the stuff nightmares are made out of.

June 30, 2011

did you ever have those dreams as a kid where the alarm was going off and you had to get up and get ready for school? the calvin and hobbes “my dreams are getting way too literal” scenario? my adult version of that is to dream that i can’t sleep. i wake up exhausted, my bones feeling like they’ve shed my skin and wandered the night in a sandstorm. my muscles feel like i’ve transported back to 1996 and am sitting slumped over a table at a village inn, waiting for the clock show me an acceptable time to go home so i can pretend i really did spend the night at a friend’s. last night trumped all of those dreaming-i-can’t-sleep moments.

first, i really couldn’t sleep. no dosage of pain killers or muscle relaxers seemed to touch the ridiculous pains radiating from my neck and shoulders. flipping around, readjusting my pillow time after time, i couldn’t figure out why they hurt so badly. my physical therapist had done some hefty adjustments yesterday but this pain felt disproportionate. the last time i looked at the clock it was 4:15 am.

i guess i drifted off into a dream about how i was in pain and i couldn’t sleep. it sucked just as bad as the real thing. in the dream, i started hearing a soft thumping noise. i made myself stiff, held my breath close to my chest and peered out into the darkness of the hallway. i heard it again, started to get out of bed but reached back under my pillow for a hori hori, a japanese gardening tool that’s essentially a 10-inch long serrated knife/trowel. and yes, in real life, i do sleep with one under my partner’s pillow when he’s not home for the night. i started to creep out of the room, wondered if i should grab the home alarm panel with it’s little red panic button, and then heard my cat shrieking. i looked up and saw a man running in a crouch after the cat, the most terrifying laugh bouncing down the hallway. i froze like a fainting goat, and fell over on my side. dream me was thinking “really? i’m going to go out like this? paralyzed with fear?”

i moved into lucid dreaming, hearing a noise that i thought was the burglar/serial-killer but slowly started to realize it was my panicked, little, thumping heart. i used my heartbeat to find my way out of the nightmare and once situated back in reality, i started to mull over the dream details. dream analysis obviously isn’t a science. i’d be ridiculed out of my academic family if i tried to argue that it was, but i definitely believe our dreams are telling us something, even if it’s just echoing our fears from the day before. in a lot of dream analysis, if you dream of a house, that house is you in some form or another. i interpreted this dream as the house being me and the murderer/robber to be the bartonella and spirochetes (aka: tick-borne diseases) that have infiltrated every major organ of my body. all these years i’ve wondered why my body turns on itself in this complicated and quiet hara kiri. it seems like my antibodies are trying to beat the universe to the punch, push me down before i can even try to fail, thereby saving me all the embarrassment of giving something my all and not quite making it. i’m not saying that i don’t actually have these autoimmune diseases i’ve been diagnosed with my entire adult life. i’m just saying that this (lyme disease) is different. it’s not just my body making war with itself. it’s a foreign enemy that has entered through my skin and actually enmeshed with my dna. it has burrowed into my red blood cells, replicated and forced out my healthy ones. now that i know it’s there, i feel like it’s filling up my body. i feel like i’m drowning in parasitic-like bacteria.

as a child, i did love  bill watterson’s calvin and hobbes but my real love was science fiction. ray bradbury’s short story, the veldt, is still, by far, one of my favorites (though you can’t imagine my disappointment when i met him as a pre-teen and discovered he was a sexist, old coot). i don’t know much about borrelia burgdorferi, but right now it feels like a sci-fi thief in the night, come to kill me from the inside out. at least that’s what my dreams are telling me.

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