I’ve known Nicole almost my whole blogging life, as our respective jobs brought us together over a decade ago at a spelling bee. (Life is pleasantly random that way.) Over the last ten years, she’s been a voice of reason and an inspiration to me, doing the diabetes thing while simultaneously doing whatever the hell she wants. I respect her spirit. And today, she’s taking over SUM to share her diabetes dreams.
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My dreams are vivid. So vivid in fact, I sometimes wake up feeling annoyed or happy with someone based on something that didn’t happen in real life, but in my slumber.
My sleep is filled with sights, sounds, scents, and tastes. The best birthday cake I’ve ever eaten was consumed in a big top tent; I was surrounded by clowns and acrobats and wearing a rainbow sequin unitard. The cake was white with pink frosting that had the slightest taste of strawberry. But it wasn’t real, in the real-life sense, it was all part of an elaborate dream in which I had joined a circus and been asked to fill various roles. For my birthday, I had been presented with a cake and a new job as a hair hanging aerialist. I wasn’t really looking forward to hanging by my locks suspended in the air and the feeling of “what have I gotten myself into?” lasted the entirety of the dream, but damn, that cake tasted good. I almost never have a dream that isn’t sensory loaded. This makes for beautiful fantasies and terrible nightmares.
I also almost never have diabetes in my dreams.
In general, my sleep worlds don’t find me carrying a supply bag with test strips and pens. I don’t think twice about eating. There are no moments of disclosure or explanation regarding my disease. In my sleep worlds, I live unencumbered by insulin and low bloodsugar.
It is hard to describe this dream self. It’s not as if I recognize that I “don’t have” diabetes – it just isn’t. I imagine it is the way I felt before. Diagnosed at eight, I have little memory of the days before diabetes became a part of my life, but I do recall very specifically eating chocolate chip cookies at Christmas at my Nana’s and no one saying “no.” I recall in that instance that diabetes just wasn’t.
When I wake from my diabetes-less dreams, there is, on occasion, a lingering feeling of freedom. For just a few moments on waking, diabetes just isn’t. Following those moments is a sense of awareness partnered with just the slightest bit of grief as I realize the very first thing I need to do is test my blood sugar. As I pull out my test bag and draw blood and consider that fasting number and quickly assess what needs to happen next, I long for the fields of my dreams.
That longing isn’t limited to morning reality. When I’ m on the floor of the gym, spaghetti-legged and dizzy after dropping too quickly or too low, popping glucose tabs into my mouth and watching others complete a workout while I wish with all my heart I could just continue, I miss my dreams. When I’ve snapped at someone I love because they suggest I test and it turns out my sugar is cruising too high or low, I miss my dreams. When I desperately want to eat and my sugar won’t come down for some reason I can’t explain, I miss my dreams.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my life – so much. I’m surrounded by amazing friends and family, I’m healthy and fit and strong, I get to try new things and weave beautiful stories and create beautiful objects on a regular basis, I have an excellent career. There are very, very few things I would change about the stunning gift that is my life.
But in those difficult moments when diabetes is serving up challenge after challenge or has become too much, the world of my dreams seems… Well, dreamy. And I know in my heart of hearts, that is just how it should be.
My dreams are the blessed respite; they are the much-needed break that my mind provides from the day-to-day responsibilities of diabetes. They are my providence, and I am ever-grateful for them.
Plus, they sometimes come with a carnival, seriously cool circus gigs, and kickass cake. What’s better than that?