Radioactive Day 1:
I have been admitted to this hospital three times in the past six and a half months. Between the labour and delivery of my son, a full thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine treatment, I choose radioactive iodine treatment. This was, by far, the least difficult procedure.
I had a pregnancy test, swallowed a Gravol pre-emptively, and then a woman whom I lovingly call The Nuclear Lady took a lead cup out of a larger lead vat, tipped it upside down into my hands and out fell a small, white capsule. She stepped back, asked me to swallow it, then used a Geiger Counter to measure my radioactive levels from a metre away and two metres away. I said, "Am I radioactive already?" She smiled and said, "Oh yes." Then she said, "See you Thursday," and departed.
There is a lovely make-shift rug made of paper towel rolls taped to the bathroom floor, should any of my radioactive body fluids spill. And there is a sign on my door reading "NO VISITORS. RADIATION AREA." It's very official. My nurses ring me on the phone when their shifts begin and end to ask if I need any more ice water or ginger ale. If I do, I roll the tray to the door and they open it just enough to get their arm through, they slip me the stuff and then wave.
I have four garbages with a different sign for each one. Here are the categories: Food that have been partially eaten (contaminated with my saliva); Foods that are uneaten (LOTS of the hospital foods fell under this category); Objects like cutlery and cups that have come into contact with my saliva; Objects like water jugs and knives that have not come into contact with my saliva.
I watched two seasons of The Office and crocheted for a while. I peered out the window in my door for a bit too. I watched some T.V. (Friends), but I found myself overly aware of people contaminating their cutlery with their saliva.
The foods seemed edible for exactly one meal. All food waste and everything entering the room must stay in the room for the duration of the visit. I began to feel low-grade queasiness and soon attributed that to the hospital food: the shoe-leather like roast beef, the mound of mushy peas, the ever-climbing hill of plain rice cakes (by the end, there were ten), the moldy apple, the brown banana....(which I did eat....I was just hungry enough). After the first meal, I decided that three days is not long enough for a person to starve to death. I pledged to weather the blood sugar valleys in favour of maintaining this visit's vomit-free record. Indeed, this is the only one of the hospital stays in which I have not thrown up yet.