I explained in an earlier post that in 1947 my mum (Doreen Buckle) wrote short entries in a diary.
On January 13th 1947 she recorded that she had a "pike" developing on her eye.
Went to work had quite a nice time.
I have a pike coming on my eye it is quite painful.
A pike is another name for a stye: a painful eye infection caused by staphylococcal bacteria.
As the week went on the stye got worse and she was unable to go to work.
Went to work on 9 bus and had quite a nice day.
Sty much worse.
Did not go to work sty very bad can hardly see.
Usually, even today, a stye is treated by applying a warm water compress and leaving it to heal itself unless it is very severe in which case antibiotics might be needed. Even though she didn't think it was any better she decided to return to work.
Stayed away again.
Sty is no better.
Got things ready for work.
Went to bed early
Interestingly, it was observation of staphylococcal bacteria that led Alexander Fleming to discover penicillin in 1928. The story goes that one morning in September 1928, Professor Fleming was having a sort out in his laboratory and tidying up some glass plates which had been coated with the staphylococcus bacteria as part of his investigations. One of the plates had mould on it and the area round the mould was free of the staphylococcus bacteria; the mould was penicillium notatum. Further investigation found that the mould could kill other bacteria too and even be given to small mammals without side effects.
However Fleming moved onto different investigations and it wasn't until ten years later that two other scientists, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, isolated the penicillin from the mould.
In 1941, at a hospital in Oxford, a patient was dying and the doctor, Charles Fletcher, used some of Chain and Florey's penicillin on his infected wound and the patient made a recovery. Unfortunately this was only temporary as the supply of penicillin ran out before the patient was fully recovered and he died anyway.
Florey persuaded an American drugs company to take the penicillin into mass production and by 1945 it had become widely available and known as "the wonder drug". That year Chain and Florey were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and the age of antibiotics had begun.
It's also interesting to note that at this stage the National Health Service was still at the planning stage. It wasn't until July 5th 1948 that the N.H.S. was launched by Labour Health Minister Aneurin Bevan making the services of hospitals, nurses, doctors, dentists, opticians and pharmacists free for all at the point of delivery.
By the end of the week the stye was forgotten and Doreen went off to the cinema on Friday Night to see A Woman's Face with her friend Sheila.
I've added the transcript of the January entries to the archives page in the Yorkshire Family section.
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