The Big C: Isolation

It’s day 6 of quarantine for me. I’m radioactive after a treatment for thyroid cancer, so I can’t be around anyone. Husband and cats are at his mother’s house, and I’m home on my own.

I don’t feel radioactive. If I’m tired at all it’s from doing two loads of laundry every day, and washing it all twice, and taking extra steps in the kitchen and bathroom to reduce contamination of my surroundings. It’s very labor intensive, especially for someone like me who hates housework! Oh, and I managed to screw up the settings on one load, which caused the washing machine to overflow. Add to the daily routine sopping up water for half the day.

The process of preparing for Radioactive Iodine Therapy (RAI) began on December 28th. I had to go on a low-iodine diet. No seafood, only non-iodine salt, no dairy, no eggs. The LID Life Community was a lifesaver, because they’ve talked to manufacturers to verify ingredients, and that allowed me to easily locate a variety of foods that were safe.

Over the weekend, I dropped Tim and the cats off at their temporary abode.

On January 3rd and 4th, I went to my endocrinologist’s office for an injection of Thyrogen. I don’t entirely understand what that does, but it allowed me to continue taking Synthroid and sped up the timeline for the RAI.

January 5th, I went to the hospital and received two capsules containing nuclear material known as I-131. My husband had RAI years ago to treat hyperthyroidism, and he said he had to swallow two pills the size of my pinkie with a tiny medicine cup of water to wash it down. I received two quite normal-sized capsules and standard Styrofoam coffee cup three-quarters full. Easy-peasy.

I drove straight home, sitting on towels and wearing latex gloves to reduce contamination in the car. I didn’t use the home computer for the first two days, while I was most toxic. I’ll use a special cleaner on the keyboard, remote controls, appliances, sinks, the tub, door handles, etc.

I want to give a shout-out to that company. They make a soap and cleaner called Bind-It that helps remove radiation contamination. I discovered the product over the New Year’s holiday weekend. I called them on Monday and they assured me they could get the order right out. I received it on Thursday (and the initial projection was Wednesday, so I blame the post office). It gives me piece of mind that I’ll be able to decontaminate the house before the cats come home (Tim doesn’t have that much thyroid left, I don’t think, so I’m not as worried about him).

Friday, I go back to the hospital for a scan. They’ll look to see where the radiation is concentrated, which should be mostly in my neck where my thyroid used to be. If any cancer cells spread, the scan should show where it is, and the radioactive iodine should kill it.

I’ve thought positively before during this process and been surprised and disappointed, but I’m still thinking that this is going to be it. The cancer will be concentrated in the one area where it’s supposed to be, and the RAI will kill it all, and my life can, for the most part, go back to normal. I’ll be on Synthroid for the rest of my life, but my biggest concern about that is my work schedule changes all the time, and I must take it every day at 7:00 a.m., whether I’m just getting to work at 7:00 a.m. or whether I got off late and didn’t get to sleep until 3:00 a.m. Tim takes his Synthroid at 7:00 a.m. so, as long as I’m home, he’ll remind me/get me up. It’s only those days that I go in early that I fear I’m likely to forget. Yes, I will set an alarm on my phone, but I did that for my eye drops and I’ve been known to turn it off and “just do this one thing” and three hours later realize that I missed the time slot.

Hopefully I’ll have some good news to share later this week.

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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3 Responses to The Big C: Isolation

  1. Barb LaFara says:

    I had no idea what was involved to treat thyroid cancer. I really appreciate you sharing these details. Best wishes for a full recovery!

  2. Eilene Lyon says:

    Sounds like quite the process you have to go through! Best wishes for the best outcome.

  3. Marian Wood says:

    Really hoping you get good news!! Sending positive thoughts your way.

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