Here are 10 lessons passing a kidney stone can teach you about life:
1) Surprise: you’re on the ground
There I was, walking around in the bedroom when a sudden, sharp pain hit my lower right back. “What the…” squeaks out of me as my wife asks if it’s my back. I do some flexing to check the muscles and things seem fine. “Uh oh…” was my next thought, as well as a wash of fear over my face. Wait a second… I’m too young for kidney stones, right?!
No matter what you’re doing or where you’re at in life, something can throw a kink in your plans. Do your best to be prepared, but don’t let it keep you down. Check your resources and figure the problems out as they come along. I learned some very valuable health tips and treatment plans.
2) Small size, big deal.
The little beast of a thing started making its way down the ureter and it wasn’t being subtle at all. . How could such a small little thing bring such a “big and tough” guy down so easily?
Though I wish the method was different, sometimes we need a reminder that the little things need attention. A small bad-habit-thorn-in-your-side can become an infected wound of lackluster-living given enough time. Now is a good time to step back and see if there’s anything causing you pain that you can’t see from your point of view. Friends and family can help.
3) Inside, no one can see your pain.
Even though I was doubled over in pain and was rolling on the floor (definitely NOT laughing), my wife really didn't know how to respond. She asked me a few times if I was okay but couldn't really get a feel for the level of pain. I mean heck, how bad could it hurt anyway, right?
Unless other folks have experienced your life, which they can’t since you’re unique, they’ll never be able to fully understand your point of view. As frustrating as this can be, it leads to only one conclusion. You either make it fit their point of view on the world or you accept that you’ll be misunderstood. Sometimes it’s worth it, sometimes it’s not.
4) Keep moving through the pain.
Apparently, you’re not supposed to just lie around when you’re passing a stone. I successfully found a spot where I could get more than a 20 minute nap and feel okay. So I thought I was fixed. Wrong. I went straight down again after I started moving the next day as my crystalline knife hit the road again. Hello emergency room.
We can get comfortable in a valley, especially when it seems like things couldn’t get worse. Sometimes a little break in the path to going through tough times can trick us into complacency, only to bite us harder later. Choose to move through the difficulty. You will not be given challenges you can’t overcome. That’s a promise.
5) Patience is a virtue, and it’s dang hard.
There I was, doubled over in the bathtub, waiting for the next wave of pain to surge through my lower abdomen and back. Where would I go this time? Stack some pillows and balance on my side? Pace around the backyard? Try to get some more 20 minute naps after 36 hours of no sleep? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Not that I had much of a choice, but sticking to trying new things in times of difficulties can get you out of a pickle. Sure, we all want to stay with the tried and true, but what got you where you are will not get you where you want to go. Sometimes we have to remain calm, take a deep breath, strap on our patience, and keep on trying new things until we find what works best.
6) You’re always loved.
I love my wife and she was so helpful in taking care of me and the kids. I thought taking care of 2 babies was tough, but I make #3 and I’m the toughest, apparently. Thank you, honey. Hannah did her best to play the part of my nurse, and spiritual adviser. I think she asked everyone under the sun to pray for her daddy. I was feeling better already.
Even when we’re at the lowest of the lows, when we think no one else knows, know that there are folks out there for you. Sure, you might not even know them, but there will always be someone praying for you. Maybe by name, maybe not. But know this: there are billions that make it a point every day to pray for those in need. You’re one of them, no matter what.
7) This too shall pass.
The ER folks let me know my “relatively small” stone was almost to my bladder, signaling it would be passing out of my body soon. I don’t know how ‘small’ and ‘soon’ relate to ‘pain’ and ‘less pain’ but I was ready to be done.
There really is no problem too big for you to handle. When you try your best and use the resources available to you, you will make it through. Of course this is hard to believe in the middle of an ordeal, but when has it ever NOT been true? The only people who never make it out of problems are the ones who don’t try. The path we need to take isn't always the one we want, but we can do it if we try.
8) People want to know.
Recovery was much more fun than the process. I took it easy, drank a lot of tasty juice and water, and kept popping the antibiotics to speed proper recovery. But, apparently I didn’t mention anything to my mom. Yes, I know this is the kind of thing your closest folks want to know. I guess I was a little too focused on myself. I don't think its possible to ever tell your mom too much, at least it's not possible to tell my mom too much.
It’ll be hard to get any outside help or guidance until you let people in. Sure, there are some things that don’t need that level of visibility, but folks really do want to help. Especially if you’re the kind of person that likes to give back all the time. Be big enough to let other people help. Be big enough to say yes and thank you.
9) Garbage in, garbage out.
After things were on the up and up, I did some more research on the causes of kidney stones. I guess I have some work to do in that area.
Sometimes we focus too much on the symptoms of our issues in life. We can wash our hands all we want, but if we keep choosing to stick them in mud the problem’s not solved. Look for the causes, thoughts, and habits behind the things that cause resistance in your life. Look behind the curtain and see what’s gathering dust.
10) Do things differently.
I’ve cut back on my supplement intake, started paying more attention to ingredients, and have started drinking copious amounts of good ole H20.
Getting to the root of the causes is a great start, but it’s the action that brings the thinking to life. Do your research, do your soul-searching. And make sure you take the next step. Do what it’ll take to get something done. It also helps if you have someone else to help with accountability (like me telling you my story). Whatever you do – do something different. What got you here won’t get you there.
Every Little Problem is a Gift in Disguise. Passing a kidney stone is not something I’d wish on anyone. I’m glad I can look back on this time and learn a few things. That’s the real point here. We can all triumph through adversity and should always try to learn from everything.
Now’s the time to see the problems in your life for what they really are: opportunities to learn. I mean can you imagine what people would think about you if you just started saying, “awesome! I get to learn something new!” every time something bad happened to you? Who cares what they’d say, you’d be learning and owning your life. Awesome!
The next time you’re at home sick with the cold or flu, really think about how much your life is changed by being sick. How much harder is it to get stuff done? Do you set up your house or bed in any other way to make it easier? Do you rely on other people now? How have they changed their lives around to help you out? Are there any lessons on patience, kindness, health, diet, exercise, allergies, cleanliness, or rest in your days at home?
Look for those opportunities to learn. They’re definitely there and I believe they’re little gifts from God. Sounds crazy, huh? Maybe, but begin to notice how your thinking about life changes and then let’s talk.
Billy Crow, Christ follower, husband of Meggin, daddy of Hannah and Eli. Blessed beyond measure in every way by Brett Callaway