Another round of I-123 whole body scan

Photo of a syringe
Photo of a syringe

From the last post, I mentioned that my doctor was concerned with some blood draw results, since I have an odd unknown thing on the left side of my neck. She said that the next step was for me to have the I-123 whole body scan to make sure no thyroid cancer cells started growing anywhere.

Starting on a Monday, I began the low-iodine diet consisting mostly of fruits, vegetables, homemade bread, pasta, gluten-free dark chocolate, no sodium ground turkey, and no sodium chicken. I marked my weight being 123.4 lbs. For the first week, I felt fine. But that Sunday, I felt incredibly hungry. I found that a local grocery store carried gluten-free and other special diet foods so that helped. Unlike last time where I lost a lot of weight, the most that I lost this time was 3.6 lbs.

The food was a bit bland at times, as dairy, stuff with sea salt, lots of meat, certain beans, and etc was prohibited. You’d be surprised at how much food has milk, soy, and is probably made with iodine salt. All were big no-no’s on this diet. The lack of a variety of tasty food made me tired for the nearly two weeks that I was on this diet. Besides work, nothing else really got done.

That following Monday, there were medical appointments each day, at approximately at the same time as the previous one. The first two days consisted of one Thyrogen 0.9 mg IM injection. These shots are to make me hypothyroid – so, tired and slow.

Oh, you get these shots in your ass. Just so you know. Just in case you usually go commando most days. But the nurses probably don’t care

The third day was going to the labs for blood and then taking ten sodium iodide I-123 capsules. I was surprised that it was only ten this time. Wasn’t it twenty last time? Also different was how they were packaged. Instead of metal canisters, these pills were in a single thick plastic canister. Inside this canister was a funnel looking thing that held the pills. I could pick out a few easily, but when I tried to bang the rest out, several fell on the floor. I apologized and the medical attendant picked them off the floor and handed them to me, asking if I needed more water. Since I was given a single 8 oz bottle of water, I said yes. And I asked if taking the pills off the floor was okay. The medical attendant said, “five second rule,” and then left to give me another small bottle of water.

You probably don’t know this about me, but I’m a bit of a germaphobe. It drives my husband crazy at times. So, I’m staring at these pills, wondering if I really need to take them. What could a few missing ones hurt? Since the attendant left, I could toss them and he wouldn’t know. But I figured that since I received half the amount than last time, I probably should take these. But it was a struggle. I tried to wipe this pills off the best I could without accidentally opening them. And then I swallowed them, finishing off the first water bottle. Ugh. So gross.

The fourth day was the whole body scan. I had to stay still for about an hour while the machine scanned me. It was nice to have the heated blanket covering me. I should have asked for the plastic splints or whatever they are called to help keep my arms at my side. After awhile of trying to stay completely still, my arms felt weird and week. Oh, and if I have to do this again, I’ll ask to have my phone play music somewhere above my head. It gets a bit boring when you’re the only one in the room and you aren’t allowed to move for an hour.

But once the scan is over, it’s time to eat normally again! It was the highlight of the two weeks. I’m sure that I annoyed many people with my wish list of all the food that I was going to eat once I could eat whatever I wanted again. I think I gained back that 3.6 lbs that same day. So proud. And I’m not even kidding.

That Friday saw me back at the labs for more blood work so that they can check my thyroglobulin levels.

I’ll write about the results of all these fun tests in the next posting.


The six months neck ultrasound – low iodine preparation – oh joy!

Once you have your thyroid removed from cancer or its death, you’ll learn to have a medical fetish or a grow a fondness (or dread) of people in scrubs and jackets.

Looking over the sheet telling me that because my “thyroglobulin has remained undetected, however Tg-Ab present,” the medical staff is planning a I123WBS (meaning Whole Body Scan) for me. Oh joy.

So here we go again with the low iodine diet for two weeks.

Pro – I get to loose some weight that I’ve gained from not exercising as I should be.

Another pro – I get to work from home one week as I’d probably get fired otherwise. (I get extremely cranky when I don’t get a steady diet of eating whatever the heck I want).

Con – I get cranky. Very cranky.

So what does the second week look like?

Continue current Levothyroxine dosing. Start low iodine diet 7 to 10 days prior to I-123 whole body scan. Do not resume regular diet until after scan is completed.

Day 1
Thyrogen 0.9 mg IM, injection #1, administered in the clinic.

Day 2
Thyrogen 0.9 mg IM, injection #2, administered in the clinic.

Day 3
Arrive at nuclear medicine department, where I-123 capsule is administered, TSH testing.
I-123 NM whole body scan (radiology), TSH blood draw (lab).

Day 4
Return to Nuclear Medicine at the Hospital for I-123 whole-body scan (24 hours after capsule taken).
I-123 NM whole body scan (radiology).

Day 5
Go to Hospital Outpatient Lab for thyroglobulin.
Thyroglobulin blood draw routine.

Resume regular diet and continue on levothyroxine after the scan.
Post-surgical hypothyroidism: Goal TSH is less than 0.5. TSH at target.

For everyone else going through this, I wish you luck and lots of delicious food afterwards.