The Boy with a Dream and a Cure
In the nineteenth century, a Member of Parliament went to Scotland to make an important speech. He travelled to Edinburgh by train, then took a horse-drawn carriage southward to his destination. But the roads were bad and the carriage became mired in mud.
A Scottish farm boy came to the rescue of the team of horses and helped to pull the carriage loose. The Member of Parliament asked the boy how much he owed him.
“Nothing,” the lad replied.
“Are you sure?” the politician pressed, but the boy declined payment. “Well, is there anything I can do for you? What do you want to be when you grow up?”
The boy replied, “I want to be a doctor.” The Member of Parliament offered to help the young Scot go to university and sure enough he followed through on his pledge. More than a half century later Winston Churchill lay dangerously ill with pneumonia, stricken while attending a wartime conference in Morocco. A new “wonder” drug was administered to him, a drug called penicillin that had been discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming.
You guessed it. Fleming was the young Scottish lad who came to the aid of the Member of Parliament. And the Member of Parliament was none other than Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill’s father.
Story printed in The Word for You Today, June-August 2021 edition
Infections, The Corona Virus, and Current Controversy
Penicillin belongs to a family of drugs called antibiotics that fight infections already in the body. It is not a vaccine like the polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk in the early 1950s. Or, like the variety of vaccines developed recently to fortify the body against contracting the Covid-19 virus.
Covid-19 vaccines are totally different from antibiotics. Vail Health Foundation explains how the vaccine works this way:
While the vaccine is new and has been produced quickly, mRNA technology has been around for many years. The vaccine essentially takes a piece messenger RNA from the viral cell and causes our bodies to produce the protein that triggers the immune response and antibodies to ward off infection.
An mRNA vaccine does not actually contain the virus itself. An analogy is to think of it as an email sent to the muscle cells at the injection site that shows what a piece of viral protein looks like and then — like a Snapchat message — it disappears. Our bodies will develop an immune response to kill the viral protein and remember how to recognize it in the future. It is an amazing technology and a breakthrough in modern medicine.
Many have embraced the Covid-19 vaccine as a godsend. Others have eschewed it for various reasons:
- It hasn’t been thoroughly tested.
- The side effects are worrisome.
- I know people who have been vaccinated but got the virus anyway.
One thing for sure: the issue has been highly politicized, especially in the United States.
As a student at Rheems Elementary, I lined up in front of the school nurse to get my polio shot. Wearing a stiff, white cap banded in black, nurse Dorothy Baker gently touched the area with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol, and then with a long syringe pressed the vaccine into my left arm, protecting against the disease. Shortly after, the vaccine was delivered in sugar cubes. I don’t remember a single voice protesting the vaccine, which would shield us against frightful time in an iron lung (a tank respirator) or life consigned to a wheelchair.
In January 2021, I got my first Covid-19 vaccination with the second following in mid-February. Although I am not immunocompromised, I will accept a booster shot when it becomes available for me in our city.
Good morning, Marian! I got both doses of the vaccine, and I will also get a third shot when I’m eligible. I’m also getting a flu vaccine soon, which, as you know, is a new one each year because it is based on what scientists believe will be the predominant strains of the virus that continually evolves. Some years the vaccine is more effective than in other years, but it still offers protection. Viruses can only mutate if they have a place (or body) in which to do so.
My husband and I also remember getting those sugar polio vaccines in school. No protestors.
I hear you loud and clear, probably implying that citizens should follow the science. Thanks for explaining the reasoning behind the need to change the formula in flu vaccines each year. I appreciate your beginning our chat again today, Merril. 🙂
You’re welcome, Marian.
I, too, remember getting the polio vaccine on a sugar cube at school. It was completely routine, as was getting the smallpox vaccine a couple of years prior.
I received my third dose almost three weeks ago…I’m still alive.
Thanks for adding a touch of humor to the serious business of the Covid-19 vaccine discussion, Jill!
Marian — Len and I got both doses of the vaccine, and we’ll also get a third shot when we’re eligible. We also got regular flu vaccines.
Good for you, good for Len! Thanks, Laurie. 😀
Thank you for telling the story about Winston Churchill and what happened to his father, Randolph. Situations like these are no coincidence. I myself was looking through a window of a college that I thought I would never attend because my parents were poor and had four other kids to feed, when a man came up behind me and told me to go in. To make a long story short, I followed him in and came out a registered student with a job in the college library and financial aid. that fully paid for my tuition. Today, that still reminds me that God open doors in the most mysterious ways.
I remember also taking the polio vaccine. The first one in the arm and the vaccinations for the measles and the mumps in school.
I have had both shots, and since July I am fully vaccinated. However, Americans are not the only ones against the vaccination. There is widespread opposition here in Europe. Here in Germany we still haven’t reached Herd Immunity, and I know many people here who refuse to take the shots. Personally, I think there is a lack of communication between the medical field, the government and the people. No one is listening to the other. We have forgotten that listening belongs to the art of communicating. Therefore, we don’t hear what others are saying. How to change that is what I don’t know how to do. Maybe, it would help if we put the decision to live or die back in the hands of each person. Not saying that to get the vaccination would keep a person living or not to get it the person would die, but at least each person would have the right to live by his own belief.
“at least each person would have the right to live [and die] by his own belief.” What a lovely thought, one I wish could be implemented more widely for those in terrible pain and wishing to end their life. Alas. But with a virus, especially one as virulent as CoVid, we recognize how interconnected we are. Others’ actions impact us. We are not social isolates, as much as we might embrace the notion.
I couldn’t agree with you more when you say there has been a widespread lack of communication and people often don’t know to whom to listen. This seems true no matter the country. Who do we trust and why, who do we listen to, and how do we know what we know? I understand immunology enough to know we’d not have this dramatic resurgence now if more people had been vaccinated then.
I hope you’ll reconsider.
You have given me another aspect to consider.
But with a virus, especially one as virulent as CoVid, we recognize how interconnected we are.
The lack of understanding that we are all connected and represent one whole is maybe the reason that so many people are not accepting the vaccine. The holistic view that mankind is linked together has been nearly forgotten with the hedonistic thinking of I do my thing and you do yours. We have separated ourselves into different groups, with different colours, different nationalities speaking different languages and have forgotten that we’re all human and have things in common that we cannot overlook. For example, we have the same blood, but not everyone has the same blood type and still someone from the US can donate blood to a person in Kenya, if their blood type match. We all breathe and our bodies are uniquely constructed so that a heart can be taken from another person and planted into another person, irrespective of race and nationality and that person can live. Thus,I believe that somewhere down the line of man’s development into the twentieth century, we as people have forgotten how interconnected we are. Would this change our perspective about the vaccine? That I don’t know, but I hope it would.
Thank you for taking the time above to explain your thoughts to me.
Hi, PAT! Your story of divine intervention gave me goosebumps! This story proves that God will make a way: Isaiah 43:19
Thanks for telling us about the controversy over the vaccine going on in Germany. I guess I imagined that because Americans, in general, have a maverick nature, we are the most contentious, but I see that’s not true, at least where you live.
Thanks too for advocating the art of listening and keeping an open mind. You make a lot of sense here, Pat! 😀
Hi, JANET! One good thing about blogging is that people from all over the world can engage in conversation in the same space. Another good thing is that the written replies gives us a chance to consider other viewpoints whether we agree or not. Re-read, if necessary.
You know my take on the topic. I’m glad you can chat with Pat today. 😀
Well put! I have always loved the story of Alexander Fleming and Randolph Churchill. My brother had polio and I was given a polio shot immediately as it had just become available. Hubby and I have both of our shots and were only happy to receive them. 77% of the population in Spain are vaccinated so far. We are almost virus free here and ready to get back to our normal lives. xo
Darlene, it sounds as though you already know the story of Dr. Fleming and Randolph Churchill, new to me.
And it sounds to me as though Germany and the USA could learn a few lessons from Spain, which appears to have achieved what scientists are calling herd immunity. 😀
Oh yes. We are living in a time when a time-travel machine would come in handy. People with questions about vaccines could travel back in time to when parents used to lose all their children in one week to diphtheria. What those shattered and heartbroken parents would have given to have a vaccine.
Your time travel comment sheds a different light on the topic. Thanks for commenting, Arlene!
Thank you for posting this, Marian. It’s disheartening that so many people choose to disbelieve science.
You’re welcome, Linda. I believe we could get to the end of the pandemic sooner if citizens would believe the science and also take lessons from the miracle of the polio vaccine, which had very few if any dissenters. 😀
Marian, I truly t believe half of us wouldn’t be in this world if it wasn’t for vaccines and medical advances in general. I am doubly vaccinated against Covid 19 and will not hesitate to get booster when invited.
Yay for you, Maria Fatima! I’m sure you and your husband will be happy to get the booster. 😀
Marian I love the story of Alexander Fleming and Winston Churchill. It proves once again that we don’t know who we serve when we live to serve. It always comes back to that.. Today I get a flat tire in the city of Chicago on Logan square. Just changed my tires Friday last week. I thought, “pull over and call a tow truck.” When a guy man beautiful blonde blue eyes asked if I needed help. I thought oh yes I sure do. I have a spare tire. He changed it. Now I’m where I bought. I was there replacing it with a brand new tire since it under guarantee. God always comes to the rescue. I gave him twenty dollars that I happen to have because I hate carrying cash. He didn’t want it. I said please God said all people should be paid for their work. I wish I had more to give you. He finally accepted. I prayed for him as I drove away.
I agree with the vaccine. Pablo and I got Johnson few days before they took it off the market waiting to get the booster. We had Covid on my birthday last year. It was the worst wouldn’t wish on anyone.
I so love your topics. Always up-lifting. You’re right about that supervisor. He did me a favor I love what I’m working on at the other office. And I’m still serving my employees without their madness. What he meant for bad, God meant for good.
Gloria, I like how you share your stories out of victory, not victimhood. Yes, God does come through when we call on Him. I’m glad that you got the vaccine and you and Pablo are waiting for the booster shot. Your last comment reminds me of Romans 8:28. Thank you! 😀
Yes,I’ll line up for a booster. Thank you for the thoughts and dialogue here. Important questions for all of us on the planet! Well written story and examples.
As always, thanks for joining in, Melodie! 😀
Thank you for your story and support of vaccines including covid vaccine. I’m officially retired; you can take the nurse out of public health but you can’t take the public health out of the nurse. I am working in public health covid clinics to help vaccinate and protect people.
Thanks to you and all the others that help us by spreading the word about vaccines. I think people have forgotten the fear of polio that gripped the entire population until vaccine became available, and the fear, death and disability that other diseases, such as measles, caused. We have been given the gift of those who have discovered vaccines to prevent such heartbreak. Thank you, again.
Praise be to the good nurses like you who are still persevering through trying times. We are so thankful you are working to improve public health by administering the vaccine. Yes, as you mention, these discoveries and inventions are gifts from God, my belief too. Thank you, Sarah!
I love how the world turns. Well, I love how the world turns through Karma, Kindness, and Paying it forward. A wonderful true story, and one I didn’t know. I’m so thankful that our world has encouraged intelligence and academics, as well as spiritual concerns. I believe in science, and I’m grateful to the amazing scientists/biologists who work so hard to help us fight against infection/flus/viruses. I got the J&J shot as soon as a vaccine was offered to me. The only downside is that I can’t get a booster yet. Come on J & J! My guy got his booster three weeks ago – again – so grateful.
I hear gratitude in your comment here. When God works through scientists to provide ways to prevent serious disease, as in the case of the Salk polio vaccine, I believe we should take advantage.
Best wishes to you in getting the booster, Pam! 😀
Love the way you wove the story together and applied it to our current situation. I am very grateful for the vaccine. And we are scheduled for a booster in a few weeks. I have tried to stay optimistic about the anti-vax and vaccine-hesitant people, hoping that genuine listening to them could help them trust new sources of information. I did convince a few people myself and that felt good. Much better than mandates, but I support mandates because people sometimes need to have a little freedom reduced for themselves so that all the people can have more freedom. Our laws do this all the time. Let’s put this horrible disease in the rear-view mirror!
Kudos to you for prevailing on friends and neighbors to get the vaccine. I too resist mandates but find they are necessary in the military, health-care sector (and others), because there is so much potential exposure and thus chance for spread of the virus.
You said it well, “Let’s put this horrible disease in the rear-view mirror!” Vaccination is what’s available now to enable that goal. Thanks, Shirley! 😀
What a great story, Marian! Sounds almost too good to be true, but I’m sure you did your research! In 1952, when our family came to Canada, polio reared its ugly head and I remember being very afraid, and so grateful for the vaccine. Two girls I knew contracted polio, but survived without serious side effects. Later, as a young adult attending a Mennonite college, my weekly volunteer work was to visit a woman in an iron lung at a nearby hospital. I saw for myself how horrible this disease is. I posted a blog about this experience: ens-intransit.blogspot.ca (April 7, 2020), which was just at the beginning of this long Covid journey and it also has a part in the memoir I’m working on. It left an indelible impression. EVERYONE was so grateful for the vaccine!
I was astonished at reading the story of penicillin, but another commenter (Darlene) earlier mentioned knowing the story already. Thank you for posting the link to your earlier blogpost, which I commented on. Here is the link with an astute observation from Parker Palmer: https://ens-intransit.blogspot.com/2020/04/
Blessings as you work on your memoir, certainly a labor of love, Elfrieda! 😀
I’m with you!
Thanks for weighing in, Bette! 😀
What a fabulous piece of medical history that brightened my day. I received my booster this week and grateful to the scientists.
Thank you, Sue, for stopping by today. And congratulations on receiving your booster shot this week. :=D
Like many others here, I’m trusting the scientists above lay people who heard something their uncle told them. My next door neighbor, an unvaccinated guy who professed that it was all made up and Covid was fake, died a couple of months ago from Covid. Now his widow is picking up the pieces. I can’t go to “it serves him right,” because I was raised to have compassion for others. I have had my two vaccinations of Pfizer, and I will gladly get the booster when it’s my turn. Our county has had more deaths in the last three months than at any time during this pandemic.
Of course, we know that people can still get Covid if they’re vaccinated, but why not improve one’s odds by doing the responsible thing?
The saddest person in your very personal story is the widow who survives. Because you are a compassionate person, you will know the right thing to say–or even when to stay silent.
Truly, scientists are not crying “Wolf” these days. The danger is real and while there is no certain cure, we have a vaccine available that can help protect against dire consequences. Yes, “let’s improve the odds!” Thanks, Pete! 🙂
As we sat down after our evening meal, Bob commented on the number of deaths we’re learning of in Oregon each day. He said he couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to avoid the virus and its insidious road to death.
Our son, Craig and his family still stand against the very idea of getting vaccinated. We’ve listened, we’ve encourage, we’ve shared stories like Fleming’s and definitely the polio vaccine. I remember that shot and then the sugar cubes, and sadly I remember the twin boys down the street who contracted polio and were placed in iron lungs before the vaccine was approved. Thanks to men and women of science who use the gifts God has shared with them to study and research and then produce a life-protecting medication or vaccine.
Bob and I both received two shots of Pfizer’s vaccine, and we already know where we’re heading to get our booster! We’re right there with you and Cliff!
Sherrey, I hear the pain in your voice about your son and family. I believe the best thing to do is to pray they will be protected against getting the virus. One factor in their favor is that they are younger. Perhaps they take supplements to keep their immune systems strong.
We can’t control everything or everybody, but we can take the best care of ourselves possible. I’m glad you and Bob are doing that. Hugs too you! ((( )))
I love the story about Winston Churchill , I have never heard that before , amazing !
I have had both jabs . The first one made me poorly but the second was no problem at all ,and yes , without a doubt , when the booster is offered, I shall accept it , as will my husband and family .
I think it’s the only way forward . Thank you for giving us the chance to voice our opinion .
Let’s all stay safe it’s been a difficult eighteen months .
You’re welcome! Cherry, it has been a difficult eighteen months, and I hope the story will get gradually better from this point.
I’m glad you got your “jabs.” Feeling poorly is so much better than contracting the actual virus, I’m sure you will agree. Hugs to you and good health! ((( )))
I know that lovely story of Fleming & Churchill – God does indeed move in mysterious ways and Pat Garcia’s comment also highlights this. I’m also double vaccinated … was very dubious at first but it is done. I’ve never taken the flu shot. I know a few people who will not take the covid vaccine and are totally firm in this. Sadly, we know quite a few who have died from covid, whether vaccinated or not. Oh what a thing this all is. Masking and hand washing is still mandatory here when entering stores and public spaces. One day – this will all seem like a dream .. thanks Marian for this post.
Susan, thanks for sharing your story from the other side of the world. This awful pestilence is global, but there is the vaccine, which can help prevent getting the disease, or make the effects less serious.
And you knew the story of Fleming & Churchill — wonderful! Many of us are discovering it just now. Hugs to you, my friend! ((( )))
Hugs back at you Marian 🙂
My husband and I were both vaccinated as soon as we were eligible, and we’ll get the booster as soon as we’re eligible. I just don’t understand how epidemiology has become politicized. I got my first flu shot when I was in my early forties. My employer required it because we were working with a vulnerable population, seniors. I didn’t question it; why would I want to chance infecting someone at risk at dying from the flu? I have no problem with public health mandates.
*at risk of
Of course, I agree, Liz. Why not improve the odds when public health is at risk, which leads me to ask your question, “why would I want to chance infecting someone at risk at dying from the flu” (or the Covid-19 virus)?
Our city’s mayor opened many testing and flu-dispensing centers. He even sent buses to provide transportation to residents in disadvantaged areas. I wonder how many took advantage of this service.
I suspect books and articles in the coming months and years will be written about the resistance to this public health threat. One thing for sure: We can’t control others, but we can take care of ourselves. Thanks for all this, Liz. 🙂
I think you’re right that there will be many articles and books written on the anti-vax phenomenon during the COVID-19 pandemic. It strikes me as some kind of mass hysteria.
Yes, Liz. I hadn’t thought of the mass hysteria phenomenon before, but it fits. I’d thought of group think. Sadly, I imagine the vaccine hesitant think of those of us vaccinated in a similar way. It gets exhausting.
It certainly does get exhausting.
Hi Marian, I didn’t know that interesting information about Alexander Fleming. How completely amazing. I believe in vaccines and we are all vaccinated except for Michael. As soon as the vaccine is available for him and he is quite well, he will have it.
Robbie, I just now read your update on Michael. My heart goes out to you with huge hugs and prayers. I would say for the time being no need to read & reply here except that perhaps you get comfort from this interaction. I admire your persistence through very tough times and your creating such lovely fondant creatures as your dear son progresses toward better health. ((( )))
With you all the way Marian. And loved the story about Randolph Churchill. <3
You go, Girl! Both of us know about the amazing Alexander Fleming and Randolph Churchill story now . . . pretty amazing!
Thanks for checking in, Debby! 😀
Hi Marian – I had not heard the story about Winston Churchill and Alexander Fleming. Thanks for sharing that. I got the J&J vaccine because that’s what was offered when vaccines became available in our area. I don’t know what they will do about a booster for J&J, but I will get it. I don’t think I can jump to a different vaccine.
I remember lining up for an assembly in junior high and when we got in there, the line was actually for the rubella vaccine. No one complained or opted out. It was accepted.
That has been my experience: mass acceptance of the polio vaccine. Rubella? I would have taken it too. The resistance to the Covid-19 vaccine strikes me as odd–lots of complaints and opting out. I think we can expect many books and articles about this phenomenon already beginning to emerge.
Best wishes on getting access to the right booster, and thanks for checking in today, Barbara! 🙂
Thank you, Marian. I love, love, love knowing about Winston Churchill and the Scottish boy his father sent to medical school. If my dad had been given penicillin for a kidney infection he got on a ship during WWII in 1944, it’s unlikely he would have died at 44 years of age–but penicillin was new and the Merchant Marines didn’t give it to him so he got nephritis which eventually killed him.
I got the polio vaccine as a little girl and one of my best friends in high school was severely crippled because she hadn’t received the vaccine and got polio. I was eager to get my covid vaccine and my son drove me over an hour on winter roads to get my first since we didn’t know how I would react. The second caused some side effects for a day, but I know what to expect now and I’m ready to roll up my sleeve when there’s a plan for Moderna boosters. My older son does lots of work in medical and dental offices and will get his Pfizer booster in a few weeks. He has his appointment. I’m so glad. I’m shocked about the lies told about the covid vaccine. A friend said, “People don’t have to trust the science and that’s their choice, but I trust the death certificates.” I trust the science, but I agree with her. People are dying and suffering needlessly. I just don’t get it, but the world has gone a little crazy. This attitude divides communities and friends and families. It breaks my heart.
I like how you trace your family history through the generations with medical science evolving. I’m so sorry your dad was not able to get the penicillin that would probably had saved his life. When Cliff got nephritis, the doctors were slow with diagnosis, but his mother checked her family’s home medical encyclopedia, did her own diagnosing and insisted the doctor consider nephritis. I believe penicillin came to the rescue in his case.
And I’m happy that your family follows the science with the current virus, you and your son(s) receiving the vaccine and soon, the boosters. I’m baffled by the resistance too. Our past history shows the benefits of the polio and now the Covid-19 vaccine. You mention craziness; maybe some mass hysteria has set in. It’s hard to say, but I’m looking forward to putting this horrible disease behind us in 2022.
Here’s to staying healthy and also to enjoying nature as it transitions into autumn, a lovely season. Thanks for all this, Elaine! ((( )))
I didn’t know the story about Alexander Fleming, how interesting! Let us all be thankful for his discovery. The roll out of the Covid vaccine has been painfully slow here in South Africa. Happily my husband and I have just passed the 2 week mark after our second jab. No significant ill effects after either. I really can’t understand the resistance.
I don’t think any one forgets that sugar lump.
Welcome, Chris. Thank you for joining the conversation here. We seem to be of one mind, not understanding the resistance to the vaccine. I’m glad the story of Dr. Fleming intrigued you. It was new to me too. My eyes bugged out when I read about the miracle, so I wanted to share it here.
Do visit again! 😀