The Nightmare: Living With Nightmares And The Hope Of Being Free From Them.

There’s this dream that I have… I’m in a hallway, at the end of this baron corridor there is an unremarkable door lurking ajar. I know that I am supposed to go there, so on I walk, but something in me does not want to. There’s an ominous foreboding clinging to my bones, but I dismiss it and press forward.

It feels as though I am on a call responding to a wounded person. Images of other calls I have responded to in real life make their way into this insidious manipulation of slumbering mind. I see bloodied handprints on the wall to my left, they belong to “her…” I hear a bereft widow wailing in the distance, I remember her too… There’s a boy lain in front of my feet, he’s close, but I can’t quite reach him. Even with my moving forward, he remains just out of grasp. Eventually I walk over him, knowing I must push on.

When I get to the door, I feel an ungodly chill overtake me. I can see my breath now. I’m carrying a drug kit, an airway bag and the trauma bag too. I know that what awaits on the other side of the door is in dire straits.

I try to fight back against an encroaching cripple of anxiety. I manage. I place my hand on the door, it feels like death. The texture feels awful and gross. I begin to smell a potent ammonia poisoning the air around me. I cover my nose and mouth, still managing to push forward. The door cries anthropomorphic laments of rusted agony. They sound like the voices of the fallen. All of them…

When the door is open, I now stand in a bathroom, one made up of all the bathrooms I have ever seen, bits taken from each to craft an unappealing palace of porcelain and tile. A few feet in front of me rests a body. I know I am supposed to help this person, so I begin to move once again.

The anxiety is near debilitating now. I can hardly breathe. My skin is stricken by sweat, cold beads of wishful retreat. But I refuse to listen, and on I go.

When close enough, I fall to my knees, I call to the person, I let them know that I am here.

“Ma’am, it’s the paramedics… can you talk to me?” She doesn’t. Not yet…

I reach in to check for a pulse, but when my fingers touch the skin of her neck, it feels like roaring flame, so I pull back. I now smell piss commingling with an active fire. Smoke begins to bleed into the room from each crack, crease and crevasse available. My eyes begin to burn. I call out again, “ma’am, it’s the paramedics… can you…” before I can finish, she rolls toward me, revealing her features, the features of my mother.

“Why didn’t you…? Why didn’t you call me….?”

I try to respond, I try to let her know that I did, I did call. Every day… even on the day she died…

No matter how hard I try, no words escape me. I can barely breathe, nearly unable to see, and panic sets in deeper when each time I go to grab her, she too slips from grasp. Eventually I am left in a burning room alone, no radio to call for help, no escape and no window to crawl through — I am trapped. And just as it feels as though I am about to die, I wake. Confused at first, but over the course of several agonizing moments, I begin to understand that it was a dream. A twisted contort of a beleaguered mind.

Everything in the dream are aspects of real moments once lived, sights seen and sounds heard, a congealed haunt of torment as gifted by a medic’s mind.

If I have been lucky enough to not have woken Sheena, I flee to the bathroom, turn the light on and stand with my hands under running water. I make it as cold as possible, as my skin still feels the grip of angry flame.

I’ve discussed this dream extensively over the course of therapy. It has been deduced that the overall theme is guilt over my mother’s death, and the death of those lost on the job. A mixture of PTSD recall and traditional bad dream.

I have another dream, one that has yet to come… I dream that one day, one fine day, I’ll be free of these nightmares. Free of the spectors that linger within the halls of my wounded mind. A dream and a wish that when it comes to the idea of going to bed, I will do so without fright nor fear. It’s true, you know…? I’m afraid to go to sleep sometimes, so I just lay in bed for as long as I possibly can before I am forced into rest by inescapable fatigue. That is how terrifying these night terrors can be. But I dream that one day I will be free. Safe and serene. One day…

There’s this dream that I have… and I’ll keep having it… until it comes true!

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