The exact date I cannot remember but I estimate my son’s exact age at the time of the incident to have been around 3 or 4.
It was in the A&E department in Stoke-on-Trent. My son suffered from febrile convulsions until he was 8.
It was late at night and we sent for an ambulance. The paramedics were very kind. We got seen quickly in the casualty dept. There was a doctor and a nurse. The nurse stepped in to take details; to fill in a form. She asked about vaccines. I told her my son had only had polio vaccine (like many mums in this situation, it was a question I dreaded). She immediately started telling me why I was wrong and why I should be vaccinating. I told her I had done a lot of research on the subject, and I had come to the conclusion that my son was better off without them. She kept on trying to convince me. When she realised that she could not change my mind she started getting upset and angry with me. I wish I could remember exactly what she said, but it was along the lines of me being disgusting and an unfit mother. She started stuttering and blustering and she eventually cut herself off mid-sentence saying that she could not even look at me. She refused to treat my son and stormed out. The doctor tried to get her to stop, but I got the feeling he agreed with her, though not with her reaction. There was an uneasy silence. He called another nurse to finish taking my details and treat my son. I think he may have apologised for her but he was going through the motions; because it was his job to. I felt really shaken and weird – the intensity of her reaction and her refusal to treat my son. I felt humiliated, like I was a wayward child she had berated and then given up on. She did not even want to be in the same room as us. I was upset that my son had to go through it too. I felt undermined as a parent and I wondered how it came across to him. She treated me as if I was an abusive mother. I disgusted her. I remember being surprised at how deeply it affected me – but I also now know (I did not know it then, I was not yet diagnosed) that I had CPTSD – and looking back on it I can see that this situation triggered me. It came out later – I was really upset when I got home, though it did not fully hit me until then, and it was all tied up and confused with my fear about what had happened to my son (it was not his first convulsion but it may have been the second; they were still new and very frightening). I felt inadequate and shaken and guilty and went through again (as happened several times) doubt and confusion about my choices not to vaccinate. But every time I reviewed my choices I ended up being equally sure it was the right decision for us. I had to constantly re-review my choices and as such I ended up continuously researching and reading about vaccinations throughout my son’s childhood and into his teens. But somehow I also often felt guilty and confused because of reactions like the one from this nurse.