An adult male sprawled out dreaming of a skunk lying in bed next to a confused adult female whos now awake

How Dad’s Favorite TV Show Turned into a Nightmare

Last updated: September 2022

Most of us have seen Alone before. But if you haven’t, it’s an adventure, survivalist show that takes 10 people and drops them into the wilderness where they attempt to stay alive for 100 days. Participants are allowed to take a few items onto the show in order to support their journey. But it still takes a lot of gumption for them to make it to the end of the show.

My parents recently got into this show, watching a late-night episode from the comfort of the living room. Neither of them have ever been huge camping fans, and I think the show gives them a lens into an alternate reality. It has quickly become a favorite source of entertainment for my parent’s weary eyes.

A vivd dream

One night, after watching his nightly episode of Alone, Dad had a dream. He was in the woods when a skunk appeared out of nowhere. The little creature seemed unassuming in its little black and white tuxedo. But then it fixed its gaze on my dad, who was quickly becoming the next target.

Suddenly, the skunk charged towards him, lifting its tail slightly. Fearing that he was about to become coated in a thick layer of skunk goo, dad kicked the skunk, attempting to get it away from him. And then my mom woke him up. He’d be kicking her in his sleep instead of the skunk.

Concerned about the risks

At first, I giggled when my dad told me this story. As someone who spends a lot of time in the woods, I know skunks to be non-aggressive animals. The idea that my dad should encounter the only aggressive skunk on the planet seemed funny to me. In fact, most animals run away from humans, given an encounter.

But when dad was done telling his story, a sadness lingered on his face. And my laughter dissipated. My mom was unharmed after this incident. But what if she got hurt next time? What if he started punching a criminal in his dream, only to find that my mom took the brunt of the incident? What if he kicked the next skunk a little too hard and Mom paid the price?

Reducing the outbreaks

Dad has since talked to his Parkinson's disease neurologist about this dilemma. Sometimes his dreams appear to be so vivid, he can’t tell the difference between sleep and reality. And it’s in this phase of sleep in which he’s most prone to kicking or hitting my mom.

Dad is never excited at the prospect of adding more medications to his daily cocktail. But he wanted to know if there were steps he could take to reduce the risk of hurting my mom. His physician told him that he could take a low dose of melatonin, which could help to reduce or eliminate these aggressive outbreaks.

For now, dad chooses not to take melatonin on most nights because it makes it really groggy in the morning. But he and my mom put a second bed in their room just incase she needs an escape route for the night. Neither of them really wants to sleep Alone.

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