Stripped of my dignity, I laid in the hospital bed under a heated blanket, my belly marked with an x to indicate the source of the pain, my eyes red with tears. The lab technician and I talked about the Cubs – he offered me a bigger needle, and I said that while some masochism is inherent to Cubs fandom, it doesn’t extend to physical pain for me. We laughed, and I winced. Later, after the exam, after hours spent in that bed alone, after hearing the paddles in use down the hall, hearing the labored breathing of the woman in the next bed, I tried to meditate with my legs crossed, the tears again streaming down my cheeks. I cursed all men with the exception of the nurse – he said no, I could hate him too. I told him he’d been too wonderful – and he offered to stick me with another needle if I needed another reason to hate men. I laughed again, this time in less pain but more heartache. I have never felt so alone.