Saturday, May 4, 2013

Timeline of RAI



2:00PM: Took two I-131 pills (154.1 mCi) in my hospital room as I sat in bed surrounded by five nuclear medicine radiation safety officers and doctors. Sean was allowed to stay for a few minutes. My RSO actually fumbled one of the pills as he tried to pour the pills from the lead-lined vial into a cup. He was all like whoopsie, my bad! And someone rushed to get tongs to pick up the runaway nuclear waste. It was hilarious to watch but I'm sure he felt a little awkward. He then answered our questions and demonstrated how radioactivity is measured using a device (a Geiger counter, I think) and a yardstick.
Immediately after taking the pill I was reading 750 radiation level at the throat but only 39 from a few guesstimated feet away. After Sean left he measured me with the yardstick and my reading was a 26.

4:00PM: Still feeling fine. A bit cold. Watching Battleship, some alien movie. Vitals just checked. 96/66 blood pressure. Temp is 97.5.

6:00PM: Very faint muscle aches starting behind ear lobes and in upper neck but it's barely noticeable. I'm sure it will get progressively worse but right now I'm feeling great! I actually feel better than I have in days because I've been eating an awesome spinach salad with grilled chicken and cranberries. I've been sucking on plenty of sour candy and drinking a boatload of water and overall just enjoying my quiet time. The nurses rarely come in to check on me so it's like a nice little peaceful break to eat great food and watch television so far.

9PM: Starting to feel a bit weak and cold. Slightly nauseated. If I lie real still on my side I feel better but not by much. I took a hot shower and that felt great but now my hair is wet and I'm freezing. Waiting for the nurse to bring my 9PM meds and then I'm going to pass out and hopefully sleep wonderfully until tomorrow morning.


12:20AM: A knock on my door. "I'm here to take your vitals!" I stand near the cracked open door as per protocol and the nurse tries unsuccessfully to take my blood pressure with the cuff placed over my sweatshirt. Temperature is fine at 97.

I begin to feel faint standing by the door for so long and suddenly I am losing consciousness. I shout, "I'm going to faint!" and somehow the nurse gets the cuff and O2 sensor off of my arm in time for me to fall into bed. My whole upper body begins tingling and burning hard, my lips, the back of my neck, my arms and fingertips. But no one comes in right away because I'm radioactive so the head nurse eventually gets her special booties and gown and gloves on so that she can enter my room. I start to regain feeling in my body and definitely am too weak to stand up again so she wheels the bed over to the door while she asks me questions: did I eat dinner, do I feel better now, has this happened before. The other nurse in the hallway checks my BP, 105 over something, and I am wheeled back into place. So I guess I'm too weak to stand currently.

3:00AM: Oh, so there's the neck soreness everyone mentions.

7:30AM: I've been up all night feeling lousy. My heart was bothering me, just feeling off, too fast, too slow, pain, dizziness. I took two Tums during the night because I could feel my calcium dropping as evident by numb face and fingers. My stomach was upset. My throat is sore--just a tiny bit--but I can only feel it if I put my fingers directly under my ear lobes. I think staying up all night sucking on sour candy and drinking water did wonders for keeping throat discomfort away. I ordered breakfast and am waiting for the nuclear medicine team to come visit and test my levels.

2:30PM: I'm hooked up to an IV to help my blood pressure right itself, although the nurse says I'm really hydrated and my IV was wicked easy to put in. My RSO (radiation safety officer) came by and checked my radiation levels a few hours ago. I was at a 26 yesterday and am at a 9 right now! 7 is safe to be discharged but they want me to bottom out--meaning flatline at a value where I am no longer eliminating radiation waste--before they send me home. This could be as early as tomorrow! My values were as follows: my uptake scan showed 5.98% thyroid function/absorption, my TSH was at 112 before treatment, and my dose of I-131 was 154.1 mCi.

4:30PM: Radiation measures at a 7.0! Will be checked for progress again in the morning.

6:00PM: I hold a solo dance party in my room and pray no one opens the door to find me shaking my radioactive booty. I can feel pressure in my thyroid now as if a tiny person or a tight turtleneck is squeezing my throat. Pain is almost none but I still feel very weak and cloudy, possibly because I'm hypothyroid. I just talked to my night nurse again when she handed me my calcium. Last night I felt absolutely horrific and they had only given me a 500mg dose of calcium. When I tried to explain that I have to take 1500 three times a day the nurse said that the pharmacy said this was comparable. But now they're realizing that I'm lacking 3,000mg of calcium. Hence feeling like a bag o'shit. Oopsie. I'm glad we realized it before my hypocalcemia put me into heart failure. Maybe now I will start to feel better.

9:48PM: Two nurses rushed an EKG machine to my bedside and drew calcium labs


12AM: More vitals checked. Heart rate is at 108

5AM: Calcium labs drawn again, vitals checked. Heart rate is up to 128-137, BP is 95/57. Nurse seems worried. Another EKG ordered.

5:30AM: Last night's calcium levels came back as 8 and 4.2. Not awful. But they were drawn after I was given a dose of 3,000mg in one sitting. Curious to see what they are this morning. My EKG gave me a 55 HR. Back to normal. I'm also now back on an IV fluids drip and may need a calcium drip also. Looks like another day here is inevitable.

9:30AM: Still waiting to see my RSO. Waiting to be off my diet. Waiting to start back on my thyroid meds. Hoping I can get off diet before breakfast ends. Would love bacon. Just had my pulse checked. 55HR. They'll be starting my calcium drip once I'm done with the fluids.

10AM: Finally a visit from my wonderful RSO! My radiation levels have dropped to a low 3.4 which means I am absolutely safe to be discharged into general population! My RSO says that by Thursday I should be able to fully restore all cuddling duties including baby wearing Miss Kate again. In the meantime I will still stay at the hotel to avoid prolonged exposure to the kids as soon as I am discharged, which, due to all of these heart complications thanks to being starved of calcium, could be a while. But RAI was a piece of cake, I don't even really have throat pain. Hypocalcemia is not as fun, but we knew that.

11AM: Discharged!  They handed me my papers, took out my IV, I took a shower, and walked out of my room and straight to the hospital cafeteria where I promptly broke my LID and ordered a giant bacon cheeseburger with pickles and BBQ and sweet and sour sauce with lettuce and tomato, and two milks. I ate half and drank one chocolate milk.


I am now checked into my hotel for the next five days.  Sean and I went grocery shopping and I loaded up on absolute crap.  I feel glorious.

For the FLICKR album of photos from my RAI experience, click HERE.