Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Radiation is FUN!
It's official, I'm still glowing from within - I've seen the pictures that prove it. I took the radioactive iodine pill on the 23rd with no ill effects, as far as I can tell. It was a pretty quick process. We went to the Nuclear Medicine Department at the main Oakland Kaiser hospital, waited a few minutes, then I got taken to a generic room by a really nice (and burly) male nurse. A doctor came in and verbally notified me of the basics: drink lots of water for the next day or two, and try to keep the saliva flowing. (To reduce the possibility of blocked salivary glands, and to lessen the amount of radioactivity that might pool up in my head area.) I also needed to avoid other folks for the next two days, but I was prepared for that. They never had me sign anything, which was odd (especially since they sent me my medical report in the mail a few days later and it said I had signed forms stating my understanding of the situation. Hm.) Then I got to swallow the pill, which up til that point had been stored in a neat little metal container. No-one was dressed in a hazmat suit, which made me feel a little better, and it was an outpatient procedure. Great, super, but it's still REALLY STRANGE to voluntarily swallow radioactive anything. I wore the shirt you see here, to the delight of the Nuclear Medicine team. That's me, making those doctors laugh! (It really helps me tho, when I can keep the mood positive. And I like happy doctors.)
The past week has been pretty laid back. I had those two quiet "alone time" days, then was away from work thru most of the rest of the week - which was Thanksgiving week, so no big deal. The most exciting parts of the week involved eating: Wednesday was the first day I was allowed to stop the low-iodine diet. I ate moderately for lunch (an avocado club sandwich at Rockridge Cafe, followed by some frozen yogurt at Tutti Frutti) but really kindof went overboard at dinner. (Delicious Thai food.) Stomachache city. The next day was Thanksgiving, and while I didn't attend an actual dinner (still pretty radioactive) leftovers were brought to me, and..... I ate too much. Ever since then I've been trying to make it up to myself by taking it slow & eating as sensibly as possible. Not fun per se, but at least I feel like my digestive system is starting to function normally again.
I think that there was a time in the middle of the week there where I was finally feeling somewhat hypothyroid - meaning my digestive system had slowed down right when I was piling all this food into my belly. I had just restarted taking the pills, but it takes a week or so to notice any real effects from those. I seem to be on the right track now.
Today I had my scan, to see if there's any cancer left in me. This has been far more stressful than I thought it'd be. Not worried about the actual scan procedure, just concerned about what the results could be. I'm fairly confident that I'll be all-clear, but...... well, it feels like I have something akin to post traumatic stress disorder from my cancer diagnosis in May. I was so cavalier about having that second biopsy as a "formality," then it turned out that I had cancer. So now I don't feel like I can be cavalier about anything. And the worry just totally sucks. If I'm clear, great. If not, worst-case scenario, more surgery. N-O-NO DO NOT WANT. I am not going to take that news gracefully. But I don't think that will happen. Argh.
The scan itself was pretty easy, and everyone was super nice; there really are some friendly people working at Kaiser. That same burly nurse came in while I was lying immobile in the scanner and joked that he wished he had a feather with which to tickle my nose. Smiling real big had to substitute for laughing, since I wasn't supposed to move! Crazy folks. And the tech who operated the machine let me look at the images, since I had asked if I could get a printout (answer: yes, after my doctor gets a chance to review the results.) It looked beautiful - very sci-fi. When he adjusted the exposure (via sliding bar on the computer) the radioactivity made my body look like it was made up of hundreds of stars, with a slightly stronger concentration in certain organs. My throat shone out like one massive star. It was gorgeous, yet creepy, and I ooohed and aaahed over it.
Ultimately the combination of being cheerful and positive while feeling terrified pretty much wiped my brain out for the rest of the day. I gave myself the gift of a grilled cheese and frozen yogurt afterwards. (Gratefully accepted.)
I should have results in about two days. Oh joy!