Disclaimer: Anyone arriving at Eric’s blog entry today in hopes of reading about diabetes will be disappointed. He apologizes.
Readers, I thought I’d share my latest, and hopefully last, detailed cancer news with those of you who may want an update.
This is my week of radioactive iodine therapy to get rid of any remaining thyroid tissue. The three scans they did Tuesday morning at the hospital all looked very good. There has been no spread of the cancer of any kind; just the residual thyroid tissue that remained around the larynx (the doctors say it’s always too risky to try to take all of the thyroid during the thyroidectomy due its attachment to other structures, nerves, etc.).
The radioactive iodine that’s in my system at the moment will kill off the leftover tissue. Nothing metastasized to my lungs or skeletal tissue (where thyroid cancer tends to spread).
While I was scheduled for another series of scans Wednesday, the nuclear medicine doctor told my wife and me that she’d seen enough to conclude that this low dose of radioactive iodine is all I’ll need to get rid of the remaining thyroid tissue.
So, before leaving the hospital, I was given 30 millicuries (mCi) of radioiodine I-131; this means I’m into my last day right now of needing to be careful, of remaining mostly isolated. Thirty mCi is, as I said, a pretty low dose, so the potential for endangering anyone is quite slim. Nonetheless, I’m keeping my distance from Kathryn and the dog, prepping my own food, and doing lots of other fun stuff that kind of makes me feel as if I’m a plague victim in my own home.
Tomorrow I return to the hospital for a final scan to ensure that everything took, but that should be about it.
I began taking my new thyroid hormone (levothyroxine; brand name Levoxyl) yesterday; yesterday I was also able to resume a normal diet (I’ve been on a low-iodine diet for almost two weeks, and I had grown rather bored with my food options). While this is a good thing, the radioiodine has deadened my taste somewhat, so I’m holding out for a meal of utter deliciousness until I feel that I can truly savor the decadence. I’m not sure what culinary delight I’ll choose for such a meal.
The doctor told me I should start feeling back to normal in about a week. It may be quite awhile (months, maybe) before I come out of the hypothyroidism entirely. That — the hypothyroidism induced a couple of weeks ago when they took me off of my previous thyroid medicine (Cytomel) to prepare for this week’s tests — has been hell.
As I said last week, worse than surgery recovery by far. For example, I haven’t yawned in a week, but I’ve probably only gotten about three hours of (fitful) sleep each night thanks to racing and rather crazy (I mean, bizarre bizarre) thoughts brought on by the hypothyroidism (those of you who know anything about thyroid and TSH levels: My TSH level on Monday was 82. The normal range is <5). I've been absolutely exhausted; my legs, arms, neck, and jaw will cramp up unexpectedly, too. It's just not fun. Thank goodness it's almost over. I see that proverbial light at the end of the ubiquitous tunnel. Most of you loyal readers probably also know by now that my voice is back almost 100%. While the speech therapy isn't finished, and I still have a follow-up with the otolaryngologist in May, I think for the most part I'm satisfied with this little side note part of the whole thyroid cancer thing, too. All around good news, then. I have a follow-up with the nuclear medicine doctor in a couple of months, another follow-up six months after that, and then a check-up annually (I think) for the next five years or so.