Normally I'm in bed by 11. V gets up between 5:30 and 7 every morning, and though Shaun and I take turns on morning duty, I still try to be sleeping before midnight. But sometimes, on nights when Shaun's getting up, I'll stay up a little later, read a few new blogs, tinker with some crafty something or other. In the first week in May, on Wednesday night, I was playing some PopCap game at 11:30 when the phone rang. You know that feeling, right, when it's way past normal calling hours? It just isn't a pleasant sound. So I answered, and it was my Mama (which always makes me think someone's dead at 11:30).
But no one was dead.
Wait, maybe I should give you some background: My mom's been having bad dreams recently, for the last few months, and they seem so real to her. They're not even bad dreams, necessarily, just unnerving: one night, she dreamt V and I had come in to visit in the middle of the night. She sat up, said, "oh, hi! What're you doing here?" And when we didn't answer, she followed us out to her living room, where we waved, then walked through the wall. So she's basically hallucinating. Weird, but then she realized it was just a dream/vision, and she'd go back to sleep. (She's been on prednisone for almost a year now for this weird arthritis thing she has, and long term prednisone use does sometimes lead to hallucinations. We knew this). She'd had maybe 3 or 4 of these types of dreams in the last several months. Okay? Are you still with me?
Soooo....at 11:30 that night, she called me because she wasn't even asleep yet and had one of these visions. Only this time it wasn't friendly. It was a ghost and a witch, and they wouldn't go away unless she stood up and yelled at them.
Oh. Okay, mom. That's weird. "I just had to talk to someone," she said. "I know they're not real, but they really scared me!" Then she explained that they weren't actually a ghost and a witch: they were short people with a mask and a sheet. Okay, mom. Just tell them to go away and not come back. I love you. Then we hung up.
Five minutes later she called back. "Do you think I should call my doctor about this?" Yes, Mom. You should tell your doctor first thing in the morning. "Okay. I'll do that."
Ten minutes later, at 12:05: "Jenny! They came back and they won't go away! What should I do???!!!" Well, mom, I dunno..."GO AWAY! I DON'T WANT YOU HERE!!" My mother is hollering at a ghost and a witch while on the phone with me.
"Jesus, mom. I'm on my way. I'll be there in 25 minutes. Is that okay? Can you wait that long?"
"Oh, would you? But what will Shaun say?" Because appearance is important when you've slipped a major cog. "Who cares," I said. "I'm coming." "Okay. I think I can keep them away until you come."
So I went upstairs and threw a couple things in my pillow case and said to Shaun, who was already asleep, "Uh, honey, I have to go to Hendrum."
"Mmm? What's wrong?"
"My, uh, my mom's hallucinating. She's seeing a witch and a ghost and they won't go away."
"Of course. Only in your family, honey."
So I drove to Hendrum, and tried to formulate a plan. I know it's not normal to see things when you're awake. I know she'll need to see her doctor. But we are not emergency room people unless there's an unreasonable amount of blood, and we're pretty sure it's a medication side effect. I don't know anything about hallucinations, but I thought maybe just me being there would be different enough to help, and she could get some rest.
When I got there the whole town was dark, except my mom's house, which had every single light on. She let me in and said "I'm so sorry, Jenny." Hey, ma, whatever. If I can help, I want to help. We visited awhile, then we made up the couch, turned off the lights, and laid down to sleep. In less than a minute, she was hollering again. "Go away! NOOOOO! GO AWAY!" Dang. It's okay, mom. I'm here. No one can hurt you. "I know. I just want them to go away!" Okay. How about if I sleep in your bed with you, Mama? Okay, she says. By now it's 1:30, and she's exhausted (we both have bad colds) and I'm thinking we're gonna end up in the ER for sure. So we lay down together (I don't believe I ever slept with my mom in my whole life. We were not a cosleeping family, and when I got sick I got to sleep on the couch. So this was a little weird. But then I, um, passed gas, and we laugh, and everything was cool).
Even with me in her room, the visions came back. "Go AWAY! They're right there, Jenny." So I grabbed her hand and said, "It's okay, Mama. They can't hurt you." And after about 15 minutes, she finally fell asleep. Around 2:15, I moved back to the couch (she snores a bit, and so do I, especially with a cold), and we both slept until 6.
Since then, she's been to two doctors who pointed out that she was on three different medications that could lead to hallucinations (hello? Isn't someone supposed to be checking on that?), and those dosages have been reduced or discontinued entirely. She's not had any hallucinations in almost three weeks. But isn't that a crazy story? It was surreal, for sure, and I don't imagine this happens to most people very often.
No one (including Mom) can figure out why she called me in Moorhead instead of my sister, who lives 3 blocks away instead of 25 miles. I guess when you have threatening short apparitions appear, I'm the woman you want to come fight for you.
Let this be a lesson, to you hallucinators out there, and to you threatening visions of various types. I'm available for intervention whenever you need me. Maybe I should make myself a cape.