High School Reunion 2: swaggering into the Brown Palace

Of that high school I am a grad

The education we got wasn’t bad

When I met with my mates

Standing up straight

Recalling the times that we had.

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, traveled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. I followed 3 years Community Health Center work with a return to traveling and adventures in temporary positions in Alaska, rural Iowa, suburban Pennsylvania and western Nebraska. 2017 brought me adventures in Iowa, Alaska, and northern British Columbia. After a month of part-time in northern Iowa, a new granddaughter, a friend’s funeral, and a British Columbia reprise, I am taking a break from Sioux City for my 50th High School reunion.  Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission.

I swaggered into Denver’s Brown Palace Hotel for a dinner with my high school classmates.

In 1968 I graduated from Colorado Academy, a school exceptional even in the world of private education. The brochures at the time touted it as half boarding and half day, meaning that 50% of the students lived on campus and the rest commuted.  It occupied a former military academy campus.  When I arrived in 1962 we still had stables and barracks and a few students wearing Army-style uniforms.

Imagine an all-boys school full of smart troublemakers from dysfunctional families with a startling proportion of gifted teachers.

Some of the boarding students lived close enough to ride the bus home on weekends.

The school day started with a half-hour assembly and the Lord’s Prayer, no matter what faith we had at home. After lunch a student could elect a number of activities including wood shop, band, Mountain Rescue, archery, glee club, and gun club.  After classes, policies required team sport participation 2 trimesters out of 3.

I took part in every stage production from 9th grade on.  I ate dinner with the boarders, and got a ride home from the drama teacher.  In many ways I qualified as day student and boarder and neither.

The homework ate every moment of spare time but gave us incomparable study habits. By comparison, Yale was a breeze.

While many bemoan current Political Correctness, I remember the blatant racist, sexist, homophobic climate of the Cold War years.

We got fantastic educations. After high school, I breezed through Yale.

We learned critical thinking and healthy skepticism, two skills without which people fall prey to false news and propaganda.

In my clinical experience, auto-immune diseases, such as the anklylosing spondylitis that robbed me of a teenager’s swagger respond exquisitely to a person’s emotional health; the academic pressure compounded my chaotic home life’s stressors, which worsened my back pain.

Which, in turn, saved my life.

Seven years of well-documented back pain, along with a peculiar back x-ray, made me unfit for military service during the Viet Name war.

My proper diagnosis came in 1981; I started the miracle drug Enbrel (you’ve seen the commercials) in 2000. My spine straightened, and I walked with a fluidity I hadn’t felt since childhood.

The Onyx room at the Brown Palace held about 15 of my classmates, a few spouses, and one of our teachers. Some I knew immediately, for some I had to look at body language and listen to speech patterns before recognition came.

Despite my swagger, my classmates knew me.

 

 

 

 

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