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Happy Birthday to Me

Around midnight I was experiencing excruciating and finely localized pain just below the bottom right side of my ribcage. As the hour crept toward 3, I kept picturing that stupid pain graph they have in the emergency room (on a scale of one to ten, one is a happy face and ten is an anguished sobbing face, but somewhere around three is neutral) and trying to place myself. A six? A seven? If it’s all relative, do I have to take into account that maybe I’ve never felt extreme pain before? I mean, I’ve never experienced being stabbed, or mauled by a shark, or burned all over. Maybe I should save the nine rating for that — just in case.

Around three, I actually looked up “appendicitis” in the dictionary (see: appendix; see: alimentary canal). Wondered if maybe I was dying, or if I could call an ambulance, wait for them outside, and be back home before anyone woke up and noticed.

I am such a wimp.

I couldn’t ride it out and finally decided on codeine pills (Elizabeth Wurtzel was right, no one finishes or throws out their Tylenol 3), and around 3:30am, the throbbing, nauseating pain was down to “sore,” I was able to put pressure on my side without crying, and sleep looked like it might not be impossible.

As a result of all this, I was both sleep deprived and completely high when the 9am call came for breakfast and church. So when my mom woke me up saying “Happy birthday,” I replied “Happy birthday,” only following up with a “to me” a few moments later.

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