Not too long ago, I read ‘The Bookseller’ by author Cynthia Swanson. It was an impulse buy and a fabulously easy read. I rushed through it over a lazy weekend back in April, when Melbourne was still enjoying weather warm enough to spend hours sitting out on the front veranda in the sunshine.

The premise of the book is that the main character is living a seemingly normal, happy life. She has a job she loves, friends she adores and parents she is close with. But then she starts having nightly dreams about a different life; a life that is seemingly perfect, but unlike her real life. After a while, the line between which of those lives is truly real begins to blur.

That idea that we dream of one thing that almost becomes an alternate reality stuck with me. Because I realised that in my dreams – at least the ones I can remember – I don’t have diabetes. My good-for-nothing beta cells never feature in my dreams.

I never dream about checking my glucose levels. Insulin pumps, blood glucose meters and CGMs don’t feature as things I carry on or with me, and even when I dream about friends I know because of diabetes, that connection or commonality is never mentioned. I eat with abandon, not having to think of carbohydrate counts, or moderating my food because of low or high glucose levels. I don’t think about diabetes complications or being burnt out from doing diabetes. Because there is no diabetes to do in my dreams.

Diabetes certainly infiltrates my dreams,  but in odd, non-diabetes ways. Alarms on various devices become the soundtrack to whatever I am dreaming about, as sirens or house alarms; when I used to spend nights having lows, I would dream of staring at sugary and cloyingly sweet treats in pastry shop windows; and nights spent high would see me dreaming of the ocean, waves crashing into my feet, or rain gushing down on the tin roof of our house, until I woke and realised I really, really, really needed to use the loo and drink some water; I dream about wrapping presents in string, or rope being tied around posts, and then wake to find the tubing from my pump wrapped around waist, or legs, or wrist. But those references are never specifically about diabetes. They don’t become about diabetes until I wake up and reality kicks in.

It’s odd, because the dreams I remember often do reflect what is actually going on in my life. Yet diabetes is excluded from those dreams, even when they are reliving moments from my day. In the retelling of snapshots of my life in my dreams I am wholly free from the daily grind and thoughts and reminders and fears of diabetes.

As the main character in the book slowly started to lose sight of what was real and what was a dream, she realised she would need to make a decision as to which life she really wanted.  She was torn because both her lives were wonderful in different ways.

But if I had that choice, I think the decision would be easy. In a heartbeat, I would choose the life in my dreams. I know it’s not possible; I know it will never be. But what a wonderful, wonderful thought: for my reality – not just my dreams – to be free of diabetes.

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