I’m Radioactive!

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.


Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

11 thoughts on “I’m Radioactive!

  • Rodrian Roadeye

    Thanks for the progress report. Amazed that you are able to get out and run. Super! Attitude is a state of mind that can get you through life’s toughest challenges. Wishing you the best !

  • Keep an eye in the mirror for any signs of Incredible Hulk or Invisible Man syndrome. 😉
    Just a little tease but I and I’m sure all of your friends here are pulling for ya.
    Cent’ Anni

  • Steve Dougherty

    Hi, when I worked with a health and safety rep for a Canadian nuclear energy electrical generation plant I was told that if you ever get exposed to too much radiation in an accident just drink lots of beer. It will help flush the radioactivity out of your system, and help you forget what the problem is. Just a thought.
    I guess every one wants to know, with radioactive ears, does it sound better, Ha, just joking, sort of.
    Cheers and take care

  • Carlo Lo Raso

    Hey Mark,
    Hope everything turns out well with the treatment.
    Any chance you may be coming to Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in October?

  • Best wishes but sounds like all is going well. Enjoy the time off

  • Hi Mark. Heard you speak at Capital Audiofest and follow the blog. Wishing you a speedy recovery. If you’re looking for something to ease the boredom, you might want to write a two page letter to one of the audio magazines about how much better your system sounds while you are radioactive. Get better soon, sir.

  • craig allison

    My best wishes for a full return to health, and I’ll bet you’ll come through just fine. For all of us old audio guys, it’s like Satchel Paige said.” Don’t look back; something might be gainin’ on you “


    I am really concerned about your health. I also have a few lumps in the thyroid. I hope he recovers soon. Dr, Aix. Best regards.

    • I’ve been assured that my treatment will eliminate any traces of cancer. However, if you or any of my readers has any reason to suspect you might have a health issue, consult a physician. It’s important.

  • Michael Graves


    Wow! You process must have been a bit different from mine. I was treated for Graves disease (not cancer) about 10 years ago. Took the radioactive Iodine pill in the doctor’s office here in Houston. He was one of the country’s leading endocrinologists. Went home to wait two weeks while my Thyroid gland degraded.

    Was very, very tired before they settled upon a supplement dosage. after that initial treatment it’s been smooth sailing.

    Take care. It gets better.

  • Chris Wright

    Sending you every good wish Mark.


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