On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard Jr. piloted the Freedom 7 craft into a suborbital flight to become the first American man in space. His promising astronautical career was soon scuttled by spells of dizziness and tinnitus later diagnosed as Ménière’s disease, until William F. House—considered the father of neurotology and a pioneer in surgery for vestibular schwannomas—intervened. In 1968 House implanted an endolymphatic-subarachnoid shunt, which at the time was a virtually experimental procedure. Shepard’s debilitating Ménière’s disease was cured, but not quite in time for him to pilot the doomed Apollo 13 mission; he was reassigned to Apollo 14 and as a result would step foot on the moon on February 5, 1971. This historical vignette depicts the tale of how the career trajectories of Shepard and House—two notable figures in their respective fields fatefully intersected.

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