You Don't Listen!


Little ol’ Marge came waddling up to the registration desk asking to see a doctor because she was urinating blood. In tow behind her was her obviously unhappy husband who was making it clear that the reason for his unhappiness was his wife’s trip to the emergency department.

“Great. Now we can sit in the waiting room so people can cough on us,” he said at the triage desk.

Marge and Charlie finally made it back to a room. Marge was having painless hematuria that began around dinner time. Painless hematuria in an elderly person generally isn’t a good sign. Through the whole history and physical exam, Charlie kept shaking his head and nose breathing.

When Marge gave us a urine sample, it was a medium shade of red in color.
“See what I mean?” She asked.

Charlie shook his head again. He’s going to have some serious guilt when this is all over.

While they were waiting for the lab results, Charlie hobbled to the bathroom. After the toilet flushed, he came out with even more of a frown. He walked back in the room and yelled at Marge.

“You HAPPY?!?! Now I’m pissing blood too. I told you before we left that it was the beets we ate for lunch. Now I got tuberculosis from sitting in the waiting room and we’ll get a thousand dollar hospital bill because youdon’tlisten!”

Charlie was right, it did end up being the beets.

This little interaction reinforced two firmly held beliefs of mine.
First, I will never willingly eat beets in my life.
Second, sometimes half the battle in medicine is asking the right questions.


  1. whitecap nurse on

    Reminds me of the 911 call for rectal bleeding in an infant we once had. Mom couldn’t believe it would have anything to do with the strawberry jello she had given him.

  2. Mama On A Budget on

    I can’t believe I’m writing this for all the internet to see.

    (Hi, Internets!)

    When you are pregnant and craving watermelon and you eat more of it than any human every should, you also shouldn’t freak out when your next bowel movement looks like you are hemorrhaging.

    Not that I’d know this from personal experience or anything. And on-call docs really are quite sweet to first time moms who do stupid things. Or so I hear…

  3. nice when the patient inadvertently drops the answer in your lap. doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s like a freebie.

    to add to the above comments, the first place to look in evaluating hematemesis (vomiting blood) in an infant is mom’s nipples, to see if they’re cracked/bleeding, resulting in baby swallowing mom’s blood then spitting it up. probably best to explain yourself before asking mom to take her shirt off.

  4. Funny! 🙂

    I love beets, but I don’t remember seeing red urine after eating them ..ever.

    Trust me a once frequent flier uro patient …I am sensitive to what whizzie winkles look like… and I’d notice red if it was there.

    Does that happen often ..with beets?

  5. Lol, beets was my first thought too.

    Personally, I have never experienced this before, as I couldn’t tell you when the last time I had beets was, if ever. Same thing with asparagus, although I know I have tried asparagus a few times…

  6. Regarding beets and urine color, the Beeturia wikipedia article explains the situation well, though it sounds like some aspects of it are not perfectly understood.

  7. I love beets (especially our delectable family recipe for roasting then pickling beets) and have never had this happen. I wonder if it was the cooking method, the quantity, or if there is a genetic component? Good to know as a hostess, I guess, in case a guest has this problem!

  8. Celeste:is it a secret family recipe? We grow beets and there is nothing like a fresh beet pulled up from the dirt and eaten at dinner hours later. They’re very good for you too. MMM. Those beets might even convert the non beet eaters. 🙂

    Would you be willing to share your recipe. I’d love to try it next summer. 🙂

  9. I’m happy to share the recipe; it’s just that good and I’d like to see other families enjoy it, too. <3

    I use medium beets; roast a shorter time for small, tender beets, and longer for larger beets.

    Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Rinse fresh beets and trim off any leafy tops. Wrap the bunch of them in an aluminum foil packet (to keep messy juices from spattering) and place in the oven on a baking sheet. Roast until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool in the foil.

    When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel using a paring knife or by pushing the skin off with your fingers. Leave whole if they are small, or slice if they are larger. If using jars, wide mouth jars are preferred.

    For the pickling solution, mix and cook in saucepan:
    1/2 c. sugar
    1/2 c. water
    1/2 c. cider vinegar
    1/4 tsp. cloves
    1/4 tsp. allspice
    1/4 tsp. cinnamon
    1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice OR 1/2 thinly sliced lemon

    Cook this solution and pour it over the beets.

    Follow standard canning processing directions for beets if you desire to make them shelf stable; we just make these as a refrigerator pickling and they are said to keep for 3 weeks, but we always eat them before even a week has passed.

    Note that this is the recipe from the Kerr canning booklet circa 1944, but it has been quartered for use with just a sheet full of beets such as you might buy in the spring.

    The syrup is technically known as a gastrique in French cooking, a mix of sugar, acid, and spices to "brighten" the taste of an earthy tasting food. My MIL prefers the faster-cooking tiny young beets for her use, while I prefer the medium ones because they are easier to dice for salads. My MIL said that her mother (during WWII) always liked to can these with a lemon slice in them to have the use of the oils in the rind, but I feel that it takes up room that could be filled with beets. LOL

    I hope you enjoy these as much as we do, and Whitecoat, I hope you don't mind the sidebar conversation about cooking in your comments. I love your blog and have learned a LOT here and have met some great bloggers through it. I hope you will always have a voice in the blogosphere.

    • (Sorry for the semi-OT comment here…)
      Thanks for sharing the recipe, Celeste. I’ve been looking a long time for a recipe that makes pickled beets like my grandma used to make. I’m betting this will be the closest thing yet to her wonderful beets! Until her death a few years ago, she’d been making them since the 1940s!

    • By the way …
      I don’t mind the tangents at all, but I’m urping in my mouth just reading about eating cooked beets. Right up there with haggis in my book.

  10. Mmmm! I love beets! Steamed or pickled, they are great. Yep, happens every time I eat ’em! Then there is asparagus…lovely shade of green from that.

    The scary one was a year we decided to make a special cake for my daughter’s birthday. I had a mold of “Cookie Monster” that took a LOT of blue frosting to make the fur. The special icing color we used caused…ummm…well…extremely frightening results. Took us several days to figure out it was the frosting. 😉

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