13 January

Thursday, January 13. Nightmare In Bedlam. Maria Says She’s Leaving Me, Back To The Sleep Lab, Lump Crab Salad, Pumpkin Improving

by Jon Katz

As some have noticed, I’m returning to a daily journal format on the blog, something I did at the outset but drifted away from the past year or so. This isn’t a news channel; it’s a personal memoir, the story of a life and a search for peace, love, meaning, and compassion. The blog won’t change, except I’m adding daily journal writing. Like E.B. White, my journal inspiration, a feature like this one, did when he wrote One Man’s Meat from his farm in Maine.

I realize that so much is happening in and around my life that I need to sum up a bit while I continue to do my usual other writing. I consider my blog my great work, my living memoir; it’s the story of a life. I imagine it’s rougher on my readers if I have trouble keeping up.

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First off, strange news.

I had a horrible dream last night. Maria and I were sitting on benches that looked like pews, and she took my hand and turned to me and said she had decided to leave me; she was no longer happy in the marriage and was going away with another man. “I’m sorry,” she said gently, holding my hand, “but I have to leave you.”

I remember feeling as if my guts had been wrenched from the deepest parts of my stomach, and then woke up in a sweat and looked around to make sure it was a dream.  My stirring woke Maria up, and she briefly tried to comfort me. Then her empathy turned quickly to glee.

“See!” she said, “now you know what it feels like to have a bad dream and confuse it with reality.” She thought it was amusing, and I understood why. There’s a back story.

When we first met, Maria often had bad dreams about me, in which I yelled at her, abused her, and hurt her in other ways.

She would stay mad at me for a day or two, even as I pleaded with her to understand that these were dreams, not actual events. But they made her suspicious of me (Maria doesn’t  have generally high regard for men and did not expect the best of me.)

I rarely dream or recall my dreams, but this was vivid even hours later. She smiled when I mentioned it at lunch and asked me if I was still mad at her. for the dream I suppose I am, a bit. I know it’s not rational. But I can’t laugh about it yet.

I wondered if it had to do with her belly dancing. She did it from home last night, because of Covid. She would dance, and her teachers would praise and critique her via computer.

Last night, I went out in the dark and cold (with her permission) and took some photos of her belly dancing on Zoom (above) with the members of her troupe’

She loves belly dancing.

When she first started doing it, I wondered why. Quickly, I realized that the real Maria came out when she belly danced- creative, strong, confident when she was dancing. That’s what belly dancing is about. Perhaps that triggered my dream. Perhaps her independence frightens me on some level, as happens to so many men with independent, strong-willed wives.

 

 

It’s not something I have ever been conscious of thinking, even to myself. But I wondered where such a dream might come from.

Oh well, I’m calming down about it. But I can’t recall ever waking up that upset, and the sinking feeling in my stomach is still there.

Maria is driving me to Saratoga Hospital Today. I return to the Sleep Lab at Saratoga Hospital for the covid-delayed second night of testing regarding my “extreme” sleep apnea. The doctors say It seems my heart was skipping or stopping 80 times an hour while I slept. I’ll be okay by tonight, but I admit, the dream shook me up. I’m not superstitious and don’t deal in omens – I believe what I see and know – but it was just jarring.

I’m supposed to arrive at the lab at 7:45, get wired up (40 or 50 wires in my head and chest) for testing, and be given a nicely furnished motel kind of room to sleep in. It’s strange but not frightening in any way; the nurses and techs are generous and thoughtful. They know how odd it is for the people being tested. I’m bringing my music and a book.

I see it as a kind of adventure. My dream much more rattled me. In a couple of weeks, the doctors will suggest changes in my mask and air pump based on what they learned tonight. It should make sleeping even easier.

And I am gaining some perspective about the dream.

I imagine it is healthy to be reminded sometimes of just what it would mean to lose somebody I love as much as I love Maria. She tells the world to me, and I suppose the idea of losing her could easily be a nightmare from within.

The dream seemed astonishingly accurate to me, as if it had happened to me before. The details were perfect.

I so rarely dream; I woke up in shock and fear. Maria laughed about the dream and reassured me it wasn’t accurate in any way.

I know that’s true, but hours later, I’m still feeling the shock of it. As strong as I think I am becoming, and as free of fear, I sometimes forget the depth of the weakness and fragility deep inside of me. It will always be there. I just have to keep learning how to respond to it.

Anyway, back to the Sleep Lab

While my sleep apnea mask has dramatically reduced the number of heart skips, it is still too high for comfort, say the doctors. Too easy for the heart to stop abruptly in the middle of the night and get the last word on whether I wake up.

It is customary with sleep apnea equipment to get at least two nights in the lab, so the doctor can examine the results and make sure I’m getting the right kind of mask and settings.

In one sense, I’m glad to be getting out.

Covid has penned me in. No Mansion and no Bishop Maginn High School for a week or so, and I’ve been advised to stay around people for a week or so. I’m grateful for my blog and my writing. I gather the numbers are beginning to come down in major cities; I expect to be out and around soon. I’m not used to that.

When I get to the sleeping lab, I’m bringing an Emily St. John Mandel dystopian novel, Station Eleven, one of my daughter’s favorite books and highly recommended by her. I’m not generally into dystopian fiction, but I’m in the mood to give it a try, perhaps because of my dream. And it can’t be any worse than the news.

Or my dream.

More later.

(Another great lunch today: lump crab, carrots, onions, red pepper, tomatoes, broccoli, kale, cable, celery, feta cheese, barley, peas, and several more vegetables. It was delicious.)

11 Comments

  1. I have a recurring anxiety dream, not a nightmare, in which I am explaining to my first (dead) husband , who is living with his apparently widowed mother, that I am now married to Craig and that he must stop following and trying to contact me.
    My first marriage was not over-happy we both matured and grew away from each other almost totally.

  2. Jon…
    RE: NIGHTMARES
    “If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.”
    – Kahlil Gibran

    When I met my wife, she had been intimidated in her relationships, and not fully empowered. But I encouraged her to seek her own interests. I wanted to discover her as she was, not as an image of what she thought I preferred.

    Over the years, she has tried different occupations/professions, and is now involved with several hobbies.

    RE: SLEEP APNEA
    I’m pleased you are getting attention for your sleep apnea. My doctors respond to my requests. While I am satisfied, I’m not utilizing the latest medical evaluation tools of a sleep study.

  3. I once dreamed that I discovered my husband was cheating on my with the entire University of Iowa cheerleading squad, and when I confronted him with it, he said it was no big deal. Even though it was a dream, I was mad at him for days! It’s odd how the emotions of a dream can be so real, and spill over into our real lives. But I’m glad that yours was just a dream too…..

  4. I admire your energy and honesty, Jon. I have started a blog of sorts a while ago when we took in a pregnant feral cat so she could have her (6) kittens in a safe place. When the nursery was in full action, for the first 3 months, it was not that hard to create a daily post. There was so much to tell. Now they have all been adopted out and I have archived that blog and started a second on on the same website to document the socialization process of the mother cat. It is going really well and because there are not that many events to talk about, I am having trouble keeping up the blog. I think it is even time to end that part of it. And then maybe, inspired by your website, try and create a third blog with just my thoughts… My website is small and does not come close to attracting audiences like yours and I have no idea who is reading it. So telling my travel stories with pictures is something I am preparing to do mostly for myself, even though it makes me drive off in melancholy sometimes. I am not as brave as you and have not opened up any of the pages for comments. Maybe one day I will…. people can always send an email and I think that sort of is too much trouble for most of them, so I do not get the kind of ‘speak my mind’ responses you do regularly. Not sure which is better… For now I will entrust my stories to the web-vacuum without getting those responses…

    I also think that the sleep lab is a brave thing to do, by the way. When I hear you talk about Maria and how she was with you at the start of your relationship, I think of myself. The previously feral cat sometimes spends some time on the (empty) bed next to me but it is weird how the mere fact of having another living creature right there keeps me from relaxing and falling asleep. And this is an innocent creature that I have come to truly love, mind you! I am not a good sleeper. I don’t think I suffer from Apnea. I was offered to get tested but I simply cannot see myself sleeping elsewhere knowing people watch me… Good for you that you do! And good luck, sleep well!

  5. Nightmare In Bedlam. Maria Says She’s Leaving Me….clickbait

    “Nightmare In Bedlam. Maria Says She’s Leaving Me”, CLICKBAIT! My immediate response was how can that be and I have to talk with her.

    Nightmare In Bedlam. Maria Says She’s Leaving Me,

    1. 🙂 — it was a bit of bait, but thanks for thinking of helping me..if she decided to go, she could never be talked out of it..there’s an iron side to her

  6. For Nicky:
    I think that I found your blog but there is no way to respond or find ongoing conversations. Your cat stories are really interesting and I have had mny, many cats myself.

  7. Tasty looking lunch! Are you permitted to share the recipe, or is it proprietary to Mayo? Thanks for sharing the delicious, healthy food.

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