Monday, January 10, 2011

Fun-a-day 10: Urine crystals

We got a lot of the white stuff yesterday, about 4 inches, enough to cause a 2 hour school delay this morning.  With so many tiny snow crystals out there, I thought it'd be fun to put a few urine crystals on my quilt.  A few of you have asked what I'm doing here.  I mentioned in this post that I decided to participate in a January "fun a day" project, through our local community art center (the Pendleton Center for the Arts).  It was started by the Art Clash Collective in Philadelphia as a way to be creative each day for a month, then get together as a local community and share your projects in February.  I think it's such a fantastic idea!

So today I tried to "draw" a few of the most common urine crystals that we see in the lab.  Since urine is such an easy and non-invasive sample to get (ie., pee in a cup), a urinalysis is a very common test ordered by the doctors.  It's amazing what information can be learned from a urinalysis.  It involves 2 parts, a chemical analysis, usually done by a "dipstick", and a microscopic part, looking once again at a "wet prep".  So once again, no pretty colors, but the crystals that we sometimes see are incredibly beautiful.  I'm learning that painting with thread is really a poor substitute for what we see under the microscope.  The light comes from below, and some of theses crystals are 3 dimensional, which refracts the light, making them just glow from within.  If you do a Google image search for "urine crystals", you'll get a better idea of what they look like.  The square "diamond" crystals are calcium oxalate, the rectangular ones are triple phosphate, and the flat ones that look like a Dairy Queen sign are uric acid.  Normal urine is a clear liquid that is sterile until it leaves the body.  The chemical make up can change quite a lot in patients with kidney problems, but also in many other organ diseases and infections.  Of course a urinalysis is also what we use to detect a bladder infection.

And even though I'm not a big sports fan, there's no escaping the fact that the University of Oregon plays a really big national football game tonight (Go Ducks!), so I decided to stitch some green and yellow "O"s into the background!!

Sometimes crystals can be seen in the urine because of kidney stones, but they can also be seen as a normal precipitate that forms as the urine cools.  You'd normally never see more than 1 or 2 different types of crystals in one sample, so this quilt block is just a collection.  Different ones are present in acidic urine, vs alkaline, or basic urine.

Finally, some people have asked how big these are, and how it's coming together.  I made the blocks 8 inches square, with a 5-6 inch diameter (soup bowl-sized) circle that I ironed then appliqued on, using "wonder under" fusible interfacing.  I plan to use binding to join them all together.  I've never done this, so any tips would be much appreciated!  I did some trimming, and this is what it looks like so far.  Enjoy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can I just say how awesome this is! I am entering the nursing field from biology, love science and quilting too. Glad to see you combining the two fields!