Peeing in a Jug

I neglected to mention that along with my recent blood work a few weeks ago, it was also time again for that delightful test in which they send you home with the Penzo-oil size plastic jug to collect a urine sample for 24 hours. When I called the lab to check my blood results a few days after going in, the technician said curtly: “We’ve got the blood results, but nothing on the microalbumin yet. Did you turn that in?”

“Nope. I’m still planning for that one.”


“I’m waiting for a day when I’m planning to be home all day long.”


“Honestly, you don’t expect me to drag the jug of pee around town with me, do you?!”

The lab technician went silent. Helloooo, I thought!

Geez, they gave me the #@$%! jug on a Tuesday: if I worked away from home like most folks do, how the heck would I manage a 24/hr pee sample during the week? It’s hard enough just doing the “soccer mom” routine; if I schlepped the jug with me, I’d have to haul it (or lots of the little plastic specimen cups) into various park port-a-potties, not to mention the danger of curious and/or clumsy kids “messing with” the samples as they lay somewhere in my mini-van. Let’s just not go there…

Anyhoo, I did manage to “collect a full sample,” despite my urge to blow off this inconvenient test (i.e. wonderful, nagging partner who kept repeating Nike slogan, “just do it!”) In fact, I’ve now done this fun-with-the-pee-jug thing a handful of times without really understanding what they were looking for or why, so I decided it was time to find out. I found an excellent Q&A-style explanation of the microalbumin (MA) test at WebMD. (I should use that site more often.) In short, small amounts of a protein called albumin leak into the urine when the kidneys are damaged. If this condition, called Microalbuminuria, exists, you may be well on your way to developing kidney failure. Bad news!

The good news is that the ultra-sensitive MA test is the earliest available indicator for the development of all sorts of diabetic complications, including diabetic nephropathy, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. In other words, this test helps doctors catch the problem early, so they can intervene and help stop or reverse nasty complications.

So I’m glad I didn’t blow it off. Thank you, pee jug. Now I’m just working on some more fun ways to mess with the lab techs’ heads next time.


11 Responses

  1. Kiri
    Kiri June 2, 2005 at 4:25 pm | | Reply

    I’ve been lurking here a while. Thanks for the link about the microalbumin test. I’ve only had two spot urine samples done and both came out ’30 h’. One lap report said this was normal with notes that there was no damage to my kidneys. Another said ‘abnormal’ with no notes. It’s confusing. Is ’30 h’ normal? Or not?

  2. AmyT
    AmyT June 2, 2005 at 5:13 pm | | Reply

    Hi Kiri,
    According to the WebMD site, a normal result would be 30–165 milligrams (mg) of protein per 24 hours, i.e. not greater than 165mg, so sounds like you’re OK.

    There is variation among labs, though, so you’ll need to check with yours on what they consider “normal.” Also, did you call your doctor and insist that (s)he explain the results to you? I think we all need to do that more often ;)

  3. Bill Braithwaite
    Bill Braithwaite June 4, 2005 at 2:54 pm | | Reply

    Yer toooooooooo funny!!

    thx fer giving me my daily laff!! ;) )

    i hadn’t done that 24 hr thingy fer quite sometime – thx fer bringing back some ol memories ;) )

    i finally got my butt in fer some blood work last week & they gave me the little “oil can” ;) )

  4. jo
    jo June 4, 2005 at 3:10 pm | | Reply

    Glad I’ve never had to do that test. It’s enough to keep me from passing out just giving blood.

  5. Dr. Roosevelt
    Dr. Roosevelt June 6, 2005 at 10:42 am | | Reply

    I generally ask patients to collect the 24 hour urine on Sunday and then bring it in Monday morning when we open (0800). Makes it simpler for the patient.

  6. AmyT
    AmyT June 7, 2005 at 12:20 am | | Reply

    Thank you, Dr. Roosevelt. So many doctors are medically knowledgeable, but don’t seem to give much thought to the lifestyle implications of treatments — know what I mean? :)

  7. DensityDuck
    DensityDuck June 7, 2005 at 7:19 am | | Reply

    There’s an old story about the early Mercury program, back when they were selecting the first astronauts. An extensive battery of “human factors research” tests were performed, to try and measure everything about the human body that could be measured, so that any changes due to spaceflight could be identified.

    One prospective astronaut became so annoyed by the tests that he acquired a five-gallon plastic bucket, filled it with water, added a yellow tint, and presented it to the researchers as his “most recent urine sample”.

  8. Josh Cohen
    Josh Cohen June 7, 2005 at 7:43 am | | Reply

    I have recurring kidney stones, and I’ve had to do the Jug O’ Pee. I think the worst part is that you have to keep it in the fridge. As a man, it may be technically easier to get it in the jug, but the sides of the opening are cold!

    I also had to wait until I had a day when I wasn’t going out — I did my Jug the weekend before my wedding. Of course, I’d forgotten that I had to meet with one of my groomsmen so he could help me pick up all the tuxedos (which rode from Orlando to Atlanta strapped down in the backseat of my rental car), and of course we needed to stop for lunch.

    By the time I got home, I could barely stand up I’d been holding it so tightly. Because I wasn’t bringing that damn jug around to restaurants and stores with me, thank you very much. Not to mention the fact that because I know I have kidney difficulties I drink a lot of water ANYWAY and am always in the bathroom ANYWAY.


    Sometimes I think urologists and nephrologists don’t realize how difficult it is to do a 24-hour fill cycle.

  9. Nick
    Nick June 19, 2005 at 2:46 pm | | Reply

    Peeing…..peeing in the jug.
    (to the tune of Playing in the Band )
    “Playin’, playin’ in the band.
    Daybreak, daybreak on the land.”

  10. Sara
    Sara March 31, 2008 at 7:28 am | | Reply

    Got here from your summary post (3 year anniversary). At my work we had ordered a bunch of plastic drinking cups. Somehow, our order got doubled so there were a lot to spare.
    Let’s just say, in my apartment, there is one less extra cup.

    MARGARAET October 23, 2010 at 8:55 am | | Reply


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