When Sleepwalking Fisch Fly


When folks hear about Big Fisch’s sleepwalking escapades, they often offer me their genuine condolences after they let out a few chuckles and an initial look of disbelief.

“You poor thing!”

“How does that not terrify you?!”

“I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I were you.”

I appreciate the empathy, really. Helps me know I’m not completely crazy for occasionally dreaming of holding the pillow over Big Fisch’s face for a  few seconds…ya know, just for a little scare.

But if I weren’t overly conscious of talking too much about myself, I’d also let people know it’s not just the precious night hours that get disturbed by this Fisch with no fins.

Nooo sirree. It’s much more.

Sweet, spontaneous naps on the couch, wrapped in each other’s arms? Forget it.

Many sleep walkers, including Big Fisch, experience extreme muscle spasms as they’re drifting off. And I mean extreme.

You know that feeling when you wake up suddenly, thinking you’re falling off a cliff? Yeah. Imagine that in every limb of your body.

That adorable afternoon snooze would turn into two broken ribs as Big Fisch’s arm spasms would lock tightly around me, leading him to dream he’d just successfully tackled a burglar stealing his protein powder.

Take also, leisure traveling.

Big Fisch and I flew to Mexico a few weeks ago for vacation with some good friends of ours.

As if getting a desirable seat on the plane weren’t complicated enough, sitting next to a sleepwalking/talking, muscle spasmer takes things to a whole new level.

When traveling with Big Fisch, there’s  more to consider than just your distance to the bathroom and space away from children. Flying on an airline that doesn’t assign seats (as we often are) requires you to choose…window, middle or aisle?

If he’s next to the window, there’s a guaranteed place to rest his head. However, when he drifts off to sleep his muscle spasms will cause him to punch the seat in front of him, slap my left arm, and then bash his head against the window.

Embarrassing for all of us.

The middle is out of the question, because you have the most human contact, leaving him with two potential people to take out.

That leaves you with the aisle seat, which is exactly where Big Fisch sat on the flight from Milwaukee to Mexico.

It was early in the morning and we were all hoping to pass out and catch up on sleep.

Per usual, Big Fisch drifted off quickly (another “norm” for sleepwalkers). Being in an aisle seat, he had no great place to rest his head.

Amused, I watched his head bobble until it eventually settled in an awkward back, sunken position.

His breathing got deeper and slowly his mouth dropped open as gravity worked it’s magic and his muscles began to relax.

Oh buddy, here we go. 

For the next ten or so minutes he slept harmlessly, with an ever-so-subtle snore in the back of this throat.

I resisted the urge to drop a peanut in his mouth.

Figuring it was now safe for me to sleep as well,  I closed my eyes and tried to quiet my nervous mind when all of a sudden Big Fisch shouted

“AHHH!” as he jumped in his chair, like his body underwent an electric shock.

His muscles spasmed all at once, sending his right arm shaking in the aisle as his left arm punched the seat in from of him, then smacked into my body.

He jolted awake stammering “Sorry, sorry! What? I’m so sorry!”

Blinking his eyes repeatedly, he looked from left to right trying to get his barrings straight while he continued to shake out his hands.

I glanced at the passenger to my left, giving him an “I apologize…he’s special” look.

I was just relieved the flight attendants weren’t passing at that moment with a tray full of drinks.

Thankfully the engine of the plane was loud enough to muffle out most of the noise from the scene, and the row behind us was filled with conservative Milwaukee ladies who were too kind to comment.

Okay..maybe aisle seats aren’t the best for him after all. At least if he bashes his head on the window, it might knock him out for a bit.

I shut my eyes and realized, hey…I really shouldn’t be so nervous to fly. I’m much more likely to be killed by a sleepwalking Fisch than an airplane.

As I drifted back off to sleep, I tried to remind myself of my survival tips: no cuddle-naps, no making him think I’m a creature, no letting him sleep in an aisle seat or anywhere near the emergency exits, no trusting a sleepwalking Fisch..ever.


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The calm before the storm…Big Fisch on our first flight, preparing to bash his head against the window. I think this other passenger wanted out.