Although many of us may have hated Lydgate in the last half of Middlemarch, some truly did love him till the end. To know he died is very upsetting but at least now we have technology to look into the disease that killed him. Diphtheria was not like the common cold; it was a disease that killed. The Oxford English Dictionary describes diphtheria as a disease that caused severe inflammation in the mucous membranes in the throat, nose, larynx, trachea, and bronchi. It goes on to tell us that with this disease an enormous amount of buildup of exudate (a mass of cells and fluid that leaks out of blood vessels when inflamed) that would block off a person’s breathing. This blockage was caused by a bacterium called Corynebacterium diphtheriae. When studying this disease, you can see that the illness by itself is not deadly, but this bacteria creates a deadly toxin that can lead to heart damage, nerve damage, paralysis, and a lung infection. No one knew of a cure or medication that could help this disease that was killing people, until Pierre Bretonneau. Pierre Bretonneau was a French physician called the disease diphtérite and distinguished this disease from scarlet fever. Bretonneau was the first to successfully use tracheotomy with a case of diphtheria. He tried the procedure on many patients, but they ended up dying. Later, another French physician, known by the name Armand Trousseau came around and showed a survival rate of 25% in his tracheotomies he performed on patients with diphtheria. 

Life has been hard the last couple years for me. I had to sit back and watch my husband die as the devil tortured him as if he were a MarionetteIt was like my hands were tied behind my back and I could not move, just watch. Watch as he slowly died from a disease that was unknown to us. Not even a year after my husband’s death my poor little Bradley fell ill with the same symptoms as my husband had. I felt like there was no way for me to help my own son. I was in the same position yet again and I did not know what to do. A little less than a week after my child fell ill, I heard rumors in the town about a French physician who had been preforming procedures of people with a disease called diphtheria. I talked to as many people as I could about this disease, smart people, people who knew what they were talking about. I knew I had to find a way to help my boy. Once finding out that the symptoms of diphtheria were the same as what my boy had I knew I needed to get him to a physician that could try and help him. Yes, I know the surgery could kill him, but if he dies, I rather know I tried rather than sitting back and letting the devil take the only family I had left.

Works Cited:

“Diphtheria Epidemic.” Geneva Historical Society, 27 Apr. 2020, genevahistoricalsociety.com/medicine/diphtheria-epidemic/.

“All Timelines Overview.” Timeline | History of Vaccines, www.historyofvaccines.org/timeline.

“Discover the Story of EnglishMore than 600,000 Words, over a Thousand Years.” Home : Oxford English Dictionary, www.oed.com/view/Entry/53159?redirectedFrom=diphtheria.

Associated Place(s)

Event date:

circa. 1878 to circa. 1899

Parent Chronology: