“It’s not apple juice.”
That one never gets old. Well, yes it does, but, like wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day and being disappointed by the Oscars broadcast, it’s kind of a tradition. If there’s a jar of urine in the fridge, you have to warn your family not to accidentally drink it.
Why is there pee in my fridge? What, there isn’t pee in your fridge? Weirdo!
There isn’t always pee in my fridge. But four or five times a year, my youngest daughter has to travel to Montreal for regular medical appointments that include blood work, sometimes an ultrasound or other peekaboo tests and urine analysis. Abby has tyrosinemia, a rare metabolic condition that involves her inability to process the protein tyrosine and is far too complicated to explain here.
Because she was born in Quebec, where there is a higher incidence of the disorder than anywhere else in the world (vive la maladie!), Abby was diagnosed at 9 days old. She’s 11 and a half now. That’s a whole lot of pee.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about how we’ve collected the urine through her childhood because she may read this someday, and the vague infant memories of plastic bags and surgical tape may already be cause enough for future therapy. But over the years, I have never gotten over the unsettling nature of a big jar of pee. And it’s not just because of potential fridge-related confusion.
We like our precious bodily fluids inside our bodies. As soon as they are outside the body, we dispose of them or clean the sheets. We don’t want to see what’s inside us because it reminds us that we are essentially liquid and fragile and gross. This is why we close the door when we go to the bathroom, or in my house, “CLOSE THE DOOR WHEN YOU GO TO THE BATHROOM!”
Even when I have to go to the clinic to have the bilipsiosis* checked on my deuteronomy, there’s something so weird about watching people walking out of the washroom carrying their little bottles of urine. All I can think is, “That person just peed in a bottle,” and “I hope they washed their hands.”
“Don’t forget we have to collect your pee, Abby,” I told her this morning in preparation for her appointment tomorrow. I scrounged beneath the sink for an old spaghetti sauce jar, washed it out and, when Abby came out of the bathroom with her little margarine container, filled it with urine and stuck it in the fridge. There it will sit until we drive to Montreal and hand her big spaghetti sauce jar of pee over to a stranger who will in turn send it to a lab where someone will test it, which raises the question: how do you get that job? And is stool-sampling a promotion or a demotion?
The big spaghetti sauce jar full of pee in the fridge. It’s just one of the many strange realities of Abby’s condition, a sickly yellow reminder of how unique and delicate she is, how grateful we are for the medical attention she gets and how hopeful we are that she won’t test too high for tyrosine or oregano.
* Bilipsiosis: (n) Fake but real-sounding all-purpose medical term that can be used to impress colleagues and/or get a day off work
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