Sweet Dreams?

Posted by mwallach on March 9, 2012 in Crazy Follows Me Everywhere |

Dear That’s Life,
Before I even begin this article, I want you to know that I am completely fine. Thank G-d, my health scare last week was just that – a scare. I appreciate the care and concern from all those who knew and want to personally thank the medical professionals involved in my case.

All that being said, amidst a variety of medications, I was given high doses of steroids as part of my treatment. Having never been on steroids before, I was unprepared for some of the side effects. I lost my voice for a number of days, sounding more like I had a sore throat than anything else. I also had no sense of taste, as if a film or coating had blanketed the inside of my mouth. One morning I started eating a banana, only to make a face when it was completely bland. After opening a second banana, I bit into it but this one also lacked flavor. About to throw that one out as well, my husband stopped me. “Why do you keep throwing out these bananas?” he asked. “They’re bland,” I said, annoyance in my voice. “They taste like nothing.” Quicker than I am, he figured out the problem. “It’s not the bananas,” he said, sarcastically. “It’s you.” And so began the week of being able to taste nothing.

The strangest side effect of the medication, however, was what it did to my sleeping patterns. To put it lightly, there were no patterns – all I did was sleep. Within a matter of days I seemed to catch up on all the sleep I had been missing for months. And if I was not asleep, I was in a fog, moving slower than usual, struggling sometimes to find the right word. When I awoke, it was as if I had slept for days, but was not well rested. My next thought was wondering when I could go back to sleep, needing to schedule naps throughout the day. And with complete certainty I knew that within approximately 20 minutes of taking my steroids, I would be rendered useless. Assuming the fetal position beneath my blanket, I dozed off to Never-Neverland, where the next of the crazy side effects appeared.

Having never in my life either smoked nor done any illicit drugs, the following experience was completely foreign. I dreamt wild, outlandish and vivid dreams every night while taking steroids. I would awake at any point and remember each dream clearly, as if it had just taken place or was real as the hand in front of my face. There seemed to be nothing imaginary about any one of them. Rather, they were so alive that I specifically remember repeatedly asking someone who showed up in one of them if this was all just a bad dream. Even after I was awake, I was unsure that what I had dreamt had not actually occurred. I am confident at least one psychologist will read into my dreams, claiming they unlocked some inner demons with which I have struggled for years. Instead, I will add my own personal psychological assessment of each episode – let’s see who is right.

There was the dream in which I climbed down a manhole on the Belt Parkway so I could drop off a package of money and documents in order to obtain answers to an exam. I have a vivid memory of setting up a white sawhorse with bright orange stripes while dodging oncoming traffic. Unable to clearly discern what was fact or fiction, I actually woke up and thought I had done some of this. Of course the crazy part of the dream was that there was someone waiting for me in the tunnel beneath the Belt Parkway. I was not alone. I do not know who that person was, but he asked me what I was doing there. I explained I was there to drop the bags and the money in order to get the answer key. It seemed to be a logical explanation. He was satisfied with my answer and so ended the Belt Parkway dream. (Assessment – I am still remorseful about cheating on a quiz in second grade for which I got caught.)

There was the dream when my husband yelled at me for wearing very high heels. In general, I like being tall but what I like more is being even taller. The higher the heel the better and while I will not wear a pair of shoes that hurt my feet, I will wear a pair that propel me to a stratosphere in which the air is thin. In my dream, however, my husband and I are standing in the garage, walking out to my car – and I am actually wearing stilts. “Why must you make me feel so short?” he yelled as I tried to manage on my footgear sans the dexterity of a circus performer. Only days later did I ask him if this had actually occurred. “Nope,” he said, reminding me that it still does not bother him when I wear high heels. (Assessment – I actually do feel badly about it.)

Of course, there is always the dream when you show up somewhere without wearing any clothes. I have had that dream even without steroids. Yet, I had never dreamt I arrived at work in the pajamas I actually worn to bed that night, only to continue working instead of going home to change. In this dream, I produced an entire radio program while wearing plaid flannel pants and no one told me I looked funny. Everyone including the host and other team members associated with the show were there and wore appropriate clothing while I, on the other hand, did not. I awoke in the same outfit I had seen myself wearing in the dream. (Assessment – I need a vacation.)

Then there was the time I dreamt there were helicopters flying overhead while news coverage of our area claimed that drugs, guns and grenades had been found in our sleepy town of Woodmere. I woke up and thought I actually heard the sound of choppers. Lo and behold, that was the only one that was real. Even I could not have made that one up.

As Seen in the South Shore Standard March 2011

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