Almost three years ago, I underwent a total thyroidectomy to remove the second half of my thyroid gland, the first half having come out in 2006. During the intervening years, I was on a replacement hormone to help prevent the growth of benign nodules and to curtail the symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. But when a nodule expanded to almost 6 centimeters in diameter within about 6 weeks, it was time for the invader to go.
For more than a year, I have felt like crap. My GP said he thought it was the stresses of school and work and kids and divorce. My bloodwork looked normal. In reality, part of my thyroid was growing back, and I was experiencing all of the symptoms of hypothyroidism—fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, weight gain, dry skin and hair—that come with Hashimoto’s.
Although my bloodwork looks normal still, my endocrinologist and I made the call to rid Glamazon Island of this invader force yet again. After a five-needle-stick biopsy, there’s still no definitive answer, though he thinks it’s benign, giving it only a 5-7% chance of being malignant. Either way, I’m not a surgical candidate—one cell left behind would likely regrow new tissue again—and thus I go today for radioactive iodine treatment.
The 2+ weeks of a low iodine diet have been difficult but manageable. No dairy, no soy, no iodized salt, no se salt or seafood or sea products, no chocolate, no egg yolks, no potato skins, no red dye #5, no rhubarb, only certain beans, and only 6 ounces per day of meat. A lot of fruits and vegetables, and a lot less coffee thanks to no cream, and I’ve lost almost 10 pounds.
I’ve also been a gripey, exhausted freak.
In the midst of that was recovery from last month’s wrist surgery and a cervical epidural injection and work and kids and school, though I dropped back my class load dramatically.
Rango has been incredibly supportive, even when I’ve been a raging lunatic. The fluctuating hormone levels have made me agitated and fatigued. But I get up every day and do what I have to do.
I’ve mostly made light of it, joking with Max about whether or not I will turn into She Hulk after this is over. In all fairness, if anyone would be excited to get some new superpower after radiation exposure, it would be me. But I’m getting the lowest possible dose for this procedure.
It still scares the hell out of me.
Talking to Queen Frostine yesterday, I finally came unglued.
“I’m scared,” I admitted through welling tears. “I know it will be okay, but I’m still scared.”
She, like everyone else, has offered to do anything to help, but there’s really nothing anyone can do. Rango is here to prepare food and make sure the cats are taken care of while I spend 72 hours in isolation. I’ll be locked in my bedroom for three days, and then I have to carefully clean everything I came in contact with, to make sure I wipe off any radiation-tainted sweat and skin oil. All I can do is hang out and watch TV and sleep.
I sent the boys for some summer visitation with their grandparents in Alabama, and I miss them already. The cats will freak out and bang on the bedroom door for the entire three days, I’m sure. And Rango and I will only see each other from at least three feet apart.
Maybe that’s what’s most frightening for me, really, the shutting down my life. I can’t do anything during isolation. I can’t clean the house or paint the bedroom or work on my computer, since I’ll just leave radiation everywhere. I can sleep and eat and watch TV.
I hate being still, but that not being still is exactly what contributed to my getting sick. The constant drive for the last three years to always be moving forward and being productive has left me exhausted and not well. Even after my wrist surgery, when the doctor recommended I take two weeks off from work to recover, I refused and demanded to be allowed back within a week, even though it meant doing everything with one hand.
But this is where I have to admit that doing everything one-handed is far easier than doing everything single-handed. I am forced to rely on other people at times, and I absolutely hate it. My parents and Rango and some friends who will help cover the boys over the next couple of weeks while I have doctor’s appointments. The boys themselves, who have to be prodded and pushed to do their chores, but who also seem to get that Mom will get sicker if she keeps doing everything herself.
I’m going to take a shower and go swallow a pill of radioactive iodine and come home and hole myself away like I’m supposed to. I will let the world go on about its business while I go one about my business of resting and letting the I-131 do its job so I can get back to doing mine.
So please send me good thoughts. Send me updates of what’s happening in the real world.
And in two weeks when I can go back on a regular diet, send chocolate. Please. For God’s sake, CHOCOLATE!