It’s three days after sipping my radioactive iodine and my second on the medicine. I can feel my body changing, coping. Although not feeling “normal,” I can tell a steady difference.
If you’ve ever dealt with hypothyroidism, you will understand this better than most. You’re tired and heavy and just can’t think straight (among other issues). While it sounds simple and most would say, “Just take a nap, you’ll feel better,” you know that’s not true. Let me say, YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. That’s how I felt: crazy. I felt like I would tell my doctor what was going on (over the course of at least the last three or four years) and he would look at me and see a hormonal crazy woman that was overreacting. He kept trying to put me on anti-depressants. I do not want to be on Zoloft. (While I admit the need for particular individuals to use antidepressants, I think they are waaaay over-prescribed…as is birth control. I believe my body is designed to function a particular way and if something is out of whack, it needs to be fixed, not suppressed. But that’s a soap box for another day.) Just know, that if you are listening to your body and it tells you something is wrong, LISTEN. Make your doctor listen.
My lab results on Wednesday showed my TSH level to be 149 – incredibly high, but expected since I no longer have a thyroid or medicine to control it. Take all of those hypo- issues, multiply them by five or so and that’s how I’d felt for the last few weeks. (Fatigue, eye burn/weakness, blurry vision, scratchy throat, croaky voice, dry skin and hair, slurred speech, slowed GI function, weight gain, etc.) YIKES.
On Thursday, I was escorted to a little room with a covered floor. I sat in a little covered chair behind a shield on a little covered table. There were two ladies with me. One guiding me through instructions (probably a student) and a supervisor. The supervisor covered my shoes with booties and my shirt with a bib while the younger one put on her garb. She didn’t don a hazmat suit, but thick glasses, gloves, a mask, and an apron left little of her exposed. The supervisor brought in a thick metal cylinder with my name on it and sat it between me and the shield, and then stepped aside to let the other do her job. She reached around the shield to unscrew the silver bullet and puncture the air-tight seal of the vial with my metal straw. I sucked down the clear liquid. It reminded me of well water, heavy on the minerals. She flushed the vile, gave me a glass of water to drink, and I was done. They directed me to a chair outside the room where I was to wait while they measured the radioactivity in the room. On my way to the chair, alarms began sounding as they detected my radioactivity. The ladies emerged a few minutes later with a scanner. They scanned me and then compared it with the measurements of the room to ensure I received my full dose. I had. They gave me two cards, one with the time of my full body scan on Tuesday, the other to show to TSA officials if I travel as proof that I’m not a terrorist. 🙂
Now, I have radiation in my system. So Friday, you can multiply the above symptoms tenfold. The fatigue and feeling “off” was so intense that I stayed in bed and attempted to sleep all day. My throat became sore again where the tumor had been and the scar tissue from surgery was re-agitated. In addition, my taste buds couldn’t decide whether they wanted to stay with me or not, so nothing tasted right. My mouth becomes dry and I have a weird appetite that comes and goes as it pleases. Hunger will hit me, but by the time I get mac ‘n’ cheese warmed in the microwave, the thought of eating it makes me sick. If I did eat, often I would be craving salty foods, and then wouldn’t be able to taste the saltiness. To minimize exposure, Mitch was not allowed to sleep next to me for three nights and I’ve had to maintain an arms-length distance from. I’ve been required to shower twice a day and flush the toilet behind me twice. So, at the time I’ve felt my worst, he’s not been able to get close to me to help me feel better. 😦
The thing that probably bothers me the most, though, is the weight gain. I knew I had gained some fifteen to twenty pounds over the summer from being cooped up in hospitals and being limited to eating cafeteria or junk food. But, thanks to my hypothyroid boost in early November, I’ve gained that much again in ONE month. Ugh.
I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been.
Now, before you say, “It’s not your fault,” or “You carry it so well,” or “It could be worse,” let me assure you, I know. I know it could be worse. I could be dealing with all sorts of other changes to my body. I’ve not had to undergo chemo. I’ve not had to lose my hair or deal with extreme nausea or any number of the other horrific details that come with cancer treatment. For that, I am incredibly thankful. I also know that I will eventually get back the “me” body that I want. The kicker, I think, is that I wanted to be able to come home well. I wanted to roll into Jonesboro in a blaze of glory, both of us looking better than you remember. When, in reality, we will still have plenty of recovering to do in front of you. And, well, I guess I’m scared that you’re done being patient with us. I realize our hardest battles are behind us and so the continuous affirmation of prayers rolling in has slowed. It is natural. And, quite honestly, I find it selfish of me to still be coveting the encouragement we’ve been given before. We have been so incredibly blessed. I know I need to continue to be patient with myself too. I guess, after all of this, I’m still not used to being still, being vulnerable. It’s a work in progress.
There are moments where I feel stronger. The dusts are clearing. We’re emerging. It is a constant inner battle. Yesterday was a bit better, and today even more so. It will only get better from here. I feel it in my bones.
I keep reciting this to myself. Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive” plays on repeat. Over and over and over.
I will get that body scan bright and early Tuesday morning. It will be clear. We will both be allowed to come home. It will be glorious. And, aside from a few “jolly” pounds (that will eventually melt off of me), we will be well.
Welcome to the new age.
I am ready.
I am radiant.