Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chemo Induced Dreams

The chemo side effects that I am most familiar with - flu symptoms & feeling toxic - seem to be less prevalent this time around. However, my most recent side effects have been dreams that seem to go on and on with no end in sight to the point that I feel exhausted when I wake up.

Last night - or more accurately this morning, since I woke up from the dream a little before 7 AM - I dreamt of the world as I knew it coming to an end as a result of humans who lost their sense of self and then inflicted the same misery on anyone they could find. Kind of like one of those zombie movies where the victim gets infected with the plague that makes s/he become one of the attackers.

The dream was actually completely illogical because no matter how many times I found myself cornered by these mindless people - or whatever they were - I always found a way out of their grip and I would be back on the run from them again. And each time I escaped what seemed like their inevitable capture, the solution would fail and I would be forced back on the run again. For instance, at one point in the dream, I realized that if I could find and collect enough 1/4" screws - screws that were being used to connect conduit [conduit is steel pipe used for protecting electric wires or cables] - I would be able to escape this terrible fate. Yet every time I had almost enough of screws to free myself (???), I would find myself losing them or throwing them at the people coming after me and I would have to start all over again.

Yeah. It made no sense once I woke up, but it did an excellent job of keeping me caught up in a never ending, unresolvable and deadly situation that was, to tell you the truth, quite exhausting once I woke from it. And, this is not the first time I had a dream that was never ending and exhausting. These dreams started shortly after I began this latest round of chemotherapy.

Now that I think about it, it seems the dream may have been a reflection of my subconscious fears of having continuous dealings with cancer in the future. There is always the possibility the cancer can return and then more treatments must be done. It also reminds me of what I have learned of the ego and its desperate grasping for permanence in the present form that it recognizes, i.e., Bert Scholl on June 24, 2008 at 10:25 AM and all of my past in this lifetime - the "me" that the ego thinks it is. The reason I have interpreted it this way, is that the topic of the ego has been on my mind lately. So, looking back at it, my dream consistently brought me to a place where death was inevitable, but then I would find myself once again fully alive and trying to evade death - kind of like a skip in a record. It just kept repeating over and over. It seemed like an expression of the ego's inability to truly conceive its own impermanence or you could say, the permanence of death (at least in the physical realm) and therefore my dream may have represented my egos struggle to remain in charge in a realm where it simply can not exist. And it seems that in my dream, the only way it can do that is to stop at the moment before death and return to the only form it recognizes.

Eckhart Tolle does an excellent job (and in fact far better than me) of explaining the ego's struggle for survival is his newest book A New Earth - Awakening to Your Life's Purpose. Believe it or not, Oprah Winfrey & Eckhart Tolle created an on-line course based upon the teachings in the book. I have viewed the first class of the series and I am quite impressed.

...and that's what you get when you mix my brain with a healthy serving of chemotherapy!


  1. Bert,

    This was a very well-written dream analysis!

    But I was just happy to read how you are doing today.

    I think that being conscious of our own mortality does challenge our sense of self, so the dream makes sense to me in the context of chemotherapy and upcoming surgery.

    Anyway, I'm thinking about you.

    Maria Brown

  2. Then there's always the all too obvious, humorous side of your dream, "Oh oh, I'm screwed!" Or "Screw you!"

    I miss seeing you, Bert, but I am so inspired by your blog. I finally realized you wouldn't know I was "visiting" you daily unless I wrote.

    My love to you and Danielle.


  3. Freud would say that it is rooted in your subconscious and has something to do with your unrealized desires to become an electrician.

    Who thought I was going to be piggish when I started out with the Freud reference?

  4. Bert,

    Hello! Your wife visited my blogsite and informed of of yours. I am finally starting to "reach-out"...
    I must say... I've have some pretty wild dreams myself. Some nightmares as well. Cancer treatments most certainly run the gamet when it comes to side effects.
    I just bought this book! It must be the title! "Awakening to your Life's dreams"... it says it all.
    I look forward to reading your blog.
    I wish you the best on your journey and path in Life.

  5. Hey Bert,
    You've definitely got me interested now. I tried reading The Power of Now a few years ago but I just don't think I was ready for it. Now, well, things are different. :)

    I've been a bit out of the loop but it's good to check in and see that you have that awesome attitude as always. I really enjoy reading your take on things and I think of you and your family often. I'm glad to hear that the chemo side effects are getting better, and that the NCAA is keeping you entertained. Sending lots of positive vibes your way!