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A side show of the big show!

Published by Lamont D in the blog Lamont D's blog. Views: 435

I like most people dream, I have always dreamt in Technicolor. Most dreams are forgotten after waking. We have all had nightmares and night frightens, especially with high temperatures in a fever. Your mind plays all sorts of tricks on you.
I have always had colourful vivid dreams. The dreams mainly affect certain periods of my life, puberty, pre pubescent, and as an adult. And more in the last 15 years because of fluctuating blood glucose levels.
Dreams of different types, there is the road trip to somewhere or nowhere. I can actually draw maps of the places I visit during my rem sleep. Mainly countryside paths or roads, walking or marching, grey legs, boots.
There is the dreams of being chased, there is the wishful thinking sort. Of me younger winning many glorious sporting trophies and playing for big teams in all types of sport, even those I couldn't even try to play.
There is the overeating dreams!!(saying nothing, I have never dreamt my pillow is a marshmallow!)
Then there is the military dreams of fighting and battles.
Marching dreams dominate my nights, my legs and feet suffer so. The dust and cold and warm, I feel it all!
These are the most explicit and colourful and noisy.
The result of these dreams can be very painful and disruptive to my sleep patterns, which led to sleeping tablets. At that time, I was so tired and irritable and with the other symptoms that the diabetics get from hypers and hypos.
I have often woken up from one of these dreams bruised, battered, in pain, sweating, panicking and often found either flailing in bed or sprawled on the floor. One particular dream happened when I was around aged 8, I was found out of bed screaming with a huge bruise on my back, a dream about a knife in the back,. I have even pulled muscles and strained myself and unexplained marks and bruises have appeared on all my body! My brother, when young refused to share a bed, indeed my wife has also slept elsewhere during my bad times. She sometimes accuses me because of her problems, when I have dreamt violently.
Another particular dream when seven (1963) involved blue shapes coming towards me and fighting these shapes, at the time I had a reaction to pain meds because of a broken arm. (A really embarrassing story, because I slipped over in the local swimming pool) I really was scrapping for my life. The screams and noise was deafening, loud bangs and crashing. Booms and shouts. I know I had to help my friends fight these shapes. I struggled with some blue shape. My arm exploded in agony. I woke up in so much pain, my arm was really sore. My parents took me back to the hospital and my arm was broken even more than before and had to be reset again.
I have never had so much pain in my life. Or since, it took some time to get over it.
I have dreamt of Napoleonic battles, Indian mutiny, trench warfare and wars of every age from armour through leather and colours uniforms. But not as severe as the ones above.
The early years passed and my adult life dreams was rarely memorable I believe because I was healthy and very busy with a largish family, work, working shifts and a busy social life.
Fast forward to the 1990s, I was having a look at a new documentary series on the television. History always had a fascination for me. I loved mainly military history and the way the countries often decided the future with a massed battle on a day to decide things. I always read anything historical as a youngster on the Romans, Egyptians,Napoleonic, Crimean,and the first and second world wars.
I loved the film Zulu. This was showing on the local cinemas in the mid 60s. The Zulu and Boer Wars were intriguing and because my father fought in Burma (he was a chindit) in WW2. That was a part of history that I read avidly.
But the period of history that holds an absolute fascination and enthralled me was the American civil war.
Since my retirement. I have had the chance to read so many books on the war.
I really cannot put down the scope of human endurance and sacrifice of the armies. As well as the civilian suffering. They fought for what they thought was right, their rights and their way of life and the end to slavery. The scholars are still arguing about the causes and and why brother fought against brother, state against state, technology against outraged tactics, which to so much slaughter.
I believe I'm waffling now!
Anyway mid 90s and this documentary, it was Ken Burns excellent 10 part(?) Series of the war. Very descriptive. It was described by critics as as the best researched and achieved great acclaim. I was enthralled.
In one episode of the series, there appeared a picture of a confederate private. They were reciting parts of his recollections that appeared in his book. I froze and sat transfixed, a feeling of recognition and deja vue. I went rigid, started to tingle, was sweating, the hairs all over my body stood on end. That feeling that you say that someone has walked on your grave! I recognised the face, but from where? The wife got concerned and asked me what was wrong. I think I've seen a ghost, I said. Trying to explain the feeling that I knew the face on the screen so well and yet I didn't! The wife called me weird and behave myself.
Could I know someone that resembled him, maybe an old school friend or someone at work? She ended up laughing at me and told me to grow up. I'll end up scaring the kids! The only fact that I'd gathered was his name was Sam Watkins.
It was quickly forgotten in a much too busy life.
I still read, but there wasn't a great deal in the local libraries. Computers and googling were years away!
Quite a few years later, time gets to our bodies and my busy life finally started to catch up with me. I got the warning to look after myself after a dizzy spell in work. I gave smoking up, alcohol was reduced drastically, I was put on a recommended diet (didn't work!) And because of early retirement, I needed more exercise. Working part time, and the advent of sky and being able to read more about anything I wanted, my dreams hadn't interfered so much.
I was (now I know) misdiagnosed diabetic in 2010. Dreams started to become a problem again. More nights of lucid, vivid visits to places and locales, becoming more weird as I was feeling worse. The more time I had the worse I got. I didn't relate the dreams to fluctuating blood glucose levels., the worse the condition of my illness, the more restless sleeplessness, the more I relied on sleeping tablets, the less sleep I got. The more bruised and battered I got, the more desperate I got. The more trips to the doctors. The more desperation and the feeling of depression. The more dreams, the less I enjoyed life. The many, many symptoms that were affecting me. I was in a place that I hated, I was having more severe dreams and I was close to total exhaustion. I was experiencing a colourful array of nightly horrors, that kept waking me, while my blood glucose levels bounced around, like a yo yo. It was terrible, the screams, the pain, the struggle, the fighting, the desperation, the noise, is it any wonder I couldn't get the much needed rest and recuperation needed to have a life. I was just getting through work and I had my disabled wife to look after, the days, weeks, months blurred into nothing into drudgery, not caring for family, friends and every facet of my life suffered. The wife moved out of our bedroom to get her sleep, she was desperately needing her rest as well.
My dreams were of recurring images of blue shapes and images of fighting in battles, hand to hand, the sense became realisation that I was dreaming of things about u t the civil war. Was it my subconscious taking over?
Was my imagination running away with me? (favourite Temptations track) Was it night time hypos and hypers?
I wouldn't blame anyone dismissing this tale of recurring nightmares. Why would you believe me? I wouldn't have, I'm very sceptical about anything that can't be proven.
The severe disruption to my sleep and my health suffered. Pills weren't helping. Restlessness, lethargy, severe tiredness, fatigue, anxiety and I was getting depression. More than once, I thought I had totally lost it, I rarely had a grip on life. I was just going through the motions. I still had obligations to family and work, many so called friends disappeared. This was not me!!

Along came Christmas 2012, three things that changed my life. The realization and the revelation was stunning to say the least. What was it, that had had led to such a drastic change?
Simply presents from family. The first was a kindle ebook reader. A whole new library to discover.A DVD collection of documentaries about the civil war. The third was a gift voucher for my kindle.
The family had gathered and were insistent that I got my health issues sorted. That Christmas gave me the determination to get sorted. It was the start of my long hard battle with my surgery to give me my life back.
I read and read about all things that interested me. I watched the dvds, and needed more information.
Never thought of that face that stunned me many years back.
I was browsing on my kindle, through the recommendations for me. When a book scrolled up and I noticed it had a civil war storyline and written by a certain Sam Watkins! I ordered it regardless of cost or even if I had anything left from my gift voucher. It wasn't released on kindle.
The very next day after another torrid night, I again visited the surgery. I had a huge hypo in front of the doctor, my blood glucose level was in the low threes. She immediately ordered a referral to an endocrinologist.
2 days later, the book arrived. I skimmed read it, firstly glancing at the details of the author Sam Watkins. He belonged to Co. H of the 1st Tennessee regiment of the Confederate army. Which fought mainly in the western theatre of the war.
Then because this discovery of this soldier gave me a slight relief and a real thirst of knowledge for this man.
I read the thoughts of the times through this soldiers eyes and gleaned every detail that I could, the circumstances and of how he became involved and how he was lucky to escape the war alive. He had gone through the whole war, fought in many battles and unbelievable that he was 1 of 8 who survived from his whole company.
Then about a third of the way through into the memoir, a revelation, that I still think is incredulous, his best friend and his mess mate, his sleep partner, the one who looked after him through the suffering and hardship, had the exact same name as myself!
I reread and went over the passage again and again. Yes he had my name. A coincidence. My name is not rare, but I had this deja vue feeling again, I started sweating, my heart raced, my whole world stopped, I froze, I was shaking uncontrollably,my mind stopped working, the earth shook, I was suddenly very ill. I couldn't stop shaking, I was sweating but freezing. The aches and pains returned especially in my arm. My arm couldn't take weight or move. My hands tangled and pains and needles all over my body. I had an instant migraine, my head was on fire and I was freezing! I had to lie down, the migraine was so intense. Probably my worst ever!
The wife gave me one of her diazepam to knock me out. And to relax me.
I woke up, had I dreamt it all? I could never tell then! Had I imagined it all?
I rushed downstairs and with a fear of trepidation, I picked up the book and read through it again, I read with a lighter heart about there exploits and adventures and the various engagements they had endured until I came across the page which described how this private had been wounded. And lately died of his wounds. His arm had been blown apart at the line of Kennesaw mountain or known as the battle of bloody angle. There was severe hand to hand fighting the federal union troops constantly attacked the line the Confederates defended. There was thousands of casualties. During the battle he had saved private Watkins life.

After this initial shock, the dreams lessened in intensity. My interest in this group of soldiers had indeed piqued my interest. Any spare moment, would find me googling about the war and particularly the first Tennessee.

Meanwhile, about two weeks later, I had my first appointment with my consultant., he immediately got me to see a dietician that day. Who recommended a low carb diet and advised me to look at a forum on a particular web site. Educate myself on all things low carb and have further tests.
This I did and a diagnosis of Reactive Hypoglycaemia. And of course that I didn't have diabetes!
The googling took me on a voyage of discovery that has had me fascinated and as my blood levels normalised and the discovery of this private and his life and hardships, the dreams have more or less receded. I don't dream of the battles, but the marching dreams are a reminder that I believe will never go away.
My namesake was born in a town called Florence, I was born in my parents house, Florence Road!!! He named his rifle Florence Fleming, Fleming is a surname, that is associated closely with my father's side of the family!!


So what have I discovered with all my googling and my fascination with this period and characters, the truth is that some coincidences are just that. How do I feel about them, well, the same as I feel about the dreams, weird, uncertain and apprehensive.
I have asked myself, what has got to do with me? Same name, Florence, Fleming and that recognition of a face I knew so well. My fascination with the war. The date of the battle 27th June, my eldest son's birthday. Why would I be fascinated by soldiers who fought for a system that politically I abhor! I admire there tenacity, their courage, their resolve, the way they battled through the hardships and the harsh reality of war, the horror and the boredom followed by extreme fear and the stoic defence of their way of life.
I can only let you decide.
Just what is at work here? I know that since diagnosis and the discovery of my namesake, I have my life back and feel calmer and fitter and better than I have for a long time. It like a weight has been lifted. I am in control again. It is really weird but wonderful.

There are other coincidences, that are are unusual, my eldest brother was born at 5am 'D Day' June 6th 1944. My second eldest brother birthday was the anniversary of Agincourt. My third eldest brother was born on the 18th June, The battle of Waterloo.
My birth day was the same day as changed naval warfare forever. The end of military sailing ships at the battle of Hampton Roads. American civil war again. The first time ironclad fought against one another. All my brothers birthday have significant outcomes for world history. Coincidences again. Maybe.
Oh I nearly forgot, there was another battle that I have to mention about the civil war. It has always made me sad and depressed when I read about it, I go cold and shiver. It is the battle of Franklin, where the first Tennessee lost hundreds of men in futile attacks.
Most of Sam Watkins regiment were killed there.By then defeat was a certainty for the Confederate States. And the losses were dreadful. Why do I feel that way when I read it?
Have recently read a book about about the battle and one woman's battle through and after the battle, her house and land were used as a hospital and cemetry. That must have been a nightmare out of all proportions! Thousands of casualties, how did they cope?

The coincidences are just coincidences, the dreams just dreams, the events are just life's events, an imaginative dreamer, a very restless sleeper.(at the time). I have now become tranquil and settled and the dreams I dream are of memories, but whose?
It couldn't be anything else, could it?
My subconscious playing tricks while I'm ill and my body is responding to tricks of the mind.
If you have ever gone through weird dreams and experiences, deja vu or other such nonsense, then you know what I've been through!
Perchance to dream?
A remembrance of time past?

Oh yeah! Having looked through Sam Watkins company records, the private with my name died of his wounds on 8/3/1865. Exactly ninety years before my birth. Sam died in 2001, the book has been hailed as one of the finest memoirs of a soldier from the civil war.
The title of my blog is the same subtitle used on Sam's book, 'Co Aitch'.
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