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.