Two surgeries later, I began my education on the treatment I’d require to keep this cancer beast at bay. It sounded relatively simple: 10 days from start to finish. But first, it would take a few months to get my daily thyroid meds regulated. Then, I’d have to stop taking them cold turkey in order to start this 10-day regimen. And, yes, this all started as we were writing the book.
Here again, I am a procrastinator, so by the time I actually got around to making the appointment with my doctor, I had been off my daily thyroid pill for a month. I do NOT recommend this! I felt sluggish — physically and mentally. My body wouldn’t work right and my brain wasn’t telling it what to do fast enough. I was very slow at work and at home Vicki and Alina were picking up my slack. I felt like I was slurring my words and getting them mixed up and backwards.
I pushed for the soonest possible appointment to start the radioactive iodine treatment. That is what they normally prescribe for the kind of cancer I have. I timed it so I would start treatment after both Laura’s wedding and our book tour. I realize I am one of the fortunate ones, to be able to have the option of picking the timing.
Meanwhile, I started the required low-iodine diet. After about 10 days, I went, with Joe beside me, to a “consulation” appointment to be re-educated on the whole radioactive dosing procedure, which was very helpful. I was sent directly to the hospital for the first “uptake” dose, a relatively inconsequential amount used to create a baseline body measurement. Afterward, I was told to come back the next day to take “the pill,” which would require me to be sequestered for five days with no human contact! Maybe that’s a tiny exaggeration.
So after doubly and triply hugging and kissing the kids that night and spending as much time as close to Joe as I could, I dutifully went back the next morning and waited to be given the “pill” that, once swallowed, would make me radioactive. ME! I would be dangerous to anyone and everyone around me, and I couldn’t help wondering if there was the slightest chance it might give me super powers. How handy would that be with our busy lives!
It took the technicians 45 minutes to retrieve the pill from wherever such things are stored.Once the “pill” arrived I was ushered into a room, door closed behind me, and it was just Levi (the lab technician who would administer the “pill”) and me. As he put on gloves, Levi told me that once I swallowed the “pill” he would usher me out as quickly as possible because he didn’t want to be exposed to me any longer than necessary.
I’m telling you, I had to resist the urge to say, “Wait a minute, Levi! This is my last human contact for five whole days. Can I ask you for a hug?” But I thought Levi might think I was completely crazy, so I just nodded my head and said, “Ready!”
Sure enough, as soon as I swallowed it, Levi ushered me out. I walked out the hospital doors and to my car, keeping as much distance from EVERYONE as possible. As I drove home, I made a quick call to Vicki to ensure the coast was clear to make it to my bedroom. I ran inside, shut the door, and here I’ve been for four days, at the time of this writing.
It’s been hard not having some time with Joe, though he was out of town during part of my period of isolation (which actually made it seem easier). When he came home he knocked on my bedroom window and we had some silent communication for a few minutes. It was just like in the movies. He put his hand up to the glass on his side so I matched up mine with his. He leaned his head in so I got up close to him but inside I’m thinking, “I don’t even know if this is allowed. Glass is no match for radiation.” So I kept it short and sweet.
I happen to know some people who are going through much more invasive, aggressive treatment for cancer right now. This is a cake walk in comparison. I don’t like being away from my family, especially the little ones, for too long but I cannot complain. Joe and my sister wives, along with the older children, have been taking over my responsibilities both within and outside of the home. I have friends and family that have reached out to check up on me and make sure I have something good to read, good movies to watch, the right food to eat and ideas to make the whole experience better for me. So sweet! (Thanks again for all your support! You know who you are!) The little ones are well cared for and I have everything I could possibly need. See, a cake walk.