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Magical Medical Mysteries.

Updated: Feb 18


This is a combined and extended account of some of my vivid ICU dreams.

The ICU unit I was in had a terrace above a large lake; visitors could access it via a staircase from the town. All the patients would sit on it with their families and enjoy the beautiful views.

One day, my dad came to see me, and we went to sit on the terrace; there were no tables free. Two older gentlemen were sitting together, and Dad recognised one of them as someone he'd been on a business trip with. They invited us to sit with them, and I realised who Dad had been referring to when I recognised Professor Albus Dumbledore. They had met at a top-secret government conference in London and discovered a shared interest in astronomy. He had invited Dad for an evening at Hogwarts, stargazing in the astronomy tower using Ancient Greek star charts. Dumbledore knew the other gentleman as they'd met, working on the same project, which started after the conference. The other man introduced himself as Henry. Dad and I mentioned the floating and rotation of the ICU ward and how it would expand and retract, yet it seemed normal when you were inside the building. Both men explained that this was due to a project that started after the conference, designing hospital prototypes for war zones. The idea behind this was that hospitals could be further away from the main action, making it less of a security risk; the soldiers would be transported via chinooks. Dumbledore was involved with the project because the idea came from the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, Grimald Place in London, which has similar features.

Henry and I talked a lot more over the next few days. He was fascinating and began telling me his life story.

Henry was born in 1944 in Orlando, Florida. His parents were Mary and Samuel. During World War Two, Mary worked in a factory producing supplies for the war effort in Europe, and Samuel served in the US Army Corps of Engineers. When the war ended, Mary took on a secretarial role, and Samuel became a science teacher in a local high school. In 1958, when NASA opened, he began working there. Henry was enthralled and couldn't wait to hear about his dad's day at work when he got home from school. He was very excited when his class had a field trip there. In 1962, when he graduated high school, he went to MIT and earned an aerospace engineering degree. After graduating in 1965, he also went to work at NASA. He participated in many important projects, including Voyager 1 and 2.

While working there, he met one of his colleagues, Alice, and they married in 1974.

By 1985, they had two children, and the family moved to the UK, where Henry was offered a job at The British National Space Centre (now known as The UK Space Agency). At The BNSC, he collaborated with the European Space Agency to develop things such as "SOHO" (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory). This spacecraft was launched to study the Sun and has since discovered over 4,000 comets.

Henry retired in 2012 at the age of 68. He and Alice created a bucket list and decided to travel the world. They did everything, from cage diving with sharks in Australia to riding donkeys down into the Grand Canyon, visiting Machu Picchu in Peru, and staying in a pod under the Northern Lights in Tromso, Norway.

By 2020, Henry had developed some health problems, so he and Alice moved to the southwest and began running a B&B. In 2022, his health had worsened significantly, and he was admitted to the ICU. His bed was opposite mine, and a few days after he had finished telling me his story, he became more unwell. One night, a nurse came over and said if I needed anything, it might take a bit longer as Henry needed a lot of support. He had made his family aware that his final wish was for his body to be sent into space. Later that night, his family arrived dressed in alien and rocket ship costumes per his request, and they sat by his bed as he drifted away.

My bed was by the window, and I heard a strange noise. I looked out and saw an alien Mothership land on the hospital lawn. The aliens marched into the ICU and, followed by his family, carried his body out onto the lawn and into the mothership. The family stood watching as the ship blasted off.

A few weeks later, I was reading the paper and saw his obituary. It was lovely to see that the family legacy has been continued, and his grandson Bertie is going to study astrophysics at Oxford University.

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