Sunday, April 19, 2015

Radioiodine Ablation Blues - Part 1

In the immortal words of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, "Isolation/ Isolation/ Isolation." A week ago I had convinced myself it wouldn't be so bad! Hey! I'll get to catch up on all those video games! I'll have time to work on creative projects! Sure it'll be lonely and I'll miss my wife and child, but it's better than being in the hospital! Three days after taking the magical radioactive iodine pills, I feel like shit. I can't tell if it's the treatment, which didn't mention anything about feeling like a gross slug with no appetite for the first few days. I can't tell if it's my body chemistry reacting violently to my severely hypothyroid husk finally getting that sweet, sweet taste of the thyroid horomone delivery vehicle Synthroid. I can't tell if it's my allergies going haywire living in a room that hasn't been dusted and properly cleaned since I was last living in it ten years ago (for reference, I dug some stuff out of some boxes in this room last week and was feeling like crap and hacking up gunk for the next three days). I blame myself for that. It's a chickens coming home to roost scenario. Regardless, here is how I've been spending my days:
The Isolation Chamber. Feeling like Desmond from Lost in his hatch.

My two favorite posters. 
My most prized movie posters from my years working at AMC Studio 30.

  • Wake up at 6:30 AM because my body clock is set for a one-year-old girlchild sitting up in bed going "hi, hi, hi" or "daDA, daDa, daDa" at that godforsaken hour. I groan and lay there realizing I have to get up and pee so as to facilitate the radioactive iodine leaving my worthless body and crawling out of bed feels like a victory. Refilling the two medical-grade sippy cups in the bathroom sink feels like an honest to god triumph. 
This is basically the worst.
  • Go back to bed until Jenny and Rosie Facetime me at 9:30. Rosie greets me with "daDa!" and the conversation is spent with Rosie in control of the phone which is hilarious, sweet, full of frequent pauses, and new things Rosie is doing that I'm not there to see first hand. It's nice that technology makes it possible to at least be somewhat connected to my family, but mostly these conversations just make me want to be home. Fuck the solitude, fuck the "being able to work on creative pursuits." I want to groggily make breakfast for my daughter and complain about having to get up before 7:00 am and I want to watch my kid stomp around her playroom and try to keep her from choking on stuff and from falling off the things she now insists on climbing on top of.
Seriously, it sucks not being able to snug this baby
  • Go back to bed or get up. Friday and Saturday I went back to sleep because of the general exhaustion. Friday was my last day of the low-iodine diet and no Synthroid. I don't think it's possible to appreciate your little thyroid gland until you have it cut out from your body and can see what happens when you're not replacing the hormones it emits. The thyroid is responsible for your metabolism, which plays your energy levels like a puppet on a string, and regulates stuff like your body temperature. Even with the modest AC running, I've been freezing cold. The longer you go without it, the more your body sinks into a hypothyroid state, the more exhausted and lethargic you feel. Friday was spent in bed, drifting in and out of restless sleep, and not wanting to eat anything.Saturday I was able to start pumping my body full of thyroid hormone but I still spent the whole day in bed sleeping and watching TV. 
  • Not even good TV, mind you. I have a whole backlog of shows I planned on burning through. I'm watching A.) Live Sports and B.) Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. The former is acceptable, as I'm a red-blooded American man and my parents have an excellent cable package. The latter is bizarre and telling of just how shitty I've been feeling. On Friday I was so excited to be able to eat all those foods I've been craving the last two weeks, and I settled for watching that frosted-tipped clown Guy Fieri going around eating ridiculously tasty-looking food. "All I wanna do is watch that idiot eat french fries, and it's glorious." The worst thing about that show isn't Guy's stupid one-liners (of which there are so, so many, most of which are actually really entertaining if you come at them the right way), but the lack of enthusiasm he presents when he finally gets to dig in to a fancy-ass grilled cheese sandwich. "Mmm, good job. The truffle oil is a nice touch. You're killin' it boss," he says with all the excitement of a talking toy having its string pulled. LOOK AT THAT GODDAMN GRILLED CHEESE GUY! THAT TEXAS TOAST IS LIKE AN INCH THICK! THERE IS GRUYERE ON THAT SHIT! DIP IT IN THE TOMATO BISQUE YOU FOOL! LET ME LIVE! I think he's just burnt out. One of the episodes was from 2007 and he was way more excited about these greasy-spoon classics. He's graduated from grody truck stops to places I want to look-up next time I go to Chicago or St. Louis, but he's probably eaten so much of this awesomely rich food the dream has become a nightmare. Either way, I watched maybe two-and-a-half hours of that show on Friday.
My mom is a great cook but looking at this makes me wanna hurl
  • And then had absolutely no appetite on Saturday. For lunch I thought about eating leftover grilled chicken and green beans and almost threw up. All I do is drink water and eat Jolly Ranchers. Do you love Jolly Ranchers? Yeah, try eating two an hour for three days. On Friday I fell off. I couldn't do it anymore. One of my teeth became intensely sensitive from all the Jolly Ranchers. It hurt to brush them. Now most of my teeth are super sensitive and I hate everything. There is literally a ziploc bag full of these sitting a foot away from me and looking at the bag is making me nauseous. So are the matzo crackers, unsalted almonds, and unsalted tortilla chips sitting within my sight-line.
Disgusting. I hate these forever now.

The Devil's Candy
  • Yesterday I got to eat real food for the first time in two weeks. I should clarify that the food I was eating on my low-iodine diet is "real food" in the sense that the meals were simple, healthy, and delicious. The sort of food a normal human being should be eating on a regular basis. But I would drive by Schlotsky's and be like "Damn Schlotsky's sounds good right now," which is literally something nobody has ever said ever. Jenny would talk to me and I'd imagine her head turning into a BBQ sandwich. I was dreaming about Joes KC's Z-Man. On Saturday, I got one for dinner and I could barely appreciate it. The hunger had gone. I still ate it, but it was a workmanlike affair. That afternoon I enjoyed orange chicken from Panda Express, another deep craving from my low-iodine days, because I am disgusting and nothing satisfies like mall Chinese food. This morning I feel a bit better, but I'm still not hungry. I wanted all these pornographic food-eating experiences and now I'm eating because I know I have to. Dad brought me a sausage, egg and cheese english muffin sandwich from Starbucks and hey, that was pretty good, but I'm still not hungry.
Look at this feast! I'll have at it again before my isolation is done,
that's for damn sure. Although I will say, it was takeout, the sandwich was cold,
and I'mma make the moms take me after my full body scan so I can
experience this in its natural habitat.
The star anise flavor in the eggroll was gross,
but the rest was incredible.
  • Although Indian food sounds really good. And maybe because I've been watching the NBA Playoffs. Have you heard of this Steph Curry guy? He's pretty good! And he makes me seriously consider pulling the cancer card and making my dad go out and get me some Chicken Tikka Masala from Korma Sutra. I don't think my parents have ever had Indian food, and I don't think they're gonna start now. 
  • But let's talk about the Golden State Warriors, man. I don't watch the NBA, but this team is super fun. It's great to see a juggernaut full of young dudes just tearing it up doing insane shit. They're playing the New Orleans Anthony Davises, so it's entertaining on both sides of the ball. See how my judgment has been impaired! Has the radiation settled in my brain?! Triple D and NBA? What have I become!
  • I've also been watching a lot of soccer, because it's on. The FA Cup Semifinals were on yesterday and today and I watched both of those matches with a surprising amount of attention. Mostly because I was curled up in bed and didn't have the energy to get distracted by my phone, but still! It led to a lot of navel gazing about American attention spans not being able to deal with the hypnotic, seemingly boring pace of a soccer game. I thought that might be changing after World Cup Fever swept the land, but nobody cares about the MLS unless they live in KC or Portland or Seattle or one of these other poor cities with a lack of professional sporting options. Naturally I've been watching the Royals, which is as close as I've been to normal. It's like hitting the reset button on my brain. I spent an hour managing my Fantasy Baseball team this morning, and I'm writing this long diary entry, so I'm hoping this is a sign of things to come. That maybe I'll write that concept album about Radioiodine Ablation Blues that I was planning on writing, or maybe I'll do a covers album choosing songs from the band posters in my room.
Oh yeah, some hockey too because why not.
  • I wonder what it would feel like for Anthony Davis to slap me in the face. His arms are so long, one of them starts in a different time zone and you have an hour to kill before his hand actually hits your face and knocks your eyeballs out of your head. Sometimes it looks like he's gonna accidentally dunk the top of the backboard.
  • They keep cutting to Steph Curry's family in the stands. They are the most attractive family I have ever seen. 
I mean, just straight up beautiful people.
  • There are THREE Radiohead posters in this room. They're small advertisements for Kid A and Hail to the Thief. It's confusing because I never really loved Radiohead the way I loved Fat Wreck Chords punk rock, This Kid A one is really cool though. Should I record this covers album (I brought my four-track and guitar and recording gear for some reason), at least it would be fun to figure out how to tackle a track from The Streets A Grand Don't Come for Free. I have four more days to kill, so anything could happen! Odds are I'll sleep until I have to go back to work on Friday, however. 
Still Cool
  • There is literally a wall of books I have no desire to read. Hoping the lethargy subsides and I can dig in to some of these books. This is the minor league farm system of my book collection. The good ones are all back home in boxes. The ones on these shelves are the ones I'm invariably going to take back to Half Price Books whenever it comes time to get my collection in order. 
Most likely all casualties when it comes time to cull. The hazards of working
at a used bookstore for 5 years.
  • I finally played some video games last night! I'm nearing Dragon Age: Inquisitions endgame and I can't wait for this game to be over. I only discovered that you can skip through all the chatting with the X button halfway through! THIS WOULD HAVE SAVED SO MUCH TIME. There's just too much damn lore. And I know some people eat that shit up, but I just wanna battle demons, and even that got pretty boring after a while. But even after an hour of that, I stopped, put on sports, and went to sleep. 
  • I thought being radioactive might be interesting. You have this idea like, "Oh my pee will be neon!" or "Oh I'll glow when the lights go out!" but no, it's just like normal except you feel like shit (and even then, I can't verify that the general shitty-feeling-ness is linked). The danger is that nothing is different. But if I like, chewed on one of Rosie's toys and she chewed on that toy, she could ingest that radiation and it would start eating away at her thyroid. That's the scariest shit in the world. I hate that I even have to go upstairs to shower. I can tend to spit when I talk, so talking to my parents on my way up and down, I think, what if a fleck of spit gets on her food tray and she eats off the tray and then my baby can't grow because I fucked up her thyroid! I'm gonna drop $60 on a new Xbox One controller because what if she finds her way to it and the sweat from my palms has irradiated the thing? It's crazy having to be so mindful of one's bodily fluids. Something I clearly wasn't as a high schooler, evidenced on the fact that my basement bathroom is absolutely disgusting. I love my wife for a lot of reasons, and one of those reasons is that she challenges me to be a cleaner, less disgusting man. 
Naturally, my name is misspelled on the lead container holding my
cancer treatment. Wouldn't have it any other way.
Bottoms Up!
  • Fortunately, after today 95% of the excess radioactive iodine will have been excreted from my body and I'll only have to worry about the beta and gamma rays emanating from my neck (where most of the work is being done on the offending thyroid cells, although I'll find out of it's anywhere else during my full body scan on Thursday). 
  • Just realized I've been watching the replay of Game 1 of the Warriors/Pelicans from yesterday. This is how out of it I am. 
And there you go. Don't get thyroid cancer, although I don't know if there's anything you can do to prevent it. I think about that a lot. Was there anything I could have done? Was there a radioactive event in Kansas that was covered up by the government that they'll only declassify 50 years from now? I really don't know. The nuclear medicine guys seemed super confident I'd only need one treatment and that it works 80% of the time. There's a 30% chance of recurrence later in life, at which point I guess I just get another treatment. 

Bathroom mural illustrating my maudlin teenage years. No light at the end of the tunnel,
just terror! Naturally!
My collection of autographed baseballs! 

I think this is a very telling insignia of my upbringing.

There are rules for bathroom usage with this treatment. 

At least I have a porch!
This hole was either made by hurling a baseball at the wall or
practicing my golf skills. No lie. I forget. Probably baseball. The salty
pencilling looks like the work of my brother or some other brute.

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