A PERIOD OF MIRACLES
My general health had seriously deteriorated and was convinced this was mainly due to the Zoladex 3 monthly implants. I had great difficulty in getting off a chair and was holding on to whatever I could get hold of when moving about. I could just make the stairs and had great difficulty in dressing myself. I had not been able to bath myself, nor use the shower over the bath for fear of falling or slipping when getting out. My weekly visit to the baths became a must, not just for the swim, but to use the showers. I learned later that some of my friends thought that I was on the way out.
I had no wish to go into a home or sheltered accommodation. To avoid this, I took action to get additional home assistance, by applying for attendance allowance. With the third implant being imminent, I was determined to avoid this at any cost. This meant I had to get back to the Registrar, Mr Solomon in Mr Walmsleys Consultancy team, by-passing my family doctor, who I changed from Dr Robinson to Dr Pearson.
My ruse to achieve this objective was to visit the out-patients receptionist at St Marys. I explained that I was not given any containers to hold my blood samples for analysis, which I needed to submit prior to my next visit in March 1997. This helpful receptionist asked if I would like to see Mr Walmsleys secretary. I was delighted to be asked this, for she confirmed the secretary was available to be seen in the office on the other side of hospital, in Exton Ward.
When I arrived at the consultancy office and explained the purpose of my business to the secretary, I was asked to sit down while she located my records. On returning after several minutes, she asked if I would like to speak to Mr Solomon. This was indeed music to my ears, with my strategy having been successful.
As previously, Mr Solomon listened to all I was concerned with, regarding the listlessness, locked joints and arthritis in the hands. He explained that the listlessness could be due to my treatment destroying the male hormones that the prostrate cancer fed on. It was possible that the blood, which provided energy from the supply of oxygen, was non-existant, due to the lack of male hormones, which acted as a carrier for the oxygen in the blood-stream. He agreed to change my prescription and also include treatment for the arthritis. While I was with him, he phoned Dr Pearson and told him that he was changing my treatment to Stilboestral and also prescribed Motifene for the arthritic treatment. In all, I had 30 minutes consultancy, and was overjoyed that he had listened to my ailments and changed the treatment from the implants.
I received a set-back when I went to see the chemist at the hospital, with the prescription for the new treatment. The pharmacist could not supply me with Stilboestral, nor could the other major hospitals in the area. This applied also to chemists, such as Boots. However, he supplied me with the Motifene for the arthritis treatment and Dispasprin to prevent blood clots.
My success in by-passing the doctor and obtaining a different treatment from the consultant in record time, which I thought was worthy of entry in the Guinness Book of Records, had been cancelled out with this non-availability of Stilboestral tablets. A period of two weeks passed by, without having obtained the new treatment, when I was due to visit the doctor for the Zoladex implant, which had been superseded.
On seeing Dr Pearson, he announced that my treatment had been replaced by my consultant. I told him I knew, and that I was with him when he was on the phone to him. He looked astonished and asked how I had managed to be with Mr Solomon. I told Dr Pearson that I had a key to St Marys Hospitals back door. He gave me a weird look and I was glad that he gave me his thoughts in body language. He assumed that my treatment would soon be available and made out a further prescription for my tablets. I was without my cancer treatment for a period of three weeks, before my local chemist, Nikjar and Tozer Ltd, obtained supplies of my tablets.
During this period, my physical condition remained very much the same. That was the Christmas season, when I had Harry home for a few days. It was noticeable that he was very concerned about my illness. He insisted that he brought me breakfast in bed each morning he was home, and he would keep asking if I was alright.
I had his usual supply of nuts to crack on the floor in front of the fire, and he was much more relaxed. There was a marked increase in his art hobby, having had several paintings framed, which were on display on the walls at 9 Outram Road. He had painted several garden scenes from the conservatory windows, making the Blue Spruce stand out against the rest of the garden. He did another version, with my Fairy Princess peeping through the shrubs of the garden, which now adorns a wall in Pats residence.
One of the Emsworth Stroke Club members, Gordon Vlies, who gave art lessons to a group each Thursday afternoon, was most impressed when I showed him some of Harrys efforts. He described Harrys work as being most positive, using vivid colours. I tried to persuade Harry to attend the Grove, where he was a registered pupil, like myself, on a regular basis to attend Lins art class. It was as if there was a blockage in his brain, telling him not to go. This was, of course, the paranoia that he felt everyone was looking at him, or speaking about him. I did manage to take him along in the car to the Grove, when handing a script to my creative writing tutor, Stuart Olesker. We were lucky to have a short session with Lin, who gave useful comments on the water paintings he brought along. From this meeting, Lin set aside a short period for Harry to be given a one-to-one tuition on a regular basis. There was a fifty per-cent chance that he would attend, with the encouragement he received from those around him, such as Sylvia and myself.
From time to time, Harry asked if he could see one of my neighbours, who had a son that Harry had known in years gone by. This was Dorothy Robinson, who had sat with Gladys during the time she was confined to her bed during the latter days of her life. This request intrigued me, and there was great reluctance by Harry to reveal the reason for this request.
Eventually Harry came forth with the desire that he wished to start a relationship, which at his age of 52 could be claimed to be long overdue. He mentioned Dorothy, because he knew that she played an active part in the local St Thomas Church life. This was a sign that he was continuing to act towards a normal behavioural pattern, like his fellow man, who wishes to have a mate with him.
Although he lived in the community of Southsea, he did not mix with the residents and confined himself generally to within the walls of Outram Road. His life could be compared to that of a monk or a prisoner, as far as mixing with the community was concerned. The only blessing here was that he had made friends with his fellow residents and had Sylvia to give a feminine quality to this all-male home.
It was in Gods plan that a man should have a wife to cherish him through adult life, and rear a family to continue the human race. The loss of my wives has left a void, having no-one at home to share my life with, making my friends and my fairy princess, Pat, PRICELESS.
To help Harry in his quest, I advised him to contact the Padre at St James Hospital for help in his search for a local church, where he could be made welcome. In the meantime, I spoke to Joy, who told me that she attended a Sunday morning service at Southsea Community Centre, Kings Road. This address was quite close to Harrys, who agreed to attend the following Sunday, meeting Joy with her friends from her University Christian group.
I felt very much at home in this building, which was used for the bridge evenings, way back in 1972, and I learned that the Bridge Club was still flourishing there. Harry was given a friendly greeting on entering the main entrance, by a young man, followed by further greetings from a sprinkling of adults who, I presumed, were the elders of this gathering. We were handed a news sheet, which revealed that this service was conducted by members of the Kings Church Resource Centre, Margate Road.
In the former bridge hall, chairs were positioned in rows facing a large screen, on which were projected the words to be sung, provided you could read the dimly-lit displayed hymns. Below the screen in front, were instruments used by a few musicians to provide music before the service, as well as accompanying the hymn singing. There was no form of altar, as seemed to be the custom in many churches, which are using a more informal type of service. Even St Thomas Church in Bedhampton, since the arrival of their new vicar, Reverend Derek Little, had installed a table at the front of the chancel of this ancient 12th Century church.
I thought that Harry would at sometime suddenly withdraw from this gathering of mainly young people, with a good mix of coloured worshippers. Whilst I sat on the rear row, where the elderly sat, Harry found a seat on its own at the rear of the hall.
The first part of the service was devoted to joyful hymn singing, containing much repetition of the same verse. This was followed by a period of intercession, led by a young leader, Paul, who from time to time allowed members of the congregation to take over. A few members maintained a constant interjection, with the word hallelujah with raised arms and eyes closed, as if in a trance.
We arrived at the service at about 10.30 am, thinking we would be away by noon. However, this turned out not to be the case, for this was the time for the service to start. Our young preacher could have been a Billy Graham in the making, taking a further half an hour to put across his message. It was at the start of his sermon that Harry disappeared through the doors of the hall. This was to be expected, and he could have been admired for remaining the time that he did spend in the main hall.
I was delighted to find Harry seated with a young lady at the entrance to the main building, on leaving with Joy and her college friends, to whom she had introduced me on arrival. When asked if we would be coming to this service again, I looked at Harry. To my amazement, he replied to Joy, Yes, I hope so, and smiled at the young lady he was sat with. Could this be the start of the relationship he was seeking?
I was unable to attend the following Sunday, and I learned from Harry that he did go along to the service and sat outside the hall for a while before leaving. He had been given a warm welcome, as were all newcomers, but unfortunately that young lady that Harry hoped to chat up was their guitarist in the music back-up group to the service. He was to be admired for coming out of his shell, that the paranoia keeps him in - even if that was the last time he attended the Kings Church at the Community Centre.
It is said, if at first you do not succeed, then try again and again. Why not, if there be a grain of truth in this maxim, then there is nothing to lose from trying. I contacted the padre of St James Hospital, Alan Walker. After giving him the situation regarding Harrys search for a relationship, and that he was still considered a long-term patient of his hospital, he promised to call on him.
It was fortuitous that he made regular visits to see Janet, who was in charge of the half-way house next door, which had 24-hour attendants for the residents.
Within a few days, I had a call from Harry, who was overjoyed by the praise he received from Alan Walker, after seeing his paintings. He offered £20 for the Sunset over the Nile, which he would put on the wall of the prayer room in St James Church, after the painting had been framed. I have heard it claimed that Van Gogh only sold one painting before he died, and that to buy one of his paintings today could cost £20 million. I must make sure that his collection is kept in safe custody for the benefit of future generations of the Rayment family - just in case the HR on his paintings become a sought after collection.
It was not only the strong colours in his paintings that attracted attention, but the care he had taken to get the details correct. This first became evident when painting a penguin on a stony beach, in which he had attempted to portray each stone. This was also true of the Sardinia coast, viewed from a garden on the cliff, where flowers in flower boxes attracted attention from the main subject. These were commented on by other people, when shown these paintings.
Alan Walker did buy the Sunset over the Nile and phoned me to say that he would like Harry to go and see his painting hanging on the prayer room wall. It reminded him of the visit he had made some time ago to the Nile, and said that this painting was his gift to the church before his imminent departure to a new stipend at Slough. Although the main object of contacting Alan, to seek a local church for Harry to have an opportunity to obtain a relationship had not been achieved, nevertheless, he had sold one of his paintings to him.
For many months a new resident had joined the others at Outram Road, called Hugh. He spoke with a broad Scottish accent, had lots of grey hair over his ears and looked very much like Spike Milligan. Harry seemed to distance himself from him, and at one time spoke of leaving his abode of ten years. In this restless state, he wanted to go away to some of my friends, such as Bob Wilson in Yorkshire and Reg Fast at Bath. This we discussed with Kay, his temporary key psychiatric nurse, who named one or two places geared to cater for mental patients, one of which was in the New Forest, and who said that money could be found for his stay. Harry turned down Kays offer of these rest homes on the grounds that he wanted to get away from people like those he had lived with in St James Hospital.
I suggested that I might take him to the Royal British Legion Holiday Home, Somerset House, Weston-Super-Mare, provided that they agreed to have him. Predominantly occupying Harrys mind were the thoughts and fears of having a turn whilst he was away, which he claimed to prevent each day by listening to his psychiatrist talking to him on tape in his bedroom. Fortunately, Harrys restless state disappeared, for I did not receive a reply to my enquiry from Somerset House.
Just prior to Christmas, when visiting Harry, there was a much more friendly attitude towards Hugh by Harry, which probably was the cue for being settled once more at his residence. My biggest surprise was when Harry asked me to return a television set, which he had asked me to keep for him at home. This set, he had promised to give to Hugh to replace Hughs broken one. This new, caring attitude of Harrys towards his Dad was developing towards other residents. This proved that his mind was in a much healthier state that any other period of his life. One reason that Harry had a high regard for Hugh was that he did all the hoovering in the lounge and dining room for Sylvia.
I believed that when Harry stayed over Christmas, he had been more caring towards me, than at any other time in his life, bringing my breakfast to bed and ensuring that his smoke did not percolate through the house. This improvement in Harrys social behavioural pattern enabled me to use him on some domestic chores, which I had found difficult to do.
Due to my listless state, I needed help when changing my bed clothes. When Harry came to stay at the weekends, after the support in this task, he always combined his breakfast offer with that of assisting me to make my bed.
In this state of mind which Harry displayed several years after he was regarded beyond the control of St James Hospital, we had to consider this as a sort of miracle. Perhaps there were no Sylvias in Pink or Light Villas, which Harry had hated in the mental hospital.
Shortly at the start of 1997, a lone sailor, Tony Bullimore, became capsized in rough waters in the Southern Ocean, whilst sailing round the world. His distress signals had been picked up by the Australian Navy and aircraft were sent out to search for Tonys craft. This was eventually located, which enabled the Australian Navy to send out a rescue vessel. There was great joy amongst the crew when one of their divers reported he had heard tapping from within the capsized vessel. While rescue attempts were being made by the divers in the water, the lone sailor appeared from under the boat.
The details of how Tony survived several days under the hull of his boat, by locating a shelf to sit on inside an air pocket, became a head-line story throughout the world. Once the navy returned him to Australia, he was fêted throughout Australia. This was surely no small miracle, with the help of the Australian Navy. To Tonys credit, he could not praise his rescuers enough, and was seen several times on Australian TV, kissing the sailor who actually pulled him out of the sea.
The supply of my new treatment pills, Stilbeoster, eventually came on the market and I had been taking only Motifene for my arthritis and Aspirins to prevent blood clotting.
Within a few days of taking my full prescribed treatment, I woke up in the morning and discovered that I had lost all my stiff joints and the arthritis in my hands. I had no problems in putting on my socks and shoes, and was able to walk freely, without holding on to anything. I was even able to bowl again, and rejoin my morning indoor league teams. People who had thought, from my looks, that I was on my way out, now referred to my looking well.
This transformation in a matter of an over-night sleep, I could only describe to my friends as having a miracle. I saw Dr Pearson, and was his first patient on the 17th January. Generally, he would give me a hard look, wondering what further ailments I would be mentioning. This morning was no exception. I told him, Dr Pearson, you should put over your door, We also do miracles. He at once broke into laughter and said, Everyone that comes to see me has moans and groans, that really is a change. However, I did not let him get away without some ailment, and referred to my water-works and running left eye. He would always give me the brush-off, telling me to wipe my eye lashes and to try sitting when weeing.
I still had to have my cancerous state checked, before I could claim to have been cured. This was done on my next visit to my Consultant, Mr Walmsley. I saw another Registrar and was told that my blood had returned to normal, but I would still have to carry on with the treatment. I regarded this cure as a miracle, and told people about it, adding that God had said, Alan, you have suffered enough, go and sin no more!
We can have miracles in several forms, not least the creation of the universe, with the sun and moon playing an important role in our daily lives, to quote the obvious, for without them we would have no night and day, nor tides, nor light nor heat. Living things could not be created, or have the conditions to survive if they could.
It is less easy to identify the role of each star, or body in the universe and how it effects lives on our planet. Astronomers continually make discoveries of phenomena in outer space, as did Alan Hale, New Mexico and Thomas Bopp, Arizona in September, 1995. They identified a new body with a nucleus of ice and dust, and a tail fading away from the sun as it made its circuit around the sun. These two amateur astronomers had discovered a comet that was 1,000 times brighter than Halleys Comet at the same distance. Information collected from various observatories world-wide, such as Teide in Tenerife, enabled astronomers to forecast that comet Hale-Bopp could appear in 1997 at a distance of around 130 million miles away from the earth and 85 million miles away from the sun.
Much publicity was given to the public at the time and date at the end of March and at the start of April to look out for the great comet of 1997. I made sightings several nights of this big mass, of what looked like a big ball of fire tapering at the rear like a long tail.
I spoke to Andrew in Shrewsbury on the phone, about what I had seen of this comet, who replied, I have details from NASA on the technical aspects of this comet, including a picture, on the internet line. This, he obtained for me and all I could comment was that this was the period of miracles from both outer space, and to a lesser degree, the achievements of man in the advancement of technology, which enabled Andrew to recall information on the internet, giving details of the 1997 great comet.
It is sad that most human beings take for granted everything that the Creator gave the human race. Surely, every time there is a birth, be it a woman bearing a baby or a sheep a lamb, they are every-day miracles. The miracles do not only finish there, for to sustain the growth of the baby or lamb is a tapping source for milk built into the body system of the mother or sheep.
I was doubly conscious of the marvels of the Creator, being a designer in engineering. I was able to design to meet a specification, however, if the specification required that it had to reproduce itself, I should have been stumped.
Whenever I dwelled on this subject of all Gods gifts to man, I question him on the reason for taking Gladys and Ella from me. Their absence had created a void in my life, which I could not come to terms with. It is only when I took people to the stroke clubs that I was made to realise that I still had a lot to be grateful for. This was especially true when the stroke person had not reached middle age, and had lost the use of half their body, as was the case of a lady at Emsworth Stroke Club.
Amongst my main morale boosters was my Fairy Princess, Pat, who gave me my weekly comments on my writings and the satisfaction I achieved in seeing my bridge pupils make progress on Wednesday nights. More important, was witnessing Harrys gradual improvement in his behavioural pattern when he came home at the weekend. Particularly encouraging was his increased interest in his art hobby and that he had maintained contact with Lin at The Grove.
© Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: February 04, 2001