I recently did a #BrainQA on dreaming after a brain injury because I was intrigued to see if others dreamed the way I did, it turns out everyone dreams differently.
Some people can no longer dream at all and after doing some research I’ve discovered that is because they may have damaged their occipital lobe. The occipital lobe is located at the back of the brain and is deeply involved in processing visual information, including perception, colour, spatial awareness, and movement detection.
I dreamed a lot about my brain injury, my fractured jaw and stairs during the early days (and years) of my brain injury. When I read through my dream diary now I remember most of those dreams. I see the pain, fear, sadness and confusion I was feeling… I think everything I was feeling at the time of my injury was coming through in my dreams but I don’t remember feeling those feelings. It’s strange that I remember my dreams more than I remember my time in hospital.
I’ve wanted to write this blog post for a while but I’ve been putting it off because, to me it’s so personal. How silly does that sound? It’s my subconscious and I’m asleep, but sometimes the subconscious can tell you everything.
I suffered an extradural haematoma (blood clot), fractured skull and fractured jaw after a fall down the stairs in February 2013.
I won’t be analysing all dreams because I just can’t. Also, please ignore my weird handwriting, I was trying a new style… I now write in all block capitals again. (I must admit I get jealous of other peoples handwriting!)
24th March 2013
Me and Jon are sat in a car, not talking, but passing written notes instead. ‘Welcome back, I’ve missed you. 4/4/13’ (is the only thing/note I remember)
Jon passed me the note.
Sometime in hospital (From the day I went for my first walk since I was admitted – Newcastle)
Strapped to a table being spun around (hamster wheel style). Loads of memories are been played out in front of me, but they are not mine. The spinning gets faster, the person controlling me says he won’t stop until I can spot my memory. I have a headache and my head is throbbing, I am still wearing my bandage on my head*. I start to scream “Stop” because of the pain I’m in. Finally I see me own memory, it’s Nadia when she is little playing with lego, but her face isn’t right, it is blurry/droopy.
*bandage from just after surgery in Hull.
I am watching the memories from a wheel attached to the ceiling, so it is a strange upside down feeling I am having as well as the pain and dizziness.
(This dream is the only thing I can remember clearly from my whole time since the accident and during that time)
21st May 2013
I am in car on my way to nana’s chewing a marshmallow, when I get there I take the marshmallow out of my hand, it has turned really hard and I find it almost impossible to eat. I get back in the car with nana and this girl who just really annoys me. The marshmallow is almost plastic now. My jaw seems to be opening less and less as I try to chew/eat the marshmallow.
This is to do with my fractured jaw, the marshmallow turning plastic will be the plastic jaw exercisers I was using at the time. I think I was worried that my jaw would never return back to normal.
Undated but remembered dream from May
I am sat on the kerb outside school/in the car park. All of a sudden a man in a long coat appears and he’s at the bay I am sat next to and a piece of glass just appears in his jaw, he doesn’t scream and it is like it hasn’t happened. I say “oh no!” and it then appears in my jaw too and I don’t scream either, I take it out slowly – THAT HURTS. I get scared and get into a car and drive away super fast (for some reason I am driving Stephen’s car).
Having a fractured jaw hurts. I think I must have felt the pain in my dream to have written ‘THAT HURTS’ in capitals.
2nd June 2013
I watched ‘The Waking Life’ this evening. A bunch of conversations mixed with dreams. Hard to tell what is a dream and what is real life. Crazy animation* and hard to watch (kind of) because the way is was animated.
Anyway it made me want to remember MORE details from my dreams – Especially what people look like, because I never do. I always put ‘He or ‘She’
(*Like watching a dream)
I’ve just watched the trailer for this and I should not have watched that film because at that time in my life I was getting confused between real life and dreams. I felt like I was outside myself watching everyone and everything float by. It was quite scary because I had no idea what was going on and I didn’t know when the feeling would stop. Also, ambitious (idiotic?) Naomi wanting to try and remember faces from dreams only four months after a brain injury… I really did have no idea.
21st June 2013
I am going to meet up with Jon, we meet at the fair “I can’t go on stuff like this anymore because of my…” “I know” (We are about to go on the waltzers)
24th June 2013
Babysitting Zach Braff’s kid, he falls out of his toy castle and bangs his head.
Even though there is worry behind this; banged head. I find this dream a funny one. It’s nice to have a funny one. Zach Braff doesn’t have any children and if he did… I would babysit them?!
15th July 2014
Shower at bottom tiled stairs. I need shower gel half way through shower walk upstairs to find it’s not there cos I’m at mum’s walk down stairs very slowly.
I was scared to walk down stairs for so long, even now I always hold onto the banister and walk slowly down them.
9th August 2014
“There’s nothing worse than screaming down the stairs”
I woke up crying.
9th September 2013
Gerbils at a museum who had brain surgery.
Because why not?
10th September 2013
Staircase with a pair of glasses on each step.
I don’t understand this one. Never go down the stairs without my glasses on?
19th October 2014
Dreamt I had brain surgery again. Not in a theatre, but in a ward surrounded by many other patients. The doctor wouldn’t let me wait for my family. The surgery was needed at the back of my head this time. Still on the right though. He did the surgery under local anesthetic and a nurse held my hand through it all, “I’m scared” I said and he said “Of course you are, it’s normal to be scared” and that was all that was spoken. I squeezed his hand when I could hear the drill and feel the vibrations. And whilst the surgeon stitched me up, rather than staples like last time. It felt too tight. When they finished they bandaged me up and just left me. I was crying alone for what felt like hours before Stephen showed up.
- Stephen said I was making strange sounds last night
- At first when I woke up I could feel the tightness in my head.
That was hard to read/write out, I was nearly crying. One year and eight months after my injury and I was still having dreams like that.
26th January 2015
I could collapse any second
— Well I could physically collapse any second
What do you mean?
— It doesn’t matter
— Well I had brain surgery last year so could actually collapse any second
Physically and emotionally?
Please don’t stop taking your medication
— I won’t.
I don’t remember this dream but the ‘physically and emotionally?… Yep’ bit really gets to me. Also, I think I know who I’m talking to because there’s only one person who makes me talk/explain myself after I’ve said “It doesn’t matter”.
Undated dreams taken from my phone (2015)
TK Maxx turned into a cash converters (supermarket style) same people still worked there untrained. I had to go through an old house to get to staff exit. I fell down the stairs, screamed. Managed to stop myself at the end. Steven picked me up and called an ambulance.
Steven was my manager at TK Maxx and the only manager I’ve had that understood my brain injury.
Well, that was heavy but I’m glad I finally wrote it. Thank you for reading.