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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Eric Lagergren: Eric Lagergren was born in 1974 but didn’t give much thought to diabetes until March 2007, when he was diagnosed with Type 1. He now gives quite a bit of thought to the condition, and to help him better understand his life as a person with diabetes, he writes about it. Eric is the senior editor for the Testing Division at the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute in Ann Arbor. (Eric Lagergren is not a medical professional.)

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