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I have always had vivid dreams. Dreams that have created memories that feel as real as any other experience. That has had some long term consequences on how reliable I consider memories. I’ll talk about that later on, right now I just want to share some of the dreams that have stuck with me. This is the first one I remember after having started using Ambien to help with a wicked case of insomnia. Needless to say that kicked things up a notch.
I get an infusion at a doctor’s office every 4–6 weeks. I’m sitting in the chair waiting for my infusion nurse Mary to stick the IV in my arm. Instead, she complains about being tired, curls up in a chair next to me and falls asleep. That makes me a little upset, but then again, I’m feeling rather drowsy myself so maybe I should drift off too…
As I wake up, groggy, I notice my father and stepmother in the room with me. They’re talking excitedly but hushed, “He’s waking up! Here, take it easy…” I don’t recognize the room. I get the distinct feeling that the fact I woke up is exciting means I was in a coma or something. My stepmother takes my arm and leads me out of the room.
We walk out into an absolutely palatial building. We’re talking castle or resort hotel level of sprawl. As we move from one enormous room to another we settle in front of a huge, floor to ceiling window. Outside I can see that we are high up on a bluff overlooking the ocean. We’re on a cove and the land sweeps along to my left and just out into the ocean. Enormous waves are crashing against the rocky coast and sheer cliffs.
All of this is disorienting, I finally ask where we are. My stepmother says, “This is our Nova Scotia house.” Huh? That only adds to my confusion. “How could possibly afford this, did you win the lottery?” She looks at me funny, cocks her head to the side and says, “Isaac, you’re sleepwalking, go back to bed.” Oh thank God!
As she escorts me back to the room I tell her I knew that Ambien can do things like this. “I’ve never sleepwalked before but now everything makes sense, wow, what a relief!” As she fiddles with the doorknob I open my eyes and stare at the ceiling. I’m in my normal room.
I want to make it explicitly clear, I did not “wake up,” I just opened my eyes. What I was looking at was no more or less real feeling than that house in Nova Scotia or the infusion clinic. Sure, I was in my regular room, nowhere near my dad and stepmother’s place and that was a relief but…
I must have laid in bed for 20 minutes just getting my bearings. I have told this story before and some people have said, “That’s so cool!” No, questioning your grasp of reality is not cool. It is disquieting and eerie. My memory of this “dream” is no different than any other event that happened in my life. It was the first of many experiences like this. Having these extra, surreal experiences has on occasion given me lots to think about. I’ll post more about some of them later.