The night was laden with the unseasonably warm Gulf of Mexico air. As I lay awake listening to the symphony of sounds winding down into its usual nightly slumber, I was suddenly startled by the blinding light that filled my bedroom. My eyes widened as the outline of several figures drifted slowly towards me. Fleeing became impossible because my limbs had become paralyzed with some unexplained fear of the unknown. The relentless void finally engulfed me. When I opened my eyes, I was in a parking lot. The engine of the car I had obviously been driving was still idling and waiting to be turned off.
As I became oddly familiarized with my surroundings I realized I was at school. Beside me was someone I hadn't seen in years, but how could that be? Feeling the need to leave, I threw the car into reverse and quickly departed freeing that parking spot for the next in line. When I realized I was driving in reverse with ease, I stopped. Confusion and frustration filled me when I tried shifting gears, but the only direction my car seemed to want to go was backwards. So backwards it went, but I knew I needed help when I was unable to leave the parking lot. The number I dialed tugged at my heart. As I looked at the display on my cellphone, a familiar voice answered. I had called my ex-husband begging him for help.
He quickly came to my rescue, but when he arrived in the medium blue Ford F150 truck he once drove many years ago the obvious question of why my son and his wife were with him wasn't what I wanted to know. I wanted and needed to know was why he was driving that truck. With no real explanation, they quickly rushed me to a location I called "Sanctuary" so the surgeon I once worked with could alleviate the excruciating pain in my lower back. I hobbled around Sanctuary trying to find Dr. Rubey to no avail. Each door I opened was the wrong one. I found no offices or waiting rooms. All paths in Sanctuary were a circuitous route back to the ornate entrance where the receptionist sat poised and ready help anyone who entered the facility. She greeted me once again with a radiantly artificial smile. She paged Dr. Rubey and sent a runner to find him. Why are doctors never on time for their appointments? Don't they know I too have places to go? People to see? And things to do? The thought of having to wait once again for something that wouldn't help me annoyed me.
I shut my eyes and rubbed my brow. All optimism silently fled Sanctuary and when I opened my eyes again the room was dark. I was alone. The clock boldly displayed 3:36. As usual I got a few hours of sleep before waking in pain, but what was different about this time was that I had dreamed and the dream was as lifelike and vivid as being there in person. But wasn't I there in person? I found Sanctuary or it had found me, but Sanctuary was like life...optimism was bountiful, but fleeting. I never dream or I guess I should say I rarely dream. REM sleep where dreams are made is a place I rarely visit.
When I repositioned my body and found a spot that slightly eased my deep, consuming pain, that spot immediately secured my place on The Sleep Express. Destination: a huge outdoor market where hundreds of merchants were selling jewelry. A wide cuffed bracelet caught my eye. The fine Mosaic pattern of large flowers outlined with silver brought a smile to my face. It looked right and felt right on my wrist as I admired its beauty and superb craftsmanship. I knew that bracelet was meant to be mine and so did the merchant. After he refused my money, I gently kissed his cheek and I whispered, "thank you". Ah! Sanctuary once again!
I gazed out the sliding glass doors onto the beach where the waves had begun to gain momentum as they crashed onto the shoreline. The book I had been reading about ancient Egyptian artifacts laid open at the section showing bracelets the Pharaohs had once lavished on their favorite concubines. There it was! There in all its glory was my bracelet. The gift from a Pharaoh from long ago. How could I not smile? Naturally, I called Jim to let him know the storm was strengthening. The waves were now starting to reach the doors. He entered the room just as a huge wave crashed into the house completely submerging it underwater.
I awoke struggling to breathe. Sleep apnea sometimes does that to me, but tomorrow I receive a new CPAP machine which I know I NEED to use. No more lame excuses! My latest sleep study revealed I stopped breathing 55.9 times per hour during apnea related episodes. My lowest oxygen level was 73%. Ooops! My bad! Normal levels should be 95-100% with anything under 90% is considered being in respiratory distress. My doctor was amazed that I haven't had a heart attack or a stroke in my sleep. He also was amazed that I can function during the day after having been deprived of oxygen all night long night after night. Is "functioning" what this is called? If he only knew!