So, after long last, my thyroid is finally dying! Hurrah!
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been suffering from hyperthyroidism (Grave’s Disease) for the past two years. It began during William’s pregnancy, and I’ve been waiting and waiting for him to be old enough for me to get the treatment: killing of the thyroid completely. Why? Here’s what hyperthyroidism gives you:
- Rapid pulse (120 at rest is my personal all-time high)
- Heart palpitations (I thought I was having a heart attack)
- High body temperature (kicking the blankets off at night, even in winter)
- High metabolism (always hungry)
- Fatigue (zzzzz)
If you go too long without being treated, your eyes begin to bug out of your head, and it can lead to blindness. Fortunately, I saw a doctor when I was just at the rapid pulse/palpitations stage. The standard medication for hyperthyroidism has terrible long-term side effects (painful stiff joints, high chance of osteoporosis), so it’s better to kill the thyroid off and take the medicine for hypothyroidism, the medication for which has nary a side effect at all.
Here’s the treatment: you drink a dose of radioactive iodine. Your thyroid is the only part of the body which absorbs iodine, so it’s the only tissue that is killed off by the radiation. The excess radioactive stuff is excreted by the body, which means . . . you can’t be around small kids for a few days.
See why I had to wait for William to reach toddlerhood?
I fianlly underwent this treatment last Tuesday. I had to go off my regular medication for three weeks preceeding the treatment, which meant that all my symptoms came back. I’ve been exhausted, hungry, and hot for a whole month, which is part of the reason why I haven’t blogged, or . . . well, done much of anything for the month of November.
The treatment was odd . . . did you know that many hospitals have a Department of Nuclear Medicine? And they use a geiger counter to figure out how much radiation might be in your knee? (At least, they did with me. “Here, hold your leg still.”) When it came time to down the iodine, I was lead to a lab hood where a big insulated steel can held a tiny glass vial with a straw inside. I was given so little iodine that the lab tech had to mix it with tap water so I’d actually have something to slurp up.
The sainted grandmas took over childcare for a few days, and I holed myself up in my parents’ house for the duration. My parents’ house is very nice, but it’s in West Point, where the most interesting thing to do depends on what books you brought to read with you. My choices? Karen Hesse’s Brookyln Bridge, Eva Ibbotson’s The Dragonfly Pool, and Nancy Werlin’s Impossible. So . . . yeah, I read a book a day for three days. (The best of the three? The Dragonfly Pool, although Impossible had the smokin’ hot duct tape scene.)
It’s great to be back with the kidlets. I missed William especially — I’m used to his constant physical presence, the cuddles, the loveys.
It will take weeks before I notice any kind of effect from the treatment; my heart still jumps around from time to time. But it will get better. I hope. The biggest question from family has been: with my exposure to radiation, what will my emerging superpower be? My answer: if I had one, why would I tell you? Isn’t it standard behavior to keep superpowers a secret? Besides, I’m always wearing glasses. You wouldn’t even recognize me in my superhero gear, from which glasses are excluded.