Medical things I do not know answers to

A friend of mine (hi friend! I doubt you are reading this!) is studying medicine in Europe, and currently getting British citizenship so that she can more easily work in Europe forever and ever. (Her current plan is to be a pathologist in the south of France, a plan which I support very much on both sides.)

She regularly tells me weird medical facts, most of which I forget. I now know, however, that the spleen ruptures easily because it’s got a sort of open circulatory system. I find this incredibly disturbing, though I am not sure why. We also discussed pulse oximeters, because they are cool (unsurprisingly, they are about light absorbtion differences on oxygenated vs unoxygenated blood; surprisingly, they use two wavelengths). We have been unable to come to a conclusion about whether they would read accurately if placed on my gnarly finger (which has poor circulation). I intend to ask if I ever have a chance, though I would much prefer not to.

We also don’t know what precisely happens if you don’t pee for too long. I say things like “I have to pee so badly my bladder’s going to explode”, but I do not believe my bladder will actually explode. I would like to find out, unless of course I am wrong and my bladder would literally explode, in which case I am far happier not knowing.

(I debated posting this under Crackpots, but elected not to.)


  1. Lauren wrote:

    If I go too long without peeing I immediately get a bladder infection or UTI. Fucking pregnancy did this to me.

  2. Rana wrote:

    My guess on the bladder thing is that eventually the sphincter would let go.
    I agree, it’s a bit disturbing thinking about the spleen being so delicate. I like my spleen!

  3. LDH wrote:

    My freshmen year of high school, I went 3 days without peeing at summer band camp, despite drinking copious amounts of pop and lemonade to compensate for the sweat I gave off marching for hours in the August sun. The only side effects I got were some unbe-LIEV-able stomach cramps that finally convinced me to go.
    Why did I wait so f-ing long?
    Doorless stalls in the camp’s restrooms and a ‘bashful bladder’…

  4. des von bladet wrote:

    The ‘Pedia knows all; the ‘Pedia tells all:
    Brahe died in 1601, several days after straining his bladder during a banquet. It has been said that to leave the banquet before it concluded, would be the height of bad manners and so he remained. His weakened state allowed an infection to invade his body and lead ultimately to his death.
    However, recent investigations have suggested that Tycho did not die from urinary problems but most likely from mercury poisoning: toxic levels of it have been found in his hair and hair-roots. Tycho may have poisoned himself unintentionally by imbibing some mercury-containing medicine.3 Some have even speculated that Tycho may have been murdered, though there is no solid evidence for this.
    Silly modern investigators to be spoiling our favourite exploding-bladder story involving a celebrated ‘Wegian astronomer with an artificial nose. And let’s face it, there’s a limited supply.

  5. des von bladet wrote:

    Incidentally, my head is now full of voices singing “Spleeeeeen, Spleen spleen spleeeen,” to the tune of the Everley Brothers’ “Dream”, and I demand that yours should be too.
    Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

  6. wolfa wrote:

    There we go. Yami will return and all we have is songs with weird body part lyrics instead. This is what happens when you go on vacation and let hooligans take over your blog. Silly yami.

  7. yami wrote:

    I’m ashamed that we don’t spend more time on songs with weird body part lyrics when I am around. It’s better than the semiliterate 12 year olds in the moderation queue, for sure.

  8. Rana wrote:

    Now _I’m_ thinking of “Spleen, spleen, spleen, spleen, spleen” but it’s based on the “Spam” skit instead. Oh, my brain… why are you so odd?

  9. KERRY LUPTON wrote:


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