Low-Iodine Living

Low-Iodine Living

I will never complain about having to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner again!

That is what I’ve learned from being on the super restrictive low-iodine diet for the last five days. Oh, I’ve also learned that iodine is present in just about everything. Cereal? Yup! Dairy? You bet. All of the things that I would normally consume in the span of a day contain some degree of salt, and therefore iodine (you can read more about the low-iodine diet, here).

When the doctor’s office told me I would be going for an I-131 whole body scan, they only mentioned avoiding shellfish. Easy enough, or so I thought. Upon further investigation of the low-iodine diet, I found that there are a number of no-no’s aside from shellfish.

If you are reading this post and wondering what the heck all of this means, let me explain. Back in November, my antithyroglobulin numbers began to rise. My surgeon suggested that we wait until February and retest. So we did another round of blood work and another neck ultrasound. My antithyroglobulin went from 233 in November to 302 in February (it had been at 40 in early 2016). After a panel of physicians met and discussed my case and treatment options, they decided that I should have a radioactive scan of my whole body done to see if there is remaining thyroid tissue that is causing the numbers to increase…or something more serious.

Which brings me to the low-iodine diet. To get a proper reading from this scan, the body needs to be deprived (or starved) of iodine, so that when the radioactive iodine pills are administered, the thyroid cells will absorb the iodine (because they are starving), and glow on the scan.

Fortunately for me, I can continue taking my daily thyroid hormone replacement (Synthroid), thanks to the invention of Thyrogen, a synthetic drug that gets injected two days in a row prior to the scan.

Unfortunately for me, my surgeon is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Each day next week I must go into the City (a four-hour round-trip commute) to have blood drawn and the Thyrogen and radioactive iodine pills administered prior to the scan. Then I must undergo the scan itself.

Let’s hope that this anticipated Nor’Easter (predicted on the East Coast for next Tuesday and Wednesday) decides to go elsewhere, that I can last another week on this dreadful low-iodine diet, and that Friday, March 17th comes quickly.