Last night, I climbed out of bed, brushed my teeth and got dressed for work, I carried the dog downstairs and was preparing my children's breakfast when I woke up, looked at the clock, and saw that it was 12:30 AM.
I had been asleep for a little over an hour.
I was sleepwalking.
I don't sleepwalk often, but it happens from time to time. When I was a boy, I was a prolific sleepwalker. I would carry on lengthy conversations with my parents and siblings while I was asleep.
I would climb out of my tent on camping trips with the Boy Scouts and wander into the woods, only to wake up somewhere in the dark, uncertain of where I was. I would have to sit down at the base of the tree and wait for sunrise before I could find my way back to camp.
When I was 19 years-old and living on my own, I would often wake up behind the wheel of my car in the middle of the night, fully dressed for work but without the keys to start the car.
I've awoken doing all sorts of things, including folding laundry, watching television, and even writing.
But my most memorable sleepwalking incident happened about ten years ago. I brought my dog, Kaleigh, to the vet for what appeared to be some internal pain. The vet diagnosed her problem as gas and possible constipation and decided to keep her overnight for observation.
Around 2:00 AM, the vet called and informed me that one of the discs in Kaleigh's spine had ruptured. I needed to make a decision.
The veterinary surgeon could attempt emergency spinal surgery, but the chances of Kaleigh surviving were less than 50 percent. Even if she survived the surgery, it was very likely that her hind legs would never work again. She would be relegated to a doggie wheelchair for the rest of her life, and I would need to manually remove all waste from her body via a catheter three times a day.
The surgery would cost about $15,000, which was all of the money I had saved from my online poker playing to pay for our upcoming honeymoon to Bermuda.
I said yes. Do the surgery.
I have no recollection of that call or the conversation I had with Elysha regarding the decision. I was sleepwalking the entire time.
The next morning, while preparing for the school day in my classroom, the vet called and informed me that Kaleigh had survived the surgery. I told the vet that he had called the wrong owner. My dog had gas.
"No," he said. "Kaleigh ruptured a disc. We spoke last night."
"No," I repeated. "You have the wrong pet. My dog stayed overnight for gas and constipation."
Eventually, the vet convinced me that he was talking about the right dog, so I hung up the phone, raced up to Elysha's classroom at the end of the hall, and asked her what the hell was going on. She explained the phone call, the decision, the cost, and the chances of recovery.
As I listened to her describe the night's events, I realized that I had been sleeping walking through the entire phone call.
I spent $15,000 while I was asleep.
Happily, things turned out well. My poker earnings paid for the surgery, and we dipped into our meager savings to go on our honeymoon.
Kaleigh recovered. Though the doctor doubted that her hind legs would ever work again, we brought her home after a week, and when I put her down on the floor, she immediately rose onto all four legs for the first time since the surgery and hobbled across the room to the spot where she liked to sleep.
Elysha and I wept.
It was a long road to recovery which included placing our mattress on the floor and enclosing it in a cage for three months to prevent Kaleigh from hopping up and down off the bed. She was never as agile as she once was, she can't negotiate stairs on her own, and there are days when her back causes her discomfort, but she'll be 15 years old in April and doing just fine for a very old lady.
Thankfully, I made a damn good decision while I was asleep.