RAI: I’m glowing (not really)

Like Wilbur the Pig, I’m officially “radiant.”

I took my I-131 pill about 90 minutes ago, and so far I feel absolutely nothing. No nausea. Nothing. I’m back at home and sitting in my “cell” (more on that in the coming days) and blogging.

Yesterday we went to the hospital, which is about 20-25 minutes away, and we checked in and got the tracer dose. There were no ill-affects of that either. Pretty straightforward and simple. Today we went back and they did the scan right when we arrived at 9. First they put a camera-type thing (similar to an X-ray) up to my neck and up to my leg. The leg was to be a comparison, because, it’s about the same width as my neck. Then they put me in a machine that was like an MRI, but not exactly. I had to lay very still for what seemed like 20-30 minutes. It wasn’t too bad. The panel was about 3 inches in front of my face at the beginning, but I just closed my eyes. Within about 10 minutes, it had moved down to my chest, so it was OK.

After all that, we were told to wait 20-30 minutes for Dr. E (the nuclear medicine guy) to consult with Dr. Q (my endo) about the results, and they’d figure out what dosage of radiation I needed. There was some mixup with my blood test results, so it took closer to an hour (about 11:30) before they finally told us that they had decided to adminster 75 mcg of radiation. That’s at the low end of the typical dose spectrum, so that was encouraging. The pills are manufactured about 40 minutes away, so they told us we could wander around the hospital, get something to eat (well, just a banana for me) and come back at 1 for the pill.

Shortly before 1, they ran through a bunch of paperwork with us. Essentially, they were covering their legal butts by ensuring that I knew what they were doing to me, and that I was responsible for being careful not to infect anyone else. I had a little laundry list of questions for Dr. E. A lot of it was stuff that I felt I already knew, but I wanted to check with him rather going with what “I read on the internet.”

One interesting thing I learned yesterday was that the radiation is more affected by distance than time. The doctor explained that being 1 meter from a radioactive source for one hour subjects you to half the radiation of being 1 meter away for two hours, but being two meters away for one hour subjects you to one-quarter the radiation of being one meter away for the same hour. It’s exponential. Not linear. So if you have a choice of adding distance or reducing time, you add distance.

That’s why we decided to move our kids downstairs for the first two days, when I’m at my most radiant. Although we probably would have been safe with my daughter sleeping 25 feet away, 50 feet is even better. The kids and my wife will all be sleeping downstairs and on the other side of the house. They’ll love it. They love to sleep anywhere other than their beds, because then it’s a slumber party.

Once all the questions were answered, it was time to sign the waiver and take the pill. It came in a metal canister that was a little bigger than a standard soda can. They unscrewed the top and inside was a smaller cylinder, about an inch long. Inside that was an innocent looking pill. Looked absolutely no different from any capsule you’d take. They poured it from the container into a dosage cup, and told me to pop it from the cup into my mouth, without touching it or biting it, then to drink a full cup of water to wash it down.

I did, and that was it. I didn’t feel anything. Not that I expected to, but you never know. Now two hours later, I still don’t feel anything.

Since getting home I’ve been up in my quarantine room, with instructions to drink and pee as much as possible. I’ve set a timer to go to the bathroom every 60 minutes. Dr. E said I don’t really have to wake up at night to keep emptying my bladder, but the more I pee the better, so I think I’ll set an alarm for every 2 hours while I’m sleeping. I don’t have any place to be, so if it takes me 10 hours to get 8 hours worth of sleep, so be it.

There is much more to say about what’s in my “cell,” including the drawer of candy and table-full of notes from my kids, but I’ll save that.

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