How many people can say they’ve swallowed a radioactive pill? It’s a very strange feeling to be comfortably sitting just outside the “hot” room at the nuclear medicine basement area of the UCLA Medical Center about to ingest a small radioactive capsule that’s been pulled from a lead cylindrical container. But that’s what I experienced on Wednesday afternoon as I attempt to rid my body of any remaining cancerous thyroid tissue. The doctor’s have explained to me that this treatment is a very “targeted” therapy. Iodine is only absorbed by thyroid tissue, so the irradiated stuff that is inside the pill shouldn’t bother any healthy tissue — at least that’s what they tell me. It’s still very unsettling but I downed the pill, walked back to my car, and drove to an empty house.
My wife Mona and Charlie were already on their way to San Francisco to spend my 5-6 day isolation period with our daughter. Apparently, being radioactive can have adverse effects on others in the same household, so I’m here all by myself with a refrigerator full of low-iodine food, several seasons of “Game of Thrones” cued up on the Apple TV, and my 1971 Martin D-18 acoustic guitar. And, of course, a small USB hard drive containing the progress of my “Music and Audio: A User Guide to Better Sound” book so that I can dedicate some quality time to creating some additional illustrations and tapping out a chapter or two. Progress is slow but steady.
After reading some blogs by others that have gone through the same radioactive iodine treatment, I anticipated feeling much worse than I do. In fact, other than having a persistent metallic taste in my mouth and being somewhat more tired than usual, I’m feeling pretty close to normal. The promised sore throat hasn’t materialized, thankfully. I even went to the beach yesterday and ran my usual 5 miles to the Santa Monica pier and back — without my trusty border collie Charlie to guide the way. I got started about an hour later than usual and so ended up running several hundred yards behind Harry Perry, the iconic, African American, turban wearing, roller skating, actor, and guitarist.
Harry and I usually pass each other on running days. He starts each day running about 7 miles north along the coast from Venice to the base of Temescal Canyon as I run from Will Rogers state beach south towards the pier. And I know Harry. His Wikipedia page says he grew up in Michigan. So did I. What it doesn’t say is that he was a member of the track team and president of the senior class of 1969 at Bloomfield Hills Lahser High School. I remember him because I attended the other high school in the district and also ran track (I was a pole vaulter). And because he was one of very few black students in the district.
Bloomfield Hills was — and remains — one of the enclaves of the wealthy and powerful in the Detroit area. I went to high school with one of the children of the CEO of General Motors. My father was a pilot for GM, the transportation arm of the world’s largest automaker (at that time). We certainly weren’t rich but it was a very nice place to grow up. And Harry did too. Here is this iconic figure of the street scene in Venice, California and his background is from one of the richest areas of the country. One morning as we passed, I told him that I knew where he went to high school. When I said Andover in Bloomfield Hills, he was very surprised.
It just goes to show you that you shouldn’t let appearances fool you.
Harry managed to elude me during Thursday’s run. I’m headed back to the beach tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes.