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Like coworkers in any office, The Wire spent the morning talking about Major Motion Pictures; namely, Heaven Is For Real, a movie about a kid that almost dies and claims to have then gone to Heaven. Then we talked about the times we have been in horrible torturous pain and whether or not we went to Heaven. Then we decided we were going to make you read about those times.

According to our coworker Google Dotcom, the book Heaven Is For Real tells about how four-year-old Colton Burpo traveled to the Great Beyond after his appendix burst. Then Ben Cosman was like, "I don't trust people without an appendix," and then Elle Reeve was like, "Um, I've had my appendix out," and told us a completely gross story. So you can see why we wanted you to be involved in this conversation! There are websites dedicated to graphic injuries and pimple-popping; it seems acceptable for The Wire to dally with tales of medical woe in text form.

In keeping with the genesis (do you get it) of the conversation, I (as collector of the stories) insisted that people tell me whether or not they, too, traveled to Heaven. I will not spoil the surprise! (Since the headline already did.) We'll start with Elle's story. Also: We added wrestling GIFs.

Elle Reeve: Appendix


I had to call my dad from my college dorm room because I'd never been in so much pain in my whole life and didn't know what to do. It was worse than 10 years of gymnastics accidents and multiple broken bones combined. I felt like I was being stabbed from the inside. Dad made me call the campus cops, who thought I was hungover, and they took me to the clinic, where a snooty doctor said I was probably ovulating. The next day I was worse, so my roommate dragged me to the hospital. The doctor there also thought I had a period thing, or maybe an STD. (Doctors are the worst.)

I festered in the hospital bed all day, till my parents had time to drive the six hours from Nashville to Atlanta, and threatened to take me to another hospital because I had turned yellow and looked five months pregnant. The threat of losing our money finally convinced the doctors to consider that maybe I wasn't "ovulating" or "just trying to get out of finals" but actually "about to die" from appendicitis.

Afterward, the surgeon pranced into my room and said excitedly that it was "the worst I've ever seen!" and showed me photos. My appendix was black on the end, because it was dead. I was in the hospital five days, then out five more, then in 10 more. The veins in my arm kept collapsing, so I had to have a central line in my neck, which is how I learned it takes two heartbeats for opiates injected into your neck to reach your brain and make the pain stop. Just as I was about to get discharged, my mom reminded the doctor that I had a tube draining pus out of my guts into a bag. The doctor suggested that I could clip the stitches and take the 10-inch tube out myself.

This was before Obamacare, back when America had the greatest health system in the world. RIP.

Did she go to Heaven? No.

Brian Feldman: Jellyfish sting


In high school, I spent a month in Israel over the summer. We went to the beach at one point. Right as we got there and were setting down our towels and stuff, this old guy staggers out of the ocean, clearly in a bit of pain. It turns out he got stung by a jellyfish. So everyone else got too scared to go in the water, but I was like, come on, what are the odds? (Can you see where this is going?) Anyway, I wade out until the water is up to my chest and sink down a little bit so only my head is above water. I started yelling to everyone else and calling them wimps and beach-shaming them.

Two minutes later, I feel a sharp pain down my left side. It turns out a jellyfish had stung me in my armpit and all down my torso. But because I had been such an asshole about it (and also, duh-doy, was trying to seem impressive and brave for the ladies on the trip), I had to act very cool about it. So I just sorta grunted and tried to calmly swagger out of the water. It looked ridiculous because getting stung in your armpit makes it very painful to relax your arm, so I had to hold it up and out at an awkward angle. The lifeguard sprayed it with vinegar (not urine [Ed. – Brian did not use the word "urine"]) and I looked and smelled weird for the rest of the day. I had a scar-like line running down my left side for a month.

Did he go to Heaven? No.

Allie Jones: Hurt hand

An injury is only as bad as the shame that comes with it, so my Worst Injury Ever was the time during college when I sliced my hand open on a jagged port-a-potty door at a fraternity campout. The actual pain level was high (and there was A LOT of blood), but the shame factor was obviously worse.

  1. I was at fraternity event wearing a festive "camping" vest.
  2. I cried.
  3. My injury was evidence I used the port-a-potty when all the chill girls just peed in the woods.
  4. I cried.
  5. After the nurse stitched me up, she wrapped gauze around my finger in the style of a penis.

Physical scars heal, but shame lives forever in ur heart. The end.

Did she go to Heaven? No.

Connor Simpson: Broken elbow


When I was in the sixth grade I broke my arm, just above the elbow, on Christmas eve. The parents enjoyed fancy coffees with Baileys after dinner, while the kids chased each other around basement, shooting each other with NERF guns, mostly working off the sugar high from whatever cakes or cookies we ate for dessert so we might sleep at a reasonable hour. A bump or bruise was common, but not this.

I was chasing my cousin Matthew around the basement when I tripped on a tag for an inflatable couch, landed on my left arm, which snapped like a twig. The next hour is a blur of searing pain and tears and looking down at my normally normal arm as it abnormally wobbled and bobbled about. We raced to the hospital where, thankfully, a doctor I had babysat for was just about to go home to his family. He jetted me past the emergency room lineup and into an X-ray room where doctors looked at my arm ("Yep, real broke," they concluded), outfitted me with a temporary L-shaped cast and sent me home for Christmas loaded with ineffective painkillers.

I spent most of the night awake, in excruciating pain, but you try telling a 12-year-old to sleep through presents on Christmas morning. I rallied and still managed to open my presents faster than my sister. (I don't remember what I got that year, sorry mom and dad.) Later that day, we returned to the hospital, where doctors loaded me full of Good Drugs and put me in a straight cast (oops). The cast was cool and all, but the worst part is I don't have a scar. What's the point of a good injury if you don't end up with a scar?

Did he go to Heaven? No.

Lucy Westcott, who is British: Skull fracture


When I was 5 years old, a trip to the Early Learning Centre toy shop in Swindon was the only place to go if you were a kid getting dragged around while your mum ran errands. There were always toys strewn about to play with and other children running around while parents chatted off to the side. On this particular day, a small trampoline stood unoccupied in the middle of shop, which I'd later find out was intended for children much smaller than me. I grabbed the trampoline's handlebars, attached at the front for safety, but after a few jumps that were both too hard and enthusiastic, my little body swung over the top of them and landed on the floor with a thud. I fractured my skull and was, remarkably, fine, but I'm pretty sure the trampoline of doom was swiftly taken away. If it happened in America, we would have sued.

Did she go to Heaven? Close enough — America.

David Sims, who lived in Britain: Bike handle penetration

When I was 11 years old I was riding my bike in the park across the street from my house in London, and for no particular reason I lost control of the thing and fell down, which was certainly something that had happened to me before. But this time it hurt more than anything has hurt before or since, and when I looked down I realized the bike's brake handle had gone straight into my thigh, and coming out of the wound was something I can only recall as looking like bloody mashed potatoes (I was informed it was soft human tissue). An ambulance was called and I got stitched up at the hospital. The whole thing was gross but easily fixed. Still, I did not get back onto a bike for a good 10 years after that.

Did he go to Heaven? No.

Esther Zuckerman: Busted chin

In elementary school I was playing handball — or the version of handball we played in elementary school. I tried to hit the ball, one of those bouncy thing you used for dodgeball, missed, spun around, lost control of my body, and fell on my chin, causing a gash. All told I was pretty lucky that that's the worst injury I can remember considering I rode — and fell off of — many a horse when I was younger.

Did she go to Heaven? No.

Eric Levenson: Ripped-off fingernail


A ripped fingernail scores pretty high on the pain index. During my senior year of high school lacrosse, I wound up and took a big shot with a defender right in front of me. He stuck up his stick to defend, and on my shot's follow-through, the fingernail on my right pointer finger got caught on his stick and shredded the nail all the way off. I scored the goal (woo!), and after celebrating for a few seconds, noticed that my protective glove was covered in blood and sprinted off to the sideline. Along with the loss of its nail, my finger turned purple and swelled up to massive size. It felt like a knife had just skinned through my finger. Do not recommend.

But I was so tough that I kept playing (rather terribly) through the pain. That finger's knuckle is still about twice the size of its left-handed counterpart, and can't fully extend.

Did he go to Heaven? No.

Abby Ohlheiser: Broken face, sort of

The closest I've come to a broken bone was when someone (intentionally) kicked a soccer ball into my face at short range during a clearly very important middle school rec league soccer match. I guess it's possible that my nose was broken, but I don't know how severely I was hurt because I never got it checked out. Anyway, my nose went all purple and I was eventually pulled out of the game, because I guess no one wants to play against someone with a possible concussion and a bloody jersey.

Did she go to Heaven? No.

Ben Cosman: Woodchips in the nose

I've never broken a bone or needed surgery for anything, so I've never been in excruciating pain I suppose, but I did fall off the top of the slide head-first in third grade into the woodchips below. That hurt pretty badly, and I remember what kid started crying when he saw me stand up, I guess because my face was covered in woodchips, snot, and blood. I was blowing little pieces of wood out of my nose for weeks.

Did he go to Heaven? No.

Me: Broken foot


To be fair, the worst pain I ever felt was when I had a cracked rib and sneezed on the way to the doctor. That hurt a lot.

But the dumbest serious injury I ever suffered was when I worked for Americorps, teaching little kids how to read. Part of the job involved watching kids at recess and, being a group of first-to-sixth-graders, many of them were impressed at how tall I was. There was a little 8-foot hoop in the schoolyard that they would practice shooting on, and we all quickly discovered that I could do some sweet, Jordanesque dunks on it.

One day the kids asked me to dunk (almost certainly after I was like, Hey, don't you want to see me dunk). I went up, did a reverse two-handed dunk, and landed on the base of the hoop, twisting my foot and — unbeknownst to me — breaking a bone. It hurt obviously, but what kind of loser ruins a perfectly good dunk showing off for elementary school kids by whining about his sports injury? I hobbled off, hobbled through my day, and eventually hobbled to the hospital.

The moral of the story is that it is cool to impress little kids with sweet moves and you should always put your health at risk to impress anyone you meet.

Did I go to Heaven? No.

There you go. I bet that right now you are thinking, my injury was worse than that. No way, loser. But if you have been to Heaven, please let us know. That's probably a pretty good story.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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