Insomnia and the mystery pill
In 1947, the year I was born, the song “Who put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine?” was written and performed by “Harry the Hipster” Gibson.
It’s now 4:30 in the morning and I have yet to get any sleep. That stupid song keeps rolling 'round my brain — ‘nuf to drive a man insane. Meanwhile, I can’t figure out the cause of my insomnia.
Earlier, I had put down a book I was reading about a quadriplegic with a twisted sense of humor. As I lay there trying to sleep, I found my legs twitching away as if St. Vitas Dance was back for an encore.
I realized I hadn’t taken any vitamin B-6 for the past week. Life’s been way too busy to be concerned about the 10-pill-a-day regimen of supplements my body has been trying to tolerate. Most days I am satisfied just to get a multivitamin in my stomach.
My restless leg syndrome responds quite well to vitamin B-6 as a cure-all for twitching wide-awake legs. So I crawled out of bed, found my two-week pill container and looked inside.
Each compartment in the 14 daily slots contained at least some pills, but no two compartments were alike. The problem with these plastic containers is that they never seemed to have an adequate cover that stays closed. They are forever spilling out of their designated slots and then get placed into a different one.
So I had several choices. Get on the internet, punch in the number on a B-6 pill along with a description (ex. Rorer 714) and eventually identify the B-6s. Or I could simply grab an easily identifiable B-12, split it and take half. Unfortunately, I resorted to a third alternative. The B-6, along with another small white pill was in the container. If I simply take the two smallest white pills in the box, the odds are that I should surely get at least one B-6 out of the batch. To further increase my odds, I put two small white pills in my mouth, one at a time, and sucked on them before swallowing.
Alright! They tasted different, which to me meant that at least one pill was a B-sixer and my legs would stop their twitching. Whatever the other pill was really didn’t matter. It was simply another supplement-right?
A few minutes later, the leg twitching stopped. Ah, it’s 2:22 a.m. and I can finally relax and get some sleep.
By 3 a.m. I asked myself, why am I still awake? Worse yet, why am I grinding my teeth? Was it the mystery pill I took? It looked like something I took in my college days when I studied all night for exams. Pop a couple bennies, stay up all night studying, go to the exam without sleep and realize you suddenly lost all of your short-term memory and fail the test.
Let’s go back to my original problem. Why am I awake writing this stupid story instead of sleeping like a baby? Was it the large cup of caffeine-filled coffee I grabbed at 7:30 p.m. so I could stay awake for my Sufi group where we sang your basic Muslim pop hits from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries?
I also had a sweat ceremony on the itinerary later that night with my new-found Native American buddies from Montana, named Harry and Roger. I figured coffee would get me through both escapades.
The next morning I ran into Harry and Roger and told them I hadn’t got to sleep until after five this morning.
“Oh,” Roger said. “I forgot to tell you about the peace pipe we smoked last night. If you smoke too much of that stuff, it will keep you awake and make you grind your teeth.”
There was no Benzedrine in my Ovaltine. There was no mystery pill, but they should put warning labels on that smoke.
How much of this story is true? Every single darn word is true except for the word darn which was altered to meet editing standards.