Monday at 1:30 pm, CST, my husband emerged from his three days of isolation following the ingestion of several  I-131 pills which started the iodine radiation treatment for thyroid cancer; no longer a glow-in-the-dark guy.   An “I-131 Therapeutic Regime” it said at the top of the page of “Instructions for Releasable Patient”, instructions about how not to get radioactivity on anyone else when said patient is released into the world.  Sounds pretty innocuous, doesn’t it, but au contraire, especially when right after taking the pills, the Geiger counter picked up radiation from 6’ away.

The radioactivity leaves the body mainly through the kidneys (i.e. waste products), but a small amount  (how small an amount of radioactivity is OK???) leaves via sweat, spit and so forth.  Unfortunately, those sneaky little pieces of potential badness don’t really obligingly glow in the dark or anywhere else, so it’s tough to see them when trying to clean up any that remain behind, lurking, looking for bodies to glom onto.  Hence, thorough cleaning must be done, but only after the three days of isolation.  Today that time was over; more than over, really, since it was Tuesday at almost noon and his isolation had ended almost 24 hours ago.

I called Nuclear Medicine in the morning and found out how to clean the room, etc. and now it’s all done.  And I do mean all!  I wore gloves and a mask (went through two sets of each so I could reassure my husband that I took all precautions), cleaned every surface and object in the bathroom with the Clorox wipes:  the floor, inside the tub, the shower walls, the toilet, the scale….every single thing. Or as in current parlance ….Every. Single. Thing.

I did the same for the bedroom:  every cord, every magazine, every PlayStation game box, every piece of paper, wastebaskets….well, you get the idea.  The rest of the bedding and the pillow went in garbage bags in the garage, along with the shower curtain.  At the end of a week, we’ll wash what we want washed and pitch the rest.  I wiped the top and sides of the bed (it’s a pad, so we can also toss it if desired) and when I was done vacuuming, I wiped the vacuum, wiped the inside of it and the roller, removed all the fuzz and got rid of the vacuum bag, the gloves and the mask in another garbage bag.  Believe me when I tell you that room is clean.  It’s also aired out because I had the window open and the door shut the entire time. Take THAT, nasty radioactive particles!!

The clothes he’s worn since Monday at 1:30 pm can be washed regularly and today’s load is done, although I washed them twice and the washer once empty afterwards.  The clothes, sheets, towels, etc. that were used during the three days reside for a week in garbage bags in the garage until they can be washed (the twice-washed routine, followed by a washing for the washer with detergent and hot water but no load.)

So we’re all set for being in that room again, as free of radioactivity as it can possibly be without a haz-mat team coming in.  That was Valentine’s Day.  What valentine or gift could be more precious?  Happy Valentine’s Day, dear.  I love you.

Comments
  1. Cindy Marsch says:

    I really appreciate all that detail–you never know when you might need it! And it makes me appreciate what was involved for you!

  2. billgncs says:

    thank you heart of my heart, you held my hand when I was in a dark place.

  3. billgncs says:

    You figuratively held my hand, and I was merely hoping for you in a see through hazmat outfit with six pack of beer ( smile )

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