for Bright Magazine
**Edit 6/26/17. Title has been updated to reflect the new BCRA/TrumpCare bill**
The first time I calculated the cost of my life, I was 21 years old. I was on my way to Lake Tahoe with a friend; the pain started slowly, the kind of abdominal discomfort I was used to after a lifetime of a self-diagnosed “sensitive stomach.” It felt as though there was too much air in my belly, a painful constricting that could be relieved by some loud, embarrassing farts. So we drove on. No farts.
The pain increased, oscillating between short, sharp pains and longer, stomach curling aches. It was as though hot, rubbery ropes were snaking their way through my lower abdomen, constricting the life out of anything in their way. With each labored breath, they got bigger and stronger, pushing against the walls of my stomach with increasing urgency. We pulled over at the rest stop outside Truckee so I could try to go to the bathroom. For the first time in my life, I desperately wanted to have explosive diarrhea. I prayed to the god of rest stops that whatever was happening inside me would find and orifice and get the hell out, it didn’t matter how. Nothing came. The pain continued to swell.
I tried to hobble back to the car — pale, sweaty, and bent at the waist — but I couldn’t make it. I tumbled to the ground and pushed my face into the concrete. It was cool. Dirty as fuck but cool. Sweat streamed off my forehead and pooled onto the asphalt, making small rivers around the nearby bottle caps and cigarette butts. (continued)