Thursday, January 18, 2007

Playing It Safe... or not?

I am scheduled for another radioactive procedure next week which makes me less than enthused. I remember the hell week I went through just a year ago when I was banned from society for a week because I was radioactive. It's not like that, or so they say, but I would rather not.

My good friend has asked me why in the world I would subject myself to any form of radiation when there is absolutely no indication of cancer. My doctor, who is fairly conservative and who relies on the appropriate protocol, says I must do this just to know for sure.

Next week's test is a Thyrogen I-131 Scan, which requires me to go into Washington Hospital Center on Monday and Tuesday to receive a Thyrogen injection, on Wednesday to be dosed with radioactive iodine, and on Friday for a full body scan.

I have begged the WHC doctors to come up with a different way of checking that doesn't involve repeated radiation. Of course, if I believe The Revenge of Gaia's author Lovelock, the radiation might reduce my life by only a few hours. But who really knows the long-term side effects of this? The potential side-effects are the ones they read to you just as you are about to swallow the radioactive pill and they are not pretty.

My cancerous thyroid was removed two years ago and there has been no sign of another nodule anywhere. So is it necessary to take on this added risk for something that is probably nonexistent?

I consider my body a sanctuary and as such I try to feed it and take care of it with respect. I am having a difficult time making the decision to ingest this foreign substance next week. I am sure the intention is for this test to be repeated annually. I wonder how many years of clean reports would be necessary to stop it altogether. Or perhaps the radiation itself will cause a recurrence.

The good news is that I will not be glowing as I was last year, so my family, friends, and dogs will not need to worry. The bad news is I seem to be at the mercy of a system that scares me. What a dilemma...

14 Comments:

Blogger Kathryn Is So Over said...

Good luck, Barbara!

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yuck...no fun at all. I'll be thinking about you. Let me know if I can do anything!

12:32 PM  
Anonymous media concepts said...

Best of luck, Barbara!

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like you, I think there should be alternate treatments. To avoid back surgery, I'm getting accupuncture for my sciatica. My regular Dr. just shrugs his shoulders but I prefer to find the least invasive yet effective methods I can. Good luck with yours.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Thanks, everyone. I had a long talk with a doctor from WHC this afternoon, who reassured me that this test was minimally invasive and nothing like what I went through last year. I'm feeling a little more positive about going ahead with this next week.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was obviously a dilemna/mma for you. It seems you were possibly damned if you went with it and possibly damned if you don't. Hopefully the doctor's reassurance will be helpful. Is there a support group you can talk with who might share their experiences?

Whatever your decision, know we are all in your corner!

Hugs,
K

6:18 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I can definitely empathize with not wanting to ingest something radioactive (Ha! If you recall, I am not exactly lining up to get my flu shot either).

I think it is less a case of the doctor being conservative and more that he plays by the established rules.

Consider yourself lucky to have beat your cancer, that makes you one of very very I am aware of. Granted, losing your thyroid isn't so hot.

Iodine is known to be absorbed by thyroid tissue, consequently it is a good marker.

Good luck.

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had a couple of those tests as I have a whacky thyroid. Good luck and take advantage of the savings on your electric bill for a day or two!

7:09 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

The "side effects" of these treatments include leukemia. In other words, this treatment can actually GIVE you cancer. It's so wrong. DON'T DO IT!!

Your doctor is not "appropriate" - she can not think outside the box. Of all your health care people, she is the one who has no imagination.

DON'T DO IT!!

8:57 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

As no stranger to the health care system, I realize with some reservations, that with many things, you just have to accept the possible side effects. You can't afford NOT to know that you're still free of cancer. Until there is something else that is reliable, you'd be silly not to do it.

I had a stomach-emptying test once and I had to dress in lead aprons, wear special gloves and eat a radioactive egg sandwich while they took pics of my stomach's rate of digestion. I didn't like the facr that I had to wear gloves because touching what I was putting in my stomach was risky!!

9:44 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Another way of looking at it is, once you get your dose of iodine, you will be hot ;-)

11:06 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous motown henry said...

i agree with reya about the doc. might be time to consider a more holistic one. good luck next week.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

In defense of my doctor, she is just passing on the advice of now multiple endocrinologists who recommend this form of screening. The one I spoke to yesterday said his rule of thumb is 2 clean scans and then you revert to a simple blood tests each year. So this would be 2 of 2 for me if all is well.

1:49 PM  

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