Last night, I ate a door
Last night, I ate a door.
Years have passed since my last whimsical blog post but this statement is actually more factual than funny. And – when one goes to the trouble of eating a door – one wants to tell others about it, however much pain one is in right now…
So here is my door:
To explain how I came to eat said door, I will tell you about (what I suspect are) night terrors, which I very-occasionally experience.
According to my partner (and subsequently evidenced by recording my sleep) I dabble in sleep talking. Occasionally I’ll have a little gasp, or maybe jettison a foot or elbow in her direction.
One time though, four years ago, on a peaceful night, I screamed bloody murder…
My experience is like those falling dreams. The ones where you find yourself thinking “I’m going to hit the ground in a second” then wake up with a racing heartbeat.
I have these kinds of dreams but also, once or twice, I’ve had dreams of being slowly crushed; like by a reversing bus, an automatic door or some such. These feel really real, like I am at the point of death.
So I guess when I woke up screaming, I was quickly quite relieved to realise I was just at home in bed. Annika on the other hand needed an hour and a significant cry to recover from what had just happened.
I went on to have one more (less-dramatic) screaming episode, but these weren’t frequent events.
Then out of the blue one night in 2021 (when I happened to be on my own), I woke up on the floor on the opposite side of the bedroom to where I should have been.
I had carpet burns on my elbows and I was conscious that I had scrambled out of bed and across the floor. I’d managed to avoid clattering my desk, office chair and cupboard but compared to waking up in a cold sweat in the bed, it felt pretty extreme.
Obviously, whilst it was shocking that I might just exit bed rapidly and end up discombobulated 3 meters away, I remembered the dream that induced it – same jazz: gonna die, better shifty – and put it down to being “a bit stressed”.
Since then I’ve experienced nothing notable. Until last night.
In this case, I don’t recall the dream that made me jump out of bed. I woke up in the dark already holding my mouth. I could feel ‘bits’ in it. Lots of bits. I think I knew I’d hit my face and that I was on my bedroom floor. I felt residual pain (although I’d say “not that much”) in my mouth and my forehead, and my neck and shoulders felt like they’d jerked and twisted.
Annika’s position on these episodes is “don’t wake him up”, which is apparently the correct behaviour. I was already awake though and could feel blood dripping into my hands.
When I realised I wasn’t dreaming, my first thought was that my front teeth (tombstone-sized slabs at the best of times) had shattered, which frankly upset me to the point of wanting to cry. “Andy, are you ok?”. I remember sadly saying “help”.
After a few seconds, the lights were on, she looked at me and proceeded to have a panic attack. Simultaneously, both of us decided to move me back to the bed, primarily to avoid ruining the carpet.
Annika’s panic attack was scary. Firstly, it seemed to affirm that my mouth was alphabetti spaghetti, and secondly because it brought her close to fainting. She managed to get me a wet teatowel and open the window but then fell to her knees, breathless. It’s not something I’ve seen before in anyone, let alone her, so I felt bad for the shock she was feeling.
I also felt scared that we didn’t know how to deal with this mess. Feeling my mouth with my tongue everything was sharp and jagged. I spent a good ten minutes thinking about it but not daring to look.
During that time, Annika composed herself and happened to see the door. She made a comment to the effect of “oh my god”. Without my glasses, I had assumed the mark on the white frame was my blood, I concluded that the door had an even more shocking impression on it.
It wasn’t until I saw the the door myself that I began to understand – sort of – what happened.
“You still have all your teeth, the blood’s coming from your nose, and your lip is split”. It turned out that all the sharpness in my mouth was wood splints from the door that I had apparently gouged out with my teeth. My teeth felt out of place, but were not hanging from a thread. Wow, they were tender.
The thing is, even now I can’t rationalise what my eyes and the debris between my teeth were telling me. The angle at which I hit the door wasn’t compatible with the angle at which I would have left the bed. It’s almost like I must have approached the perpendicular wall, turned, and come at it the opposite way.
Either way, my head must have come down, teeth first, into the frame and carried on into the door. It looked almost like I’d deliberately tried to eat it (as much as this post baits a beaver joke, I imagine the event more like a lion jumping its prey!)
To address the construction of the door, it’s a crappy door… Light wood veneer over a basic frame. Popular in the 60s but wouldn’t pass muster today (a modern fire door might weigh 50 kilos but this thing can’t be more than 5). Nevertheless, the force needed to make that damage, I couldn’t have done with anything less than a screwdriver and a hammer had I been awake.
After an hour of us both coming to terms with things and icing my face, there wasn’t much to do except go to sleep and resolve to call the dentist in the morning. I did go to the trouble of covering the door handle, which I’d luckily avoided the first time, with soft clothing.
I woke up with an ulcer and some of the splints were wedged so hard between my teeth that I had to carefully get them out with floss and toothpicks. My head was bruised but amazingly I didn’t have a headache. I did feel very sorry for myself, and couldn’t eat much.
And – like all good blog posts – I reflected on what I learned, and the answer was sod all. What can you take from these experiences? I don’t think I’m really in control of this. There are some little triggers that we think might have contributed but it’s not like those things are out of the ordinary for most people (e.g. being overtired, having a couple of beers at dinner).
All the events have been sudden, so far, so I don’t think I’m of a category that might sleepwalk out of a window but, who knows?! If the building’s a burnin’ in my dream…
So I’ll leave you with my gratefulness that I was seemingly quite lucky, even this time, despite the little scars and probably-significant dental bill.