Nightmare #190 – Amateur Surgery

(Male, 40’s) It’s clear where this dream comes from, at least parts of it. My mom has cancer and just came home from the hospital with an IV that needs to be changed twice a day. She’s frail and thin, a nightmare in her own right, more like a skeleton or a zombie than the vibrant and energetic woman of her younger days. Her hair is wispy and thin.

Regardless, the nightmare starts like this: Mom and I have traveled far north to a city on the banks of a Great Lake. The beach isn’t made of sand but rather is black grit. There are also moderately large outcroppings of white quartz crystal. Mom is able to walk and we’re walking along the beach, though she needs my arm for support. There is a deep dark forest of ever greens — cedars, I believe, just like we had along one side of the house where I grew up. We reached this boardwalk which made walking much easier. It lead to a train station and we took a subway to a hospital. I got Mom situated in a hospital room but it was a strange feel to the room. She shared the room with two other people. One was asleep or anesthetized. The other was a small child whose mother was complaining loudly that there was a Bible in the room. I told her to shut the f*** up and she seemed equally horrified by cursing as she was by the presence of a Bible. But she quieted down enough for me to get to work.

I was to perform surgery on Mom. It was all that her insurance would pay for, I gather. She sat down in something that looked like a dentist’s chair. It had trays filled with shiny scalpels. I gather there was a tumor somewhere in Mom’s abdomen that was so close to the surface it was supposed to be a simple task. This would be outpatient surgery, though my sense is that was the only kind of surgery performed at this do-it-yourself clinic. I opened a little moist towelette, like the kind you get at fast food fried chicken places and swabbed down Mom’s belly. I gather that was supposed to sterilize the area. I didn’t feel any growth beneath the surface, just soft, almost gooey, formless skin. I picked up a scalpel and I tried to make myself make an incision but I didn’t know where I was supposed to be cutting or what I was supposed to be looking for. I told Mom to wait there and I’d ask at the desk.

The nurses’ desk at the end of the hall had a couple nurses entering information into computers and chatting amiably amongst themselves. They were dismissive of my concerns. “Go ahead. You’ll do fine. We’re right here if you need us.” Though it didn’t seem they’d be much help. They didn’t encourage me in the least. I returned to Mother’s room, or at least what I thought was Mother’s room but she wasn’t there. There were no patients in that room. I tried to make my way back to the nurses’ desk but I couldn’t find that either. (As I’m writing this down, I realize of course that in the nightmare, I “lost” my mother.) I tried retracing my footsteps all the way back to the train station. There was someone just ahead of me, ducking around corners, moving too quickly for me to get a good look at, but I knew that this person would be able to help me. I was never able to catch up with him.

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