RAI

Radioactive

I got 100 mCi. (well, actually 99.7 mCi.) of radioactive iodine (I-131) yesterday. So far, so good. Honestly, I don’t feel bad at all. The stress and anticipation in the weeks and days beforehand were WAY worse than the RAI.

I was scheduled to get my first Thyrogen shot on Wednesday morning. I was so nervous. I drove myself to the hospital, checked in at Registration, and then headed down to the basement to the Nuclear Medicine Department. They took me back upstairs to get blood drawn for a pregnancy test. Then I was sent back to the basement to wait for the results. Not pregnant. The nurse technologist went over all the rules and I had the opportunity to ask even more questions. The people in the Nuclear Medicine Department  have been so good about answering any and all of my questions. I was a little bummed that I wouldn’t be able to meet the my new best friend, the Nuclear Safety Officer, in person. I was able to speak with him on the phone on two occasions and he gave me so much information about I-131 and how to keep others safe while I was radioactive. All the information really helped to ease some of my fears. Anyway, after more questions were asked and answered, another nurse came in and gave me the first shot in my hip. It stung. I kind of got a little dizzy, but I think that was more from the anxiety than the shot. The nurse wanted me to sit for a minute, but I just wanted to get out of there. By the time I got to my car, I could feel the effects of the shot in my muscles, especially the gluteus maximus. I was tired and my muscles were achy for the rest of the day. I was still able to get outside with my 4 year old and fly kites. By that evening, I was feeling better.

Thursday’s Thyrogen shot went much better. The same nurse gave me the shot, but it didn’t sting going in this time. My muscles were slightly achy afterwards, but I felt okay in general. I picked up my mom from the airport later that afternoon and spent the evening getting my things prepared for isolation.

I was scheduled to arrive back at the Nuclear Medicine Department on Friday at 1 for my RAI. I was not as nervous as I had been on Wednesday. The nurse went over all the rules again, had me sign a Patient Agreement stating that I would take the following precautions:

1. Sleep alone for the next 4 days.
2. Stay out of work for the next 4 days.
3. Maintain a distance of at least 3 feet from others for the next 4 days.
4. Kissing and sexual intercourse should be avoided for the next 4 days.
5. Avoid contact with young children and pregnant women. Do not hold young children or allow them to sit on your lap. The thyroid glands of children and developing babies are more sensitive to the effects of radiation. Pregnant women and young children should vacate the home for the next 4 days. Maintain a distance of 3 feet for an additional 3 days.
6. If you are pregnant or think you might be, notify your physician immediately. If you are planning to become pregnant in the near future, discuss this with your physician prior to this treatment.
7. If you are breastfeeding, STOP. Continuing to breast feed may cause hypothyroidism or ablation of the infant’s thyroid gland.
8. For the first 24 hours, drink fluids in moderation. After 24 hours, drink plenty of fluids to assist in the removal of radioactive iodine circulating in the bloodstream.
9. Wash your hands with soap and water after each visit to the bathroom for the next 4 days.
10. Flush the toilet 2 or 3 times after each use for the next 4 days.
11. You must have sole use of a bathroom for the next 4 days. Rinse the bathroom sink and tub thoroughly after each use.
12. Use separate eating utensils and wash them separately for the next 4 days.
13. Use separate towels and washcloths. Launder these items and personal clothing separately from those of other household members for the next 4 days.
14. Do not travel with others by automobile for longer than 2 hours for the next 2 days.
15. Do not ravel by airplane or mass transport for the next 2 days.
16. Avoid foods that may leave saliva contaminated trash (BBQ ribs, apples, etc.) for the first 2 days.
17. Double bag your trash for the first 2 days and hold for 10 days before allowing pick up or disposal.
18. If hospitalized within the next 4 days, notify the physician and/or staff that you have received this treatment.

After the agreement was signed, the nurse technologist called for the I-131. A guy from the Nuclear Pharmacy rolled a cart into the adjoining room a few minutes later. On the cart was a small metal container. The nurse technologist paged a radiologist. A few minutes later, the radiologist came down, went over my file and spoke with me. He was really nice and joked about how I’ll soon be glowing green. He gave me a little more scientific info about I-131, asked if I had any more questions, and then signed some papers. The nurse technologist brought the little container into the room where I was seated. The canister was heavy. I wish I had been able to get a picture. She opened it and removed a vial that contained the I-131 pill. She poured the pill, which was about the size of an herbal supplement capsule, out into a little plastic dosage cup and had me take it with some water. She and the radiologist waited a few seconds to make sure I had gotten the pill down. No problems. I gathered my purse and she escorted me to the door and pointed me in the direction of the elevators. As I walked down the hall, she outstretched both of her arms to her sides and reminded me to stay 6 feet away from people. I dodged people as I made my way through the halls of the hospital and out to the parking garage. I didn’t feel any different physically, but it was very strange to know that I was radioactive and a danger to others. So surreal.

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