O taste and see

Camel_in_Singapore_ZooAnother avenue of pleasure closed off. The World Health Organisation tells us not to drink camel’s urine.

I was wondering why I was tired. I’m overweight. I was 64 (65 now). It’s very tiring to have people dumping their expectations on one—the lot of the Vicar. Then, listening to SWMBO, a type 2 diabetic (when I say listening, I mean being aware of faint buzzing sound somewhere to the left), I wondered if I was developing diabetes. That would account for tiredness. It would mean that I was drinking a lot. Now, I’m a copious tea drinker, though not in Bennite quantities, so how would I know? It would mean I was peeing a lot, and given the amount I drink, I don’t. And it would mean that my urine would taste sweet.

O taste and see. So I did. Nothing really. A bit salty perhaps, but I am a salt lover. I’ve never been a sugar lover. As a child I was known as the odd one who likes sandwiches not cakes. So no diabetes. Why bother with expensive tests when taste buds come free?

As a medical student I learnt the importance of always checking piss (in the Bible, don’t moan at me) and dung (also there, but less likely to provoke moaning). Here, boys and girls, is what to look for.

First, blood. This might be pinkness or redness or blackness from huge quantities of the stuff. Mind you, chances are you’ll already be at death’s door if it’s black—unless you’ve just returned from a night on Arthur’s best in Dublin. Blood in wee means something wrong with kidneys, bladder or connecting tubes. Blood in poo means something wrong with large intestine. Blood on poo means probably piles, which are kind-of blood blisters. Don’t sit on radiators or you’ll get thermopiles. Blood is a danger sign. Blood is good, but only confined to blood vessels. End of.

Now urine: colour, smell, pain. Note any change in what’s normal for you. I drink a lot, so mine is anything between clear and a delicate Piesporter. It doesn’t smell. Smelly dark urine often means infection, unless you’ve been perilously convivial the night before and have a head like a constipated turnip. If you’ve recently partaken of asparagus, your pee will smell pretty vile. It soon passes. If you’ve recently had a bum-burner, it might well sting a bit to pee. Don’t fret unnecessarily: use your common sense, should you have any left after last night.

Poo: colour, consistency, pain. Again, note any change from normal for you. Poo colour comes mainly from bile, which digests fats. If bile is unable to flow into the intestine, fats will not be digested so poo will be fatty, chalky coloured, smelly, and will float. In such cases, the bile is excreted from the body not in poo but in urine, so urine is dark. Pale stools and dark urine—always bad news: bile tubes are blocked. You’d be amazed how many doctors miss this, though not if they’ve been through my hands they shouldn’t.

Consistency: the function of the colon is to remove water from stools. So runny poo means that stuff is hurrying, or being hurried, through. There are several reasons why this might happen, often an infection by some of God’s non-human creatures. I once had a dreadful episode at Johannesburg airport that made the check-in lady enquire if I was well enough to board. I crossed my legs I can tell you. Read about it: Letter from Malawi. Parishioners who have had part of their colons removed have always responded well to being addressed as semi-colons (“oh no, it hurts to laugh”). I could go on, but maybe you’ve had enough for today. I shall deal with the ear next, I think. Quite fascinating.

From now on, look and sniff before flushing. Leave the tasting to others. Or machines.

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