Have you Ever Felt Stretched?
Two weeks ago I woke up at 3am one morning with pain. Eventually the pain died down but I wasn’t able to go back to sleep. Then the next morning the pain came back. And it was even more intense.
I tried to ignore it, but this pain was talking. As I drove to work I decided it represented something real and something bad going on inside of me. I wanted to, but I couldn’t ignore it any longer. And even though the pain settled down some after arriving, I called my doctor.
The CT scan I obtained that morning proved what we suspected. A kidney stone in my right ureter.
The stone was small enough that we decided to give it a chance to pass. To let the issue resolve itself. I drank so much water I thought I was going to drown. For the next week or so I had very little if any pain.
And then Wednesday happened.
I didn’t have the debilitating type of pain that so many described. I didn’t pass out. I wasn’t lying on the floor in the fetal position. But the pain came that morning and it did not let up.
Alleve didn’t help. Holding my side didn’t help. Sitting didn’t help. Standing didn’t help.
On Thursday I went and talked to a urologist. He offered to perform a lithotripsy. He offered to blow the stone into tiny pieces. Without hesitation I said yes.
What Does the Urologist Say?
I’ve never had the idea that a urologist would have anything interesting to say. The stories they tell at parties must be weird and disgusting and scary all at the same time. But my urologist explained something to me that I didn’t know.
He told me that I wasn’t actually feeling pain.
He wasn’t suggesting what I felt wasn’t real. He was merely telling me that my brain didn’t understand what I felt. Instead of pain I was feeling my ureter being stretched.
Lost in Translation
Your body is filled with different types of sensory receptors. Baroreceptors respond to pressures in your blood vessels helping you to regulate blood flow to your brain. Chemoreceptors detect noxious chemicals. Hydroreceptors respond to changes in the humidity. Thermoreceptors respond to changes in temperatures.
And of course there are pain receptors.
When stimulated, each receptor sends a signal to your brain. Then your brain interprets the signal. And then you make a decision about what to do.
In the ureter there are no pain receptors. Only stretch receptors. My brain didn’t know what do with the information it was receiving. It didn’t know how to interpret what was going on inside of me.
But I can tell you, along with every other person who has a kidney stone, it sure felt like pain.
My brain told me the wrong thing.
Better Stories Stretch Us
Kidney stones are not the only thing that has the potential to stretch us and make us hurt. Living a better story can do the same.
- When we take risks, it hurts.
- When we take a step forward not knowing the way to go, it hurts.
- When we sacrifice for the good of someone else it hurts.
- When we end a day exhausted, not knowing how we can possibly do tomorrow, it hurts.
- When we choose to love unconditionally, it can be extremely painful.
But in these moments, what feels like pain is really our souls being stretched. Our brains just don’t know how to interpret the sensation. Our brains tell us something we don’t like is happening to us.
And we want it to stop.
Being Stretched for a Purpose
There is nothing good in a kidney stone. It benefits nobody. And so blasting it to pieces can be a good option to make the misinterpreted stretching to stop.
But better stories do have benefit. The stretching is for a purpose. The misinterpreted pain is for a reason.
Better stories benefit others. Better stories benefit us. Better stories help us to become.
You can’t accomplish your bigger purpose if you avoid the stretching even when it does feel like pain. The goal is to take a step today in spite of how or what you feel.
Have you ever felt stretched?
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