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No Heart Shaped Pancakes

Howard took a job at the Sturgeon Bay shipyard. The newlyweds went about the business of building a life together until Howard burned his wrist one day at work. The details of the accident and time following have been lost to memory, but Howard scheduled an appointment to see his doctor on the morning of February 14. There weren’t any 24 Hour Urgent Care Clinics in 1947 — only your doctor or the hospital. When Howard left the house that Valentine’s morning in 1947, Lou showed her love by calling after him, “Make sure you ask the doctor about your cough!”

Howard did ask the doctor about his cough and was immediately admitted to the the hospital where he stayed for three weeks. Howard would not go home for a very long time. From the hospital he was transferred to Hickory Grove Sanatorium in De Pere Wisconsin — a tuberculosis treatment facility opened February 15, 1914. Lou told me, “He was transferred from the hospital to the sanatorium in a hearse. I rode with him.” A hearse — was that because of fear of contagion?

Howard most likely left home on Valentine’s morning without a heart shaped pancake in his belly. He’d survive TB, but it was almost four years until he and Lou were able to get back to building a life together. Howard spent a full year and a half bed ridden at Hickory Grove. Somewhere around June of 1948, Howard suffered a terrifying pulmonary hemorrhage and was near death. Lou told me that a recently discovered antibiotic — Streptomycin — was flown in from Milwaukee. I’m unclear as to whether his veteran status earned him the treatment. The drug is credited with saving Howard’s life. Excerpted from Wikipedia:

At the end of World War II, the United States Army experimented with streptomycin to treat life-threatening infections at a military hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. The first patient treated did not survive; the second patient survived but became blind as a side effect of the treatment. In March 1946, the third patient — Robert J. Dole, later Majority Leader of the United States Senate and Presidential nominee — experienced a rapid and robust recovery.

The first randomized trial of streptomycin against pulmonary tuberculosis was carried out in 1946 through 1948 by the MRC Tuberculosis Research Unit under the chairmanship of Geoffrey Marshall (1887–1982). The trial was both double-blind and placebo-controlled. It is widely accepted to have been the first randomised curative trial.

After additional time recovering at Hickory Grove, Howard was eventually transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Minoqua, Wisconsin where physicians told him he’d never be able to return to physical work. While there, Howard took math classes. The United States government took care of Uncle Howard, funding his education at the University of Wisconsin — Madison, where he earned a degree in accounting. Howard spent some time after graduation at a private accounting firm, but soon returned to public service as an employee of the Internal Revenue Service.

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