Radioactive Iodine Treatment

After my thyroid was removed, the lab confirmed that I had Papillary thyroid cancer. It had spread into the lymph nodes. To ensure that all cancer was eradicated in my body, I would need to be treated with RAI. After a few weeks after surgery, I was given instructions on how to prepare my body for said treatment.

  1. Only consume food containing very low levels of iodine or no iodine.
  2. No salt.
  3. No thyroid hormone.

The reason they stop all hormone is that they need you to be as hypothyroid as possible for the RAI to do its job.

I remember with clarity when I was treated with RAI. I was given a large plastic “pill” at one of my local hospitals. I hate pills. To call this a pill is laughable now. How I got that bastard down is beyond me!

Next set of rules after treatment was given:

  1. Must ride in backseat away from driver on way home.
  2. Anyone that lives with you must leave the home for 8 hours of the day for three days.
  3. Must sleep alone.
  4. Wash clothing separately from others.
  5. Shower often and scrub tub out immediately following.
  6. When use the restroom, flush three times.
  7. Use paper plates, plastic utensils and drinking cups.
  8. Do not leave home for a week. Avoid contact with others directly.
  9. Especially avoid babies.

Well it may not seem like a difficult list of things to do but it was. When you are hypothyroid, you have very little energy. Exhausted isn’t a strong enough word. I had a blow up air mattress set up in my living room and that was my home for several days and nights.

On top of “exhaustion”, the RAI caused severe nausea. Severe! I was never told about all the side effects. I suspect if they were forthcoming with exactly what can happen, most people would roll the dice and take their chances with cancer. I know I would.

I could deal with the nausea. My struggle was with being without hormone. It caused a chemical reaction in my brain. I was all over the place emotionally. One second I’m enraged, the next crying hysterically and then laughing like a loon. I had to take tranquilizers to keep myself in check. It was hell. Absolute hell.

I had to isolate myself for the RAI treatment and then I isolated myself due to being chemically imbalanced. It was a very lonely time. You see, you cannot be given the amount of hormone you need all at once. It has to be raised in small doses over time. To give that much hormone at once could have devastating results. It’s too hard on the body.

Yup, I remember my treatment with RAI like it was yesterday. Had I known then, what I know now, I would have taken my chances with cancer.

11 thoughts on “Radioactive Iodine Treatment”

  1. Wow …I’m so sorry you went through this. Im sensitive to anything thyroid because I have had 6 to 7 biopsies in the past 12 years they came back benign. But I can only begin to imagine what I would have to go through if any of these biopsies went awry.