and neighbours often wandered in for a chat. Father Tom stepped into the hall. From the semi opened sitting room door came the sound of voices
"Oh God - yes, Rita. That's lovely pet, a bit harder," Mike said. Father Tom's hand hovered over the handle.
"How does that feel?" a woman's voice.
"Fecken haven , shove it in a bit further will you."
"Is that enough?"
"That's it. That's IT! Harder, Whooho , Faster."
Father Tom's hand fell away from the handle. He backed out of the hall, closing the door quietly behind him. Father Tom hurried away, red faced. If he had only opened the door he would have seen Rita, itching Uncle Mikes back under the cast using an unravelled clothes hanger.
Over the following weeks, Uncle Mike was visited daily by a physiotherapist. He felt the exercises she had him doing, were far too easy. Mike was an all or nothing kind of guy, he was the kind of man that would use a cannon to swat a fly. One day, after the Physio had left, Mike decided to take things into his own hands. He sent one of the kids get his brother PJ. Rita arrived back home to find PJ, and the kids, hoisting Uncle Mike out of the bed.
"What the hell is going on." she asked.
"I'm getting out of this bed. Are you going to stand there shouting at us, or give us a hand?"
With Rita and PJ pulling, the three kids pushing from the back, Mike was levered to his feet. His knees wobbled under the unaccustomed strain. Rita and PJ had to take most of his weight. With all his might, Uncle Mike forced his legs to take the strain. Little by little, they let Mike stand alone, shakily, but standing. With rivers of sweat running down his face, Mike forced a smile, "See. Easy."
After that, Mike was helped up on his feet again and again. His legs taking the weight better each time. The next time the Physio visited, Mike called for Rita to help him up. When the Physio saw what they were going to do, she went pale.
"Hang on, you can’t do that," she said to Rita.
"Tell him not me," said Rita, helping Mike swing himself out of the bed. With just a little pull he was on his feet.
"What do you think of that," said Mike, beaming from ear to ear.
The Physio looked on, slack jawed. "There is no way you should be standing Mike. It's not possible." Once she had the chance to get over her shock, she advised Mike that he should not push things to quickly, or he might end up undoing all the good he had done. She had no idea who she was dealing with. Uncle Mike had decided he had enough of laying around, and once my Uncle Mike got something into his head, nothing was going to stand in his way.
Soon, Mike was able to get up by himself, and began taking his first shuffling steps. The sound of crashing ornaments became common place, as he stumbled around the house, with stiff arms and stiffer legs. One afternoon, Rita arrived home to find Mike flat on his back in the middle of the kitchen.
"Holy God, Mike, are you ok? What happened?"
"I went left, but my legs went right, I'm grand girl."
"Did you hurt yourself? Should I call Dr Carey?"
"I didn't feel a thing. This cast is like an all over crash helmet. Just give the lads a call to lift me up."
With PJ on the way over to give a hand, Mike had no choice but to stay where he was until he got there. Rita got on with putting away the shopping. They chatted away as if it was the most normal thing in the world, Rita having to walk around Mike as she went about her chores. When PJ arrived he found Rita sitting at the kitchen table drinking tea, Mike lying on the floor with his mug sitting beside his head, sipping the milky tea through a straw, chatting away about Granny Begley's missing chickens.
"Hey - about time You-sir, get me up for feck sake." Mike called, when PJ walked into the kitchen.
"Don't I get a cup of tea first? It's not like you’re going anywhere."
"Stop you messing and get me up."
"Come on Rita, Coronation Street is starting on the telly, Leave that grumpy old bollocks where he is," said PJ, taking Mikes cup of tea and heading for the sitting room with a smiling Rita following on behind.
"Lads, Hey. Don't leave me here Ah come-on!" called Mike. Inside the sitting room PJ and Rita stifled laughter. It was not often, you got one over on Uncle Mike, so they were going to enjoy it.
As months passed, Mike made extraordinary leaps forward. He was able to get up by himself and walk around the house. You have to understand that Mike was in constant discomfort, but battled through willing himself to get back on his feet. The more mobile he got, the itchier the cast became. About once an hour, you were guaranteed to hear, "This bloody cast," as Mike struggled to reach itchy areas, with a succession of kitchen implements. His reinforced upper arms were making a difficult job, impossible.
One afternoon Rita walked in on Mike getting one of the kids to saw through the timber struts with a hand saw. Once his hands had been freed from the plaster prison the true destruction began. As the days rolled by more holes appeared in his cast. It wasn't long before Mike settled himself into the driver seat of the Digger and powered it up. The shuddering and shaking had the most unusual effect on Uncle Mike. It eased the pain in his back and actually rattled the itch away. From that day on when Mike was awake, you would find him rumbling around in his digger, even when there was no work to be done.
Rita and Mike called round to Granny Begley's for a visit shortly before he was due to get the cast off. In the back yard, PJ had a rust riddled Ford Escort up on blocks, trying to fit it with a new exhaust pipe. Mike was wearing a shirt over his cast, which was a shadow of its former self. Firstly it was never going to be white again. Engine oil and gear grease had permanently blackened the cast. Holes had appeared here and there in the body but the neck and base of the cast looked like giant rats had been nibbling on it. Uncle Mike couldn’t resist the lure of a car on blocks, and soon found himself in the back yard. Rita and Granny Begley watched from the kitchen window as he wiggled his cast clad body under the jacked up front of the car. PJ was feeding the new exhaust pipe along the clamps from the back.
Now, the brothers loved each other but like most brothers, they also drove each other a little crazy at times. It was not long before the voices in the back yard began to raise in volume and tone.
"What the feck are you doing back there," came from the car near Mike’s legs.
"Shut up and just get the pipe screwed on," called PJ from the boot end of the car where his legs were kicking like a dying fish.
"Shove it closer," called Mike.
"I'm pushing it," called PJ back.
"Push it harder!" yelled Mike.
"I'm pushing the fucking thing, it’s stuck!"
"Hang on, Hang on, I see the problem. It’s caught in a hole in my bloody cast."
I don't think the two sweating men found it funny but everyone in the kitchen thought it was hilarious.