Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail

In my last post on this topic, I talked about the procedure the day I received the radiation pill up until I made it home.  This post looks more at my time in the slammer, the hole, radiation jail, or the Plastic Palace - whatever you like to call it.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail

The weekend before I started living in the bedroom, we took most everything out.  The bed, bed frame, bookcase, decor, all my hair products, perfumes, and hair tools all had to be placed in other rooms.  The dressers that were too heavy to move stayed in place.  Since all of Sean's things are stored in the bedroom, we made sure Sean had all the clothes, underwear, and socks he would need for two weeks before wrapping things up. Both dressers were wrapped in plastic and we laid a giant plastic sheet on the carpet as well.  I wanted to be as thorough as possible in covering everything to reduce any contamination.

I will also add that NO precautions were given to me until right before I received the radioactive pill.  I have bitched about it before and I will again.  Maybe someone in the medical field will take notice.  No one went over anything other than a few guidelines the endocrinologist gave a few months prior,  when we first talked about me planning radiation.  Those guidelines consisted of how long I had to be away from my husband and pregnant women after I took the pill.  Everything I learned about precautions and covering things I learned because I have the internet. I wanted to be super prepared and overly cautious about contamination, so I started researching guidelines and such myself.  Only because of my foresight to look these things up or question what needed to be done was I able to take the proper precautions and be completely prepared for my time of living in the plastic room.  I was very frustrated by the nonchalant attitude and lack of more information until the last minute.

It took us quite a few hours to get everything wrapped up the night before.  If you ever find yourself in this situation, I recommend you spend the whole weekend before radiation wrapping things.  You will just be too emotionally exhausted and stressed out the night before.  All I wanted to do was curl up on the couch with Sean and the fur boys to spend time with them, but we were wrapping more things in plastic until about 2 AM.

Here is the room I lived in for nine days.  (I couldn't leave the room for seven days.)

My Plastic Palace

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail

The above view is from the bedroom door.  You can see my air mattress bed at the far wall, my little "food corner" on the black dresser, my lovely plastic-wrapped "living room" area, and the corner of the desk I used as a work station.


DivineMrsDiva.com - Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail

The air mattress is an old one we have had for a while, so we don't really mind parting with it if need be.  I used an older pillow and comforter that could be thrown away as well.  We did have to spend about $60 or so on quite a few sets of super cheap queen sheets.  I had to change the sheets every day for at least the first four days.  (The first four days are the days when I was most toxic.)  I ended up doing laundry on the 7th day and washed them all, so we didn't throw them away.  I placed a giant plastic comforter bag in the corner here and used it as a dirty clothes hamper.  On the mattress you can see my paper towels I used as napkins and to dry my hands in the bathroom.  I also had various travel sized versions of toiletries divided into plastic bags, as well as a fresh set of everything I could switch to after the first four days.  That means, I had to throw away the toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoos and conditioners, body wash, body scrub, face wash, hand soap, mouthwash, etc. and replace them with new ones.


DivineMrsDiva.com - Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail

This is my little "food corner".  We brought in my super old microwave from my bachelorette days for use during the day.  It will be tossed when the time comes.  (All my trash and things to be thrown away have to sit in a stored location - the corner of my backyard and my garage - for a couple months before they are put out for collection.)  I stored extra paper plates and bowls, plastic utensils, napkins, snack bags, and food items here, along with a box of ziploc baggies filled with my vitamin supplements and medications.  Also, you can see all my water that I worked through in the first handful of days.  I had to drink a lot of water to flush the radiation out of my system.  I bought a Groupon for a gluten-free monthly subscription box, so I saved some of the bags of chips, oatmeal, and soups and had those during the day.  Sean would leave my breakfast (banana and almond butter) at the door before he left for work.  He always comes home for lunch and would make my lunch and leave it at the door. (I wasn't allowed to be in close proximity to him or the fur boys for at least seven days.  After that I could stay six feet away for a few more days.)  In the evenings, he would make dinner and provide that for me as well.


DivineMrsDiva.com - Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail

This is the covered dresser with the television and stereo.  Thankfully, I could watch TV, DVRed shows, and Netflix to my heart's content.  My friend dropped a DVD of her favorite movie, When Harry Met Sally, off with me too, so I watched that as well.  I also stored my extra latex gloves (I wore gloves every time I showered for the first few days and every time I used the bathroom for the duration of my stay), trash bags, and Kleenexes here.  I didn't really get too close to this area, so the uncovered things should be okay.


DivineMrsDiva.com - Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail

Looking to the opposite side of the room, we covered the closet wall with plastic because I was over in that corner a majority of my time.  We used an old table partially covered in plastic and an old chair we completely covered as my office area.   The CPU was in the closet behind the plastic, but we used an old monitor, keyboard, and speakers up on the table.  I kept all my sour hard candy at my desk so I would remember to constantly use it.  I had to suck on hard sour candy constantly to keep my saliva moving through my salivary glands.  You don't want the radioactive saliva just sitting in there.

In the back corner were my boxes of cheap towels and old clothes and underwear and socks.  I took all my old and ill fitting house clothes to wear while in the slammer.  Even though I washed everything at the end, the towels are total crap and will be thrown away.  As you can see, we took no prisoners in wrapping the loveseat, wheeled table, and remotes.  The plastic loveseat was no fun. It was so noisy and hard to get comfortable on it.  The cushions would constantly slip right from underneath me and the plastic made me really warm.  I did end up laying an old blanket on top of it and that helped.

I was able to open the bedroom window to get some fresh air from time to time.  One of those times a giant bumblebee as big as my thumb flew in and scared the crap out of me!  Thankfully, he left quickly, but that gave me a scare.


DivineMrsDiva.com - Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail

The bathroom was a whole other beast.  A majority of the radiation had to leave my body through urine and saliva, so I had to be extra cautious in the bathroom to make sure there was no contamination.  We started by taking everything out of the bathroom.  The faucet and shower door bars were wrapped in plastic and plastic shower curtains were placed as a barrier on the inside.  I had to shower twice a day for the first three to four days, changing my clothing each time.  After I showered, I had to rinse the entire shower area with water.  With this type of radiation, it can be rinsed away with lots of extra water; So that was good in making me feel like I could keep the room clean at least.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail

The floor and counter were covered in plastic and the garbage can was triple bagged.  Each time I used the bathroom, I had to close the lid and flush three times.  Afterward, I would lift the lid and wipe all the surfaces of the toilet down with a wet wipe or wet paper towel.  I washed my hands extra thoroughly and used paper towels to dry them.  (the above photo shows the bathroom before I cleaned everything out the morning before radiation.)  My bags of toiletries were all on the counter here.

When brushing my teeth, I had to spit into the toilet the first three days (at least) then flush several times.  If I did spit in the sink, I had to clean it profusely with water and wash my hands again.  I wiped down the counter space, floor, and toilet rather often to keep contamination down.


DivineMrsDiva.com - Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail
Clockwise from top left: Sean made some super tasty stove-top popcorn for me; my friend Sami dropped off a gift basket with a magazine, DVD, candle, lemonade, wine, gluten-free cookies, nail polish, and pedicure goodies, lipgloss, pore strips, and hand cream;  Sean brought me flowers on Friday like he always does.  They made my plastic room a little cheerier; Remotes wrapped in plastic along with my hard candies.


DivineMrsDiva.com - Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail
Skyping with the Boys
DivineMrsDiva.com - Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail


After seven days, I was able to leave the room and do laundry.  In doing the radioactive laundry, each load had to be washed two or three times.  Once I was finished with all radioactive laundry, I had to run the washing machine four times to clean it.  I don't even know what the water bill looks like right now. lol   My skin and hair was super dry from all the showering and hand washing, so I started doing some extra moisturizing and deep conditioning after the seven days.  I still wasn't able to hang out with Sean, although by Night 8 I did sit in the living room at dinner time and watch an hour long show.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thryoid Cancer Update: My Plastic Palace/Radiation Jail
My desk arrangement and all the dirty clothes on laundry day.


Luckily, my only side effects from the radiation were sore salivary glands the first couple of days.  The soreness lessened and diminished in that time as I sucked on extra hard candies.  I feel really grateful to not have had any other issues.  Aside from being isolated from my husband, furkids, and friends, dreading what side effects might come was really hard for me.  The not knowing, not being sure of exactly what would happen, was terrifying.  The whole week I was just a mess of anxiety and sadness, worrying about every aspect of what was going to happen.  When I first started this series of documenting my journey, I intended it to be a comprehensive look at the feelings as well as the procedure of it all.  Somehow, I feel like conveying my feelings took a backseat in order to educate others that may be going through this.  It is all very tough.  It isn't easy; and brave faces can still have tears on them.  Overall, my time in radiation jail, while isolating and annoying and monotonous and also kind of exhausting, was pretty easy and went by fairly quick.

During my time in the slammer, I mostly worked online, watched TV shows, chatted with friends online, and played online games.  The first weekend I was in was another Elder Scrolls Online Beta weekend, so that gave me something to do.  I also started watching Veronica Mars via Amazon Instant Video.  I had never seen the series before and quickly became obsessed!  When Sean would get home in the evenings, we would start Skyping.  With Skype, we could hang out while he cooked dinner, eat dinner together, and watch some shows before bedtime.  It was nice to be able to talk to him and see him and the boys during my isolation.


The ninth day was my follow-up scan and my first time out in that time period.  I was thrilled and the weather was amazing!  Next time, we'll chat about my follow-up results!


2 comments :

  1. So I have quietly been following your process with the radiation pill and the complications that come with it..and I am just in awe of how you dealt with it. Sure, we don't show how it feels on a hard day .. but I got a pretty clear idea of what this was like. My mother had cancer so I am not new to this. Just want to give you a great big hug and say you put mere mortals like me to shame with how courageous and positive you are. You are such a bright soul and I am so glad to have gotten to know you. Sending you a lot of love :)

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    Replies
    1. Aw, you are gonna make me cry! Thank you so much for your kind words. It really means a lot to me. I appreciate the love and virtual hugs! And I am glad to be getting to know you too :-)

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