Monday, 12 October 2015

Radioactive Iodine Treatment!

Hi everyone! Welcome back to my blog! I have a quick update now I have finished my Radioactive Ablation Iodine treatment!

The Royal Marsden, Sutton. Me in hospital in my gown!

I had my completion thyroidectomy on the 17th of August, followed by my appointments at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea in early September. They outlined my treatment for the radiation, I had yet MORE blood tests and x-ray and ultrasound just to make sure everything was in order.

On Sunday the 20/9 I went to the royal Marsden in Chelsea again to receive my concentrated TSH injection. I BELIEVE this is so the T3 and T4 levels reduce in accordance with the raised TSH as this then stops the thyroid hormone being utilized in the body once its ‘radioactive’… I THINK that’s why. It was in my left butt cheek and was painless. You need to take a second TSH injection 24 hours after (I had mine on Monday morning) the first injection with the idea that 48 hours after your first injection you receive your radioactive iodine.

Tuesday 22/9 i arrived at the Royal Marsden Sutton hospital with my parents. On arrival I needed to take two blood tests before being admitted to the ward. Once on the Smitters ward I met with the doctors who would be in charge of my radiation. Either a pill or a liquid could take the form of radiation I was receiving, it’s a controlled dose of radiation that was meant to kill the remaining microscopic thyroid cells as well as kill any remaining cancer cells. With thyroid cancer research has discovered that the thyroid gland absorbs iodine from your diet, and so if we make the iodine radioactive, it can kill the cancer locally and it means you are unlikely to need chemotherapy.

I received my liquid dose of radioactive iodine on Tuesday afternoon. It was presented to me in a huge metal container and the doctor had special gloves on and had to touch the bottle and the straw with large tweezers, as she was not able to touch it. I drank it all, it sort of had a taste, but just like water that had gone a bit funny. From there I was left alone. Doctors and family members had to stand behind a lead screen and the room itself was lead lined with a Geiger counter in the ceiling to take readings of how ‘radioactive’ I was. My ipad and phone were wrapped in cling film to stop any radiation transferring and I was warned the majority of things I bought in would need to be destroyed or checked for radiation on discharge.

Once radioactive all my food was bought to me and left on the lead barrier. I was also in charge of stripping my bed every morning and my PJs after I showered, they needed to be put into a special brown bag to then be taken care of properly by the doctors. I was instructed to shower everyday at least once and to drink as much water as I could, around 3-5L. This was so I would go to the loo frequently, and in the simplest terms, to wee out the radiation!

There is no simple way to describe being in hospital in isolation. It is the strangest and most boring thing ever. I can’t complain! I am lucky enough that the treatment for my cancer is so available and seemingly straightforward. For most of the day I lay in bed or read my book or slept! Just being in hospital is a bit of a dampening experience. Luckily my parents and friends could visit however they were limited to around 30 minutes and they had to sit behind the lead screen. By Thursday I really was just sick of being in hospital! Whilst in hospital, I would been checked on many times a day. I was instructed to lie flat on my back and then flat on my tummy as the Geiger counter in the ceiling took my readings of radiation. Once it was low enough I would be taken for a full body scan.

On Thursday, my radiation was reducing dramatically and around mid morning I was taken from my room to the radiology department where I received a full body scan to detect the radiation in my body. They were expecting that the radiation would be localised to my neck area with tiny traces in my bladder, bowels etc to show that it had been expelling from my body through secretions. The scan was quite uncomfortable. For around an hour I had to lie on the machine with my arms bound to my side and my legs tapped together so I did not move. The camera of the machine came so close to my face and it slowly scanned from my around my head and then along my body. It was a strange experience.

By Thursday afternoon, the doctors who talked me through the limitations I would have because of my radiation came to see me. The limitations included staying away from pregnant women or children under 16 for 4 days after my discharge. Luckily I could hug my family and be with my boyfriend with no troubles at all! Which was a relief because all I wanted was a hug to feel better!

Following this treatment I had a follow up a few weeks later to discuss the results of my scan. I also received a few more blood tests as my calcium levels are all over the place at this moment in time. This is a normal reaction post thyroidectomy. They suggested we would need to medicate my calcium and vitamin D if it did not level off in the next coming weeks. I still have lots of appointments and blood tests over the next 3 months but I am well on the road to full recovery. The doctors have stated I will need another full scan in around 8 months to check for the cancer in my body, and hopefully there will be no more!

Thanks for reading,

Please get in touch with any questions, comments or anything!

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