Saturday, November 28, 2009

Claustrophobia Dream

This morning I awoke in a panic. I'd had a claustrophobia dream. In the dream I am climbing the stairs to an attic room where my childhood friend Stuart Malone lives. Stuart died of a heroin overdose when he was 26. At the top there's some sort of wall abutment or architectural oddity protruding into the narrow stairwell. It requires bending and twisting into an unnatural and tight position to maneuver the final stairs and emerge into the attic room. I never make it into the room. There's a tense moment where I'm positioned almost upside down such that my arm is wedged and moving it will cause it to break when my full body weight lets go. My panic makes me want to jerk it quickly and escape, and it's from this bone-threatening position that I awoke this morning gasping for breath, freeing myself from the blankets and jumping out of bed waving my arms in the air to verify that I was not trapped. I was shaking and filled with a sense of deja vu and dread. I remembered this stairway squeeze vividly. Was it an actual memory or a memory of a dream? It had to be from a dream because the existence of such a thing makes no sense. Claustrophobia is not one of my big phobias. I had an MRI once and didn't panic. It was equipped with mirrors which gave the illusion that you were in the room and not in the tube. But all day today I've been feeling panic when I remember the dream. And here's the weirdest thing. An hour after I awoke I read this story in the Gazette over a bagel.

"John Jones, 26, of Stansbury Park, died nearly 28 hours after he became stuck upside-down in Nutty Putty Cave, a popular spelunking site about 80 miles south of Salt Lake City. John Jones was part of a group of 11 people exploring the cave passages. The 6-foot-tall, 190-pound spelunker got stuck with his head at an angle below his feet about 9 p.m. MST Tuesday. At times more than 50 rescuers were involved in trying to free him." The whole story is here. (The photo is not from this specific incident.)

1 comment:

Mary E.Carey said...

Jim, I started feeling the panic rising in me as I read this post. My sister and I are both claustrophobic and if we even think about getting in a tight situation like the ones you describe we start becoming short of breath. I frequently wake up gasping for breath and my chest hurting after having a dream like the one you describe. (Mine often involve going into a tunnel of snow.) I think it is sleep apnea, actually, and that I and maybe you are gasping for breath which triggers the dreams.