The next decision I had to make was should I stay on the anti-thyroid medication that I was already on and get blood work done every 4 weeks or do I choose thyroid ablation with Radioiodine I-131. Honestly, the pills were working for me at the time. I had some side effects from them but they were somewhat bearable. The actual premise for taking them were to hopefully have my thyroid go into remission. Unfortunately after two years on the pills, that didn’t happen so I had to seriously think about taking the RAI pill. Finally, after talking it over with my husband, family, friends and doing some research I chose to zap it.
I was mostly hesitant about getting this done because the thought of swallowing a radioactive pill and killing an organ in my body was a scary thought to be honest! It is a pill of nuclear medicine that is swallowed and destroys the thyroid gland within days. Now, being the person I am, I thought,
How the hell does this little pill KNOW to attack ONLY my thyroid? Does it have a GPS device planted in it to give directions straight to the thyroid? When it enters my stomach is there a sign that says “Wrong way fellows, please turn around, head up the esophagus and to the thyroid”
“These are the things that I think about when I’m home alone at night and the power goes out!” – George Carlin
At this point, all I wanted was to feel better. Before taking the pill, you have to prepare by stopping your anti-thyroid medication at least 3 days prior to your appointment (better than the 3 weeks for the uptake and scan mess) and no food or drinks after midnight or you turn into a bad Gremlin (Haha, I’m here all night kids!). Along with these “simple tasks” came a bunch of instructions that were down right nuts!
First of all, after you take this pill you have to keep yourself isolated from people and animals for at least 3 days since you are a ball of radiation after you swallow it. Second, if you use the toilet and someone else has to use the same toilet as you, you have to flush it at least 2 times so radiation doesn’t get seeped up into their asshole. (well, it doesn’t actually say that but I think that’s what they meant). Also, you are asked to use paper and plastic products to eat with and to throw them away immediately when done.
So basically it is a vacation from your family for 3 days along with some weird rules. Cool!
So off I went to get my dose of radiation! When you get to the place they sign you in, take you back into a room and sit you down in a chair with a large cup of water on a table next to you. As I was sitting there I could see a guy walking down the hallway with some sort of black luggage on wheels that looked like an amplifier. Lo and behold, he is coming my way with this thing and brings it in the room I am occupying and the nurse follows him in.
Before they proceed with opening this case, each of them put on some kind of space suit to make sure they do not blow up when they administer my glowing pill. I had to laugh. This has got to be some kind of joke…right? The guy that brought in the pill opens the case and inside this case is a white plastic capsule tucked nicely in the middle of a sponge type thing. They pick this capsule up (that, ironically, looks like a pill itself) and open the top of it. Inside is a lonely pill staring at me. This is when things get even weirder.
They tell me that the next thing I’m going to do is swallow the pill and drink the whole glass of water that is sitting beside me. Ok, that sounds easy enough. As I go to reach for the pill the nurse quickly says,
“NO! Don’t touch the pill!”
Well, how the hell else am I supposed to take this pill then, lady? Then she says,
“Lift the case up and tip the pill into your mouth”.
Really? I can’t even touch this pill? Are my fingers going to blow up or something?
So I do what she says and then swallow the whole cup of water. The next thing that happens just absolutely blows my mind!
After I swallow the pill, the nurse picks up this contraption with a handle on it with her right hand and in her left hand she has something connected to it that looks like a wired microphone (knew it was an amplifier, but assumed at this point I wasn’t going to a hear a guitar solo). She takes the wired microphone and puts it to my stomach. When she does this, the gauges on the contraption go from 0 – 10 as quickly as you can say 0 – 10 and there is a loud beep. Then she says, “ok you’re all done”.
So apparently I passed my mental institution wellness check. Pill was swallowed and not hidden under my tongue! Check! Am I free to leave?
At this point, I thought most of my problems were over, and they were, but it would bring on ‘different’ kinds of problems that I would need to adjust to.