Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Theory and Practice: Ketones

I couldn't help but be hit on the head with the irony of checking for ketones* while I crammed for my chemistry test on guess what? Ketones (and other carbonyl compounds). My professor likes to emphasize that we should not just memorize the material but understand it and know how to apply it. Unfortunately, he was talking about applying it in the form of writing reactions down on paper, and my excellent ability to pee on a strip and correctly read and interpret that data didn't earn me any extra points today. And I sure could've used them.

Since there were only a couple of us taking the exam in the office, I was totally tempted to make some joke or mention to the professor about the ketones. Some way to get a little validation for being funny/smart/special from the (hot) professor as I failed his exam. But I couldn't figure out how to do it without mentioning my urine, and well, that just seemed to defeat the purpose. Not so attractive, baddecisionmaker, not so attractive.

I took the exam in the professor's office before class because that was my accommodation through the disability resource center (since I might need to leave to pee, or need extra time in case of a low or high). It was the first time I've officially registered my diabetes; at the college I graduated from it was more relaxed; classes were smaller, and I relied on just talking to professors. I have had more problems lately, and also have started thinking about my diabetes and ability/disability a little differently in the last 5 years since I started college. I got more time than I would've even though my blood sugar wasn't too crazy, but this accommodation was actually not great for me because I took it at 10am instead of noon, and I do not function well in the morning (and could've really used the extra 2 hours to study). Also, the professor was having office hours at the same time so it was not quiet. Maybe he hadn't thought about this because the other kid getting accommodations there with me was deaf. I was jealous.

Anyways, I am a nerd and was curious about the ketone strips I pee on. Last week I was actually procrastinating by reading the ketostix box and trying to figure out how the reaction worked (no success) instead of studying the actual material. Yeah, that's how ridiculously distractable and unfocused I am - procrastinating by reading the box of my diabetes supplies, haha. That's why I had to cram for this exam.

I was checking for ketones because I'm still having weird blood sugar/insulin absorbtion issues, and I was having some unexpected highs and wanted to make sure my pump was working enough that I wouldn't be sick or wake up high and groggy the morning of my exam.

*non-pancreatically challenged folks' glossary: I and other type 1 diabetics might check our pee for ketones when we have unexplainable or multiple high blood sugars, think we might not be getting enough insulin, or are sick. Having ketones is different than just having regular high blood sugar (in fact, you can have ketones without high blood sugar), they are a sign of things not working right in the body and can be part of a dangerous cascade/imbalance if they are at high levels. It requires different and more careful management than just regular blood sugar issues. (Nerds: they are the byproduct of the body's metabolism when it switches over from it's normal fuel of sugar to breaking down fatty acids. The acidity in your blood can get dangerous.)


Jonah said...

I registered with the Office of Students with Disabilities so that I could eat in class, including during tests, but I don't take tests with more time.
I know that I usually finish in less than half the time allowed for tests, and I test before every test, and keep the meter and a snack on my desk during the test. So far, no problem.
Since ketones are acidic, I always figured that the strips are probably a bit like really sensitive pH sticks. I dunno, let us know how they work if you figure it out.

peggynature said...

See, I think you should write more posts about organic chemistry. Specifically so I can have a good reason to "pretend study" instead of "actually study."


Seriously though, I love the idea of fully understanding chemistry, but I'm just not having any luck so far.

And you are also diabetic! This gets more and more interesting to me, because right now I work in a diabetes clinic.