Sunday, 2 March 2014

Melting - Oh, What a World!

The ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about Medicine. Hippocrates was a major figure in the founding of what we would nowadays recognise as the principle of medical ethics. On that subject it's worth pointing out that doctors do not take the Hippocratic oath any more and haven't done for quite some time - for one thing it specifically prohibits assisting in abortion.

Another thing the Greeks realised was that you could tell a lot about the health (or otherwise) of an individual by the makeup of their urine. You know those little plastic strips your nurse sticks in your wee; the ones with loads of little coloured squares on them? Well, the colours change according to a whole range of things in your urine - its pH, sugar content, protein content, presence of red or white blood cells, presence of nitrites (a good indicator of infection). This in turn can give hints as to diseases going on in the individual. The Greeks didn't have such test strips unfortunately and so had to rely on something a little simpler - smell and, yes, taste!

There are a variety of conditions which can manifest as increased urine production. This is referred to as diabetes - the word diabetes simply means a condition of increased urine output. The Greeks recognised two forms of diabetes, classified according to the taste of the patient's urine. If it was a rather watery, tasteless urine they called it Diabetes insipidus. We now know that this rare condition is due to lack of, or insensitivity to, a hormone produced but the pituitary which promotes concentration of the urine.

The other form was Diabetes mellitus in which the urine had a sweet, honey-like taste. Mellitus is a Greek word meaning of, or pertaining to, honey. Of course we now know that this simply reflects an increased glucose level in the urine of people with increased blood glucose; a condition which in the long term increases risk of heart attacks and strokes and much more besides.

About a year ago I noticed my urine had adopted a rather unpleasant smell - similar to, but not quite the same as, when you eat asparagus. It persisted a rather long time and I did begin to wonder what it meant. Now some of you may well have gone to your doctor about this but I know that going to your doctor because your wee "smells funny" is simply challenging them to make up an explanation that you'll buy! Anyway it went away after a while and I thought no more of it.

Until about a month ago when it came back again. It was only then that I made the link with exercise - this time last year I was training; then there was a bit of a gap and now I'm training again. A little bit of research and I discover that this is a recognised phenomenon. The smell is ammonia and it reflects the switchover of your metabolism to a catabolic state (i.e. you're breaking down your protein and fat energy stores to provide fuel for increased activity). In other words, as I exercise I'm burning up my own body and peeing the results down the loo!

I'm melting.

This has to be a good sign.

Stepped up to some rather longer running sessions this week which is proving hard but Prince is seeing me through the dark times and I've lost a little weight for the first time since I (re)started.

So -
Distance covered last week:Approx 10km run/walking
Weight:133.6kg (0.8kg down from high point)
Musical highlight: Hello by Prince

Watch this space.........

In the meantime you can support me (and my wife and my friend Stu) by donating to Yorkshire Cancer Research at
or by texting LUMP99 £x to 70070 (where x is the amount of pounds you wish to give).

Thank you all.