Monday, November 5, 2007


Mom has been plagued by what she calls "wild dreams" all of her life. When she's under stress they get worse. These last two weeks in the hospital have been rough on her; strenuous days of physical therapy followed by restless nights with interrupted sleep and disturbing dreams. Yesterday when Dad, MM and I visited with her she described nightmares so terrifyingly real that she was still shaken by the experience well into the daylight hours. When I suggested a dreamcatcher, she knew exactly what I was talking about because a very tiny dreamcatcher arrived in the mail at her apartment several months ago (some sort of small promotional gift with a request for a donation) We read about the powers of the dreamcatcher and I encouraged her to hang it above her bed. Interestingly, her sleep these last months has been better. Coincidence? Mom thought having a dreamcatcher above her hospital bed sounded like a good idea. "After all", she mused, "dreams are all in your head and if I just believe in the dreamcatcher, it will probably work for me here too". How true, I thought.

And so....late last night, near the end of my on call duties, I was summoned into the hospital to admit a patient from the Emergency Room. Before leaving home I found Chris's dreamcatcher, a larger and more colorful model than the one Mom received in the mail. This one with the blue feathers was purchased on our travels to Montana many years ago. Chris was intrigued by the Native American story of the dreamcatcher, a web like adornment with beads and feathers that allows only good dreams to pass through while catching the bad dreams in the web where they can do no harm to the ones who sleep underneath its gentle sway. I remember he begged us to buy him one and I'm glad that we did.

I kept the dreamcatcher in my coat pocket while in the Emergency Room examining, counseling, and writing orders on behalf of my patient who was being prepared for a complex surgical procedure. The blue feathers remained concealed as we talked about expectations for the hospital stay, outcomes and the tender balance between risks and benefits. The juxtaposition between mind:body medicine and conventional Western medicine felt a bit eerie.

And then, around midnight when I had finished my work in the Emergency Room, I walked upstairs to the rehab unit and into Mom's room. Both she and her roommate were fast asleep in their dark room. Working quietly and quickly, I secured the dreamcatcher to the metal bar above Mom's hospital bed with a piece of tape and fluffed the blue feathers lightly, hoping to activate the magic. If anyone saw me, my presence was never acknowledged.

This morning I asked Mom about her night. "Much better", she said. "I slept much better". Ahhhhhhhh. Sweet dreams.

1 comment:

  1. This brings tears to my eyes. May the miracle continue.


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