Dreaming Sick

When I sleep, I dream. Usually, I remember at least snatches of the strangeness that my mind comes up with in the middle of the night. Some dreams are especially vivid and I remember them more clearly, for good or ill. I do love the ones about peaceful woods and open grassy hills, swimming in the ocean, and flying … oh, especially the flying dreams when I simply take a breath and can move through the air however I wish!

When I was younger, I’d sometimes be sick in my dreams — the normal sort of sick, most often, or perhaps stage-fright sick. In recent years, there’s been a shift in being “sick” in my dreams. Now it’s pretty common for me to stagger dizzily in a dream while people ask what is wrong with me. I dream that I’m queasy, that my heart races and stutters, that I can’t stand, and that I can’t manage to think clearly or make people believe I’m truly ill. I dream of doing shots, arguing with health insurance companies, taking medications, and of being worried that I will run out of drugs on vacation and then everyone will really see uncontrolled disease me. I dream in pain, and of pain.

There’s been an increase in dreams in which I’m in utter agony, and I die. This is strangely one of the ways I know that I need to change my pain management strategy. It’s not even like those dreams are always upsetting nightmares! My guess is that I roll over in my sleep and end up in a painful position. In the brief moments while I’m being wrenched awake, my dreaming brain throws some reason for this torment at me. These dream “reasons” are usually comically ridiculous. Over the years, I’ve been killed by being mauled by a polar bear (one of the more believable scenarios) to being stomped on by a small, very adorable penguin (uh… not so believable). I’ve been killed by whale tail slap, dolphin nose butt, razor-sharp grass, collapsing buildings, being sat on by an otter, and an ice cream cone.

Yes. An ice cream cone. No, I’m not sure how that is possible either. One day though, it’s going to be part of a terrific young adult spy school book. Oh, and yes — the ice cream was good.

This may be one of the strangest ways that just “being sick” has appeared in my life. It’s an aspect of my life I have very little control over, and it means that, waking or sleeping, there is no true escape from my new reality.

I can’t help looking on the rather dark edge of the bright side, strolling along the razor edge of the terminator between the darkness and the day. I now know that I dream of the sea far more than I thought before, given how often I’m killed in it. I have some fantastic and truly startling ideas for character deaths, should I ever finish my dissertation and write a slightly more entertaining (and hopefully more profitable!) book. I’m getting to practice virtually dying periodically, and as everyone is told at some point by An Adult, practice makes perfect! It is far more pleasant than real-life nearly-dying, at least. And perhaps the fact that I’m dreaming of being sick and fighting through the problems and yes, triumphing occasionally, means I am closer to accepting and dealing with my chronic illnesses. I will count that for the light.

Am I the only one that has experienced this change? What’s the strangest way that chronic illness has manifested in your life?

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