Revealing Fear

Stefano and I got back yesterday evening from a very pleasant long weekend spent in the Apennine mountains, near the Corno alle Scale, where my in-laws have a house.


Even though I had fun and played lots of card games this weekend, I didn’t sleep too well. In recent years, I have discovered that I have vivid nightmares if I have dinner after 9 p.m. And since southern Italians (Stefano was born in Florence, but his family is from a town near Naples) tend to eat rather late in the evening, we never finished dinner before 10 or even 10:30 p.m. this weekend. And, as expected, I had nightmares. Normally, I wouldn’t mind too much. But this time…


On Friday night I had a particularly bad nightmare that startled me awake. In my dream, I was having some sort of heated discussion with someone (I don’t remember a lot of details, but I was not arguing with Stefano) when all of a sudden I burst into tears and began shrieking, in Italian: “What do I care about that? That’s not important! Don’t you understand that myeloma is killing me??? Myeloma is killing me!!!” Il mieloma mi sta uccidendo!!! I remember those words very clearly.


That sentence and my desperate dream sobs still echo in my mind. So much so that I decided to write about it today. I have reached the conclusion that a part of me is really scared. It’s a deep down, hidden part that has already surfaced on a few occasions…so I knew of its existence. But now, for the first time, I have begun to acknowledge that I may be split into two selves: the cheerful, confident, optimistic me & the frightened, anxious, “what if…!” me. Luckily, the former is dominant. Very much so!


I am strong, I am positive, I am determined. But, it would seem, on some level I am also frightened of what may lie ahead.


I guess I’m human, after all…


  1. Sweetie, Normal human being is good. Fear is a natural and will feed your enthusiasm! Keep up the goos work! Winnah

  2. Recently I’ve been getting nightmares too but I haven’t had one about Myeloma yet. The last one was about being unable to find my son after a train crash!
    I have also come to associate these nightmares with problems with digestion. Not necessarily late meals – just certain foods. Cheese is a well known culprit for nightmares, although it doesn’t affect me. Strangely, the nightmares seem to happen on the hour – usually 3 or 4 o’clock – and they are often accompanied by a rumbling stomach and forehead perspiration which I once thought was the dreaded night sweats.
    I wonder if anyone else has had these experiences? I’ve always thought that digestive problems might be a cause/result of MGUS/MM.

  3. That sounds nasty, Margaret. Pity that such a convivial event
    like a good family meal should bring it on.I know it is very hot in Florence right now, but is it cooler after sunset? Can you and
    your husband find time for a walk?It’s a lovely time to take one
    so long as there are no flying insects.Walking in the cool of evening together talking about the day’s events and tomorrows plans,
    listening to the bird song if they haven’t yet gone to their nests,
    enjoying the view, – anything to walk off the big eats.You will
    return tired but not bloated and hopefully ready for bed;and even
    if the walk makes you late for bed you will sleep better.
    Try to plan your evening walk into your daily routine.

    Old Bill.

    “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the
    garden in the cool of the day.”

    Gen.3 v.8 King James I version.

  4. Your nightmares is probably just your body’s way of expressing your fear. If you didn’t have fear, you would not be human! I think we all feel that way, even if we try not to dwell on it.

  5. Having MM can be like living in a nightmare at times. If we’re not worried about relapse or progression, we’re concerned about what the next treatment will be. I drove past a huge outdoor party last weekend and saw a banner wishing someone a happy 80th birthday. It was a bit of a sad moment for me because I thought about how unlikely it would be that I’d have an 80th birthday. We have our moments. I’m glad you wrote about this. It makes me feel more normal for having the occasional dark thoughts.

  6. In my opinion, the meaning of the dream is not related to the sad part of it (MM is killing me)!, but to the positive one (What do I care about that? That’s not important!). We are often struggling with non important things in our everyday life. Having MM helps us to put our life into the right perspective. We know, simply we know it, what is important and what is not. I can say that this perception is one of the things that have changed in my life since my MM diagnosis. Margaret is a very optimist and ‘solar’ person. And I believe that her optimism is rooted in her perception of what is really important in life. In this way she is able to appreciate the little things other people overlook.

  7. Margaret, reading today’s post finally encouraged me to chime in. I was diagnosed with MM in December, and seldom does a day go by without checking in on your blog, which both informs me and cheers me up on the less-good days. You may be scared on some level — who isn’t frightened of this thing? — but your daily writings are always upbeat and full of life, and I just wanted to compliment you on a remarkable job. And as a lifelong journalist, I’d like to add that you’re a terrific writer to boot! Keep up your spirits and the good work.

  8. hi Margaret: yes, fear is human – and although I “only” have mgus, I sometimes feel fear that it may develop – and I acknowledge it – to myself and to those who can listen – fear does less damage when it’s acknowledged. Good to hear you are heading out to France.

  9. Together with MGUS, I also have obstructive sleep apnea. So along with using a CPAP machine, I was also counseled by a sleep specialist about what things disrupt sleep, and good sleep habits. Here are some tips to sleeping well.

    1. Avoid alcohol before bedtime. It helps you get to sleep, but wakes you at about 2-4 AM. And then it’s impossible to get back to sleep. (I realize in Italy this may be difficult!)
    2. Avoid vigorous excercise after 4 PM. Keep those walks very short or preferably substitute them with just sitting outdoors with hubby, and enjoying the view.
    3. Avoid caffeine after 12 noon.
    4. Avoid all TV, and the computer screen within 1 hour of bedtime, and instead, precede bedtime with a warm bath or reading.
    5. Keep the room slightly cool (difficult if you do not have air conditioning), and wear socks if your feet are cold. I get nightmares if the room is too hot.

    Those are the main ones.

    By the way, we always eat late in our family, because with both of us being health care practitioners, usually at least one of us didn’t get home until 9 PM.

  10. Margaret, at some point we all must die, but a central objective of life is to postpone that inevitable time as much as possible. We learn to live our life so as to promote that objective. When we falter in that promotion, or some unexpected event threatens its realization, fear may strike us. That is nature’s way of giving us greater strength to protect ourself and maintain our life. Fear can be healthy. Fear energizes us and refocusses us.
    You have displayed remarkable dedication and intelligence in finding ways to protect your life. You are winning and you can continue to do so. Never falter. Never give up, never.

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