The next step in my cancer journey is radiation. For many, this involves a machine and doesn’t sound like a terribly pleasant experience. For me, it will (they tell me) involve two pills, three days, and four nights in isolation. The two pills are radioactive iodine, which is absorbed by thyroid tissue. If you have a healthy thyroid, this would be very bad news, which is why they put me behind the lead walls for a time. For me, radioactive iodine should attack and kill whatever remains of thyroid in my body, including the tissue that remains in the wake of the surgery and any potential seedlings the original tumour planted in other parts of my body (most vulnerable being lungs and bones).
I imagine it like those flesh-eating fish, little tiny ones, who are only interested in a particular kind of flesh (dead stuff). And somewhere in the world (I can’t remember where), it’s de rigeur to put your feet in this special little ponds and these flesh-eating fish surround you, pulling off dead flesh and leaving the living stuff. They clean you off, let you start fresh. They say it tickles, having flesh-eating fish clean off your feet. This is exactly what I imagine when I think of the radioactive iodine treatment. They tell me it won’t hurt at all.
But I will be in isolation for three days, four nights. Once I have that dose, they leave me in a room of my own, with a bathroom of my own, and no one, not even nurses or doctors, come in or out. They will call me to check on me, and my dad is convinced they will have me on closed-circuit tv, but for all intents and purposes I will be alone.
I don’t think they have an internet connection in there. (If ever an internet connection was needed, I would think it would be there.) Apparently people find the isolation the hardest part. My endocrinologist’s office recommends getting the tv hook up. Strongly.
I’ve decided to think of it like a spa retreat. Three days, four nights of mud masks and salt scrubs. The paperwork recommends bathing daily while in isolation, because the radioactivity is excreted through your pores throughout the day. Some patients, they say, bathe several times a day. So I’ve decided this three days, four nights will be a celebration of body washes and exfoliants and smelly shampoos.
I’ll get the tv hook up. But I also need books. Right now the only thing I can really wrap my brain around is young adult fantasy fiction. I’ve read pretty much all of Brian Jacques Redwall books, I read Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart and Inkspell (so relentless! So German!), and I’m just finishing Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series (Magik, Flyte and Physik), which I absolutely loved. Sure it’s a bit Harry Potter, but it’s sweet and funny and the people are inherently good. Any recommendations? I was considering A Series of Unfortunate Events, but it might not have that general feelgoodness that I’m somehow searching for. I want to love the main characters desperately. I want to admire them while still feeling that they’re human. I hate it when I hate most of the characters in a book. I find it disheartening. I should take Spiderwick, that’s a given; I spent one sickly new year’s eve at Holly Black’s house, and I’ve been meaning to read all the chronicles for ages. Any others? There must be a million Harry Potter spinoffs, right? Please feel free to recommend something. I’m going to need to purchase enough to last me three days, four nights, because somehow I can’t imagine any public library would be too pleased about me taking their books with me into radioactive isolation.