About a year ago I went onto some new meds that had the fringe benefit of clearing my head up and making it possible for me to gradually rejoin society. Quite a benefit, actually. Alas, nothing is free and there was a downside, a serious one, to one of the new meds.

Sustiva is known for provoking dreams, at least partly because, unlike the great majority of meds, it goes right through the blood/brain barrier. Most folks taking Sustiva report that their dreams are at very least “brightened up” a bit, not necessarily in a positive way. For many, including me, the dreams are usually nightmares and are incredibly persistent.

Normally, if I’m having a dream that gets so bad that it wakes me up, I can get up and go pee and then crawl back into bed and sleep, if not dreamlessly, at least with a different dream. On Sustiva, what routinely happened is that I remained fixated on that specific dream, and after I awakened and then went back to sleep, it took up where it left off. This occurred almost every night.

And they were horrible dreams. For example, one dream that I still remember clearly featured a creature about the size of a horned toad but a voracious flesh-eater, sort of a land piranha. An infestation of them was spreading over the planet and we survivors were being backed into the corners of our continents by the damn things and devoured alive.

Their mode of operation was to hide under objects, a rock or a shoe or anything on the floor…they could squeeze through thin openings like a cockroach…and then swarm all over their prey, which was any other animal but most particularly humans. You’d think you’d got away from them, and then you’d kick over a shoe or something and there one would be and you knew that others could not be far behind.

You could stomp a few of them, but they would eventually become so numerous that they’d get you when you became exhausted from lack of sleep. We called them “snakes.”

Somewhere along in this dream I woke up shuddering and went to pee and realized, wait, “snake” is already used in English to mean a different creature, so I’ll call them “skakes.”

I kid you not. I was half-asleep but still half in the grips of this dream, enough so that I consciously realized that I needed a different word than “snake” and made up a new word by simply changing one letter.  It was sufficiently logical at the time.

And then I went back to bed and for some hours continued semi-waking dream battles with the damn skakes until the next day, when I dragged myself out of bed still exhausted. After too many nights like that, I gave up and went on different meds.

Flash forward one year, when I discovered that by going back to Sustiva I could save a thousand dollars a month – at Canadian prices, yet. For a cool K a month, I’ll give it another whirl.

And this time, I’m going into it with my eyes open. It has occurred to me that I can use Sustiva’s blurring of the line between dream and reality to my advantage, that it might very well be possible when I awaken from a nightmare, to take conscious control of the dream and steer it in a more pleasant direction.

Take control of your dreams

New! Improved Sustiva with Dreamplanner

Also helps fight pesky AIDS while you dream

Coming soon: DreamplannerII, with greater resolution, brighter colors, more details, larger cast of characters, and more complex plots.

Well, folks, it worked. I am the captain of my fate, and the master of at least my dreams.

Sort of.

Last night I’m lying there and my mind is running while I’m waiting to drift off and suddenly I realize that this is not thinking, I have segued into a dream. And then I actually changed the plot for the better! It wasn’t a total nightmare, and I don’t recall it as well as the nightmares, but it involved my father getting on my case, and I changed it. Didn’t actually extract any praise out of ‘im, this is not a miracle drug, but still…..

And then, at some point before I was clearly thinking this morning, the concept floated that there might be DreamplannerIII with, ahem, adult themes. Oh my, can dream-time come too soon tonight?

Tonight’s proposed feature: In Rod Laver Arena, before a howling crowd of 30,000 Australians, Marat Safin grabs Lleyton Hewitt and spanks some sportsmanship into him. While Lleyton squeals his trademark, “Come on!”

[Background: Hewitt is disliked by many players and fans because of his on-court behavior. Actually, Esquire recently had a feature article about the ten professional athletes most hated by their peers, and Lleyton made the cut.]

Alas, the screen was dark and the planned performance didn’t happen. I picture (although I didn’t dream it) 30,000 gravely disappointed Aussies shuffling out of the stadium in sullen silence. Apparently, DreamweaverIII has some bugs in it.

I suppose I can just leave Lleyton to heaven.  Or hang him up outside the gym window:

Market St. Gym

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