…You thought I’d told you all the bad news about my radiotherapy didn’t you?
Aside from the radiotherapy itself, which will cause dry mouth, a sore throat and neck (around my surgery scars), nausea and a few other side effects (which are NOTHING compared to me not being able to cuddle my own children)…
Two weeks before I go in to hospital for my treatment, I have to stop taking my thyroid hormones (these are what your body makes for you if you have a thyroid, but I take by pill, as they removed my thyroid). This will cause my brain to send a signal to any remaining thyroid tissues, telling them to work harder (known as TSH levels). By working harder, those tissues and any remaining Cancer cells, will work harder to absorb the radiation.
Stopping my thyroxine, will induce a state known as hypothyroidism. Whilst “hypo”, I am expected to lose my appetite, feel depressed, feel cold, feel tired and run down.
I shouldn’t know what this feels like, but I do…
Last week my oncologist rang me to tell me I’ve slipped into a hypo by accident, because my thyroxine levels haven’t levelled out yet, since my surgery. At the time I was pulled over at the M4 Reading services, on my way home from a meeting in Windsor, as I was feeling too tired to drive. It was the only day in a week I hadn’t cried. I didn’t feel like eating much and I felt very low.
After my surgery, I was overdosed (hypERthyroid) and feeling wretched for a long time, so they kept lowering my dose. That caused me to swing the other way (hypOthyroid). Being hypothyroid or hyperthyroid in extremes can be dangerous and both make you feel unwell.
So hopefully I’m coming out of it now. I’m not exactly full of beans, but I’m going back to deep hypo in a weeks time anyway, so I’ll barely have time to rebuild my strength.
Am I done with the crap news?
During my two week hypo, I also have to go onto a low iodine diet. This is to starve my body of iodine, because natural iodine, blocks radioactive iodine. We want the radioactive iodine to work and we want the Cancer cells to be hungry for it (so we can kill the bas*#@ds).
Do you know how many foods contain iodine?
Nearly everything! And as iodine is a trace mineral, rather than an ingredient… foods are not labelled with it!
I can’t eat anything containing:
* Dairy (this includes soya and all dairy alternatives)
* Fish / Seafood
* Iodized Salt or Sea Salt (this rules out all salts unless I put them in myself as the type of salt in products is rarely labelled).
* Red dye E127
* Anything containing Molasses
* Instant Coffee or Instant Tea
So I can eat bread which is not fortified. – but I can’t have butter, or nutella, or cream cheese, or cheese! So why would I want bread?!
I can’t eat yoghurt, cream, milk, ice cream, cake or even CHOCOLATE!
What can I eat?
Black Pepper and Coca Cola apparently!
In all seriousness, I am allowed:
* Most fruits and most veg – but not the green leafy kind and no rhubarb.
* Fresh Meat – straight from the butchers, untampered with, not injected with broth or processed in any way (so sausages are out!)
* Some kinds of pasta, depending on how they are made (so best I make my own!)
* Basmati rice – although it is not recommended.
* The insides of potatoes but not the skins.
* SOME Unfortified cereals are okay.
My amazing friend Azaria (whom you can find on twitter as @NomasaurusEats), is going to help me make some foods in advance, that I can freeze. Obviously once I’m in a hypo, I wont feel up to cooking much!
So far we have come up with the following that I/we can make:
* Fruit Salad
* Almond milk – so that I can have cereal for breakfast.
* A tomato pasta sauce – So I can have spag bol type meals.
* Stock – If it’s possible to make a low iodine stock – then I wont have to rule out gravy!
I’m also thinking my Tefal Fresh Express and my Actifry will come in super handy. I’m thinking:
* Chicken, baby tomatoes, peppers and parmentiers – thrown in the actifry, will make a nice meal.
Anyone else got any ideas?
More info on Low Iodine Diets can be found on the Thyca website, including this cookbook, which I need to find the brainpower to study! After all – I’m going to have to do this diet again in 6 months time!
Oh Emma I am so sorry you have to go through all this. ((((hugs))))
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Sarah MumofThree World says
What a nightmare for you. So glad you’ve got someone to help you with your food, although I know that’s the least of your worries. I’m sure you’ve got lots of practical support at home too because it sounds like you’re going to need it. Sending hugs and best wishes and you know where I am if you need anything. X
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Oh Emma, I’m not sure it could get any worse 🙁 And I can’t give you any meal planning advice, but I can give you sympathy and a big virtual *hug*. So sorry you’re having to go through all of this 🙁 x
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Bless you, you really are going through the mill.
I’m not sure if this is any use, but I make a Greek’ish style dish with chicken breast cooked in tinfoil with a tbs of lemon juice, a chopped clove of garlic ground black pepper and thyme. My friends love it. I normally add a tsp of butter but you can skip that bit! You could have it with the insides of a jacket and some veggies??? Will try and think of some other recipes for you too. Sending hugs xxx
That is lovely for your friend to help you. What a nightmare for you – big virtual hugs x
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I am overwhelmed by how bravely you write – you are fighting this illness so wonderfully and your family will get the biggest hugs ever on that day when you can have contact with them again. Maybe this sounds silly (but it has worked for us being far away from family and using Skype) but might I suggest maybe get a couple of sets of duplicate toys/puppets so that you can mime hugging one (radioactive) puppet and then the family can get a real hug from the non-radioactive one? We use Puppet Company bears/bunnies…As for recipes -how about a Beef or Mutton stew with tomatoes/carrots/peeled potatoes/peas…French garlic& onion soup with croutons on top…we do a (lowcarb) cauliflower “rice” by frying off blitzed cauliflower with garlic (use oil instead of butter for now) which goes well with curry. How about lentils/beans? I guess the less processed the better. Sending you best wishes x
Emma Day says
Thankyou for your lovely comment and ideas.
The problem with stew, is I can’t have gravy, unless I can make non iodised stock. I’m not allowed beans either. I shall have to find out about lentils. Soup is an option, although I have quite a large appetite so usually consider soup as a snack! Lol.
Cauliflower rice sounds nice. I’m a big garlic lover!
Thankyou for all your suggestions, I really appreciate it. Love the puppet idea. Xx
Ah – have googled a bit and opinions seem to vary on the lentils front. I found this cookbook which says beans are ok (but you’ve been advised not?) so you could check first – but it does have a recipe for broth (stock?) so that you could have stews/soups without using stock cubes etc http://www.checkyourneck.com/media/lol-low-iodine-cookbook.pdf Hurrah for garlic though. Thinking of you so much!
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can we email each other, im in the same situation, iodine diet next week and radioacive pill 11 june. kate x
Lots of yummy low iodine recipes on my blog at http://www.theannoyedthyroid.com I have enjoyed a low iodine diet three times and have fine tuned all my favourite recipes! Swapped regular tea for herbal tea, swapped butter for coconut oil/avocado and swapped chocolate for home made bliss balls! Also made my own bread, stock and a whole batch of freezer dinners, for the time when I was too radioactive or too tired to cook for the family. A low iodine diet just requires a organisation and imagination. It can be tough, but it’s temporary, rise to the challenge and enjoy the ride!
Usha Gupta says
I am surprised by how bravely you managed. So sorry to hear this.