Injury-free run music to Healy's ears
NOVEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Cian Healy has established a reputation as a DJ and turned his hand to painting, but the grizzled Irish prop is delighted he has not had to take them up yet full-time.
The 30-year-old Leinster star - who has been pivotal to their three European Cup successes - will run out on Saturday at Lansdowne Road to take on Argentina for his 73rd cap two years after he came close to having to retire because of a serious neck injury.
That came months after he had torn his hamstring from the bone and the season prior to that had undergone ankle surgery.
Healy, who will be one of the few players to have played in all three November Tests, admits it was hard work trying to remain upbeat through that nightmare.
"They are pretty dark days but after one or two of them you know you have to fit a little schedule together," Healy told the media ahead of the Pumas clash.
"With my hamstring I couldn't get out of the house much, so my mates would be coming round to my house for a coffee to help me fill time.
"Then you start to plan your route back. But it's never easy being injured, it's usually a lonely enough place.
"It's tough to see the lads heading out to the pitch when you're heading into the gym to put a rubber band around your leg for 20 minutes.
"It can be miserable if you don't have anyone to lean on.
"But I was lucky enough to have my girlfriend, my mates from Clontarf and mates from school to drop by, even for something as simple as movie night."
Healy, who made his debut for Ireland back in November 2009 and has been part of two Six Nations title winning sides, admits the neck injury had caused him the most angst about whether his stellar career was about to see the final curtain drop.
"The neck is just something that hasn't happened to too many people," he said.
"Rip a hammy off the bone and you know you're six months away, but I said I wanted to target five months from that.
"But with the nervous system and structure like that I didn't have a guideline so I couldn't be a little bit cocky about it.
"And that was difficult because then you're battling demons on is this going to affect your career, and is it going to affect your life. Will you be able to turn the key in the door, because my arm had gone weak.
"So you just have to get on top of all of that stuff and keep as positive a mind frame as possible."
Healy, who goes by the name DJ Church on the music circuit and teams up with DJ Gordo, says his form has only really come together since last month.
"It's only in the last while, since the start of October, that I've started to play a bit better and started to get on the ball a bit more, and have a bit more bounce about myself," said Healy.
"And then there's the little devil on your shoulder telling you 'Jesus, this isn't it, this is going to go up another level again'."
Healy, who is also a dab hand at abstract portrait paintings with the likes of Brian O'Driscoll and Johnny Sexton having been models for him, says playing with his dogs provided an unlikely source of relaxation when he was laid up at home.
"Dogs are very handy for injured lads to be honest, dogs in the house burns time pretty easy," he said.
However, Healy does not see himself trading being a DJ or an artist for a professional dog walker when he does finally hang up his boots.
"Oh Jesus no, I couldn't manage more than two!"