Archive for September 14th, 2017

88 Hours of Heat, Dreams, and Vented Spleens

September 14, 2017

They say reality informs your dreams. That your subconscious mind uses those hours spent in deep sleep to process the information and experiences from the day and then twist them into crazy metaphors and literal extremes; vivid movies in our minds from which we often awake thinking, “What the heck was THAT?”

I’ve never understood why, but even the most ridiculous situations in dreams seem completely rational at the time you’re dreaming them. I often have extremely traumatic, oddly horrible dreams during which it seems perfectly normal for me to, say, throw babies into a ravine. During the dream, I am completely convinced that throwing the babies into a ravine is necessary and good for the babies and serves some noble purpose. But then I suddenly realize that what I’m doing is terrible and wrong! And I instantly wake up, horrified, and wish, as I do every time I wake up, that bad dreams weren’t a side effect of one of my medications. I have them almost every time I sleep.

Earlier this week Hurricane Irma came blowing through our neck of the woods. It had been downgraded to a category one by the time it reached us, so, aside from having to dodge a few broken tree limbs while driving, we didn’t have to contend with any major damage in our area. The power grid was another story! We lost electric service on Sunday, just before midnight, and it wasn’t restored until just before 4:00 p.m. Thursday, a total of 88 hours. (Oh yes, indeed; I counted every one of those hours!) At the same time, our phone and broadband service also disappeared.

Because we live “out in the sticks” and have a well that runs on an electric pump, no electricity means no water. We had prepared beforehand by filling the tub and buckets and jars and bottles so we could flush the toilets and have drinking water. Our small electric generator kept the refrigerator going, as well as the TV and a lamp in the living room. But there was no air-conditioning and no way to shower, and by Day 3, it was over 90 degrees in the house and we were starting to get…hmmm…a little ripe! We coaxed the generator into powering a small box fan, and spent most of the time sprawled in front of it, red-faced and sweaty, watching reports on the Weather channel of those in the southern part of the state struggling with total destruction of their homes and feeling grateful we still had a place to live. (Things can always get worse, can’t they? A little perspective never hurts.)

Thursday morning, there was no sign of electricity, but suddenly our phone and broadband service was restored. Hooray! It was just in the nick of time, because I was scheduled that morning to take a lengthy phone and computer survey, for which I would earn a nice check. The manufacturer of one of my medications was soliciting opinions about their website: how easy it is to use, whether the information is clear, what improvements could be made. While I spoke on the phone with the survey representative, he remotely connected to my computer so he could watch how I interacted with the website.

Things went well with the survey, and I was enjoying it…that is, until a certain point. The main purpose of the site is to inform people how to get financial help in order to afford their medication. They also provide an overview of various treatments available for cancer and other conditions, and resources for help with things like shopping, transportation, etc for those who struggle with medical issues. I had been exploring the site for about 20 minutes and was very impressed, until I came to a page that seemed completely out of place and completely unnecessary: a list of “alternative treatments.”


As I perused the list, I was confused and then annoyed. “Well,” I said to the survey rep, “this is disappointing.” He asked me to explain.  I muttered angrily, “It looks like a bunch of woo-woo stuff here!”

(Definition of woo-woo: “Dubiously or outlandishly mystical, supernatural, or unscientific.”)

“I was so impressed,” I told him, “with the science-based, factual information on this site regarding medical conditions, treatments and medications. And now this? Listing ‘alternative’ treatments on this site gives them a legitimacy they do not deserve. They have no place here. It makes me doubt the veracity of everything else on the site.

“It makes me angry that someone with cancer could find this list on an otherwise reputable site and be led to believe that any of these so-called remedies could help them. It gets their hopes up, it robs them of their time and money, and it can’t deliver. Worse, people waste their precious time pursuing these quack remedies when they could be getting real help from science-based, clinically proven treatments. I strongly suggest this section be deleted from this site.”

The survey rep said my comments were “very helpful” and that he personally tended to agree. (I may or may not have reiterated several times that I “felt very strongly” about the alternative medicine section!)

(Well worth a watch: The Amazing Randi’s highly entertaining Ted Talk about quackery and fraud, during which he ingests an entire bottle of homeopathic sleeping pills, allegedly a “fatal” dose.)

So the survey was still very much on my mind when I went to sleep a few hours later. As usual, my subconscious mind twisted the experience into a nightmare. This time I was doing something horrible to one of my cats, which I won’t describe because it was so heinous. In the dream, I explained to my husband what I was doing as if it made perfect sense: “I’m removing the bad parts of her, leaving only the healthy parts behind. If I keep doing this, eventually she will be cured and completely healthy!”

Clearly I was still dwelling on the evils of “alternative” medicine; which causes so much harm while claiming to do good! Eventually I realized I was actually hurting my poor cat, and suddenly woke up. I noted the alarm clock was still dark, so the power hadn’t come back on, and eventually I shook it off and fell asleep again. Sometime later, I gradually woke up from another dream. This time, remarkably, it was a good one! A man, whose face I couldn’t see, was holding a paper on a clipboard that contained a list of names. He pointed to a spot on the list and said, “Congratulations! You qualify to win a prize today!”

I thought, “That’s weird. I almost never have good dreams!” As I got out of bed, I noticed the clock was still dark. I walked out into the living room, glanced at the battery clock and realized I’d been asleep less than five hours, yet I felt wide awake. Just then, a nightlight plugged into the wall lit up and the ceiling fan began to turn! The power was back on and I had woken up just in time for it. I did win a prize after all! (Still pretty hot in here, though. My husband tells me it takes a full hour of air conditioning to lower the temperature by one degree!)