Roadtrip I: Iowa City, my daughters’ friend, Indian food.



This trip is still out to the jury

I said while eating my curry.

    My life isn’t narrow

    Since I got back from Barrow

I’m traveling but not in a hurry.

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  I’m slowing down so I don’t burn out.  I’m honoring my one-year, thirty-mile noncompete clause and having a lot of adventures; so far I’ve been to Alaska, Massachusetts, San Diego, and Grand Island, Nebraska. 

I’m off on a road trip; I”ve not had time for one since 1975, the year I started med school

I took the summer off that year and rode my bicycle from Denver to San Diego.  Back then I had hearing so keen I could hear the bats at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  On that trip I rode from twenty miles north of Prescott, Arizona to Blythe, California, 184, miles in twenty hours.  I made the trip in ten days and didn’t hurry.  After dropping off the Mogollon rim to Yarnell, Arizona at sunset I pedaled through the Chocolate Mountains without dropping out of high gear.  No traffic, no wind, no major hills, no mechanical problems, nighttime temperature about seventy degrees, averaged twenty-three miles an hour for a hundred miles.  I had to ride on Interstate 10 for twelve miles, into Blythe, but I arrived hours ahead of schedule, and lay down in the desert with a rock for my pillow till the sun gave enough light to ride on the Interstate.

I took it easy that summer; I knew that med school would demand all my time for the next four years. I should have foreseen that residency’s hundred-hour weeks would follow right after or that I’d spend the next thirty years struggling to wring every microsecond out of every day.

I’m not rushing this year.  I packed the car this morning and drove five hours to Iowa City.  My host, Lindsey, has given me permission to give the information below. 

Her mother and grandmother babysat for my children, and I did their medical care.  In elementary school she developed a draining infection in front of her left ear; after three courses of antibiotics the drainage hadn’t resolved and I referred her to an ears-nose-throat (ENT) doctor.  Eventually, I assisted at the surgery; we removed what turned out to be a small lymph node.

The pathology report showed that it was infected with Mycobacterium avian, a cousin of tuberculosis (see yesterday’s post); we made the diagnosis of scrofula.  I have not seen another case before or since.

Lindsey grew up and married and works in the lab at the VA hospital in Iowa City.  Even though I know where to look for the scar from the surgery I have trouble finding it; the ENT did a really bang up job.  Our families have stayed close enough through the years that all three of my daughters were in her wedding. 

Over great Indian food in Iowa City she and her husband Jeff and I talked about whaling and Nalukaataaq injuries, alcoholism and seasonal affective disorder, our families with their joys and imperfections.

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