The on-going, first-hand tale of a journey through medical oncology... and what happens after.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


One of the beautiful frustrations of communicating in English is the way that words can have so many contextual meanings. Take dream for example. It is both a noun and a verb, and it reflects both conscious and subconscious thoughts. We can dream of a fairer future, where justice is both understood and predictable. Or we can dream in our sleep, sorting through the confusion of thoughts, impulses, and observations captured each day and over a lifetime.

So dreams look both to the future and to the past, dreams are both fantastical and mundane, dreams try to make sense of what we are/were/hope to be.

I have been having an interesting couple of weeks in the dreaming department. While we all know that someday our tenure here on Earth will end, there is nothing quite like a recurrence of cancer to focus your attention on the importance of family and friends and the impermanence of stuff. My thoughts have alternated between frantically thinking about the future (you know, retirement savings versus college savings versus mortgage payoff, vacation memories and travel plans that *must* occur, bicycle events that I want to do...) and living in the present. Internal decisions about how I will live over the coming few years - alternative diets, vitamin supplements, exercise regimens, work (and the number of hours to work) - all jumble around in my head.

Then there is that other kind of dream - the ones that arrive unbidden in the night as you try to restore your energy for the coming day... These last few weeks have found me recalling strange dreams - walking through a giant metropolitan marketspace (some kind of retro European space, with basement bars, brick buildings, tons of people, and rich smells) with an assortment of friends, all dressed to attend a wedding and arguing about relationships along the way - or an entire night spent trying to figure out why my clipper sailing ship needed to be filled with balsam logs as ballast rather than granite or iron (as if I have any idea about that topic at all!) I am certain that there is a reasonable pharmaceutical explanation for these dreams, and the fact that I am remembering them in detail, but I do not know what that explanation might be. My brain is knitting together pieces of thoughts and coming up with a story. What a wild tale this must be!

"When I want you, in my arms, when I want you, and all your charms, whenever I want you all I have to do is dream." - Everly Brothers

1 comment:

Jeanne Sather said...

Ed--I too have been having very vivid, odd dreams lately. In one that I remember parts of, a man who was my boyfriend more than 30 years ago was killed. He was killed by the grad students in journalism at the U of Hawaii, and I was there.

I did go to the UH, but to get a master's in Japanese. I got my MA in journalism after that, at Berkeley. And I knew the former boyfriend before grad school, so he was never in either place.

I was so upset by this dream that I had to get on the Web to search for my friend, who is alive and well and doing cancer research in Texas.

The reason for these dreams, some of which continued for several nights in a row? I suspect the high levels of anxiety I've been experiencing lately.