Thursday, February 22, 2007

Last Night's Bad Dream

I'm walking down an unfamiliar urban street, trying to find my way home. Every once in a while, a car passes.

A small, brown and white dog with the face of a pitbull is following me.

I look up and down the street-- hoping its owner is nearby.

But there's no one else.

Just me and this dog-- who walks behind me, head down, letting go a low, menacing growl.

Quickly, I cross to the other side of the street.

The dog doesn't follow.

But now, the street is filled with traffic. I hear the sounds of many car engines, drivers leaning on horns, a bus rumbling by.

Large numbers of people move along the sidewalk -- where only a moment before it had been empty.

Among those people are two young teenage girls whom I recognize immediately as Emma and Michelle -- the girls who watched our kids last Saturday night.

When they reach where I'm standing, Emma is talking on her cell phone, while Michelle stands next to her, laughing about something I can't make out.

I turn away from them, look across the street, and see Joseph-- surrounded by strangers.

Oh my God.

How could I have forgotten about him?

Joseph sees me and -- looking very relieved -- slowly makes his way across the street.

Standing in front of me, he sways slightly-- and in a strange, faint voice, says:

"Mom, I don't feel right. I-- I think I'm having a see- "

His eyes roll back, his chest convulses, then he drops to the ground.

A Seizure.

Traffic noise, people's voices, everything -- except for Joseph's desperate gasps -- sound very far away.

I look down at him and, for a moment, feel paralyzed.

What do I do?

I have to do something.

He could die.

"Where's the black bag?" I hear myself ask frantically. "The glucagon! I need to give him glucagon!"

Michelle hands me my black backpack. Both girls stand there staring, looking frightened.

I rip through the pack, pull out our blue medical kit, and search for the red plastic case-- all the while tears stream over my cheeks.

I don't know how to do this! I can't do this! I can't!"

Hands shaking, I open the case -- stare at the syringe, the little vial-- and remember.

Inject the liquid into the powder, shake gently, draw the mixture back into the syringe.

"I can do this. I can do this. I can do this... " I say aloud-- trying to block out any doubt.

"Emma!" I yell, while swirling the vial, "Call 911!"

She looks stunned, as if I'd slapped her, and then punches in the numbers.

Grasping the large syringe, thumb against its plunger, I turn back to Joseph.

He's unconscious; his body, still convulsing.

Where do I give this to him? A muscle. That's right, it should go in a muscle."

I pull up his sleeve, hold the needle inches from the top of his arm, and then...

Wake up.

Heart, racing; cheeks, wet.

It was a dream. Just a dream. A horrible dream...

Even so, I close my eyes and review the steps.

Over and over.

And then try hard to return to that urban street-- to see myself give him the shot.

To know that, if it happens, he'll be okay.


Bernard said...

This is a rotten dream. It sounds really scary. I'm so happy it was just a dream.

Nicole P said...

What a nasty dream. I hate it when I can't get back to the point I want to in a dream. More often than not - when I've had a dream I want to return to - to finish something that seems so important - I'm unable to get back. Drat!

Do you know what the dream is trying to tell you - what you're trying to tell yourself with it? I think a lot about my dreams - write them down, analyze them - try to get inside my own confused visions and figure out if there's something that I can't say out loud - or even in my most serious, most honest thoughts - that my mind is trying to tell me as I slumber. Bob says I'm the most active sleeper he's ever known - I move and talk and think out loud - as my body creates images during the night... But I've learned that sometimes, even the nastiest dream - and its niggling little details (ie: the solitude in the start of your dream and that dog) are trying to get something through to me...

Carey said...

Odd. Must be something in the air.

I thought this was going in a Cujo direction. This was even scarier.

Jamie said...

Ugh - I completely felt the panic you did during that dream. I've often had to sit down and go step by step, through my head, on how to use the glucagon kit. It's not something you ever hope you have to use, but in case you do - you have to know how to do it.

I'm glad it was just a dream though.

Sandra Miller said...


Yes, it was a rotten dream.

Worse than rotten, because it felt so real.

Thank God, it wasn't.


I wonder about some of those niggling little details, too...

That's part of the reason I posted this. Was hoping maybe someone might have some insights.

Joseph has had some difficult lows recently-- lows that have resisted treatment. We also had a rare night out last week using two fairly young sitters.

I'm sure the dream has something to do with both of those things.

(Oh, and as hard as I tried, I couldn't go back.)


That dog really creeped me out. Don't think I really conveyed in this post how much it frightened me (though it didn't scare me nearly as much as the rest of the dream!).

Yeah, it felt sort of Cujo-esque as it was happening...

And Jamie-

I haven't thought about the glucagon kit in a while.

Maybe the dream was some sort of internal alarm-- letting me know that it's time to review this stuff.

I don't know.

Scared the hell out of me, though.

Scott said...

Not a pleasant dream, but on the bright side, it wasn't real!!

Penny said...

What a horrible dream. If it's like many of my dreams, it's so real that it haunts me the rest of the day, leaving a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

It's horrible sometimes the tricks our mind plays on us.

I'm just glad that it was a dream and that Joseph is OK.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Wow - what a scary dream!

You did all the right things though.

I had a handful of seizures when I was young. They all happened at night when I was sleeping. I would just wake up in the morning with a really terrible headache. Not remembering anything.

I think it helped matters that my mom was a nurse (spent a lot of time in the ER and on the "flying squad), so she had thicker skin than a "non-nurse" mom or dad might.

Sandra, even in your dream you did all the right things. And I sure don't mean to scare you with my seizure story - more to convey a sense of confidence that even if you guys experience one, you can deal with it and move on.

Take care, and say "hey" to Joseph for me.

Minnesota Nice said...

During my travels with retinopathy I had a recurring dream: I went to my opthalm. clinic and instead of being taken to one of the regular exam rooms, I was led down a very long dark hall and ushered into a dark, musty room, filled with antique medical equipment. I waited for a very long time and then heard Dr. M say "where's Kathy?" The nurse replied, "you told us to put here in the back room because there's nothing we can do to help her".........
I relayed this dream to the psychologist I was seeing. He told me to spend a couple minutes and write it down, with every detail I could remember. Then he said to cross out the last paragraph and write a new ending, like Dr. M saying "you bring her to the front room immediately! Of course we can help her! You're fired!"
That technique was very useful and I have used it a couple of times since.

Nicole P said...

I hope you don't mind - I looked this up in my dream dictionary... Of course, you'd have to look at all the other pieces, but... This is so weird, given your comments in response to others:

To see a dog in your dream, indicate a skill that you have ignored or forgotten, but needs to be activated. Alternatively, dogs may symbolize intuition, loyalty, generosity, protection, and fidelity. Your own values and intentions will enable you to go forward in the world and succeed. If the dog is vicious and/or growling, then it signifies some inner conflict.

Sandra Miller said...


I'll definitely say "hey" to Joseph for you. :-)


I like that idea a lot.


I don't mind at all that you looked this up. Haven't been able to get this dream out of my head.

Everything you found about the dog and what it might represent is really fascinating... primarily because it makes so much sense.

Chris said...

Sounds like a scary video game i used to play and had to turn it off if no one else was home.

I loved reading your comment when i got home from work today. You have a great guy there.
Take care.

Rachel said...

I agree with Nicole on how dreams sometimes MUST be telling us something.

Even when they're disturbing.

Michelle Freedman said...

We can't get away from it, even in our dreams.

The other night I had a dream in which I was incredibly angry with a group of people for some reason and I decided to turn into a monster and scare them, but in the process scared myself with the rage I was able to convey.

Thanks for posting your dream. It helps me to read things like this.

Chrissie in Belgium said...

Oh Sandra what a HORRIBLE dream. I am so sorry you had this dream. As a diabetic, representing just one of the group of diabetics, I am SO VERY SORRY, for the pain we cause the others around us. I am sorrry. We do not want to cause you this pain.

julia said...

Sandra, I had to use glucagon once, on someone else's child. It was scary, but I did it. Dreaming about these things are, in my opinion, ways to work out the stuff we worry about (me? I worry about getting pregnant again, because last night I dreamt that I had twins. Oh. My. God.)

If you have an expired kit, practise with it. Inject it into an orange or something. I keep a small needle with O's kits because that big needle scares the bejesus out of me.

For Joseph's persistent lows, have you tried doing mini-doses of glucagon? I've heard lots of parents do that for days when you can't get your kid out of the 60s.

Oh, The Joys said...

Gosh what a nightmare. I'm sorry your dreams were filled with such fright. That would have scared me to death!

Kerri. said...

How frightening, Sandra. Again, the way this disease affects the moms and dads amazes me every day.

I'm so glad it was just a dream.

Sandra Miller said...


That must've been some video game!

And thanks for the kind words about Joseph-- I think he's pretty great, too. :-)


I'm glad this post helped-- I'd never posted a dream before, and wasn't sure if I wanted to put this up here.


Please, please don't apologize.

Neither you nor my son -- or anyone else with diabetes -- is responsible for my bad dreams (or for those of any other parent of a child with diabetes).

Those nightmares come from the disease, not the people who have it.

The only way to prevent this kind of thing would be to stop worrying about our children.

And I just can't see that happening.


I think you're right about dreams being a way to work through things we worry about.

While I've practiced with an expired kit before, I hadn't done so in a very long time. (We have a number of old kits for just this purpose).

After the dream, I did take out a kit, and yup, I did walk through the process...

As far as using low doses of glucagon to treat stubborn lows-- I'll check in with Joseph's doc on that -- to discuss dosage, and if appropriate, see if we can get more kits for treating stubborn lows.

In the meantime, I took Chrissie's suggestion from a comment on an earlier post-- gave Joseph a couple of ounces of ginger ale (this was after 30 minutes, and over half a dozen glucose tabs couldn't get him out of the low 60s).

The soda did the trick.

Chrissie in Belgium said...

Sandra, it is important that everyone affected by this disease understands how it affects the othe others involved. I do not really know if it my words are an apology. I KNOW it is not my fault. I just want you to understand that these are the feelings coursing through the diabetic. It is important that you know what your son is feeling AND it is important we understand what you are feeling. Forget the guilt and the apologies. We must all just try and really understand in our heart what this disease does to each of us. That way we can help each best. I am so glad the soda helped. I can feel the sugar zooming through me practically immediately. Fizzy soda is faster than defizzed soda! I carry it around with me always, that is how I know. Per always runs after the fresh, fizzy stuff if it is a bad hypo!

Paige said...

There are a lot of great comments on here and I don't know that I have too much to add, but as I read them it struck me that this bad dream has become quite a gift, in a way. It reminded you of a skill that needed practicing, made some of us pay more attention to the images in our dreams, reminded me that I need to get skilled with the glucagon ASAP. This is one of the reasons that I love blogs!
Thanks for sharing, Sandra!

Wendy L. Morgan said...

You are a wonderful mother. You know what to do; even in the most dire of situations, you have your son's back!

Dreaming again said...

I found you through grand rounds.

I'm sorry for your dream.

My son doesn't have diabetes. He has asthma and is outgrowing (crossed fingers) epilepsy.

The nightmares invade every muscle fiber of our soul don't they?

He's lucky to have you.

Nicole P said...

Hey Sandra -

Where are you? Miss you out here.


Sandra Miller said...


Very wise words.

Thank you for clarifying this very important point.


I feel the same about this dream, and about having shared it here.


Thanks for the very kind words.

Dreaming again-

From what I read on your site, your son is very lucky to have you, too.

And Nicole-

Between all of the wonderful snow, and Evan getting sick this past week, computer time has been hard to come by.

But hey, thanks for checking in. :-)