My First Memorable Diabetes Nightmare

I’m not one given to nightmares. Oh, sure, I have recurring anxiety-filled dreams, but they aren’t hellish or horror-filled. When I wake up, the dream’s over, mostly forgotten. The anxiety’s gone. I’m talking here about dreams of the sort where I’m back in college or high school, and I’ve skipped out on classes all semester. Now, in order to pass — which for some reason I have to do or my world will end — I must take a test I know none of the material for. I can’t cram. I can’t make sense of the content. There’s also a variation in which I’m in the high school hallway trying to get into my locker but I can’t remember the combination.


Pretty typical stuff, I think.

Those are few and far between, however. My nightly dreamworld, though, is often quite bizarre and epic in scope. And highly enjoyable. I mean, it’s fun. Like watching the best movie. I love remembering my dreams, though I rarely share with others. Sure, I sometimes write up the better ones for a few friends, often sharing via e-mail because in e-mail I can create a more interesting narrative (plus they can choose to read or disregard whenever they want).

Overall, though, I’m a firm believer in something I heard or read years ago. Regarding telling others your dreams: they’re often interesting only to ourselves and to our therapists. For the most part, it’s true. I’ll often groan to myself when someone says they just have to tell me last night’s dream.

Your best, most vivid dreams start to die as soon as the telling begins.

So why share my diabetes dream — this latest nightmare — in my blog? I think it’s because I was surprised to realize I haven’t had many diabetes-themed nightmares. In fact, despite what I just wrote about our dreams being boring to others, I want to say forget that: I’m curious to hear if some of you spend your time asleep dealing with diabetes. Do you find yourself checking your blood glucose? Giving yourself insulin? Are you trapped somewhere and going low without carbs available? Maybe you’re diabetes-free in dreamland, living in a world that has found a cure?

I’d love to see this comments section on this entry fill up with people giving a quick synopsis of a recurring or memorable diabetes dream or diabetes nightmare.

Here’s mine (and I won’t go into the majority of the nightmare; I’ll simply share this moment): I’d been sitting in a room with deep pile carpeting and massaging the top of my scalp with two fingers. I felt a bump. It was pimple-sized, solid yet malleable, beneath my skin. I pushed on it, it moved. Odd. I felt it again. It moved once more. Then I lost its location. Looked for it. Once I located it again, I pushed on it, the skin erupted, and a square white insect about the size of a pencil eraser escaped from my head onto the carpet.

Pause. I apologize. The imagery’s very David Lynchian. Sorta William S. Burroughs. Yeah, it’s probably kind of eww for some of you, too. It’s a dream. Indulge me.

Oh, and where’s the diabetes stuff, you ask?

I wanted to know what this insect was, so I tried to capture it. Not squish it. Just get it contained in a piece of newspaper or tissue or something. The bug was elusive. I felt it was attempting to climb back and reinsert itself into my scalp.

As I fumbled about in search of the white bug, I began to feel these sharp stings at the tips of my fingers. First one, and then another. Then three, four, and more. Then it was constant.

It wasn’t the bug, either.

My fingertips were being attacked by eight-legged, spiderlike lancing devices. Tiny, fast-moving, metal-legged, and lancet-bodied spiders were quickly moving toward my fingertips, pricking them, then backing away. I couldn’t swat them, smack them, smash them, or get rid of them because they were too quick. They jumped, too. They continued to hang onto my fingertips as I raised my hands to escape.

I had no idea what to do. I was panicked.

And as often happens, thankfully, a few seconds later I woke up.

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  • Genie

    When my son was first diagnosed with Type 1 at the age of four, I had nightmares several times a week that varied in some details, but were the same theme. There had been a blizzard, or an earthquake or (my favorite) a nuclear attack. The dreams always entailed my efforts to obtain insulin for him, or to feed him appropriately with the food available after such a disaster. These dreams continued for the first six months or so, and then, I suppose, I felt confident enough of my ability as a parent of a sick child to care for him. I have been Type 2 for many years, but oddly enough have never had dreams related to my own diabetes. But those early nightmares were plenty!

  • Richard Saunders

    It sounds like you need more exercise or to work harder so you will sleep better.

  • Eric L

    Sorry, Richard. That’s not it. More than enough exercise and I work hard enough. And I sleep just fine. To quote sports figures these days who overquote this all of the time, “it is what it is.”

  • Sandy Blue

    There was a TV program on this past weekend about folks in an ER and one was a young lady who constantly complained about having bugs in her scalp. As luck would have it, one began to crawl out while she was being examined and was extracted. And then another. Seems she was in some Southern Hemisphere country a few months before and sat under a certain tree

    Now that was supposedly real. Did you watch it without actually paying attention????

    To sleep, ha but to dream…

  • Vicki

    I fear when a watching a movie about someone being in the desert. I worry about not being able to have insulin to inject. It’s just our live line!