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"Hi. I am a former patient of Mildmay Hospital. I came to Mildmay after being in the Royal London Hospital. I'd been found near to the Tower of London after blacking out and with amnesia. They also found out I have skin cancer whilst I was a patient there. I could not remember anything since the blackout (possibly earlier) but my name, but I have been learning all the time and knowing more and more every day. When the ambulance took me to the Royal London, I could hardly talk, so I listened to people around me and that helped, even though I did not have much to say. Five months later, and also thanks to Mildmay staff and a television in the room, I have learned to talk to people - it is not easy and I still have lots of quiet time but at least I can do it, even if I cannot remember all the words I need.

Thanks to Mildmay, I know why I was getting 'jumpy eyes', dizzy and sick. I have BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), which is now almost under control. Since leaving Mildmay and being at Beaumont Court Care Home, I now know why I have a really bad headache a lot and we are working on getting this 5-month old migraine under control.

Mildmay and the chaplaincy there have been a big part of me coming to terms with my amnesia. I was also diagnosed with anxiety at the Royal London Hospital and am on medication for it. I was trying to work out what I'd forgotten and of course, this was impossible. I was making the anxiety worse (and it was bad enough), feeling very ill with it. It was talking to Sister Bernie at Mildmay that changed things.

Sister Bernie showed me a prayer and certain words in the prayer. It was about looking to the future rather than thinking about things that were in the past; in my case, trying to work out what those things are!

Everyone around me knew what they were talking about but me. I told Sister Bernie it made me feel stupid and it was about then she showed me the prayer. In my heart, it felt all right, so I just think about what is going on and making a future, rather than trying to find things I'm never going to work out in my mind.

Bernie gave me a bible to read also and this has been a comfort, as well as for learning. I don't remember if God was in my life before amnesia but God certainly is now. Thanks and blessings to Sister Bernie for that one as well.

The chaplaincy at Mildmay has helped me in other ways too. One day and I don't know where the thought came from, but I said to Bernie that I know I like to draw. I wasn't sure how I knew but I could feel it. I rely on my feelings a lot, as the amnesia has interfered with any experiences I may have had. Anyway, Bernie provided me with pencils, a pencil sharpener, and paper and I've been drawing ever since. Bernie has encouraged me all the way with this. Again, this has helped me feel not so useless in comparison to other people.

Mildmay's chaplaincy is so special. I've met a few of the Friends also and together with Bernie, they have a warm, compassionate team. Mildmay is a lovely hospital but the chaplaincy is a big part of that.

My heart feels there is more I want to talk about here but my head can't find the words I need but I'm used to that.

Thanks to Mildmay's brilliant chaplaincy for making me feel like a person.

God Bless Mildmay and Mildmay's chaplaincy"

Our Chaplain, Sister Bernie's response

"During this Pandemic, having returned to Mildmay Mission Hospital after the second Lockdown, I met Ada outside the chapel where I was sitting ‘catching’ patients on their way to various activities to which they were invited as clients. This was my ruse to meet up with clients downstairs following the edict that I was not to put myself at risk of COVID-19 infection by going on to the wards.

After the preliminary introductions, Ada launched into her story; the gist of it was that she was suffering from total amnesia after having been found lying near the Tower of London following a vicious attack. Taken to a general hospital for a number of weeks during which it transpired that she also had skin cancer, she was then brought to Mildmay Mission Hospital.

Ada has no recollection of what had happened, who she was, her family, her background, nor any other relationships in her life. She was a blank canvas, as it were. She had nightmares but not flashbacks for obvious reasons. She suffered from headaches, was anxious that she had nothing to jog her memory. Our therapy staff gave her every support and she began to come down each day to speak with the chaplains. Ada would become more anxious as she endeavored to remember what she had forgotten. There were tears, days of nothingness and still Ada came to speak with the chaplains.

She is gentle by nature and began to express a need for something deeper in her life. I suggested that perhaps it would be more productive for her to look at her ‘new’ present and future, rather than the past, to become whom she is by living each day, now. I gave her a notebook to begin to write things down and that was how we discovered her creative talent, drawing, and painting. Also, she wore homemade metal rings and I am sure she had made them herself. It soon became patently obvious that the more she drew and the more she reflected on the fact that she may have been influenced by a ‘higher' power in her life, the calmer she appeared. I gave Ada some card and she produced beautifully executed cards.

Ada began to read the Bible every day and would often ask for an explanation. The Christmas Nativity Story was fascinating to her. She joined the zoomed morning prayer from the chapel and responded with her heart and soul to one-to-one prayers. Like the caterpillar emerging from the chrysalis of a butterfly, she is blossoming into the person, I guess she is meant to be – caring, gentle and loving. In her own words …

“… this has helped me feel not so useless in comparison to other people … they have a warm, compassionate team which is a great credit to Mildmay…. My heart feels there is more I want to talk about here, but my head can’t find the words I need... thanks to Mildmay and its brilliant chaplaincy for making me feel like a person.”

Ada has now moved on to the next stage of her life journey, a care home, until it is felt that she can cope on her own. She has learned to rely on her own feelings as the "amnesia has now been interspersed with my present experiences".

I am now in my third Lockdown and consequently have not seen Ada for several weeks although we have connected a few times. There may be more to come while Ada is making her own new history as she continues to weave and to live her fascinating story."

Bernie Devine SP.

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