Warning: graphic content. I will be talking about poop and punctuation. I don't know which is more icky.
There comes a time in everyone's life when their doctor wants to talk about body parts that we really don't want to discuss. Listen, as far as I'm concerned, a colon is a punctuation mark -- two little dots that are used after a word introducing a quotation, an explanation, a description, an example, or a series, and often after the salutation of a business letter. My doctor begs to differ.
Since I am nearing 50 it's time to screen for colon cancer. I need a FOBT, the doctor said: a blood test. [Hey look, I just used a colon in the syntactical-descriptive sense. Sorry. Grammar geek. Moving on...] But it isn't really a blood test, it doesn't test for something in your blood. You don't go tripping happily down to the lab to get a vial or two drawn. It's a test to detect the presence of blood in something else. What, you ask? (But only if you're really dense, otherwise you've already figured it out. Here's a hint:)
Yes, the F in FOBT stands for 'fecal'
The O in FOBT stands for 'occult' (occult?!?!), which made me wonder if I am I supposed to draw a pentagram around the toilet and hang a goat skull from the wall while wearing a black robe.
Because I totally will if I have to.
(Note to self: check out Kijiji Ottawa for goat skulls.)
But I digress. FOBT stands for fecal occult blood test. The doctor gave me a kit with three cardboard slides with flaps that you open, and applicators that look like anorexic popsicle sticks to, you know, spread some, um, 'sample' on the slides. You do that and then you close up the flaps and put the slides in the special plastic envelope and take it back to the doctor's office for them to send to the lab.
(I'm very glad that I don't work in the lab and have a job description that includes "Opening special plastic envelopes, removing cardboard slides, and opening up the flaps." Because, ewwww. )
But wait, that's not all. There is a diet to be followed before one can start this whole process: generous amounts of cooked and raw vegetables, plenty of fruits, and moderate amounts of high-fibre foods. Well, that makes sense.
There is also a kind of bewildering list of things one must not eat: turnips, broccoli, horseradish, cantaloupe, parsnips, radishes, and cauliflower. These foods contain chemicals that can result in false positives or false negatives.
It's a good thing that red wine isn't on that list. Because in order to do this I'm going to need lots.