ARDS survivors very frequently mention vivid dreams that occur during the period of coma. Some of us describe them as terrifying, some as awesome, some as a revelation. Some of us have dreams that are just entertainment, and some dreams fit all of these descriptions. The common thread is that they are extremely vivid, lucid, and more powerful that any dream in our past, in some cases more powerful than reality. When I was recovering from my coma, I was awestruck by the experience of the dreams. Unfortunately, I couldn't verbalize or write about them, since I was still on the ventilator and my hands were paralyzed. My concern was that I would soon forget the stories of the dreams, much as you do your everyday dreams. Little did I know that I had nothing to worry about, that the experience of the dreams would remain as vivid today as they were when I awoke.

I felt that the dreams were a unique and magic experience, meant only for me. It wasn't until I met John Grim and later talked to Greg Fleckenstein that I learned we all had the same epic quality dreams. I know now that the vividness and realism of the dreams are caused by a combination of the pain killing narcotics and the paralytic agents used to maintain the coma. This rational explanation did little to lessen the impact of the dreams on my psyche, they still were the strongest mental impression that I have of the past two years. Despite their power, I have trouble putting them down on paper. This is partly because the dreams were an unconscious phenomena, difficult if not impossible to describe using narrative. That is, I don't know if an experience that conveyed terror was seen, felt, smelled, or heard- I just know that I was terrified in a certain dream situation. The other part of the dreams that is difficult to describe is the sheer wonderment of them. I still find it hard to believe that my mind is capable of creating these realistic dreams so filled with subtle and complex plots and yet at the same time so fantasy laden.

This is my first attempt to describe my dreams during my ARDS coma. I want to begin with what I call the ''Master Control Dream", which seemed to be the central dream that all other dreams used as the entry point to my consciousness. In this dream, I am conscious at first of a high pitched moan or keening as background noise; it is either a mechanical sound or a female voice issuing a constant wail. Interspersed with the wail are conversations among groups of people. These conversations are in different languages, mainly English, French, German, Japanese and Italian. I become aware of a large gray background and a shimmering, floating gossamer net slowly waving in front of me. There is a vastness to the scope of the dream that feels infinite. I am aware that the net is very large, possibly immeasurable. The net comes closer and I spend some time observing it. It is composed of finely woven strands of what look like shiny silk. If you stare at it long enough you will see flashes of light pass through a certain area of the weave. The light stays in one strand of the fabric as it passes through, but it causes everything around it to glow eerily for just a second after the light source has passed. You can only see this phenomena up close, it is invisible as the net recedes away from you. Suddenly, the net moves rapidly away from my point of vision and spreads out as if it was cast. It slowly settles, and as it does so a violent series of what look like heat lightning erupts from several places in the net. With the lightning comes human conversations that are very loud and distinct; I can hear the individuals in a group talking rapidly. This series of lightning and conversations go on for some time and then the net begins to move back toward my position, the lightning ceases and the female wailing becomes more evident. This same sequence occurs several times, each time the lightning produces a different conversation. I become accustomed to hearing the conversations and I realize they are talking about me!

Each time the lightning strikes a point in the net a group of people begin talking about me, and in each case they are urgently trying to contact me but don't know how to reach me. I recognize the voices of friends, acquaintances, loved ones, literally anyone who I have ever met. They know that I am seriously injured and they need to contact me immediately. A pattern begins to emerge from my observations. As the lightning strikes on a particular spot, I observe that the people talking are all from the same geographic location in real life. As lightning strikes somewhere else in the net another set of people that live in the same geographic location begin talking about me. I feel smug about having made an observation concerning this mysterious net, and vow to continue the process. I also notice that I can hear the people in conversation, but they can only hear the others in the area where the lightning has struck, and not in other locations. I also notice that no matter how urgent their cries to contact me, I say nothing back to them. I want to talk, but I seem to know that I am unable to make contact at this time.