Two nights ago was the first serious skirmish: my temperature spiked modestly and I went through six or seven hours of chills and night sweats (I soaked six hospital gowns in the course of the evening), feeling really awful. Up until that point, I never felt sick. I could gleefully say in emails that the diagnosis was out of the blue -- no symptoms. I was immediately put on various IV-drip prophylactic antibiotics and heightened visits from staff. The fever broke around midnight and I immediately felt much better. The rest of the night was shaky, but not terrible. And during the course of the day I felt continuously better.
The whole episode fits the military metaphor. August, 1914. World War I begins. Cheering in the streets. Young men volunteer in droves in Britain. We'll be back by Christmas. They land in Flanders, march off to Flanders a couple of weeks later. All very Jolly. I was diagnosed April 6, arrive here April 11 symptom-free. I didn't cheer the war, mind you, but there was no real dread. When asked how things were going I would reply, "If I didn't have a dire illness, I would code all of this in the 'interesting' column." The illusion disappeared when I reached the front. All hell breaks loose. Confusion, uncertainty as a lived reality rather than intellectual perspective. Is this what its like? Is this the "New Normal". But then the bombardment suddenly stops. Things calm down. Now a full day later it is like being on leave from the front, hanging out in a pub, comfortable, at ease.
So, what happened was not a "New Normal", but an episode. This is reassuring, of course -- it is easier to tolerate pain knowing it will end. Torturers know this, is why they try to avoid killing someone under torture and promise and end to torture if the target cooperates. I know that there will be much worse episodes in the war ahead and some will be extended for days, maybe longer. But there will also be periods of leave from the front.