Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dr Hoffmeister and Penicillin

Today is my mother's birthday. She would have been 86 years old today, and I would have enjoyed celebrating the occasion. (If I were more on top of things, I'd have scanned a picture to share; instead, I'll refer you to the photo here.)

On my walk with Bonnie today, I listened to The Writer's Almanac, and learned that 70 years ago today, the first human life was saved with penicillin. I won't go into the details; you can read about it here.

It is interesting that the two events share the same day, since penicillin played a daily role in my mother's life. My mother had primary lymphedema, and one of the complications was frequent infections. My mother was active and involved in life, but the onset of an infection would send her to bed, delirious with fever and chills.

I remember the penicillin tablets - small white ovals, inscribed Lilly. My mother's name was Lillian (she went by Joyce, but that's another story), so although I knew the pills were manufactured by Eli Lilly, I thought of them as being named for her. She took them daily, in an effort to forestall infections.

And when that failed, as periodically happened, our good Dr Hoffmeister would show up at our door.  He'd give mom an injection of penicillin, and she would be up and about in a day or so.

Our mother was the center of our home and family. I will always be grateful for our concerned and kind-hearted family doctor, and the wonder drug penicillin, for regularly helping our family regain its balance.


  1. Thanks for your post. I miss Grandma a lot! She was a wonderful lady.

  2. Lovely post. I didn't know about the convergence of penicillin first "save" and Mom's birthday. (Love that picture you linked of Mom, too -- it's still in our family room.)