I used to have these dreams all the time when I was a kid about my teeth falling out. Or I would reach into my mouth and pull them out. But I hadn’t had them for a decade or two, until last week, when I woke up to get ready for my shift as a COVID resuscitation nurse and realized that I had dreamed about my teeth. It just felt like they needed to come out, and so I reached into my mouth and pulled out every single one of them. Then I looked in my hand, and saw that the teeth that I had pulled out were actually dinosaur fossil teeth. So they were, you know, enormous.
I showed my husband the teeth and he said, “Oh, we better put them back in your mouth before the holes heal up.” So he tried to put them back in my mouth, but he put them back in at a right angle, so they were sticking straight out. And they stayed in like that. I could hardly get my lips to close. And I had to go to work like that. I had to keep my mouth closed the entire day I was at work. I remember thinking, Thank God I work in the COVID ICU, because I get to wear this mask all day to cover up these crazy teeth that are sticking straight out.
When I woke up, I could not figure out if it had actually happened or not. So I ran to the mirror to look in my mouth. It was still so realistic that for the rest of the day I kept running my tongue over my teeth.
— Eleanor, nurse practitioner
I was trapped in an elevator in an old hotel in New Orleans. I’d never actually been in this particular elevator in real life, but I knew in my dream that that’s where I was. The walls were all wood paneling, and the lighting was dim and yellow. And I was with a group of strangers who were all pleasant, and we were talking.
And then I had that moment of realization that none of us were wearing masks. I’ve had many dreams with this moment. Sometimes I’m in a crowded bar, sometimes I’m having dinner with a big group in a restaurant. Once, I was in a crowded stairwell exiting because of a fire in the building. In all of these dreams, there’s that sickening moment when I look around and realize that nobody is wearing a mask.
So, in this dream, the strangers and I are making small talk and none of us is wearing a mask—and then the elevator starts to move on its own. It moves horizontally throughout different floors. It moves vertically. It doesn’t matter what buttons we press, the elevator clearly is moving of its own accord.
And then the strangers ask me what I do for a living, and I say that I’m a physician. And then they say, “Oh, we know this physician, and that physician, who died of COVID—and, oh, this other one died too.” And they all begin to share their stories of the doctors they know who died of COVID. The dream was particularly vivid and oddly calm. Yes, the elevator was moving on its own and we weren’t wearing masks, but the strangers were nice and the conversation was polite. It wasn’t a true nightmare. But, of course, it was.
— Neda, internal medicine physician
I’m walking near a beach, approaching the beach, and there are a lot of people standing there. They’re not together, they’re just scattered around the beach. I can see some people that I recognize—distant acquaintances from my childhood and high-school years. People I haven’t seen in fifteen or twenty years. Nobody I know really well.
And it’s cold out, and misty. Everyone’s dressed normally, and wearing light jackets the way you might on a cool day at the beach. And they’re all holding some kind of long string. They look like they’re flying kites.
But as I get closer, I realize that that’s not what it is. They all have IVs in their hands or their arms. These long IV lines stretch out into the misty sky above the water. I can’t see where they’re going, but I can see that everyone’s just connected to these long lines, with multiple extensions—just like our set-up of pumps in the hallway at the hospital, with the lines extending into the patient’s room. But these lines are even longer than those.
And as I walk through the crowd, I’m looking for my younger brother. And I find him, but he’s a toddler. And then I find him again, but he’s a teenager. I can’t find his normal, adult self. And then the dream changes.
— Alyssa, registered nurse
I dreamed that I was in a hotel with my friends. We’re having a good time. We go back to the hotel room. There was me and five or six other girls, including my friend Rebecca. And we’re sitting around the hotel room hanging out when Rebecca looks over at this pillow on the bed. And then she walks over to the pillow and she kind of smooths it with her hand. And as she is doing that, you can see that there was this face under it—a human face, where if you smooth the fabric, you can see the contours of eyes and a nose and a mouth.
She kept smoothing the pillow and pressing on the fabric, and this face just started getting more and more prominent. It was maybe the size of a large round dinner plate. And the features of the face started to look less human and more gargoyle-like. Rebecca said, “You guys, this is really weird. Why is there a face in this pillow?” And I said to her, “It’s fine, don’t worry about it, it’s probably just some weird little decorative pillow that someone put in this hotel room, just ignore it.”
A few minutes later, somebody went near the pillow, and the same face started to grow out of their chest. It started under their clothing, this brownish- rust color, a gargoyle face, sticking out of their chest. As soon as I saw that, I knew that something was wrong. I ran down the hallway to this conference room where a bunch of doctors were gathered, and I started asking around, “Does anybody know about this face thing? What is it? How do you get rid of it?” A couple of people in the conference room said, “Oh, yeah, that face thing, it’s really contagious—as soon as the face grows out of your chest, you’re pretty much dead.” So I ran back to the hotel room and opened the door to see how my friends were doing, and all of them were lying on the floor, dead, with faces sticking out of their chests.
— Emily, internal medicine physician