I had the worst night ever in my Byer Moskito Hammock last night. The moment itself could have happened anywhere, but the hammock made it worse. This is probably just something that happens to newbies.
About 6 am, I started drifting out of a deep sleep. I could hear the birds chirping but I was still just half awake. I was in a happy place. As the morning talked to me, I slowly stretched my legs. Suddenly, I felt the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. It took my breath away. I sat straight up, banging my head on the stainless steel water bottle hanging by a mini-biner from the hammock ridgeline.
I struggled to breathe, thrashing around and panicking, trying to figure out where this screaming pain was coming from. Eventually, it dawned on me that my left calf was locked up into the most excruciating cramp I have ever felt. This was the charley horse from hell, and I reached to grab my calf and massage it out. Of course, my thrashing had twisted the sleeping bag around my legs and I couldn't even find my lower torso, well enough my gastrocnemius. So I grabbed my calf from outside the sleeping bag, but the pain only got worse as I tried to massage it.
The contractions came in waves, in short bursts, and it seemed that the time between contractions was shortening. "This must be what childbirth is like," some part of me said. Suddenly I could hear my wife screaming from another part of my brain: "YOU DON'T KNOW PAIN UNTIL YOU PUSH A BABY OUT OF YOUR VAGINA!!!!"
As every muscle in my body started to involuntarily contract in sympathy pain for my poor calf muscle, I tried to reach for the zipper so I could stand up (the only remedy that works for me when I have foot or leg cramps). But I couldn't reach the zipper. Hell, I couldn't even find the zipper. The pain was so bad I had no concept of what a zipper was. I just wanted to escape the hammock and stand up. Not too much to ask.
A thought flashed into my brain: "Just grab the mosquito netting in both hands and rip your way out like Wolverine in X-Men." But there is no way I could do that; not after all the repair time it took me to sew the bug netting where my son had sat on it and ripped the ridgeline supports.
On to plan B, blinded and writhing in pain, I felt my way along the length of the hammock looking for the zipper. "Why didn't I pull the zippers to the middle where they're easily accessible," I thought to myself. As each contraction hit me, the pain made me forget where I had started the search for the zipper and I had to start again.
Finally there was a break in the contractions, my vision returned, and I could see the zipper! I violently freed myself (hammock and bugnet were okay) and stood up on terra firma. As the contractions ceased, I started making apologies for the hammock:
"It's not your fault; it's mine. I'm so used to jumping out of bed when I have a leg cramp, standing up, and it's all gone. I panicked; it's not your fault, hammock. It was me, not you."
Lately, I've been practicing in the back yard on how to deploy the tarp and hammock in heavy rain or wind. So add this to my list of things I need to practice: how to get out of a hammock quickly when you are blinded by the pain of an excruciating charley horse. My calf is still sore, by the way, and will probably be sore for days.