Friday, November 12, 2010

How I became Radiation Girl

Okay, so to review:
* August 23, 2010 I felt a lump on my neck.
I went in and had bloodwork, ultrasound, FNA (fine needle aspiration) biopsies, consults with two surgeons
* September 21, 2010 had a Total Thyroidectomy
* October 5th went off of my thyroid replacement medication to prepare for my RAI
* October 25th started Low Iodine Diet to prepare for RAI
* November 2nd had myTSH  levels checked to see if they were at least 40 to see if I could start my RAI (they were 62!)
* They scheduled my RAI for November 10th
Before I could go in for the RAI, they had to do a pregnancy test, as standard protocol for anyone of child-bearing age. I went in on Monday the 8th for the blood draw and the nurse called me on Tuesday, but I missed her call. She left a message with her direct extension. She didn't leave any results, just told me to call her. OMG! I freaked! Was I pregnant?!?!? I would DIE! I called her back and she just had questions about my disability paperwork! Schew! I told her she gave me a heart attack... and she cracked up! Yes, yes, very funny. I was scheduled to check in at admissons at 1:30.

My babies were home with me that day because Benjamin had come down with the stomach virus the day before (Tuesday)  that was running through daycare. I guess him being out the ENTIRE week before with an ear infection and virus with high fever wasn't enough! Turns out that Brooke got it Wednesday and Corey came down with it on Thursday!! HOLY moses!!! Enough already!!!
Anyway, before I left, I had gotten both babies to sleep. This is how they were when I left, bawling, for the hospital. God, I miss them like crazy!!

My sweet Brooke is under there. I was crying when I told her goodnight and that I was going to miss her and how much I loved her. After I walked out I heard her start crying, so I went back in and asked if she was ok. She said she needed one more hug and kiss. OMG, heatbreaking. I gave her another long hug and more kisses.

My gentle baby Benjamin. Poor thing was still under the weather and exhausted from being sick. (He is wearing the bib as a puke catcher- just in case). Oh how I miss kissing and holding him in my arms.

Sheesh! I'm a crying mess typing this! 

This is my plastic lined seat for my ride to my parents house after the pill.

I got to the hospital and got all checked in. Then they sent me down to the Nuclear Medicine department in the basement. I had to walk by this:

WHAT ON EARTH?!?!? I can't think of WHY one would need to be zipped in to their bed....

So, a LOT of things about this picture make me laugh. For one, would it kill them to order some new letters?! Also, the sign with the red arrow says, "New GED classroom!". That makes me giggle for some reason.

Ohh, an improvement! Almost had all of the letters here, just missing the S in Ultrasound! The spelling freak in me twitches when things are misspelled. If I had a marker with me I just may have written in the missing letters...

I had to wait for a while in the waiting room until the Nuke Med doc could see me. Apparently there was someone else who was becoming Radioactive before me. For those of you know me, this will come as a shock to you, but I chatted up the other people in the waiting room. One lady was there waiting for her mom who was doing her pre-op. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer at age 75, but they caught it early. There was another lady who was there for a bone scan- she has had breast cancer for 10 years and it has been in her bones, but she was very optimistic and positive. She said it has been very manageable with medication. Then there was two sisters who were there with their pastor and their mom who had recently found a lump in her neck. She was there for a biopsy. One sister had lost her son 10 years ago- I didn't catch how, but how sad. :( The other sister's husband and son were in a terrible auto accident 8 years ago and the husband was Care Flighted to the hospital we were at. He is doing well, but has some paralysis from the accident. He broke his neck and had spinal cord injuries. He was hit by a druggie who had stolen $15 of gas and took off. He caused their car to flip over and roll. Her son was much better off b/c they were on the way to a Pee Wee football game and he was in all of his gear- helmet even, and it protected him. Sort of makes you want to get in football gear every time you drive! The pastor that was with them was the sweetest old man! I loved him! He scared us all though when he got up to get something to drink. His leg had fallen asleep and he tripped and fell on the floor!!! YIKES! It was super scary- all of us women jumped up and helped him. He was ok though! Then they called me back.

I met with Johnny, the coolest and nicest, and most imformative Nuclear Med Tech that ever existed. Seriously, this is one cool dude. I certainly appreciated all of the information he gave me. I had called and talked to him at length and also come down and met with him prior to today. He always was very nice and never acted like I was a bother with all of my questions! This is where we had our little "consult" and where the doctor came in to talk to me as well. The doctor was a little odd... I think the Radiation may  have gotten to him a bit.

So, here is the 15lb box that contains my pills inside! HEAVY little sucker!

This is on the warning on the door of the room I was in to take my pill and where I had to wait for 30 minutes before I was able to leave.

Two pills of Radioactive Iodine (I-131). 153.9mCi.  Powerful little suckers! The tech watched me swallow them and then left me for 30 minutes. Of course, I explored! :)

I found this bag. They really should make you wear this on your way out of the hospital.
I should have asked to take one home as a souvenir.

There were several magazines on the table... but all were OLD!! I think the *newest* one was from 2008!

This was one side of the room- apparently techs sleep here?....

This is where I sat, facing the wall, and looking at the stacks of OLD as dirt magazines.

The sign on the door was funny. Not sure why anyone would want to sleep in the room where they put patients to become radioactive.... but who am I to judge? If you are tired, sleep, I suppose!

I was bored, so I played the "which magazine is the oldest" game. I made it up on the spot. This one took the prize! October of 2003!!! Wow!

Then my time was up and the tech came in with the Geiger Counter to measure my level of radioactivity. He let me take a picture of the device. He was so cool! He even turned the sound on it and went down the hall far away then as he walked closer and closer to me it got louder and Louder and LOUDER as he got closer to me! Crazy!

I was finally on my way to my parents. It is hard to see in this picture, but the guy on the motorcycle had a stuffed parrot on the back of his bike with a sign on him that said "Get off of your phone and drive!". The irony is not lost on me that I took this picture with my cell phone....

And...ooops! Corey left me with an empty tank! I prayed that I would make it to my parents without having to stop to get gas and expose the general public to my radioactivity!

Here is where I am staying until November 21st. Could be worse, huh?! It is a gorgeous and spacious guest room and I am so blessed to be able to stay here and be taken care of by my parents! I am one lucky girl!

This table is all set up for my sewing machine and the projects that I hope to do once I get to feeling better.

There was a cooler of drinks for me. You have to really push the fluids to get the radiation out of you!

Here's some of the post RAI precautions. They are nutty!

I had to continue the Low Iodine diet for 24 hours after the RAI dose. I had a little appetite that night but really haven't had one since. Ugh. And to think I was all excited about going off of the stupid low iodine thing and thrilled about getting to eat real food again. I've hardly eaten at all. My appetite will return some day.

My parents are so cute. They ate their dinner down the hallway, at a safe distance, so we could talk!
They are the best!! :)

So, I am writing this on my second day after the RAI. I have slept a LOT. I haven't felt well. I've had some nausea, but have been taking Phenergan, which also makes me sleep. I feel weak and achey. My salivary glands are sore and swollen and today I woke up with a very hoarse and raspy voice. I'm sure this is correlated to my salivary glands being swollen and causing swelling in my throat. I've been a worried wreck about my family at home since they have all been sick with the Stomach virus. And to think I was worried about my husband being able to handle taking care of the kids under normal situation. He has been SUPER dad and has impressed me immensely! He has been thrown up on and pooped on and had to clean up more nastiness than anyone ever should have. Then he was struck with it and he still managed. My mother in law will be coming down tomorrow to help out and give him a much deserved break and some rest. He is my hero! I miss my babies like crazy, but look forward to going home to them when everyone, including me, is well! This will all be a distant memory before we know it.

With that I am signing off and going to bed. No dinner for me tonight. Maybe tomorrow.


  1. Tracy - I love how you have so many pictures to go along with your story! I cried just while READING this, so I know living this is exponentially more difficult. You are right, soon this will be a distant memory. I hope the time flies for you all, and please, please let me know how I can help.
    Get some good, drug induced slumber, and I hope your appetite comes back soon so you can be treated to Fuzzy's!

  2. Oh Tracy! This all just sucks! Hope the time flies by and you're feeling better very, very soon. I can't believe all the precautions you have to take! Spit in the toilet and flush 2 times? Wow. Praying for you, girl.

  3. What a wonderful diary T-Dawg! You should post this on a site where others having to go through this can read it. I think it would make a wonderful article for a magazine too! I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading it, yet was able to feel the array of emotions you described. What voice, from the scary feeling of leaving your babies, to the hilarious mixture of missing letters (I wish u did have a marker!) to the old magazines. You've done an amazing job of documenting your journey. This is a great piece to teach your kids about voice, if you want to share. I love the pic and description of mom and dad eating down the hall!
    Do all those Rules make you want to just flush twice, or spit down the sink!? Maybe that's just me!
    Miss you and hope to see your radioactive self soon! Rest up and get to feeling better.

  4. hey, this is Susie from the waiting room. The other thyroid cancer patient. How did everything go for you yesterday? I came home and got the phenegran filled and slept until this morning. Not nearly as nauseous today. Still wish they had given me some results....

  5. Thanks for all of the support you guys! Being able to blog about my story has really been therapeutic!

    HI Susie!! I'm SO glad you checked in! I have to tell you it was wonderful to meet you and your husband! Thank God for Phenergan, huh? Today is the FIRST day I woke up and didn't feel green! Sadly my taste buds are fried from the radiation though, so food just tastes bland and makes my mouth all dry. Yuck! When is your follow-up with your doctor? Will you first go in for labs and then have an appointment later to go over your labs? PLEASE keep in touch! We are in this together.. my fellow Radiation Gal! :)

  6. Tracy, it was very nice meeting you too. I know what you mean about taste buds being fried. Nothing tastes right. I know I go to the oncologist again December 8th but I am not sure about the endocrinologist at this time. They have not given me a date yet. We will have to stay in touch. If you have a facebook page, I will be happy to add you.

  7. See if you can find me. For some reason people have a hard time! My email is peteythepit at yahoo dot com.

  8. Tracy, for some reason I just read this. Guess I'm a slacker...

    Anyways, I used to work at a hospital and there are several reasons for the zippered bed. 1 for patients who are a fall risk. Basically so they don't get out of bed in the middle of the night and fall and break something.

    Another use is they are used in the Psych wards if a patient is on suicide watch. Much more humane than the leather straps they could use to tie them to the bed. Now there is a picture for you :).

    I hope by now your taste buds have re-budded and you can enjoy delicious unhealthy foods


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