Thursday, April 23, 2009

Radioactive Iodine

So Robb's radioactive iodine treatment has been completed. Like everything else in this thyroid cancer saga, the actual process was much less scary and less intrusive than our Internet research had led us to believe.

Here's Robb's explanation of the radiation procedure:

"The procedure was not as complicated as I had understood it to be; I was in a secure room, to be sure, but the attendant was not wearing a hazmat suit, or even a lead blanket, for that matter. I was presented with a metal box, and when the box was opened, there was a silver canister inside. The canister was removed, and the lid was taken off of it. Inside this thick little canister (called a "lead pig") was a small plastic tube. The technician, using forceps, removed the top of the plastic tube and placed it aside. I was then instructed to take the tube out of the lead pig, drop both pills into my mouth, drink some water, and swallow them both at once. The scariest part was that when I entered the room, there was a Geiger counter sitting on a shelf nearby, and it clicked slowly and softly, reminding us that there was some radioactivity going on in the room. When I removed the plastic tube containing my magic mystery pills, the Geiger counter went berserk. Swallowing the crystal clear capsules didn't help; the radiation was obviously not hampered by my flesh, regardless of quantity."

He came home and had a great weekend. Even though we couldn't spend extended amounts of time together, we could still hang out with appropriate space between us. It was a beautiful weekend and we worked on our garden. (More on our garden in a future post!) I was worried about Robb contaminating our soil and vegetables, but the Dr. claimed it would be fine for him to garden. (So, who wants veggies this summer?) And on Saturday night Robb could eat regular food again and was VERY happy. He ordered pizza that evening and carefully planned out his menu for the next couple of days. On his low-iodine diet he lost close to 15 pounds (which was okay because he had gained a fair amount since his thyroid was removed). It should be interesting to see how much he puts back on now that real food is allowed again.

Hopefully the last step in this process (for this year anyway) will be the full body scan he has next week. This hour and a half slow scan of his body will show where the radiation went. That will indicate if the thyroid cells have spread anywhere and if the radiation went where it should. If the cells have spread, it may mean more surgery in the future, but the Dr. indicated that was rare.

So we're almost done with the thyroid cancer saga for this year; hopefully just a few more days...

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