prescribed some sleeping pills. This was after he had surgery on his shoulder and he was having problems sleeping because of the pain.
I find that perfectly reasonable. Sleeping on a sore shoulder must be very difficult indeed. Sleeping pills seemed like a good idea if it meant he was going to get some rest and recover.
The doctor prescribed "Stilnox". We knew nothing about the drug then. My father duly took one of the pills and went to bed expecting a good night's sleep.
I woke in the middle of the night to hear him wandering around. Then I realised he was in the kitchen. He was ratttling things around. As it was much too late for him to be getting a bedtime drink and I thought he should be asleep I investigated.
He was standing at the kitchen table with a fork in one hand and a tin of baked beans in the other.
"What are you doing?" I asked
"I'm trying to get this can of lemonade open."
My father had no idea what he was doing. His speech was not slurred. He seemed to be coordinated. His breathing was normal. I asked him to do several small things. He could. I decided he was "asleep".
I took the beans and the fork and gave him lemonade. He drank it and went back to bed.
In the morning my father could remember none of this at all. He insisted he had not done any of it. I showed him the evidence - no lemonade. Right.
To be absolutely certain everything was okay I 'phoned the surgery and explained the problem to the receptionist.
A little later my father's GP phoned me. He asked me what had happened and then to repeat the little tests I had done the night before. My father could still do them but, to be on the safe side, the doctor admitted him into hospital overnight.
At the end of this he said,
"It's the Stilnox. Don't take it. I'll find something else."
Since then we have heard of two other people we know having similar experiences. One woman emptied her freezer and found everything on the kitchen table in the morning. The man went off in his pyjamas and barefeet to buy a paper at 2am although they get the paper delivered. Both had taken Stilnox and never done anything like that before.
This morning there is a piece in our paper saying that our Olympic athletes will not be allowed to use the drug either. I hate to think what they might do if they did - dive off the top of a building thinking they were doing a triple somersault into the pool? The idea terrifies me.