"I have always been partial to pee."
November 27, 2016 10:10 PM   Subscribe

I’ve studied all the body’s fluids and used each in diagnosing disease, and urine stands out in the wealth of information it grants about a patient’s condition. (WaPo) Conceived in the kidneys — a pair of bean-shaped organs tucked away in the abdomen’s rear — urine runs down the ureters and is conveniently stored in the bladder, from which it is gathered in plastic cups for testing. Urine analysis is performed frequently enough by physicians to have earned the shorthand “urinalysis” — no other bodily fluid can claim to be on a nickname-basis with the medical profession. (alternate link for non-subscribers, but no stock photo of a pee cup)

Jonathan Reisman is an internist and pediatrician, wilderness physician, writer and philanthropist with interests in travel and prehistoric crafts. 
posted by Johnny Wallflower (30 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Urine trouble now...
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:17 PM on November 27, 2016


no other bodily fluid can claim to be on a nickname-basis with the medical profession.

A pity, as semenalysis just rolls off the uh, tounge.


I'll see myself out, now
posted by alex_skazat at 10:33 PM on November 27, 2016 [10 favorites]


Eh, I don't know, "tox screen" and "blood work" seems to be thrown around often enough.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:39 PM on November 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


(alternate link for non-subscribers, but no stock photo of a pee cup)

No deal.
posted by No-sword at 10:44 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]




Is it ok for me to just say pee pun then move on with my life? I feel it would be cathertic.
posted by gideonswann at 11:26 PM on November 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


That's a nice essay. I really appreciate vignettes like this that reveal in something mundane a quality that is mostly unseen or unrecognized.

And, indeed, in our individual lives, even those of us lacking this expertise, nevertheless recognize in our own production of urine something about the nature of our body's workings.

I'd appreciate a similar essay on feces ... though I am a bit more squeamish on that topic.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:29 PM on November 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Surprisingly lovely!

I always ask my doctors how they chose their specialty, their answers are always really interesting. (And generally quite honest ... I've had several tell me they liked the regular hours and good pay, plus your patients don't die very often in podiatry/dermatology/whatever.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:34 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Checks 'urine' tag, sees 55 posts, so with this thread, urine good company.
posted by zachlipton at 11:35 PM on November 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


In previous centuries, physicians made this last diagnosis by tasting urine for sweetness, a time when taste buds were the only assay. Today, thankfully, this is no longer necessary, though decoding urine still often feels like being a sommelier.

I suppose he chose medicine after that last yelp review.
posted by adept256 at 11:44 PM on November 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


If you don't like to taste urine, the first clinical test for diabetes goes back to 1500 BC in India where physicians noticed that urine from people with diabetes would attract ants. They called it madhumeha, or honey urine.
posted by peeedro at 11:54 PM on November 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


The mellitus in diabetes mellitus means honey, too. Some historical background and a few piccies.
posted by sukeban at 12:19 AM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I feel like blood has to have more information in it.
posted by kafziel at 12:21 AM on November 28, 2016


Thank you Johnny, i thought that was a lovely piece of writing. Good prose.
posted by smoke at 12:33 AM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I saw this first at work (on a pee break!) and thought "heh, pee" and have only just gotten around to reading the linked article. It is really is a lovely piece of prose.

"It is precisely because the kidneys receive blood and turn it into urine that the brain can receive blood and turn it into thought." - I quite like this sentence.

I also liked the mental image of a cup in the staff fridge with Jonathan's name on it with interesting samples within! (I hope it had a lid!)
posted by freethefeet at 1:29 AM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


1. e4 c5
2. d4 Qa5

Urine check.
posted by Groundhog Week at 2:15 AM on November 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


From that moment I was determined to learn urine’s subtle language reads like Perfume for dogs.
posted by terretu at 3:24 AM on November 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Urine analysis is performed frequently enough by physicians to have earned the shorthand “urinalysis” — no other bodily fluid can claim to be on a nickname-basis with the medical profession

'Urinalysis' isn't really a 'nickname': it's directly formed from two Latin words, like many medical terms. It's just that the prefix 'urin(o)-' is a truncation of 'urine', whereas 'hemo-' isn't a truncation of 'blood', and 'hidro-' isn't a truncation of 'sweat'. But 'semin(o)-' is pretty close to 'semen', so can semen also "claim to be on a nickname-basis" via seminoma?
posted by James Scott-Brown at 4:02 AM on November 28, 2016


Isn't it time we all adopted the smart toilets they're already experimenting with in Japan? This extract from Wikipedia suggests they'd be a really useful diagnostic tool, with many benefits for public health:

Recently, researchers have added medical sensors into these toilets, which can measure the blood sugar based on the urine, and also measure the pulse, blood pressure, and the body fat content of the user. [...] Other measurements are currently being researched. The data may automatically be sent to a doctor through a built-in internet-capable cellular telephone.

Dr Toilet to the rescue!
posted by Paul Slade at 4:14 AM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's all part of the Internet Of Ewwwww.
posted by dr_dank at 5:36 AM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Isn't it time we all adopted the smart toilets they're already experimenting with in Japan?

A true smart toilet would decide it has taken enough of your shit.
posted by srboisvert at 5:52 AM on November 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


Urinal lot of trouble for forgetting the yellowjournalism tag.
posted by emelenjr at 6:21 AM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


And I heard that some physicians choose their careers based on the bodily fluid they find least revolting.

Definitely some truth there. Also, as for tasting urine to test for sugar, a classic med school prank is for a member of the team to take a urine sample and taste it for sugar, then invite a green med student on his first rotation to try it himself. Of course, the first taster slyly dips (for example) his index finger in the urine but tastes his middle finger. Of course this is probably apocryphal and is well known enough that no one is likely to fall for it.

I have my own urine-related incident; some years ago after sedating a toddler for a nuclear medicine scan, I was holding him on my lap while waiting for mom to come to the recovery room and got doused with urine due to a leaky diaper. When the nuclear med tech heard about it his response was "uh-oh, I need to check you." He grabbed his trusty Geiger counter and sure enough my lap was quite radioactive due to radionuclide in the urine. I had to grab a new set of scrubs and put the soiled ones and my underwear in a lead box until the radioactivity died down. Of course everyone got a big kick out of that and made sure the rest of the OR knew I was going commando for the rest of the day. I never did go back for my dirty clothes.
posted by TedW at 10:12 AM on November 28, 2016 [13 favorites]


One of my favorite books of children's poetry is The Blood-Hungry Spleen by Allan Wolf, which contains the poem "Kidney Trouble" (YT), which is both anatomically accurate and entertaining.
posted by mogget at 11:30 AM on November 28, 2016


Love everything about this. Thanks for sharing!
posted by stillmoving at 12:00 PM on November 28, 2016


Yes, I've heard this test is quite popular with European doctors.
posted by demonic winged headgear at 12:12 PM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


This video is incredible for being both complete inevitable and terrifying.

Waste sensors are going to happen.
posted by effugas at 12:56 PM on November 28, 2016


I think you mean "are already a thing".

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/topics/pods/waste-water-analysis
posted by flabdablet at 1:58 PM on November 28, 2016


I'd appreciate a similar essay on feces

Be careful what you wish for in one of my FPPs.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:52 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Humourous

I see what you did there.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:53 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


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