This Life: ‘Worst night of my life’

We cut our holiday short because our son Christian was very unwell from day one. His eyes were flashing from one family member to another and he was unable to follow our conversations. When I asked him about it he said it was as if he was bouncing a tennis ball off the wall and could only get bits of what people were saying to him. Not a good sign.

We were unpacking at home when Christian came in and said he had seen a monster in the hall and he could see the saliva between its teeth and its head was touching the ceiling. I called the GP surgery and the doctor said to come and collect an emergency prescription. I questioned this as my son was already on a four weekly depot injection of antipsychotic medication. The GP said not to worry as it would calm him down.

Three hours after Christian took the tablets he called me into his bedroom, saying something was wrong with his neck and head. Unbeknown to me my son was experiencing a dystonic reaction – I’ve since been told this is a side-effect of medication. His body was twisted, his head was turned around, he wasn’t able to keep his right foot on the ground and his handsome face was horribly distorted.

My husband and older son Paul flew into a blind panic. I rang the surgery immediately and then called an out-of-hours number. I was crying and begged the GP to come out and see Christian and he refused point blank, saying I should give him two of the tablets. By now my husband and older son were crying and Christian was in a ball on the floor so I gave him the tablets, praying they would work.

They didn’t and after half an hour – which felt like an eternity at the time – I rang the surgery again. This time the doctor said he would come out. When he arrived he said to my husband and older son: “For God’s sake pull yourselves together. I’ve seen this once before in my career – it’s a dystonic reaction. Get him in your car and get over to A&E and they’ll zap him.”

I didn’t know what he meant and he explained the hospital would give him an injection that will go up to his brain and release his body. After the doctor left we carried Christian to the car and during the journey to A&E he kept trying to get out of the door. Luckily, Paul kept his arms around him. At the hospital the nurse told Christian to lie on his stomach while she injected his bottom. He was in so much pain and absolutely terrified we all were. The injection over, the nurse told us he would soon come round. Just 20 minutes later the monster released its hold on Christian. It was the worst night of my life.

Afterwards I wrote to the GP saying that this must never happen to another family and he sent a curt note back saying I had provided him with “food for thought”. I suppose him apologising for what he had put my family and I through was far too much to ask.

Georgina Wakefield is a carer for her son who has schizophrenia

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