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I wrote this 3 years ago about Tupelo...
I have lived in Tupelo for just shy of 6 years. It is a nice small southern city. It has somewhat progressive leaders, some money floating around and active supporters of a decent school system which is the perennial winner of the state’s all-sports award. A great small southern town. I have an active practice and treat only rheumatology, a professional goal. My salary is way up. My immediate neighbors are pleasant, helpful when called upon and not intrusive. The office staff that support me are easy to work with and believe in helping. The commitment to donation of time and money far exceeds that of the midwest, California or the East. Even the most reactionary want to help. It is not Bill Clinton ‘feeling someone’s pain’.

I really do not belong though. I have no interest in the SEC, shooting animals, or being reborn. My Macintosh, fancy Digital Camera and pointy head just stick out around here.

Yesterday Mr. Bruce came to see me at the end of the day for his disabling gout, missed or ignored by his family doctor . He is a big black man, 300 pounds, once over 6 feet with the form of a former football player padded by years of too much Southern. He is not sophisticated. His clothes are more worn than the average teacher I see, his shoes untied. He seems very much the High School Football and Baseball coach of the small town he comes from. I still cannot picture him the history teacher. His 60 years in Mississippi have probably given him some perspective of one of America’s recent stories, race. We have never spoken of it. We talk for a while in the exam room about his arthritis. If I like them I usually give that last visitor a little more time for their wait. He has large boney hands with nodules up to 3/4” from the deposits of uric acid on the joints and tendons. His fists close about half normal and his grip is not enough to squeeze all the blood out of my 2 fingers. It will take years for the knobs to resolve but hopefully the heat and warmth and throbbing will die down much sooner, before the prednisone causes too much trouble. The premature wearing out will remain. I remove his shoe and sock at his request and examine his foot although I expect little change from our last visit. The great toe actually is much less inflamed but very tender. I replace his sock and his shoe but forget to tie the laces. He stands with some difficulty and we head down the hall with me repeating the medicine instructions. He lumbers slowly favoring that left foot with both knees unable to straighten. Miss Emily sweet, blond, a foot shorter and 4 1/2 months pregnant catches up to him, orders him to stop, kneels down as he towers over her and carefully ties up my loose ends to finish her day.
“We don’t want you tripping over those.”

“Thank you.”