State Treasurer Steve Grossman speaks at the Annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day Breakfast on Sunday, March 16, 2014 in South Boston, Mass.
Dina Rudick—Boston Globe/Getty Images
March 27, 2014

One day after passing a kidney stone while participating in a gubernatorial debate, Massachusetts State Treasurer Steve Grossman says the excruciating memory has not faded.

“It’s like a little piece of volcanic rock and the edges are sharp,” Grossman, a Democratic candidate for governor, told TIME. “And when it’s traveling down the pathway, which is a very small pathway, it digs into the side and tears into the side and it’s painful. It’s not like a ball bearing coming down a tube.”

Remarkably, Grossman displayed almost no sign that he was in intense physical pain for the hour and a half he was on stage at a forum held by WGBH and MassEquality at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. After the debate, a local reporter who has covered Grossman extensively asked the candidate how he was feeling, having noticed that he seemed just the teeniest bit off his game. Grossman admitted he had started passing a kidney stone at 4 a.m. that morning. The reporter Tweeted about it, and soon the news went viral. Soon, there was even a parody account tweeting in the name of Grossman’s kidney stone.

Despite a pain level Grossman said ranged between five and eight on a scale of one to 10, he took only Advil to dull the sensation, he said, so he could keep his wits about him for the debate.

At 9:15 p.m. that evening, after another event following the debate, Grossman’s stone passed through his urinary tract and out into the world. “It’s just relief,” Grossman said. “The pain all of a sudden is gone. You feel kind of, ‘Wow.’ You take a big deep breath and say, ‘Okay, I’m good until the next one.’ ”

Grossman, like his father before him, has dealt with kidney stones for decades. “My feeling is if you want to be governor, you suck it up,” he said.

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