Friday, October 22, 2021

Adventures with Radiation and a Broomstick

I had a medical adventure this week.
After a number of medical tests and enough blood draws to make a vampire fat,
we're finally zeroing in on what has happened to me in recent months.
I have suddenly developed a hyperactive thyroid,
and yesterday's and today's tests should indicate what is wrong.
Right now I'm radioactive, LOL!

Sky Ridge Medical Center
Lone Tree, Colorado, USA
October 20, 2021
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I went to Sky Ridge Medical Center for an outpatient 
Radioactive Iodine Uptake Scan (RAIU),
for a twenty-four hour test over two days.
This test determines a patient's thyroid function as opposed to its anatomy.

The first thing I did was swallow two radioactive pills 
containing a small amount of radioactive iodine,
a radiotracer that a gamma camera can detect.
I couldn't touch the pills with my hands.  
I had to drop them into my mouth from a special container.
My body identifies the radioactive iodine as iodine
and sends it to my thyroid to be processed into thyroid hormones.
Then I had to wait six hours while the radioactive iodine headed for my thyroid.

No problem!  After nine hours of fasting and not being able to have even a sip of water,
I raced for the hospital's Starbucks!

Starbucks ~ Sky Ridge Medical Center
Lone Tree, Colorado, USA
October 20, 2021
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

And there was a witch with a broom on a Starbucks sign, 
so I have a pitiful something for Rain's Thursday Art Date broomstick theme!
I had no time this week to create art.  

Starbucks ~ Sky Ridge Medical Center
Lone Tree, Colorado, USA
October 20, 2021
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I had planned to go to Park Meadows Mall to shop for some new clothes,
because I hadn't seen the inside of a mall since the beginning of Covid.
But the truth is, I was too tired to face walking all over the huge mall.
When your thyroid runs amok, all kinds of unpleasant things happen.
Your heart races, your breathing is fast and shallow, 
you contend with fatigue, muscle weakness, heat sensitivity, 
tremors, and difficulty sleeping.
The thought of trying on clothes was overwhelming.

Furthermore, I've lost nineteen pounds since April.
I was so excited that I was losing over three pounds a month.
I thought I had figured out how to eat healthy meals
and lose weight after Terry's heart attack in April. 
And now I know it was my hyperactive thyroid in action.  😱
Why buy new clothes if I might puff up on thyroid medicine in a month?
So I plugged my phone into a charging station and hung out.

Six hours later I was lying on a moveable examination table 
with my arms immobilized and my knees raised.
Russ, a friendly, knowledgeable, and calm tech,
slid the table into the machine and positioned an imaging scanner 
above my throat to record the radioactivity emitted by the radiotracer in my thyroid.
All I had to do was lay still for seven minutes for each position of the scanner.

A Similar Machine to Mine
Screenshot from You Tube

The scanners are like Geiger counters.
The radioactive iodine taken up by the thyroid emits gamma rays.
A gamma camera detects the gamma rays, 
and the gamma rays are turned into an electrical signal and sent to a computer.
The computer builds a picture of the different intensities
of the gamma rays in the thyroid, in shades of grey and white.
A gamma scan is also known as a scintigramm.

5 different scintigramms taken from thyroids with different syndroms: 
A) normal thyroid, B) Graves disease, diffuse increased uptake in both thyroid lobes, 
C) Plummers disease (TMNG, toxic multinodular goitre), D) Toxic adenoma, 
E) Thyroiditis. Marker 99Tc  Wikimedia
Then I had a second test sitting in a chair.
Russ placed a probe against my neck and took more gamma measurements,
followed by the probe placed on my thigh for additional gamma measurements.

Photograph of a typical probe counter used for thyroid uptake exams. 
The patient sits with the camera directed at the neck for five minutes, 
and then the leg for five minutes.

This time the computer generated images of the radioactivity 
in a blue or background wave and a red or radioactive wave.
By subtracting my thigh waves from my neck waves, 
the radiologist can determine how active my thyroid is,
the larger the subtracted red area, the more activity in my thyroid.

Today I returned for a second probe of my throat and thigh.
The two probes, 18 hours apart, help the radiologist understand 
the functioning of my thyroid better.

In the past few months, I have experienced increasingly bizarre double vision.
It's really freaky watching your two-headed stylist working on your hair,
with her upper lips talking between her lower eyebrows.

Mr. Bean doesn't come close!

Based on my worsening double vision, 
my doctor and ophthalmologist think I likely have Graves Disease, 
but I won't know until I get the results of my tests.
Maybe Monday!

So why would I share his?
The thyroid is a very important gland!
It creates hormones that enter the bloodstream and travel to every tissue in your body.
The thyroid hormones regulate how your brain, heart, muscles, and other organs function, and they control how your body uses energy and stays warm.
Untreated thyroid problems can be life-threatening.

Thyroid symptoms are often mistaken for symptoms of other conditions.
I had had my annual THS (Thyroid-stimulating hormone) test in November, 
and my results were normal, like they had been for decades.
So my doctor initially looked in other directions:  heart, lungs, abdomen, and blood panels.

Between two sets of blood tests,
I had my freaky hairstyling event and raced to my ophthalmologist.
He coordinated with my doctor, and I had an immediate THS test.
My THS levels were barely detectable, 
meaning my thyroid was hyperactive and producing too much thyroid hormone.
In a few months my THS levels had tanked.

Before I left my doctor's office, my doctor ordered 
a more extensive thyroid blood panel and scheduled me at Sky Ridge for a RAIU.

If you are experiencing concerning symptoms, and you are not finding answers,
be proactive and ask for a thyroid blood panel.
An abnormal THS test can signal that something is wrong.
Additional thyroid blood panels can confirm it.

I hate medical mysteries, especially concerning me.
If you can get a diagnosis, then you can address the problem.
You can be sure I'll address mine, whatever the diagnosis.

Stay happy and safe!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



  1. I am so glad that you got an diagnosis and hopefully some treatment.
    My thyroid is underactive. Our cats is over active. Under or over, if it is acting up you feel foul.
    Look after yourself as best you can.

    1. Thanks, EC! I'll be getting treatment as soon as I see an endocrinologist which will be in four weeks. I am doing the best I can to take care of myself, resting more for sure, and sometimes not by choice. Have a happy weekend! Stay safe and healthy!

  2. The marvels of modern medicine. I guess you are relieved that it is done, and you could have that coffee!! I had a cardiac perfusion scintigram, no coffee for 24 hours before, and the day it was done, a bit like the angiogram .The results will tell you so much more, just a wait and see time. Meanwhile enjoy that coffee, try and keep wither cool or warm, as body temperature can be affected. The new wardrobe? Just think of new clothes as the side result, and enjoy the shopping.XXX and thanks for the very detailed post ( I would expect no less from your skilled mind ) XX

    1. You are a sweetheart, Jean! Thanks for your encouraging words. Twenty-four hours for coffee! I thought fasting and not drinking anything for nine hours was a hardship ~ LOL! I do know about the temperature changes ~ I can heat up like a furnace and warm the air around me. I will have to get something new for Vegas. Terry and I are going soon. We had tickets for Celine Dion, but she had to cancel her residency at Resort World due to illness. I was really disappointed because Celine is great; but, of course, she has to get healthy. We are going to see Derek Hough. I really enjoy him after seeing him on Dancing with the Stars for years. He is a powerful and skilled dancer, so I'm sure his show will be great. I hope all is well with Hugh and you. I think of you two all the time! Love and hugs to you both! XOXOX!

  3. I feel for you Louise! I had to undergo a similar process some years back, and had to stay for a week in an underground bunker at the hospital until I was no longer radioactive! They are sometimes too thorough over here! Since them I'm on medication. I hope all goes well, and that you will soon be feeling better. Hugs, Valerie

    1. Oh my, Valerie! A week in a bunker! You really had a radioactive adventure! I am looking forward to feeling like myself again. I hate feeling so weak and exhausted, but now I know there's an answer and a treatment in my near future. Have an enjoyable weekend. Take care, my friend! XXX

  4. dear Louise you are mountain of courage and bravery indeed and i am saying this because i liked the touch of slight humor you added to your such serious post !

    i think such people are exceptional who can face problem right from front and smilingly while laughing at themselves ,this is gift indeed!

    from your story i think it started all the sudden when you went through the traumatic situation regarding Terry's heart attack .the pressure your body felt that found it's expression through such disturbing condition .

    thyroid problems were more in my native town ,one of my girl friend who was diagnosed with this did not went for the treatment despite of all the pressure her family and in laws put on her. it started when she was hardly twenty two to twenty five and she lived more than thirty three years after that but she kept refusing for the treatment .she was widowed after three years of her marriage and she had two daughters .she died at the age of fifty five .i still wonder why she did this cruelty to herself !

    i never go through such test,my eldest son says when he he get here he will take us for whole body test ,i think this is right way to go for whole body test once in a year. we will try to follow this .
    i am glad you know now what is wrong while things can be corrected by the grace of God!
    i am hundred percent sure that with such blessed attitude you will survive this problem sooner as it never happened because gratitude and humbleness is liked by Creator greatly and he is surly going to favor for this blessed nature you have!
    thank you so much for sharing your heart and as beautifully ! you are shining sun from which i can borrow rays :)
    hugs and blessings to you and all you love my friend! looking forward to learn more please take great care!

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Baili. You are always so kind and uplifting! And insightful! Most people develop thyroid problems much earlier. I've been looking into what causes a hyperactive thyroid. I know I have a genetic predisposition for thyroid problems, because my mother, her brother, and my four siblings all had thyroid issues. But now this happens when I'm 71? One of the causes is emotional stress and trauma. Giving the timing, as you suggested, I think Terry's heart attack played some part in this. A few weeks later, my trainer and friend Julie noticed things were wrong and sat me down to talk about it. She said that I seemed stuck at a very high stress level and couldn't get out of it. We worked on stress reduction, but my heart kept racing more, my breathing was increasingly stressed, and I kept getting weaker and weaker. She insisted I check with my doctor. Finally it's sorted out! I'm so fortunate to have access to good medical care and lots of support. I agree with your eldest son about getting annual full body checkups. It's really important, because you can catch something early before it becomes a serious problem. You have raised a thoughtful, caring, and responsible eldest son, and I know you have two more great sons coming up. It doesn't matter if Terry's heart attack precipitated this. He is everything to me, and I would do anything for him. The shock of nearly losing him in April was traumatizing, especially when it came out of nowhere. I hope we both have many more happy years to share. Team Barbour! LOL! Sending much love to you, Ali, and your boys! I'm so glad you are my dear friend! In many ways we are kindred spirits. Hugs back at you!

  5. Thank you for this. It's good to know!

    Glad they found out what was going on and know how to treat it.

    (This is total Star Trek level medical work, isn't it?? I am amazed.)

    Take Care. ❤️

    1. Thanks, Sandi! I am amazed at the medical care that is available; and when I compare it with the medical care that was available when I was a child, it does feel like Star Trek level medical work. You have a wonderful weekend, my friend!

  6. Darn, you sure went through the ringer and then some. Any Hulk powers result from radiation yet? lol

    Great when you have a good Dr. who will keep on looking until they find what the heck it is. Instead of calling you "normal" or telling you to live with it. Thyroid sure can screw with the entire body when out of whack indeed. I know there is also a bunch of stuff you aren't supposed to eat when you have it. Hopefully the tests come back and you know for sure soon.

    1. I wish I had some Hulk powers, Pat! I like being strong, and becoming weaker has been the pits. But onwards and upwards! And yes, I have a knowledgeable and compassionate doctor which makes me very lucky indeed. I hope you are enjoying a fun weekend. Are you taking your nephews trick-or-treating? I bet you have lots of fun with them at this time of year. Take care!

  7. Well glad they caught it. Those are some freaky side effects. Weight loss? I wish! I have hypo instead, and it does the opposite - weight gain.

    1. Hi, Alex! I have enjoyed the weight loss part! Two of my sisters have hypoactive thyroids, so I know what a challenge weight can be. I finished "Dragon of the Stars" for the second time last night. It was even better this time. I love the story of Aden and Tamsin, and the Dragon is brilliant. The story deals with big issues, and when you finish it, you don't forget it. I really connected with Tamsin, because I made a similar decision long ago. Aden's choice and Tamsin's choice give the story its tremendous heart. And who cannot love the Kargrandes on Kavil and associated with the Dragon? Keep writing, my friend!

  8. I hope you glow in the dark now, Miss Radioactive! That would be cool. Seriously, I hope you get the answers and the treatment you need now! Good luck, Louise!

    1. Thanks, Debra! I will get the treatment I need; and that's a wonderful feeling, because I know I'll be more like myself again. Have a lovely weekend with your Rare One. I know how much you enjoy this time of year! Hugs to you!

  9. Good that you have excellent medical care, Louise. Feel better soon! Too bad it's not quite Halloween - you could have stood outside and glowed in the dark as decoration....

    1. LOL, Barb! I would have loved that! I hope all is well with you. Take care!

  10. Yikes, you don’t do anything halfway! Hugs!!

  11. Yikes, you don’t do anything halfway! Hugs!!

    1. LOL! That's my reputation ~ Overboard Louise! thanks for stopping by! Take care!

  12. I had low thyroid, as did Franklin, but we take our thyroid medication and it has made us well. We have much more energy because of a corrected thyroid. You are right about the importance of the thyroid and how problems with it can seem to something else. I'm glad you have a diagnosis.


    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Janie! I'm glad that you and Franklin are doing well. I have to wait four weeks to see my endocrinologist for the first time. Meanwhile, if my hand tremors and other things worsen, my doctor will prescribe a drug. I expect to learn tomorrow whether I have Graves Disease or something else. I'm thrilled to hear that you both have more energy! Lack of energy has been the most maddening part of this experience. I'm defined by my energy ~ LOL! Have a wonderful week! Hugs to you, Franklin, and Penelope!

  13. I’m so glad you got to the bottom of your problems. Now with the right meds you should be feeling better. I have the exact opposite..hypothyroidism. With meds I’m doing ok. Stay healthy my friend.

    1. Thanks, Peggy! I'm doing everything I can to be as healthy as I can. It will be about a month before I get medications because I haven't seen my endocrinologist yet. But relief is in sight, and I can get through another four weeks. I'll even have a week in Las Vegas to distract me! Wishing you and Don a healthy and happy week! Hugs to you both!

  14. ...I an so glad that things worked out well for you, take care and enjoy your week.

  15. Wow, that's quite a set of test. I recently had an MRI on my prostrate which meant 45 minutes of laying flat in a tube which I likened to sleeping in a snow cave, except it was hot. Thankfully you didn't have a long period like that, but still, the idea of "eating" radiation. I hope all is well.

    1. Thanks, Jeff! It didn't bother me to swallow the radioactive pills. I was more curious than anything. I did find it hard to be still for seven minutes at a time. Forty-five minutes would be torture. I hope you are doing well too. Take care!

  16. Hi Louise! Firstly, I had to laugh VERY loud at the Mr. Bean photo, and the doubling up of his face was freaky! And congrats on finding a broomstick!!! Now seriously, reading what you went through for all of those tests...that is not something I could handle...mind you, when push comes to shove, I'd likely find my courage, but the thought of being radioactive, even in jest, is concerning! I hope you have some answers (as I type this!)

    1. I burst out laughing when I found Mr. Bean, Rain! That's what I see consistently now when my glasses are off. It's freaky, unsettling, and fascinating. I find myself playing in the mirror. This morning by shifting my head and how I look around, I managed to put one eyeball in one of my open mouths ~ LOL! Now that was creepy! And why I'm behind on my day already! I do have an answer. My doctor told me I definitely have Graves Disease. I'm not worried about that, in that my mother, uncle, and brother all had it. I know that it is manageable and not life-threatening if I get it under control. I won't see my endocrinologist until well into November, but I know things will soon get better. I was more curious than concerned about the radioactivity. I trust my doctor who is wonderful, and I am grateful for modern medicine. The bottom line is I want to live and be as healthy as I can. I want to feel energetic and strong again. I'm still working out three times a week with my trainer. It was disheartening to see myself get weaker and weaker and feel shakier and shakier. But now I know it's going to get better. Thanks for getting me going on art. I'm having lots of fun, and it's engrossing and calming. Take care, my friend!

  17. Yes I have had that test. Love your take on it with the funnies. Glad it's over for you and hope you get some help.

    1. Thanks, Nicole. I expect to get some help well into November. I'm glad the tests are behind me. It was a fascinating, but tiring experience. Humor makes everything go better. Have a happy Friday and a relaxing weekend! Take care!

  18. Oh my! I'm sorry you have to go through all that. Hopefully you'll get the answers you are seeking.

    Love your touch of humor in even such a sobering topic for your post.


    1. Thanks AJC! Humor helps me process things and tamp back worry. I am grateful for modern medicine and hopeful for a healthier future. Thanks for visiting. Blessings to you! Take care!


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.