In the dream, a large, injured shorebird rests against the side of my Dallas garage. A few feet away, another bird of the same type, agitated but apparently uninjured, squawks as if in panic. Neighbors drive by and stop, offering to take the bird to a nearby veterinary clinic. The neighbors, in the next scene in this bizarre dream, return and stop in front of my house to say the veterinarian has treated the big, curly, furry dog. Then the dog is put in the back yard, where a miniature version of the animal—an obnoxiously loud puppy—refuses to be silent to give the big dog a rest, for even a second. Members of my immediate family suddenly appear in the garage and grab some pieces of bone-dry but unfired pieces of decorative pottery. This upsets me to the extent that I grab the pieces from them and smash the glaze-ready pieces against the concrete garage floor. I leave the garage, jump on a motorcycle, and chase a couple who are riding another motorcycle. I enter a curve far too fast, losing control and smashing into a white open-slat fence. The newly-planted vegetable garden inside the fence is ruined. I am embarrassed by my behavior, but my embarrassment means nothing to the several families who had just installed the garden. The people wanted me jailed, or worse. But the scene shifts again; I am holding an iPad against the brick wall of a house, while some of the family members scroll through photographs of what appears to be a boat race, on the device. As with almost all my dreams, there was much more. But the links between elements of the dream are so odd and confusing and complex that I could not begin to recall them all. And so I awoke. Late. Very late. Long after first awaking in darkness. My recollection embarrasses me, as much because I threw an irrational tantrum as because I did not think an injured shorebird transforming into an injured dog was especially unusual. Perhaps I have lost my mind, after all. And if that is the case, where do I go to look for it?


Sleep remains far too attractive to me, around the clock. Perhaps that’s a sign that the chemotherapy drugs still have not worn off. My blood magnesium level remains well below normal, though a bit higher than it was a week ago. And the lab data show I am anemic. But I’m told improvement has been made; and will continue, if circumstances continue to go in the same direction. I do not remember when all…or most…of my blood chemistry levels were in the normal range. Many of them are either low or high. If I had the energy and the inclination, I could review historical data on my patient portal to learn whether the abnormalities began in tandem with the chemo treatments. But, inasmuch as I do not fully understand the interactions/correlations between blood components and chemo treatments, I am not sure what those historical data would tell me. Probably nothing of any substance. At least nothing I can rely on. I could ask the oncology team, and perhaps I will, but I’ll wait until my interest in knowing is sufficiently high to help me remember what I learn.


I should have taken my fistful of pills more than two hours ago. Before I take the antibiotic, though, I must have something to eat (lest the drug upset my stomach, per my PCP). And I’m not hungry. I wonder whether a demi tasse cup of espresso counts as breakfast? If not, I can plan on eating strawberries, grapes, blueberries, pineapple chunks, and some yoghurt. Perhaps some Boost. Avocado toast? I won’t starve. I haven’t yet.


Today’s New York Times Word of the Day is MEDIOCRE. Is it coincidence, or does it have deep meaning with respect to my physical or mental condition? Or both? The NYT should explain before tossing a word out to the nervous masses.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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