I’m writing a little later than I usually do… everything has been a little bit later, lately.

As I may/not have mentioned, I’m largely nocturnal, although to be honest – I don’t usually have a flexible enough schedule to know how much of my schedule comes from me, and external factors. I suppose at this point in my life there will never be a way to separate who I am from who I have become as a result of what was around me. I’m pretty sure that we’re all in the same boat there.

While the concept is the same, the manifestations are as different as we all are. I’m sitting here drinking my “morning” coffee, listening to the “morning” news, and writing down my waking thoughts, and the rest of my friends and acquaintances are finishing off their workday with beers at the bars with the people that they’re going to come over and complain to me about in a few hours.

Still, the customary vernacular of the standard sleep/wake cycle is firmly entrenched in my brain.

So, I had a terrible nightmare last “night”. I’m no stranger to nightmares (though they happen less and less these days) but this one was unusual. For starters, while I have had many many bad dreams about my Father, this one was about my Mother.

I was in what I think was a hybrid between a hotel room, and the master bedroom of my childhood home. I was sitting on the bed. My mother was for some reason walking around naked, unlike her, and I believe we were having a conversation.

Then, she started choking. She walked into the bathroom, trying to clear her throat, but she apparently couldn’t. I asked her several times if she was ok, and she became increasingly distressed. I realized I didn’t know the Heimlich maneuver (weird, because I’ve taken so many classes), but I tried. I think she appeared to be making progress, so I went back on the bed, I imagine to get my phone.

She fell by the side of the bed. I fumbled with my phone for a minute, then got down on the floor and tried CPR. At some point I realized that she was breathing, and realized that this must be a stroke. A complete interior arterial stroke, and she had lost complete control of her limbs.

Somehow she was still able to talk a bit, and as we’re both medically proficient people, and I tried to explain to her what was happening. She complained she had a headache as apparently the blockage broke and moved.

I kept trying to open my phone, and it kept telling me my password was wrong.

Eventually I was in such distress that I just woke myself up, generally the way my nightmares end.

I figured I’d put this in a citation to separate it from the main narrative

I woke up, and immediately texted my Mother. About something completely mundane, a meaningless question about a household appliance, like I usually do to people when I get distressingly worried that something has happened to them.

Thank the sky, my Mother answered promptly. Yes, she would love to have the spare blender I found in the back of the pantry that sounds like a helicopter to use as white noise machine / rock tumbler hybrid in her craft shed. And yes she’s alive and not stroking out on the floor of a house she no longer owns.

I immediately tried to add her (unsuccessfully, I have to google it and in my defense I was half asleep) as my emergency contact in case the dream meant *I* was going to stroke out.

There were several reasons why this dream was disturbing.

  • Why did I wait so long to help my Mother? I kept asking her if she was ok… like I expected her to help herself. I’m embarrassed at myself for not reacting sooner. What does this assumption mean?
  • Again, I was not prepared to help. For the depth of medical knowledge that I aspire to maintain, not knowing these practical basics was a devastating blow to my self image. I should go back to med school
  • I recounted the dream above matter-of-factly, and I was dismayed at how little emotional activation I felt watching my Mother potentially die, naked, in front of Me. I presume I got my phone to call for help, but for some reason it doesn’t feel like it…
  • Lastly, these kinds of dreams are almost common for me to have… about my Father. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dream about my Mother dying. I wonder what this means.

I feel like I’ve spent my whole life expecting my Father to die suddenly and without warning… but always took my Mother for granted. What is changing my mind about this?

There’s so much more I could say about this, all this and everything else, but my phone is *blowing up*.

It is 11pm on a Friday, after all.

Good morning, everyone.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Anna says:

    This is still on my mind, so I suppose it’s ok to add to it. This page (and the whole internet imo) is supposed to be editorial anarchy anyway, and I’m not done my coffee yet. Even in absolute isolation and anonymity, I still try to impose rules and their exceptions on myself. So weird.

    Awake and out of a dream state I realize that my mother has for a long time had a threatening spinal injury to the vertebrae that control the diaphragm (I used to know them by numbers, more evidence of my degrading knowledge, and I fear, intelligence) which we have discussed, and are both cognitively aware will probably eventually cause her demise.

    I just can’t come to terms with how scary this must be for her, living with the knowledge that one day, in the middle of everything that is all this, she will try to take a deep breath, and completely and utterly fail.

    I recognize the elements of the setting that were the hotel room as the same hotel room that she took me to the night before the surgery that resulted in this current stretch of medical leave. She helped me during my medical situation, and in my dream I was unable to help her during hers.

    Of course, I just texted her again, with a slightly more direct and much more vague 4 word message, instead of anything that’s actually on my mind.

    I want to go back to med school. I can’t stand feeling helpless about all this.

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