Spike came in this week for a chat. Nothing special in that really. We meet four or five times a year now to tweak his meds, catch up with the doings of the clever doctors in his various clinics, and the not so clever apparatchiks in the DWP.
Mostly what he needs me for is certificates to verify his status and the odd re-jig of his painkillers. The interesting bit is his status. You see Spike is a Revenant.
O.K. not the sort you need to fend off with garlic. Indeed Spike can walk quite happily abroad in the daylight. He can do it in Blighty too, and does, mostly, though not without a constant reminder of his if not unique then certainly uncommon circumstance. Oh and you can see him in mirrors too, in case you were wondering.
The difference between Spike and those other more spooky returners from beyond the veil is how he got here. Some time ago he was working in a factory. Having worked there pretty much all his adult life he reckoned he knew what he was doing, so when colleagues needed a hand unloading something big and hefty and made out of steel (sorry my grip of the technicalities here is perhaps a tad fuzzier than would be ideal), he stepped up, like always, and lent them a hand—in fact both hands and the whole rest of himself—as he had countless times before. This last time things went a little less than well, and in no time Spike found about half of himself pinioned under the hefty thing. In took something over an hour, cranes and such, and expert paramedics to extricate him.
In that time Spike drifted away for a while, and when he came too he was hooked up to all sorts of exciting contraptions which were re-expanding the lung that his rib fractures had collapsed, holding his leg back together, and supplying the pain relief he was going to need pots and pots of before he would be ready to try to move at all. Nobody said much at the time, but for a little while he had been what,in less technically gifted times might reasonably be called a bit dead.
It’s taken a while, but he’s now back on his feet and this week we got to discuss the various absurdities of his current position. Like anybody left disabled, either by health or injury, Spike has had to be assessed, and has become, like Schroedinger’s celebrated cat before him, a thing of percentages. Apparently, to the DWP he’s now only roughly 33% of his former self and in a bizarre twist, according to his employer’s solicitors he’s responsible for being so in a roughly similar proportion, since it wasn’t in his job description to help out his mates, and he wasn’t wearing the approved safety kit.
All Spike knows is it hurts him to walk now. Not much, but enough to stop him getting out and about like he used to. He can walk the dog, a bit, and do the garden, sometimes, but as for getting back to work, he’s still a long way off. Then there's sleep. Between nightmares he’s fine, and no he wouldn’t like sleeping pills and no the counsellor lady hasn’t helped a lot. And as to the hospital, a nice sister in ITU who had seen him through the worst asked him last month if he realized how lucky he was to have cheated death, like this was something to be instantly and unhesitatingly grateful for, despite loss of livelihood, and severe limitation of many of the functions he suffers that we all take for granted.
Spike knows, in a sense, he has been lucky, or at least luckier than he might have been, but her well intentioned comment really hasn’t helped. He now feels guilty about the bitterness and the sheer panic that sometimes overwhelm him when he’s transported back to his time on ITU or worse to the day it all happened and his old life ended.
So I tell him that’s o.k. and that for 1/3 of a Spike he’s doing pretty well and day by painful day he’s getting better. Who knows, soon he might even make a 1/2 Spike, and even now in his diminished and revenant state he’s still more of a man than some I look after who are notionally whole. And so we decide that this afterlife isn’t so bad after all, but he’s quite right when he says we should all be so lucky...
* I know this is a bit of a reach, but Virtual Hob Nob on offer if you link post and title-- you all know the drill by now I hope;-)