Thyroid Therapy

A week ago Monday, we went down to Kansas City to KU Medical Hospital for my thyroid treatment, radioactive iodine. Here’s a little bit of info from the Mayo Clinic website about this treatment:

“With this therapy, you take radioactive iodine, or radioiodine, by mouth. Because the thyroid needs iodine to produce hormones, it takes up the radioiodine, which destroys the overactive thyroid cells over time. This causes your thyroid gland to shrink, and problems lessen gradually, usually over several weeks to several months.

Radioiodine therapy may increase your risk of new or worsened symptoms of Graves’ ophthalmopathy. This side effect is usually mild and temporary, but the therapy may not be recommended if you already have moderate to severe eye problems.

Other side effects may include tenderness in the neck and a temporary increase in thyroid hormones. Men may experience a temporary reduction in testosterone levels. Radioiodine therapy isn’t used for treating pregnant or nursing women. Radioiodine not taken up into the thyroid gland is excreted in your urine and saliva.

Because this treatment causes thyroid activity to decline, you’ll likely need treatment later to supply your body with normal amounts of thyroid hormones.”

Harland was up at 5am to check the cows and feed the barn cats. None of the remaining cows had calved in the night so they were ok. I was on doctor’s orders to fast, no food or liquids. My tummy was rumbling. Harland came back from chores, changed clothes and we hit the road about 6:30am.

We got to KU Med about 8:30. We checked in with the radiology department, waited for a while, and then were called back into the exam room. We had a long conversation with a very informative radiology doctor about Graves disease and thyroid issues. At some point they asked me if there was any chance of me being pregnant. HA!  They said they wouldn’t do the treatment if I was. I assured them that we had infertility problems and that it was highly unlikely that I was. But they had me go down to the lab to give a urine sample and then we went back up to radiology to wait on the results. Not surprisingly I was not pregnant.

So pretty soon I was called back in to what looked like a lab. Wearing gloves, a lab tech took a gray capsule containing radioactive iodine and put it in a little cup.  He told me to take it without touching the capsule, and then gave me a cup of water to drink. Then he ushered me quickly out of the lab and through the waiting room and out into the hall. I had been given instructions that I was not to go within 3 feet on anyone for the first 2 days, and then 2 feet of anyone for the next 2 days.

Harland and I walked out of the hospital and into the parking garage, Harland in the lead and me following a very respectable 10 foot distance behind. I was also keeping my distance from everyone else too. I must have appeared like some sort of germaphobe. When we got to the truck, I sat in the back seat on the opposite side of the vehicle from Harland.

Our first stop was to eat lunch at a fast food restaurant. I wasn’t able to eat anything for 2 hours after taking the radioactive pill, so I got something to drink and watched Harland eat while I sat at a different table away from him. When we got home around 2:30 in the afternoon, I was finally able to eat something, then I spent the rest of the day upstairs in the spare bedroom. Harland got out his trusty geiger counter and found that he could detect my radiation from a couple rooms away. I slept upstairs that night.

The next day I stayed home from work again and Harland avoided me like the plague. I had a bit of a headache and was a little nauseous but otherwise felt fine. The next day I was safe to be around radiation-wise according to the doctor’s instructions, and was finally was able to go back to work.

It’s been over a week now since the treatment, and yesterday my heart rate at rest was 72!!!!  That’s the lowest it’s been since last fall.  At it’s worst back in January, it was 140 beats per minute at rest and I felt like crap – exhausted all the time, weak, unable to sleep. But yesterday afternoon I walked a mile on my break, and when I got home from work I ate supper, transplanted my baby tomato seedlings into pots, watered the asparagus bed, and transplanted a peony plant. And when I went to bed I was actually drowsy and went to sleep easily for the first time in months. No laying awake for hours feeling jittery and listening to my heart pounding in my ears.

I’ll need to get bloodwork done every 30 days to monitor my thryoid hormone levels for the next few months, and probably go on replacement thyroid meds which I’ll need to take for the rest of my life.  But I’m fine with that. I’m very fortunate to have a health problem that can be treated.

So I’m feeling pretty good these days. Not 100% back to my old self, but getting better each day.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

39 comments to Thyroid Therapy

  • Kristi

    SOOO glad you’re feeling better. I was checking your blog just yesterday, hoping for some good news. All my best,

    Kristi

  • Alice

    Yipee!!
    Yesterday a co-worker informed us her husband has thyroid cancer. (he’s 35) They are with the Dr. today to map out a treatment.

    • Suzanne

      Oh dear, sorry about your coworker’s husband. Scary but a treatable cancer. We learned a lot about the treatment for thyroid cancer on my thyroid journey.What they generally do is to remove the thyroid via surgery and then do a treatment like what I had with the radioactive iodine, only it’s about 8 times the dosage I received. After that the patient has to stay about 30 feet away from everyone for about a week. He may have to stay in the hospital during that time in quarantine.

      • Alice

        You were spot on Suzanne. The insurance won’t pay for him to stay in the hospital, so it makes things difficult with two children and pets. My co-worker also said the no one can use the same utensils or bathroom as her husband during the five days. I think the family is in shock today.
        I am so happy for you Suzanne. It sounds like things are moving in a positive direction. I pray that you will soon be holding a precious baby in your arms.

        • Suzanne

          I’m sorry Alice. 🙁 With that treatment for cancer, patient can’t use same utensils, laundry, etc. Separate trash, separate washing of laundry. Flush toliet several times, wash shower and sink after use. Harland had a cousin who had thyroid cancer and she ended up staying in hotel for a week. Patient isn’t supposed to be around children AT ALL as they are more sensitive to radiation.
          Thanks for the good wishes Alice….this has definitely been a bump on the road on the way to motherhood but now I can concentrate on that. I still have to have another surgery to remove the endometriosis and start hormone therapy, but hopefully good things will happen after that.

  • Chester's Mom

    So glad you are feeling better, I’ve been praying for you (and Harland too).

  • JB

    Glad to hear you are feeling better. My husband has had that “thyroid thingy” for 30 years and as long as he keeps popping those pills he runs like a top!

  • Glad to hear things are improving!

  • Rebecca

    This was all very interesting!
    I bet Harland was hilarious at times.
    But I am glad you are feeling better and managing your condition.
    Was it hard keeping Kitty at a distance?

    Florida hugs,
    Becca

    • Suzanne

      Thanks Becca.
      Yes it was. If one of us stays home all day, she follows around and she kept trying to sit in my lap. I had to keep pushing her away and felt really bad about it. 🙁

  • It’s good to hear from you again, Suzanne. Glad you’re feeling better since the treatment!

  • Jay

    Hey you, so glad you are feeling better!

    • Suzanne

      thanks Jay.
      Was digging in a flower bed on the east side of the house yesterday and found a large chunk of foundation. Had to heave ho it out of the hole. Methinks it’s part of the foundation of the old house.

  • Amelia

    Thank you for keeping all of your internet friends up to date on your health. May God continue to bless and heal you!!

  • Sharlotte Hughes

    So glad that there is a treatment even if it does seem extreme Praying that the treatment works and that there are no lasting symptoms.

    🙂

  • Debbie Chapman

    Been thinking of you, Suzanne, and hoping things were working out!
    Keep us updated!
    Give Kitty a pat for me too!

  • This was so interesting to read – thanks so much for all the detail. It’s good to know about these things, just in case it pops up in someone else’s life.

    And I’m so glad this part is over and done with, and that you’re already feeling better. What a blessing a good night’s sleep is!

    A happy spring to you, and continued prayers and best wishes as your return to full health.

  • Jim McCain

    Suzanne, I’ve been following your medical story as well as other post but haven’t commented in a while… So glad that you are progressing through this issue and on the road to recovery. Thanks for keeping us informed… We enjoy your writings and photography very much. God Bless You ! 🙂

  • Lana in Phoenix

    Hi, Suzanne. Been watching to see how your treatment goes. I’m the person who told you about my stepdaughter’s treatment, but hers was very different. For one thing, she wasn’t instructed to stay away from anyone. (Yikes, can’t help but wonder what we were exposed to! She had her treatment over 25 years ago, and things were very different.) Her introduction of the radioactive treatment was intraveniously, then followed by radiation directed at her neck. Her thyroid was completely “killed,” and she will be on medication the rest of her life. She did have a lot of follow-up to get the right dosage for her thyroid replacement. So glad you are feeling better!!

    • Suzanne

      Oh dear. We learned that they are using LESS radiation now than they did years ago. Do you remember glowing in the dark?

      Thank you for you kind thoughts Lana!

  • Lana in Phoenix

    I’ve often wondered about that strange aura that seems to follow me!

  • Suzanne in Louisiana

    Tired all the time? Hmmmm….maybe that is why my doctor has recommended me having my thyroid tested. I really need to pursue that. Thanks for sharing all the details of your treatment. I hope you have a quick recovery.

  • Jeanne

    Suzanne, I’m so thankful to know that you’re feeling better! I was a bit surprised at the instructions they gave you!! — More later …

    Love in Christ,
    Jeanne <

  • Ellen Brunot

    Dear Suzanne,
    Bless your heart and thyroid;-).
    Glad to hear you are doing better. I had my pesky thyroid removed and happily take a little pink pill daily. My best to Farmer Harland, Kitty and those fabulous cattle.

    Deep in heart of South Central Los Angeles, E.L. Brunot

  • Thanks for this update, Suzanne. I’m glad that you have been diagnosed and are in the care of the best in medical care. Mayo’s got the top practitioners in every field and you are in good hands. I hope that improvement is detectable, sustained and permanent.

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