It might seem a very odd thing to save, the pages of a hospital chart from 1939. But I suspect my father viewed his battle with pneumonia at age 6 as a defining moment. Perhaps his parents, Carl F. and Ruby Hanneman, feared they would lose their youngest son to an illness with a reputation for being deadly.
The trouble all started on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, when David D. Hanneman took ill with a high fever. The hospital chart says my Grandma Ruby “took care of him alone until Tues. night Dec. 5.” It’s not clear if this means Grandpa Carl, pharmacist at the Mauston clinic and hospital, was away on business or just working. Either way, on December 5, Caroline Denzien came to the Hanneman house on Morris Street to care for Dad and give Ruby a break.
Early on Wednesday, December 6, they took him to the Hess Memorial Hospital in Mauston. Upon arrival, his fever was 104.2 degrees. Dr. J. Samuel Hess Jr. ordered a course of calcidine, a decongestant, and quinine, a potent germicidal drug known today as an anti-malaria treatment. They had reason for concern, since the pneumonia had festered for nearly two weeks. That first day, Dad drank frequently, but he was restless and had a “considerable” cough. He was “perspiring freely” as a result of the fever, which stayed above 104 degrees all day.
Dad responded quickly to the treatment. By midday on December 7, he was eating sherbet and sipping on some broth. He even felt bright enough to play a little bit of checkers. The fever was down below 100 degrees, but still shot back up on occasion. By nighttime, he was drinking lemonade, tomato juice and some tea. Overnight, the nurse noted he was “irritable” and had several coughing spells. On December 8, the fever dropped below 99 degrees and Dad graduated to eating noodles and rice, and custard.
By the December 10-11 period on the chart, Dad’s fever was gone and he was resting comfortably. Nourishment included chicken broth, Jello and Ovaltine. It appears he stayed at the hospital into the late afternoon of Wednesday, December 12, since there are no other pages beyond that time.
©2015 The Hanneman Archive