Medicine: How can you not be fascinated by this job?

“Any recent antibiotics? Steroids?” I asked my last patient of the day, a healthy looking young woman with what she described as a yeast infection that was driving her crazy. She’d had many of them, and they were always coming back, but she had only used over the counter topicals.

I knew she needed oral medication, but I asked one more question: “Any trouble with high blood sugars?”

Her answer eliminated any late day drowsiness or fatigue I might have harbored.

“No, my sugars have always been fine, even during my pregnancies, but I always have sugar in my urine.”

“That’s why you get all these yeast infections. Has anyone ever looked into why you have sugar in your urine?”

“No.”

We got a fingerstick blood sugar, which was low normal, and a urinalysis which showed 4+ glucose, no protein, a pH of 5 and normal specific gravity.

I took a deep breath.

“When the blood is filtered in the kidney, a lot of valuable stuff ends up in the urine, but then we reabsorb things like sugar, because the body is thrifty. You have a kidney disease that keeps you from reabsorbing the sugar. I’m not smart enough to know exactly which variety of disease you have but I’d like to get some more labs tomorrow and refer you to a nephrologist.”

She asked for some information about the kinds of kidney disease she might have and added, “Well, you’re smart enough to know what my basic problem is. I’ve had it all my life, and nobody has said anything about any of this, they were just happy that my blood sugar was OK.”

A seemingly ordinary symptom, one additional piece of history and distant memories from medical school, never touched since then.

How can you not be fascinated by this job?

“A Country Doctor” is a family physician who blogs at A Country Doctor Writes:.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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