Doctor examining patient
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Catherine and her husband, John, sat at dinner. John pulled back from the table with sudden pain in his chest. His wife immediately said they needed to go to the emergency room.

John disagreed. He jokingly told Catherine it was probably indigestion, with no negative reflection on her cooking. John was determined to wait it out, hoping the pain would go away. After a half hour, his loving wife had had enough. Catherine practically pushed him in the car and took him to the hospital.

They arrived to a packed waiting room. John, still convinced he was suffering from indigestion, started nagging Catherine about returning home. Though the ER was chaotic and crowded, a nurse tended to John immediately, as patients with chest pains are brought straight to the back for observation and testing. Catherine was left alone in the waiting room, unable to follow John into the back.

Catherine sat patiently outside as she saw the ER grow even busier, one ambulance arriving after another. Then she heard someone yell, "We have a gunshot here," as they brought a patient back. She reluctantly went up to the busy nurse at the desk and said: "It has been 20 minutes. Can I go see my husband now?" The nurse looked up with a puzzled look and said no one was allowed into the back until the ER calmed down.

Almost two hours after arriving, after many visits to the front desk, a social worker stood before Catherine, explaining that John had a massive heart attack and died. She apologized for the chaos and busyness of the night and told her that not only could she not see John, but they were so in need of beds that he had already been taken to the morgue downstairs.

Catherine, in shock, drove home to find friends and family already gathering in response to the news. Catherine sat very still in a chair while family members cleared the dinner plates from earlier.

The phone was ringing nonstop with friends who'd heard the news. An unexpected call then came in from the social worker at the hospital. She told Catherine that she had made a horrible mistake, possibly the worst of her career. She had mistakenly told Catherine that John had died, when in fact it was another patient who had died. Catherine held the phone to her ear with more tears flowing down her face. The social worker went on to say that John was quite upset that Catherine left, as his chest pains turned out to be nothing more than indigestion.

Catherine, of course, said she was on her way back to the hospital. The social worker stopped her mid-sentence to say that an ambulance driver who heard about the incident was already bringing John home.

Catherine put down the phone, trying to comprehend what had just happened. John, on the other hand, was sitting in the front seat of an ambulance, listening to the kind driver telling him that mistakes are often made in medicine, but at least this mistake had a happy ending. As they turned the corner to his home, the driver, for fun, reached down and turned on the lights and siren.

John stepped out of the ambulance like a rock star with sirens blaring. He walked toward the overjoyed Catherine, who jumped into his arms. The family engulfed the couple as Catherine and John seemed to hug for an eternity. After a few minutes so, Catherine began to feel annoyed with the noise and looked to the ambulance driver to have him turn off the sirens. But then she realized the siren was the sound of her alarm clock. It was time to wake up for work. It had all been a dream. John was gone from the living and her life was forever changed.

What our dreams are trying to tell us