« Diaversaries and Cake. | Main | Uncle Traveling Matt ... Sort Of. »

From Abby: The Pee Chronicles.

Fun times with the little-lab-ladyI'm en route to Los Angeles for the BlogWorldExpo conference, where I'll be speaking on a panel about what companies can do to support patient needs.  While I'm flying the friendly skies, Abby has offered to share a few stories today, starting with the one about ... pee?  Abby went in for routine labwork and learned a little bit about "that diabetes smell."  Read on and you'll see what I mean ...

*   *   *

Last week, I went in for my yearly lab work. You know, that visit where the little old lady asks which arm you'd like to use, and when you show her your pathetic excuse for veins in your left arm, she proceeds to stab some steel into your scarred up right arm where the only vein in your body lives? Yeah that one.

That visit where you have to drink 48 bottles of water beforehand because she's going to take out 18 gallons of blood to make sure every little thing in your body is still functioning properly, with the exception of that silly pancreas.

I suppose I should back up a little, and tell you about the part where when I walked into the lab (which is a floor down from my endo's office) the little lab lady was coming out of the bathroom in a hurry. I didn't ask questions, but this is important for the rest of the story.

After the antecubital puncture [Editor's note:  Only Abby the RN would bust out a word like that one in a blog post], the little-lab-lady hands me a cup and says, "Here, please fill this.  The bathroom is down the hall on your right."  First, okay great - love peeing in a cup. Secondly, been in that bathroom plenty of time, but thank you none-the-less. I wander down the hall, ready to prove my kidneys are just fine, and walk into the bathroom. 

I won't go into detail here, but the smell of that room made me almost pass out ... and that's saying something since I'm a nurse and I've worked in an advanced Alzheimer's wing of a nursing home. Thanks to 13-years of diabetes and a history of peeing-in-the-cup, I finished this task in record time and high-tailed my way out of that tiny smelly room.

So here's the point of the story ...

When I handed my perfectly filled cup wrapped in paper towels (pee is gross to look at) to the little-lab-lady, she said to me, "Does the bathroom still smell terrible?"

"Yeah, it's pretty bad," I replied.

"Sorry about that.  There was a man in there before you from the hearing center. A diabetic ... you know how that smells. I've been trying to clean it up but that smell lingers."

Dumbfounded look on my face with absolutely no words, I replied.

All I could come up with to say at this point was, "Um, well, am I done here?" and I walked out.

And from now on I will always be self-conscious about how my pee smells - with or without asparagus.

*   *   *

Do I even want to let my mind wander on this one?  Abby, what does "that smell" smell like, and once you tell me, will I be able to un-hear it?  Also, did this lady know you were a PWD?  ;)


oh dear God....

Alrighty then...I understand how high blood sugar can make pee stink, but to generalize all PWD...

(But I'm impressed that Abby mentioned asparagus pee!!)

The only thing I can think of is the earlier PWD had really high ketones. When I was diagnosed I remember my mom saying she should have known the strange smell meant something was wrong.

What. The. Fructose. I'm going to start using that reasoning to explain all disgusting things I encounter from now on.

Oh, someone forgot to flush the public toilet? She must have been diabetic.

That dude doing the snort-and-swallow behind me at the movies? Totally diabetic.

It works for everything!

That was a super dumb thing to say and don't believe it for a minute! I know for a fact that that is baloney and here is why: I have two kids. Motherhood is a job brimming with bodily fluids!!! Spit, and breastmilk, and vomit, and blood, and poo, and just every gross thing that can come out of a body ends up on your good silk blouse. My dd was dx with D when she was 4 after a whole summer of wetting the bed 2 and 3 times a night. So I know for a fact that there was nothing especially gross smelling about her pee. At dx her bs was 600. Whatever that old guy's bs was, it wasn't 600! Sure ketoacidosis has a nail polish remover smell to the breath, and I suppose pee would eventually smell "different" with ketones and sugar in it but at that point you'd have way bigger troubles. Don't believe a word of that comment.

The only time I remember having especially bad-smelling pee was when I was first diagnosed 21 years ago. I was in the hospital with DKA. I'm kind of worried about the guy who has pee that smells foul, because it's probably indicative of something far greater than just having diabetes in general.

Also, if I eat one measly stalk of asparagus, I can definitely tell later on. ;)

Hmmmm. I really have nothing to add except that I am thinking about adding What. The. Fructose to my vocab. That's cool, Jacquie! Oh--and I'm thinking about vegetables and pee now. Eeew.

i would blame george bush. and apparently only a small percentage of the population is actually able to smell asparagus-tainted pee. so if you can, you're in a cool (if somewhat dubious) minority.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Absolutely not!

As an endo (and fellow T1), I have to nip this in the bud. Asparagus, yes. Diabetes, no (although ketones...maybe a little). Some meds make your urine smell, but mostly urine smells with infection (UTI, kidney).

Yes, we all know urine tastes different with DM (that's how it got its name after all), but smell? No.

Poor Abby! Shamed by an ill-informed phlebotomist! Pee with pride, Abby:)

I ought to say diabetes doesn't stink.

But it does. In a totally different way.

Totally with Jacquie on this one!!!!

W. T. F. ?????

PS -- Will you ask Kerri if she can come up with a clapping game for this?

Oh dear... Yes, what does "that" smell like? I am a bit concerned now, because another autoimmune thief stole my smell...

The nurse made a thoughtless comment, but there is a often a characteristic odor when a concentrated load of glucose is dumped into the urine. While it's called "sweet-smelling urine," it's actually a more musky/sweet scent. (Of course, this guy may have had something else entirely going on. And prescription drugs eliminated in the urine can add their own scent.)

dLife blogger Kathryn discussed her dilemma about a fellow passenger who had just left the back-of-the-plane bathroom in this post:


Post a comment

(All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience!)