Ask Jo: Radioactive Iodine and Diets

Every so often blog readers ask questions that I think other readers might want to know the answers to.  I answer them here on the blog.  Today is one of those days.

Earlier today I gave you a little tour of the quilts that I have that all need to be quilted.
Here’s the question from  Ellen:  “I’m not understanding why you can touch some quilts that you give away but not charity quilts……I understand the radioacive iodine pill. but the explanation for touching some not all eludes me. Enjoy that oatmeal!!!!”

This is what I was told by my doctor.

I am allowed to sew after taking my Radioactive Iodine Treatment.  I am allowed to touch things, rub against them etc.  Any of the things I touch will naturally loose their radioactively gradually.  Every seven days the amount of radioactive materials on them gets cut in half.  (you might remember the term “half life” from your science classes)  Eventually over the period of 3 months, any radioactivity will be naturally gone from them.  I can also opt to wash them in the washing machine and they will be okay too.  Also, after seven days the amount of radioactivity on them from my touching them will be harmless to any adult.

With that in mind, I’ve been quilting Kelli’s quilts and my quilts right now.  They will either be here for the three months or we’ll wash them or the seven days will be up so they will be harmless.

With the charity quilts, I have volunteers that will be binding them.  Because of that, they can’t be washed.  When I work on them on the quilting machine if I wait eight days out, any radioactivity that naturally gets on them will already be at “half life” and will be safe for all.  By the time I package them up and send them out to volunteer binders, with be another eight days away making the “half life” half again…make sense?  At this point, there is absolutely no danger to anyone at all.These are extreme cautions I am making.  At this point in my treatment being I am now four days away from the time I took the meds I can sleep in the same bed with my husband, cook for him, and even be intimate.  If I had any other job besides childcare, I would be allowed to return to my job.  The reason I can’t do childcare is that children are WAY more sensitive than adults are to radio active iodine.  I don’t remember the number..I think 70% more sensitive. For the kids, I have to stay away for 16 days…happily for the way the weekends work out, I’ll actually be away from my kiddos for 18.  That makes me feel even safer.

Staying away from the quilts and not touching them is totally precautionary and I’ve pre-cautioned likely far more than needed.

I also got several notes and emails from readers concerned about my zeal to go back to what I normally eat.

Thanks for the concerns….I have to say this though.  I’ve been on every diet imaginable in my life.  I’ve read diet book after diet book.  I’ve lost and gained the same 40 pounds time and time and time again.  For every “eat this” book, there is an “eat that” book LITERALLY.  For every writer who shows “scientific proof” of this, there is one that shows “scientific proof” of that.  The only thing I truly believe anymore is the less processed the better.  Any beef we eat, Hubby fed it.  We know exactly what it has eaten and how it was cared for.  Any pork we eat is a from a friend.  We too know how it ate and it’s living conditions.  We butcher it ourselves.  We eat very little processed food.  I shop the outer ring of the grocery store for the vast majority of what we eat.  I buy fresh over frozen when I can.  I rarely buy canned.  That’s the best I do….

Dairy products don’t bother me.  I live in dairy country.  I grew up the daughter of a dairy farmer.  To be honest, my dad’s cow “Big Joey” was one of my first friends in life.   I cried and cried the day she died. Her death is one of my first childhood memories.  I don’t drink much milk at all…but I love cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, and sour cream.  I always have…always will.  Some people are still on the “light” dairy product kick…that whole milk is the current “diet devil” much like eggs and cholesterol were a decade ago.  I’m not that girl.

If dairy products and meat are the death of me….what a happy way to go!

I am so grateful the grocery stores offer foods for everyone and their dietary needs and beliefs.  I know I was very relieved to find some salt free items when I needed them.  I am glad our daughter Kelli finds gluten free products as that is what she feels most comfortable with.  I am also glad that our daughter Kayla can find what she needs as a vegan….all you organic eaters…I’m glad there are options for you too.

As a diabetic, I understand balance and moderation.  For many carbs aren’t a problem, for me they are but I won’t eliminate them.


I’m going back to dairy products today…moderately. Everything with moderation.  I’m going back to eggs with yolks.

I really appreciate everyone’s concern for my health but for me it’s a happy day today!!  I can eat what I choose.  More than anything, free choice is what I need.  Steps towards feeling “normal” are so refreshing and motivating.  This is a huge step in getting the life I had back…more than anything, that’s what I want…it’s what I need.

P.S. The microwave oatmeal (recipe here) with walnuts and raspberries was de-lish!



7 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Radioactive Iodine and Diets”

  1. I thought about you a first break! While I ate my yogurt, I wondered if you had your oatmeal yet. I bet t was the best!! Enjoy the rest of your day!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to explain your choices. I did research before I posed my inquiry and didn’t find anything that could equate to your quilting choices. Half-life is a great thing!

    I’m with you on your dietary choices. We farm girls gotta stick together !!!

  3. I agree with your food perspective, possibly because I grew up around farms and ranches. I am also a fan of Julia Child’s, “All things in moderation, including moderation.” I hope I didn’t offend by my earlier comment, I had just been surprised by the way my body reacted and shared out of the hope of you avoiding discomfort. Hope you are able to get closer and closer to “normal for you” each day.

    1. No- glad for the note Robby. I have actually gotten several emails and only a few comments about concern for my diet. It’s all good. It’s nice to know people care.

  4. WOW! I LOVE what youve said here! As someone who was suddenly struck by a dibilitating illness at a quite rather young age, i soooooo get this! Ive eaten well since well before eating well was “in”. Ive always been concious of “processed” and like you, i suppose like all of us, i have my beliefs about food…meat, not bed…grocery store meat? NEVER! It IS a balance.
    And so many folks want to hand out advice on what YOU should be doing…as if we havent already read this crap online ourselves right? I mean, we TRY to not be rude, but there are soooooo many (ahem…clears throat) “doctors” wanting to hand out advice to us on what we need to do to get better! But they dont realize we get this from EVERYONE we talk to…and it gets old and frustrating….and perhaps we should be flattered that they think enough of us to,spend time researching for us, but really, it almost seems as if they dont think we care anough about ourselves to do the same or know enough about our own bodies to know what does and does not work…and you, with a blog (me=almost hermit), i know you have it MUCH worse than i…but this is a great post! And the respect of the diversity in your family is awesome as well.

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