At breakfast, I saw a friend with whom I had discussed the prospects of a Duke run to the championship after its recent drought of Final Fours. He flashed a big smile and excitedly said, “220–211!”
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I knew exactly what he was talking about but, in view of all the hoops talk the night before, I could not help making a lame joke. “That’s an awfully high scoring game,” I said. “The defense must have been terrible.”
My friend then filled me in on the details of the House vote, and off we went to lectures on tolerance checkpoints, B-cell editing, and nephrogenicity.
When I gave my lecture later that day, a storm was at its peak, half the audience was seasick, and I had to hold on to a pillar for dear life lest a lurch of the boat send me catapulting into the audience who were either unexcited by my data on microparticles or were about to heave. I learned quickly that turning my head to look at my slides was a risky maneuver, stressing an equilibrium system about to collapse. I spoke at an unbelievable pace so that I could get outside quickly to fix my eyes on the horizon even if I would be blown apart by the Arctic wind.
When my session ended, I raced out to the deck without stopping to get a coat. Outside, the gusty wind and pelting of snow on my face did their magic, miraculously squelching a powerful reflex to throw up. Despite the duress of lecturing on the high seas and anxiety over the struggles on the hard woods and the halls of Congress, I felt happy. Nature was resplendent. I was with good friends, March was turning to April, and I hoped that a time of madness was finally ending.
Dr. Pisetsky is physician editor of The Rheumatologist and professor of medicine and immunology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.