This is part 1 of a series entitled ‘RAI’, which is short for R.A.I. as ‘Radio Active Iodine’. It entails my story about the medical treatment with RAI. It is about why I got this treatment, and its consequences. All parts of the articles together could very well fit as a chapter in a book. The follow-up articles are about other conclusions that I have been able to draw from my experience with RAI.

Disclaimer: No medical diagnosis or form of treatment can be made with the help of this article. If you have complaints as described, use your common sense at all times and consult a conscious doctor. Nor do I provide medical advice. In a lecture I can share more about my own experiences and opinion.

Alas, the time has come to publish my experience with RAI in a more extensive form. Previously I have written this story for myself several times over the course of two decades. This was due to the structure of the story telling, which has been subject to constant change. It was due to me not fully comprehending the complexity of all matters involved.

Reflective Episode

My experience with RAI had to be seen from many perspectives, thus it was also a quest to define and formulate all related matters correctly. Simultanously I had to live through quite some challenges for such a prolongued time.

After this reflective episode (of around 20 years basically) the time has come to bring my story out in the open, and that moment is now.

My Medical Story

In July 1997 I was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid gland. This is a small organ at the bottom of the neck that lies over the trachea in the form of a mini shield. The doctor called the rapid action of my thyroid ‘hyper-thyroidism’. This word comes from the Ancient Greek word ‘hupér’ which means ‘over’ (in the sense of ‘overflowing’, or ‘too much’), and ‘thyroidism’ from ‘thyreoiedes’, meaning ‘shield shape’. Obviously the Greeks used to compare it with their armor at the time.

The medical term in Latin is ‘Glandula Thyreoidea’, and ‘glandula’ stands for ‘gland’. Since the thyroid gland also resembles a butterfly in shape, the organ is often referred to as butterfly-shaped in appearance.

The Doctor’s Diagnosis

According to the doctor, it turned out to be an auto-immune reaction. Due to certain antibodies present in the blood, the thyroid gland starts to work too quickly. This can make you feel really bad, including too fast of a heartbeat, weight loss, feeling rushed, being agitated quickly, trembling hands (which I only had a little bit in a later stage), and also pain behind the eyes and swelling of the eyelids (due to inflammatory reactions of the eye muscles behind the eye ball). I was prescribed thyroid inhibitor medicines. However, the thyroid gland started working too fast again as soon as I stopped taking the drugs.

Thyroid Ablation

After using this medication for a year and a half, doctors persuaded me to a definitive treatment. This is called ‘thyroid ablation’, a bit of a bizarre name for a medical treatment where the thyroid gets nuked basically. As the matter of fact, the word ablation is not in two of my English dictionaries. Most likely it is a designed fashion word derived from ‘ablaze’ which means burning strongly and uncontrollably, and ‘ablution’ the washing of the hands or body as part of a religious ceremony. It has been mainly used in medicine for the removal of biological tissue, usually by surgery but also by cutting with a laser or electrocautery.

In my case it included the intended destruction of the functioning of an otherwise perfect healthy thyroid gland. In order to do so I had to take a capsule with Radio Active Iodine (RAI) for thyroid ablation. The treatment proposal was completely against my feeling and intuition, and I was not in favor of it at all. However, it was said that continuing with the thyroid inhibitor medication was dangerous because it could alter the blood count. Since there was still limited internet around the year 2000, and I was also unfamiliar with patient associations in America, where I lived at the time (I’m Dutch from the Netherlands), I had no information to consider any other options.


So there I was, I sat somewhat timid on a stool in a small room in a large American hospital in Boston. The Asian MD handed the capsule on a small plate on a tray. This was the capsule with the radio active iodine in it, which I was supposed to swallow. She made sure her arms were stretched, as to stay away from the radiating capsule as far as she could. I’m not sure if she had a lead apron to protect herself, as I can’t remember her clothes anymore, except she was nice looking and kind.

The capsule looked like a vitamin pill, oblong in shape and if I remember well it was two-tone colored. She suggested I should take the capsule, which I had to pick up with my bare hand from the dish and put in my mouth. The doctor gave me a white disposable plastic cup with water to swallow the capsule.

Jokingly I raised it in the air as if to toast, and said ‘Cheers!’. I hoped to give the loaded moment an optimistic twist. I was trusting the doctor here, the promises she’d made for me to get healed, based on the many similar treated patients she or the medical field claimed had experience with succesfully for many years. I felt extremely odd and also scared with an alerted awareness, because I felt something was wrong, but I didn’t know what I was getting lured into, so I proceded.

The Sip

I took the capsule in my mouth and swallowed it with a large gulp of water as the capsule was kind of big. In Dutch language, the oral intake of the capsule with RAI is called ‘The Sip’, because in the past the radio active iodine was given in liquid form. I took a few small sips of water afterwards, as the plastic cup was only filled for 1/3th with water. And that was it.

Next, my then husband, our son and my radiant self went home by T. I felt it burn in my stomach. It turned out to be a bitter pill.

Six To Eight Weeks

The first 6 weeks however, I felt better than ever, which in retrospect was due to the pleasant side effect of a high dose of a prednisone course that I had to take during that time. The prednisone medication was needed to suppress inflammatory responses from the radiation. Prednisone often makes you feel very good, which I didn’t know then. So I thought, ‘Yes, that RAI treatment works perfectly!’ Doctor happy too. The form and dosage of radiation that I had been given lasts for 6 to 8 weeks, decreasing by half every eight days in effect.

Gained a Bit

But then it started. I felt increasingly sick and gained 20 pounds in two months. At first I thought this was because of the high prednisone cure, because an increase in appetite is a side-effect of it. It also increased cortisol level and thus increased fat deposits. Unfortunately, however, the increased weight after stopping prednisone wouldn’t budge in the months and years afterwards, no matter what diet I followed, or how little I ate.

60 Complaints

But the Medical Doctor had not promised me that. After all, I would feel good again and lead a normal life? Well, nothing could be further from the truth. In the years that followed, I adjusted my dose of thyroid hormone replacement every now and then, but that didn’t help much. I spent days, weeks, and months desperately searching the internet and patient forums for information about what could be the matter with me. The months turned into years.

To get an overview, I had written all my symptoms down: I now had more than 60 complaints, several of which alternated, and no doctor could help me. I had an allergy to cow’s milk proteins and soy since birth, accompanied by bronchial asthma and eczema, for which I once lived in an asthma center in Davos for a year, aged 17, after being seriously ill and bedridden for six months. But now, I felt miserable again, but in a completely different way.

Puzzle Pieces

Depicted below is a scinti-scan from someone who received RAI intravenously. The scan is made by Dr. G Boni from the university of Pisa. I found it on the internet ten years after I got ‘treated’ with RAI myself. Here you can see how the thyroid is irradiated, but hey, wait…. other organs as well!

What Organs Are Affected?

The organs that have absorbed the radioactive iodine here, are mostly glands with internal secretion, that assimilate iodine during metabolism. These are: the thyroid gland, the parathyroid glands (are very small), the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands, and organs which produce hormones and/or are covered with a functional layer such as the mucosa layer of the stomach, the esophagus and gallbladder, the epithelium of the duodenum, the pancreas which creates insulin and enzymes for digestion, the intestinal system, the bladder, the sex hormone-producing organs.

According to the analysis of the G. Boni in the image caption, the I-131 radio activity is active for 72 hours, which is 3 days and 3 nights. But does the radiation always leave the body after 72 hours?

Could it End Up Somewhere Else?

I remember very clearly that I had asked my MD if the radiation could end up somewhere else in the body. ‘No,’ she said, ‘It will go through your blood for a moment, but it will all accumulate in your thyroid until it’s destroyed.’
But when I saw that image of the scinti-scan, and the explanation with it, many puzzle pieces suddenly fell into place. The RAI wasn’t certainly flowing through my body ‘for a moment’. The type of radiation I-131 I got, stayed there for at least 3 days and 3 nights, slowly waning over time, the way the scinti scan shows.

Enough Indications

You can imagine that if several glands and organs have slightly diminished function, problems can quickly arise. And that was the case with me, which is why I had anything and everything tested over the years after ‘The Sip’. Hereby test results often deviated from the norm, but were not very worrying for the doctors.

For me, however, those were enough indications, time and time again, that there was more going on. And so they were puzzle pieces that I had discovered myself with the help of several online experts and specialists. Those were mainly fellow patients who themselves had a lack of thyroid- and/or other hormones, such as pituitary- and adrenal hormones. So I learned to analyse through symptoms, and also through having some of the related hormones tested, and other substances (such as B12, vit D etc.).

Personal Injury

Typically, labwork and some measurements were just below the reference value, or close to the lower limit of the reference values. However, one thing I was sure of: thyroid function was completely destroyed.

Hormonal Axes

But the thyroid gland and other glands with internal secretion are part of several ‘hormonal axes’. These are the glands that deliver hormones to the blood that respond to each other through registration and feedback or ‘feedback loops’ from the hypothalamus to the pituitary in the brain to several organs in the body.

They do this by reducing or increasing the release of hormones according to the needs of the body. Radiation can damage this feedback mechanism of all feedback loops of a hormonal axis, or more hormonal axes, as the tissues of glands and organs work less well.

This can be classified as ‘Injury due to radiation to glands with internal secretion, and to digestive organs that use iodine in their metabolic processes, such as the stomach, galbladder, intestines and pancreas.’

In a sense, you could describe the injury as internal burns, which, however, has not only partly burned the surface of glands and organs, but the radiation has also penetrated the tissues deeper because iodine is assimilated by red bloodcells and will go anywhere it is are needed.

And then it depends on how high the radiation dose has been, and how the condition of the body was at the time of administration, e.g. how much natural iodine was in the tissues present already, because this influences the effect of RAI. In hindsight I must have been deficient in iodine, as I had reduced my salt intake at the time.

More Symptoms

So after my ‘Sip’ -in this case me swallowing the radio active capsule with a gulp of water-, I got lots of symptoms, more than sixty. Among those were gaining weight (as described before), but also symptoms like mild hair loss, joint- and muscle pains and muscle weakness, and more. I will name a few.

Cartilage and Bones

For example, I got problems with my knees, back and neck (cartilage and bone building). I’ve developed a light but noticeable scoliosis over time and sometimes I experience backpain. This might have to do with low growth hormone (= a pituitary hormone), which labwork showed a few years after the radiation treatment.

It can also have to do with me not having sufficient calcitonin (a hormone the thyroid produces as well) and parathormone (a hormone produced by the parathyroid glands) which were also affected by the radiation. It can also be a hereditary factor, as my tall father had a light scolioses, but I don’t think so as I always had a very straight posture (at a young age I used to dance classical ballet a lot, and jazz and pantomime). It might also have to do with all factors together.

Heavy Periods

I also had heavy periods every month, from which I could thankfully conclude that my pituitary gland was still working properly, because this tiny organ also regulates the menstrual cycle. But my pituitary is probably partly functioning, because I was diagnosed with a low growth hormone later on, which is a hormone constructed in another part of the pituitary, which has a different type of tissue than the part that produces the sexhormones, probably more vulnerable to radiation.

Due to the severe bleeding with my periods (which as a side effect can also damage the pituitary), I had low Iron Hemoglobin blood count for a long time. My Ferritin values, which is storage Iron, were far too low (around 14). Once it was so low that the GP called me for a blood transfusion because of a ferritin level of less than <2.

I remember crawling over the floor from my living room to the kitchen that week. My son who was a toddler at the time had asked for a glass of lemonade. But for a moment I no longer had the strength to walk! My son who saw me crawling said, ‘Mum, you are acting weird.’ So I thought (with brainfog and all): ‘I’ve got to call my doctor again.’ (I didn’t take the blood transfusion though).

Other Complaints

Then, according to the gyneacologist, there was nothing wrong with the uterus. But the MD could not explain the cause of the long and heavy blood loss during menstruation either. I found out many years later it was due to low progesterone and probably other factors.

Anemia and Iron

For all those 24 years of testing (from 1999 to 2023), I always had low iron, low MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume = the size or volume of the red blood cells = erytrocytes), low MCH = Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin, Hematocrit (volume of red blood cells), etcetera.

I took iron bisglycinate tablets for years, self-financed, because the iron tablets that the doctor prescribed gave too many side effects, those aren’t good for the liver either.

After years of misery due to anemia, both caused by the RAI treatment and heavy menstruating which was also caused by RAI, a low amount of progesterone released in the uterus through an IUD turned out to be a solution. Unfortunately, I couldn’t handle other forms of oral synthetic hormonal treatment such as taking the daily ordinary birthcontrol pills as medication, to reduce menstrual bleeding (thus not for its actual purpose). No matter how small the amount of hormones in it, it would make me depressed.

Synthetic Progesterone, Estrogen and fillers

Tried them all, been there, done that. I feel much better on natural hormones! Must add though that I can’t handle synthetic chemicals as fillers in natural hormone supplements either. Too bad I spend so much money on it.  But taking medication was all trial and error anyway, sometimes something worked, and then I would stick to that.

Heart Complaints

Another complaint that arose over time after treatment with RAI is a troubled heart that has had a lot to endure: fast beating (90 to 120 p/m, but sometimes also on the slow side (60 to 65), or irregular, regardless of whether my thyroid values ​​are ‘hypo’ (too low), ‘euthyroid’ (balanced) or ‘hyper’ (too high). Over time I found out it was due to low potassium and sodium. Suppletion with these helps a lot, but of course I need to be optimally treated with thyroid hormones, otherwise nothing works.

Buddha Belly

My belly was also swollen due to an increase in belly fat and to this day it still feels slightly painful and tense. The tissue on my stomach and thighs and breasts (2nd half of the cycle ‘Masteopathy’) could hurt a little when touched and slightly pressed, but there have been a few episodes where it was really very painful.

Eye Complaints

I also suffered from pressure behind my eyes. That is an eye condition that can occur with both an underactive- but more often an overactive thyroid gland. And it occurs quite often after treatment with radioactive iodine, due to the sudden release of all stored thyroid hormones at once in the bloodstream. This can result in severe bulging of the eyes, a very difficult and challenging condition to deal with, for which multiple surgeries are needed. (thankfully I didn’t have them).

Two Booklets

I even wrote two brochure booklets about this thyroid condition and the thyroid eye disease, in collaboration with a professor endocrinologist and specialist ophthalmologist, which was published by a thyroid patient association. I was a board member of this organization with the portfolio PR and Information. I did this for almost four years. From this position I met and spoke to several people who unfortunately developed severe hypothyroidism after RAI, of which some also had these serious eye complaints, most of them especially after treatment with radiation. This meant that they had to undergo several major surgical operations afterwards. This Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) is a very serious condition with deep suffering involved.

So Miserable

I was also sensitive to bright light and shrill noises, and my skin became very dry, often with chapping in my fingers and heels (occasionally bleeding), which hurts when walking. Often I had disturbed nail growth with ridges or crumbling nails. I was often dizzy, light-headed, had hypoglycemias every day (and therefore had to consume sugar or carbohydrates frequently), and sometimes I still had brainfog and forgetfulness. And last but not least I suffered from a chronical total lack of energy.

Total Lack of Energy

Due to my weakening and lack of physical energy, simple activities are often tough, such as (long distances) cycling or hiking, as well as household chores or gardening. It took a long time to recover from exercise, ranging from one day to three days, oftentimes me being completely exhausted. I have then to rest on the sofa till my energy returns.

Sometimes my lack of energy also results in forgetfulness, poor concentration or memory loss, for example, forgetting an appointment once, or not being able to ‘hold’ information properly, as I call it. This is usually due to hypoglycemia, the cells aren’t getting enough fuel to function.

I have often found myself hanging in my chair e.g. behind my computer, or laying on the sofa, because I do not experience enough energy to keep me sitting or standing straight.

Muscle Strain

Since the RAI treatment, I always have muscle strains or fibromyalgia, even without exertion. It feels as if I have run a marathon for hours, or did intensive aerobics or weight lifting without any training beforehand. Walking the stairs has always been a strenuous exercise after I took the RAI-capsule, due to the muscles in my upper legs feeling very weak, sore and have a lack of strength therein. Even washing my hair in the shower has often been tiring because I had to keep my arms up, which I therefore had to let them hang in between while showering, to regain muscle strength.

Test Methods?

My low blood sugars usually suggested low cortisol and/or insulin resistance and/or low sugar uptake due to low MCV (volume of the red blood cells). If the thyroid function is too low, the adrenal function also goes down, which can also be related to those complaints. This is also stated on the package inserts of any thyroid replacement hormone, and doctors should know this.
By the way, in labwork results, my thyroid levels usually showed a ‘normal’ euthyroid state. However, the amount of thyroid hormone in the blood serum is measured, but not the absorption or action of it in the cells. (very important this).

Not Sufficient

Tests and labwork are often not sufficient, which has also been internationally confirmed by many thyroid patients. It has been scientifically substantiated for a long time by all kinds of doctors, patient groups and individuals, internationally for more than two decades now.

This has not yet led to better forms of treatment internationally, and unfortunately, not even through the writing of scientifically substantiated books and the signing of petitions by many patients (I estimate hundreds of thousands, probably even up to a million), and the conduct of legal proceedings by a few. Now, who or what will help for this vast suffering group then? Say it.

All Time Low

An absolute low point for me was when an MD called it ‘circumstantial evidence’ when my ‘free cortisol’ was way below the reference values. (With this my aldosterone was too high). These were previous test results from a private doctor’s office with international standards, and for whatever reason not taken seriously by another MD in a hospital when asking for a 2nd opinion to get my untreated complex condition officially acknowledged.

Alternative Lifesaver

However, if one walks around like this undiagnosed, and the cortisol (corticosteroid) would even go lower, there is a big chance that one will end up under the green sods within 24 hours. Thus my complaints were simply denied by medical doctors in hospitals (I’ve dealt with quite a lot of them), even though some of the labwork results were skewed, and often turned out differently, sometimes far below the reference range, but usually just slightly below the norm. So it turned out afterwards, that my adrenal glands were functioning less (including low cortisol, low aldosterone, low testosterone -which women have too!- and low DHEA, etcetera)

Two Different Causes

The explanation I have myself, is that very little is known about reduced functioning of the adrenals and other glands and organs due to injury from radio active iodine. There is also little known about the reduced functions of the several replacement thyroid hormones that are out there in the field, both the synthetic and natural versions.

These are two different causes for non succesful treatments, and for me it works double, because I have both. But measurements for this are simply not included as standard in the diagnostic protocols, nor in the treatment protocols post RAI. Hard to believe, but true. There is no medical protocol for RAI induced damage to glands and organs.

Throat Complaints

Unfortunately, the last 12 years or so, I can no longer sing well, while I liked to sing for hobby as a soprano and mezzo-soprano in a choir. It is as if my vocal cords now scratch when I want to get higher tones. But I also no longer sound tonal. I miss it enormously that I can no longer sing. I also sometimes have swallowing problems, or I quickly choke on eating or drinking, sometimes in my own saliva. My tongue often hurt when I was eating (especially after citrus fruits) and looked like the so-called red ‘beefy tongue’ which is a result of too low B12. (but eating red meat did not help).

I also had slight notches with a white border on the sides of my tongue, the so-called ‘tooth indents’, which according to a hormone specialist had to do with too low aldosterone, which, like cortisol, is also an adrenal hormone.

Tinnitus Ears

A high pitch tone tinnitus in my right ear is another of those debilitating symptoms, which I’ve now had for the past 11 years (editing this article once more in 2023). My ear drum was damaged as a result of medication for my ears which I got for inflammation after the infected liquid was succesfully removed by another MD (ENT specialist). I had to put a few drops of this medication in my affected ear and it burned like hell. Something wrong with that, but I continued with it for a while because the doctor had prescribed it. Blimey.

The inflammation was caused by being temporarily under-dosed with thyroid hormone, which resulted in edema. Edema is swelling of tissues due to increased fluids. It was also in my ears, like I had dived in a swimming pool and my ears filled up with water.

Mild Tinnitus

Sometimes it also feels like I have mild tinnitus in my left ear. This might be because tinnitus can also be caused by other various factors, including low iron, low thyroid hormone and low potassium, which I have all. Sometimes the tinnitus was really bad, while that was going on I have also had episodes with poor sleep. Once I didn’t sleep for three nights in a row, which was also due to a prolonged accompanying high heart rate (the latter I went through for months). This can occur with being severely underdosed on thyroid hormone (which many patients and some doctors do not know). Then Potassium and Magnesium will run down and oral suppletion can give relief with that. However, the underlying hypo thyroid and hypo adrenal function need to be addressed.

New Fillers

In time, I managed to find out by intensively searching online, that it was because of new fillers in the medication for me back then. These fillers absorb the thyroid hormone when they get moisturized (by the saliva and digestive fluids). But not being able to distract the hormones from the filler was due to me having less gastrointestinal juices, I concluded afterwards.

Here’s the reason why: The stomac is the second organ after the thyroid, to radiate the longest after RAI has been administered. So my body has less capacity to disconnect the thyroid hormone from the fillers in the tablets. Bizarre, but true. And then the hypothyroidism becomes a dangerously sliding downward scale. It is dangerous, because initially one notices the hypothyroid symptoms, but since I had so many while the labwork was still fine, I assumed it was because of the weather, or low iron or low cortisol or whatever.
Further down this article you can read about my NDE experiences I got as a result of it.

Hypo or Hyper?

In a sense I had a hypo- and hyper condition at the same time. And sometimes one hormonal deficiency was masked by another hormonal deficiency, so that diagnosis based on symptoms is only for an extremely skilled doctor, who uses special diagnostic methods of the functioning of hormones and the hormonal axes, and has made this his or her life’s work.

Summary of Complaints

Above is just a selection from a long list of complaints that I did not have before taking RAI. I could really fill a book with it. Basically, I felt much sicker than before the RAI treatment in my hyper-thyroid phase, although that was certainly no fun either. In fact, I was so hyper that my doctor advised against an international flight at the time.

For years in my hypo phase after RAI, I experimented with various replacement hormones and substances for the thyroid gland and other organs. I visited four different hospitals and four alternative doctors and a dietician (the alternative doctors and dietician do not reimburse all). I received supplementation for the other organs, such as for my adrenal glands, years of B12 injections (which did not help, because in retrospect my body was unable to convert that form of B12), and I bought myself many dietary supplements such as enzymes, B vitamins, iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium, calcium, etc. etc.

Legal Advice

And oh well, I had also obtained legal advice, but to no avail, because ten years after the date of a medical treatment it is no longer legally valid if you sue a doctor or authority for that. In my case that would have been very difficult anyway, because I had medical treatments on two different continents. But I don’t think that legal rule is correct. In this case, it requires an intensive study to understand the effects of RAI. And there was no proper informed consent given whatsoever.

And although I had a suspicion for those ten years, that besides my thyroid also other organs were affected, I had no evidence for the true cause of my complaints, besides slightly deviating labwork, sometimes far below the norm. But they were usually conveniently written off by all doctors as symptoms of an auto-immune disease. Well, try to convince a cat! Me no more!!!

Is There Proof?

By the way, to actually be able to prove personal injury by RAI, I reckon in hindsight, one has to get a scintiscan for the first 3 days and 3 nights (72 hours) after oral intake or intravenous injection, until the radiation is no longer visible on  the scan. This is how you can prove how the radiation has distributed throughout your body, and for what strength and length of time. Another way is to closely monitor symptoms prior and after the treatment for many months and years, which would be great for empirical evidence and research as well.

Fillers in Medication

Incidentally, I got sick several times because of altered fillers in thyroid medications, and supplements (such as microcrystalline cellulose – E640. This is woodpulp, micronized in a laboratiorium, which I’ve read online can also enter the bloodcells. Once in they might not get out that easily, which leads to swelling of upper tighs and other tissues).

But only in hindsight did I learn to recognize the dangerous slowly downward sliding scale of the hypothyroidism, which can lead to death when not treated. I did take 8 different variants and combinations of thyroid medications over the years, because I didn’t know what the cause of them not properly working was.

Was it me, was it the quality of the medication, such as the freshness (e.g. how long have they been on the shelves?), or the quality of the fillers, or a combination of it all? I’ve spend weeks and months and years online searching! It has happened that the manufacturer suddenly changed the fillers without notice, which again gave me an adrenal crisis. By the way, multiple E-numbers that end up in our food nowadays, and in many supplements, can also cause such complaints. Know what you eat so to speak.

B12, enzymes, conversion, low pH etc.

Anyway, because my stomach was also injured, I have a B12 deficiency for the rest of my life. When tested, I also found myself frequently having a low pH in blood and urine, having seriously low vit D levels, low magnesium, calcium, enzymatic function, etc, etc. And, as stated previously: my stomac produces lesser gastric juices to properly digest the cellulose filler in the thyroid hormone medication and other supplementation tablets.

Uptake and Conversion

Thus I can’t detach it from the thyroid hormone, causing the effect of the drug to decrease. Nevertheless, labwork shows perfect or even high values! (By the way, this microcrystalline cellulose is designed in laboratories). And another filler based on calcium is also very bad since it absorbs the thyroid-hormone as well. Most doctors and pharmacists KNOW thyroid medication has to be taken seperatly from calcium supplements. Then why do they use it as a filler? I also had problems converting the thyroid medication, which can be related to many other factors as well (liver function, gallbladder issues, low selenium, low iron, low enzymatic functioning, low or no T3, low cortisol, low potassium, etc.).

Low Finances

Because I was no longer able to work 40 hours a week, and had no partner with an income, nor savings, I was in a low financial status. And unfortunately most of the medication and supplements that made me feel better were not reimbursed by my health insurance fund. These include a good quality Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin B12 tablets in easily absorbable form (methyl, adenosyl), Vitamin D3, Potassium, Enzymes, natural Progesterone, Estrogen, and so on. I have to take these for the rest of my life probably, because my body isn’t obviously generating or processing enough of it.

Several Sizes Wardrobes

In the attic there have been 30 bags for years with nice clothes in all sizes ranging from size 36 to 52! (The latter 50 sizes only when I was on a high dosage of prednisolone). Every time another size came in, I was forced to replace the entire wardrobe. This turned out to be very expensive, especially because we have four different seasons in the Netherlands (which can vary from cold winters to hot summers and everything in between).

It includes: New jackets (summer jacket, winter jacket and rain jacket), also for: new pants, blouses, sweaters, t-shirts, underwear and bras and even new boots in the last sizes. In short, my wardrobe had to be renewed time and time again. Added to this was spending extra money to purchase life-saving medicines and supplements that were not prescribed because of a refusing doctor and/or were not reimbursed by the health insurance fund. (other means, such as asthma medication did).

Damage Claim?

All that severely limited me financially. I once made a calculation and think that I have certainly suffered €100.000,- of damage in the 21 years after this medical treatment with RAI. Not sure if this includes the emotional damage it has caused me! (I’ve lost the list with the calculation on it). However, in this way I have lived below the poverty line for 21 years, without anyone having any idea (except for my immediate family and friends).

Thanks to my mother’s two decades of help, I managed to survive. I have often been able to borrow money from her to pay my fixed costs. And I am extremely thankful for having food, a wonderful house with yard, heating, and decent clothing all those years, something that used to be a guarantee if one lives in the Netherlands (the small country that I’m born), but not so in many other parts of the world.

Natural Beauty

True beauty is on the inside, the expression says, but it’s certainly no fun when one’s own natural beauty, including posture and facial expression (for instance weight gain, eyes slightly bulging, puffy face, brittle hair), changes to the detriment. That is perhaps what I worried about most all these years, and every day, because if you are not feeling well, and you also look that way, it does not really promote self-confidence.

Also physically from the inside, organs might be more fat as well, which is not a healthy thing. But I could not help it, the fat burning just didn’t work properly!

The Outside World

My illness, or post radiation sickness as we may call it, is usually not visible to the outside world, because I can still cycle (on an e-bike now), and walk. But often I have to recover on the couch for a few hours after exercise, and that’s all the lost hours, days, weeks, months, and years that outsiders have never seen, just those who lived in my house. I can come across as cheerful, happy and energetic, which I am at that moment, and even do physical work such as gardening on good days, and then collapse completely when I return home. Sometimes I have to recover two or three days after heavier physical exercise.

Incomplete Metabolism

This also happens after eating heavier food (large proteïns, processed fats, starchy starches), that I can no longer digest on a microscopic level. Apparently my body is unable to regenerate the consumed substances for energy production as quickly as is the case under normal conditions. It seems to be less able to break the food down to phytonutrients or something like that. All this leads to poor processing and reduced absorption of nutrients. Last year I also had eight gallstone colics and that is no fun! Hence I appear to have a slightly decreased bile function (only small gallstones), which also leads to a less strong digestion.

Mental and Psychological Impact

The years of struggle in dealing with the consequenes of RAI, has certainly had an impact on me. I had to learn mentally and psychologically to take time for myself to deal with this injury and the lack of medical and financial help. It has also been a process of mourning for the loss of my health and the quality of my life for the past 24 years, a period that is supposed to be the best years of an adult life, where you can experience 100% power of your life. Well, oftentimes it felt like 60%, and there were many episodes where it was even lower.


In addition, I also had to deal with a lot of adversity in the social emotional field, due to certain events in my life, such as a divorce. When you are already sick, it requires even more strength than usual.

It was also usually painful when I expressed my sadness about my condition (when I couldn’t pretend to be okay), or informed others about my health status. I often came across as a complaining person, or like a hypochondriac, even more so when they saw me cycling or gardening afterwards. They couldn’t see the muscle pain and total weakness I was going through while performing a bit of physical labor, nor the severe tinnitus in my ear, nor the other debilitating 57 symptoms.

My NDE’s

Interestingly, due to my illness I had several ‘Near Death Experiences’ (NDE’s), which of course also had an impact. The first one I had though, was not RAI related. This was when I was 16 years of age, and had suffered from prolongued asthma and a shortage of breath. I was bedridden for more than half a year and almost died. I knew this because I was completely exhausted due to the extreme coughing which led to a shortage of breath, which led to my brains not getting enough oxygen. This felt like a heavy brick pounding in my head with the pulses of my heart and the severe coughing. The muscles in my torso and back were also stressed with every deep breathing and were extremely sore and cramped.

As my spirit left my body, I ‘knew’ myself laying in the bed while I was with my back against the ceiling. After I realised this, I came back to my body with a shock. The next week or so someone rang our door to collect money for an ‘Asthma Fund’. This lady was a boardmember of the society for Asthma patients at the time (or something along those lines). Because of her I was finally sent to Davos in Switserland to recover in an asthma sanatorium. While still in the Netherlands I was diagnosed at the same time with an allergy for dairy and soy by a naturopath, and got a special diet. Those two events, the diet prescribed by the Naturopath and the pristine air of the high altitude mountains in Davos helped me to recover within a year.

The Skippy Ball

The 2nd and 3th NDE’s were RAI related. The 2nd were several experiences which are a bit complex to describe, so I won’t for now. The night of my 3th NDE I visited the hospital at the nightly doctor’s office. My mum and brother went with me for they were very concerned for my condition and I had asked their help. My brother brought us with his car.
I had several serious complaints, and labwork was drawn in the emergency room. But they couldn’t find anything, my thyroid levels were fine. I asked them to test my cortisol and aldosterone levels, as I told them I also had adrenal issues. But they didn’t want to test me for that, neither when I begged them to test me! I’m still mind boggled by this, as every doctor should know that thyroid and adrenal functions are related. Previously I was hunched over on the doctor’s table because I had no energy left to sit up.

I was sent home despite me explaining I had several weeks of rapid heartbeat (90 to 120 beats per minute) and being completely exhausted. I couldn’t sleep for three nights in a row (what a nightmare that is!). I told them also I had to drink sugary drinks to keep my blood-glucose levels up. I even asked the assistent in the emergency room to get me a few cups of tea and asked him to bring me about 10 sugar sachets with it. I just couldn’t cope with the low blood glucose due to low cortisol. But after a few hours, they let me go home in the middle of the night.

Then at home again early in the morning, went back to bed at 4am, and got the 3th NDE.
I floated over the ocean! My body was draped over a skippy ball, with my belly on top of the ball and around the ball my head, arms and legs hanging downwards. This was because I had no more strength to lift them up. All energy had left me, as with complete exhaustion.

Shimmering Diamonds

The ocean looked like it was lighting up, as if every drop of water was a shimmering diamond. I felt incredibly relieved of all pain and exhaustion! I couldn’t believe how I was regaining energy so fast, and even recovering further by the seconds, almost with lightspeed I would now say in hindsight. I was amazed by the beautiful appearance of the sky around me and the ocean.

I was told it is the ‘life’s ocean’, and I apparently experienced it as very normal having someone informing me about it. I enjoyed floating further, and floated and floated, amazingly surprised by my now much better circumstances.

I could now also lift up my head, and in the far distance in front of me, I noticed some sort of a thick wall. It looked white and light came through it, but it was semi transparent, as if it were filled with some kind of fluid-like mist.
I continued floating in its direction, and was still feeling better and better with every second.

But then I was informed that if I would continue, I couldn’t come back. I was pondering on that information. I certainly wanted to continue feeling so awesome. I hadn’t felt this great my entire life! But I also wondered something else. Where was I going actually? I floated further, still being draped on this skippy ball. Oh I felt so great! Then I thought about not being able to return, and that seemed a bit awkward to me. Where did I have to return to?

Enough is enough!

When I looked back over my shoulder I saw the shore line in the far distance, and there were two men sitting on a terrace. It was some kind of a seafront promenade so to speak, and they were beckoning me back. I didn’t know these men.

Then I thought of my loved ones, who live behind the shore. As sick as I was, I couldn’t care less to leave them all behind, there was no way I could continue living like this. I thought about my mum, that it would be very tough for her. But since she was seriously ill at the time, I didn’t expect her to live long anyway (she actually lived many years after this experience). But I’ve had so many ailments for such prolongued time, that enough was enough for me!

I had to Decide

And then I realised there was no way I could leave my 15 year old son, a child at that age certainly needs his parents. For more than 10 years he was raised by me as a single mother. He would be left alone without me. So I decided to not continue further floating over the enlightend ocean -although every cell in my body wanted to-, as I knew I would soon approach the veil between the seen and unseen world. And if I would pass that veil, if I would float through this thick white misty wall that I had seen, then there was no return for me. It took all of my will power to stop myself floating over this shimmering ocean filled with its amazing lively energy, which made me feel soooo good, enjoying the sight and experience of it all.

Then I was told that when coming back, I would again feel all the pain and exhaustion in my body, including the ongoing high heartrate of 120 beats per minute. But I was informed that I would get help and things would get better.

Then I came back in my body, and within moments all the pain and exhaustion came back,  even more severe. I despaired, but somehow fell asleep for one or two hours or so (after three sleepless nights!). The next morning I was called unexpectedly from abroad at 10 am by my private doctor that I had visited 5 days prior. He shared with me that some of my labwork was completely out of whack, and that I was in danger. I said: Yeah, I’ve noticed! He sent a prescription by fax to the nearest pharmacy the same day. This saved my life.

In the days after this, the medication gave some relief, it was a corticosteroid, but the symptoms persisted. And I still didn’t know what was the cause of it. I decided to go searching on the net once more, and thus found out through online thyroid patient fora that the thyroid medication I was using had a new filler, of which I was not informed by the pharmacy. This filler is microcrystalline cellulose. It did bind the thyroid hormone (which is microscopically small) to the filler, it was absorbed by it, instead of releasing it in my system.

The reason for this can be me having less stomac acid (radiation of my stomac, see scinti scan) so my stomac couldn’t digest it properly. It might explain why there was sufficient thyroid hormone in my blood, but it wasn’t converted into the active free thyroid hormone and not being absorbed in my cells. In these cases adrenal function goes down as well, and down it went. Interestingly, the labwork showed my cortisol level was in normal range, but my free-cortisol was far below and dangerously so. This has teached me, and should teach all doctors, that the free thyroid hormones and the free adrenal hormones are the most important to test!!! At ALL times! And synthetic T3 suppletion might be great for emergency situations like this as well, for someone who has no thyroid function at all, like 25 mcg T3, 3 times a day.

So said, because of my chronic illness, and all my experiences with it, on the one hand I am constantly aware of the finite nature of Earthly life, on the other hand I have been able to find comfort in those NDE experiences themselves. Now that I have decided to bring this story out, it also gives me satisfaction in a sense, because it has also given me many insights, which I would like to share with the world. Because…. is there more to it?

Is There More To It?

Yes. There is. For example, I now see much more of the danger of nuclear energy than the average person, because I myself have experienced what a little bit of nuclear waste can do to you. Because that is what the radio-active iodine is: nuclear fission waste. Hence I want to warn every patient to not get injected with it or consume it orally, and warn doctors to stop these barbaric medical treatments, as seriously, non of them doctors has had any clue as to what they were doing.


Which reminds me to inform you that not one single medical doctor (and I’ve met many) in the last 25 years (right now editing this article in 2024), has ever apologized to me for the failure of the medical treatment and the medical system they represent, and the serious harm it has caused, nor for the lack of a proper medical protocol post RAI for treating patients with internal injury from radiation. However, all of them have earned a good salary over the years with ‘helping’ me with my ongoing debilitating symptoms. Yeah, right.
I will continue with this in RAI part 2, which is technical a bit. But if you’ve already read it up to here… (heheheh).




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©2024 | Margreet Wilschut

Summer 2019, by a very curious coincidence, the sun just shone on my camera, or watch strap, at the time of taking this photo, reflecting it on the area in my neck at the site of the thyroid gland. You would almost think that this is still radio active … But that is not possible 21 years later. Maybe such a phenomenon is just a little miracle?



First of all, I should mention that I am not a radiation expert, and have gathered this information via the internet. This in an attempt to understand the medical treatment with RAI that I have undergone in a logical context. I also wanted to present this topic to other laymen in easy to understand language. The content of this article may however be corrected, or new information can be added in the future.


As you may have gathered from -RAI 1 My Story-, I am not a fan of medical treatment with radioactive radiation.

But there is another type of radium radiation that I absolutely adore, and that is the sun!


Okay and now a bit technical…

Radio Active Iodine

This article is about the isotope Radioactive Iodine. And for those who don’t know yet, isotopes are the names of chemical elements from the periodic table.

This is also reflected in the meaning of the word. ‘Isotope’ comes from the Greek: ‘isos’ = ‘same’ and ‘topos’ = ‘place’. This indicates that different isotopes of one and the same element, in this case the substance iodine, occupy the same place in the periodic table.

Iodine Isotopes

There is only one isotope of the substance iodine that is present in a natural composition on Earth. This is described as ‘I-127’. That stands for Iodine-127. (Iodine is the English word for Iodine). In addition, 26 radioactive isotopes of iodine have been produced by humans. These are called ‘radio-isotopes’, which include I-123 and I-131. Those are two common forms of radioactive iodine that are used for medical purposes, and are therefore also described as ‘medical isotopes’.

Perhaps also interesting to mention is that the longest living man-made isotope of the element iodine is I-129, according to Wikipedia with a half-life of 15.7 million years. However can we be sure of that for such a long time to know? After which they claim it’ll decay by β decay to the stable isotope xenon-129.


As previously written in part 1 of this article series, the ‘I’ of the abbreviation for the iodine isotopes stands for ‘Iodine’, the English word for Iodine. The English ‘I’ is usually also used as an international abbreviation in science to describe the element Radio Active Iodine, i.e. RAI, and we also use it for this article. In Dutch, Iodine is ‘Jodium’ and thus we describe RAI as RAJ.

Iodine and the Thyroid

The English word ‘Iodine’ comes from the Greek ‘iodius’ which means ‘violet’ and refers to the color of iodine when it evaporates. Iodine is a naturally occurring substance and essential for metabolism. Iodine concentrates in the thyroid gland as this organ as a kind of mini factory produces thyroid hormone using iodine. The thyroid gland does this by linking iodine and proteins from our digested food, which is absorbed into the blood, and flows through the thyroid gland.

T3 and T4

This process produces different molecular compositions of thyroid hormone, all of which have a specific effect in the body and cell metabolism. The two main ones are described as ‘T3’ and ‘T4’. However, there are more variants (T1, T2, etc.), and also in free form, for example ‘Free T3’ of  ‘FT3’.

The T refers to the amino acid ‘Tyrosine’, which as a protein component forms the building block for the two types of thyroid hormone ‘Thyroxine’ (T4) and ‘Tri-iodo-thyronine’ (T3). So you have to think that T stands for the protein part of the thyroid hormone. The word ‘Thyreoiedes’ also starts with a T, it comes from Greek and means shield, based on the shape of the thyroid gland.

The number 3 or 4 after the T refers to the number of iodine atoms linked to the protein amino acid Tyrosine. The different number combinations, so to speak, also have different effects, all of which are necessary for a good metabolism. But that is another book in itself, or rather, a huge number of books have been written about the functioning of the thyroid gland and the diverse hormones it produces. Outstanding books in the field of T3 are those by Paul Robinson, such as the first book he wrote: ‘Recovering with T3’.

Calcium Metabolism

The thyroid gland also produces another substance, namely Calcitonin (helps absorption of calcium into the cells and inhibits the breakdown of bone tissue). There are also tiny parathyroid glands around the thyroid gland. These are as small as a grain of rice, but produce the important Parathormone. This hormone helps with the absorption of calcium into the bones. Both substances are therefore responsible for the calcium balance. Thyroid hormone is absorbed by all cells in the body and is concentrated in the stomach, glands with internal secretions, and other organs and tissues.

Stable Atom

Now let’s move on to the radioactive part. An atom is the smallest building block of matter, and therefore also of our tissues.
Normally in an atom, the Protons and Neutrons together form the positively charged (+) atomic nucleus. The negatively charged (-) electrons float around it in a stable state. When + and – are in balance, an atom is neutral. This means that the cell nucleus and the envelope keep each other in balance.


This is not the case with the radioisotopes of radioactive iodine, which do not occur naturally on Earth. These have been manufactured by humans and made unstable, so that the Protons and Neutrons in the cell nucleus and the Electrons around them in the shell of the atoms are no longer in balance with each other. This causes the isotopes to become radioactive. And they are of a completely different order.

However, radioactive substances such as Iodine I-131 and I-123 are used as so-called ‘medical isotopes’. Medical radioisotopes are also made from other substances (such as cobalt, erbium, iridium, gold, phosphorus, strontium, etc.), but these will not be discussed in this article as we focus on RAI).


What do the numbers 123 and 131 after the ‘I-‘ stand for? The numbers indicate the atomic mass of the chemical element. As previously written: each atom contains a cell nucleus containing protons and neutrons. Electrons float in a cloud around the mass of the cell nucleus. The number of protons in the cell nucleus determines the chemical properties of the atom, which is classified in atomic numbers. The chemical element iodine contains 53 protons in the cell nucleus, which is therefore also the atomic number of iodine.

However, the number of neutrons in the cell nucleus of different iodine substances can differ from each other. In addition to the 53 protons, I-131 contains 78 neutrons in the cell nucleus. The protons and neutrons added together form the atomic mass (53 + 78 = 131). So 131 is the total mass of the cell nucleus. In the case of I-123, the atomic mass is 123 (53 + 70 = 123). Are you still following? Yes, it took me a while too…

Iodine radio-isotopes

Various radioactive iodine isotopes such as Iodine I-131 and I-123 are created by nuclear fission of heavier elements in nuclear reactors, such as the fissile materials Uranium and Tellurium. With both substances this is done by weighing down the cell nuclei through neutron irradiation, causing the cells to become unbalanced which will then start to radiate.

If I understand correctly, the cell nuclei of other fission material can also be irradiated with protons (which changes the chemical composition). And in other substances, the electrons around the nucleus are removed by means of radiation, which also makes an atom unstable, both with the complete removal of the electrons or with part of them.


Iodine I-123 or 123I  is an unstable isotope. It has a half-life of 13 hours. It is a halogen (gaseous form) and accumulates in the body in the thyroid and other iodine processing tissues. It is used for medical purposes in nuclear medicine. For example, this radioactive substance is used to detect cancer cells in the body or it is used as a low dose for a thyroid uptake scan (where the production capacity and size of the organ are measured). I-123 is administered intravenously and then traced using a special gamma camera.

Wikipedia org describes that I-123 is created from xenon-124 by irradiating it with protons. As a result, it changes into xenon-123 due to the release of a neutron and a proton, or it changes over with the release of two neutrons into caesium-123, also described as 123Cs. This caesium-123 itself also decays into xenon-123. This isotope has a half-life of 2 hours and further decays to iodine I-123.


Iodine I-131 or 131I, has a half-life of 8 days. Like sodium iodide, it is used for both diagnosis and treatment. It is an unstable radioisotope and is a waste product of nuclear fission of uranium (U-235-3%), which is produced by irradiation of the cell nuclei with neutrons. I-131 is also released during the fission of highly enriched uranium (HEU -> 20%).

According to scientists, U-235 has a half-life of 703.8 million years (but we will only find out in due course whether this time indication is really correct).The nuclide emits both beta and gamma radiation, but largely emits beta radiation for about 90%. The betas destroy, among other things, different types of (thyroid) tumor cells, and are also used for an overactive or enlarged thyroid gland.Gamma radiation is the form of radiation that makes the iodine-containing tissue visible under a gamma camera.

However, the radioactive form Iodine I-131 can, as a particle beta emitter, cause mutations in the DNA (including healthy cells), and in larger quantities can lead to death.However, according to the Laka.org foundation, the metalloid Tellurium-131 (Te-131 or 131Te) is usually used for the production of I-131, the cell nuclei which is also irradiated (or ‘bombarded’) with neutrons.

Tellurium is a brittle metallic mineral and a fairly rare element that usually occurs in nature in a bound state (such as the mineral Calaverite). However, the number of neutrons determines, among other things, the stability of the nucleus. By adding extra neutrons through radiation, the + energy increases in the cell nucleus. Instead of being neutral, it has now become an atom or molecule with a surplus of positive charge. After all, there is now more + than – energy.


Beta radiation is also called ionizing radiation. When an atom is out of balance, it will seek equilibrium because it can only function in neutrality. It does this by looking for extra electrons outside itself, it is, as it were, attracted to them (the opposites + and – attract each other). It wants to regain equilibrium with the increased atomic mass in the cell nucleus.

This causes it to move, but very strongly in one direction, which, simplistically explained, causes it to lose its balance. It falls over, as it were, and continues spinning at high speed in the quest for electrons. This causes friction, and therefore heat or radiation.

Now the unstable atomic nucleus has turned into what is called an ‘ion’. This is an out of balance atomic nucleus that emits pulsating electromagnetic radiation at a high frequency. This is therefore called ‘ionization’. The substance has therefore also become halogen, it is in an airy state due to the rapid movement, like a gas, because it has proportionately fewer electrons than the surplus of neutrons in the cell nucleus.

The ionization also causes friction in the surrounding atmosphere of the atom or molecule. This friction is sufficient to attract electrons from neighboring atoms through the resulting electromagnetic vacuum. If the radiation is strong enough, it will even remove the electrons from the neighboring atoms due to the strong electromagnetic attraction. This is Beta radiation, an ionizing radiation of beta particles that release electrons or positrons.

These ionizing atoms are usually very reactive and will react with any atom or molecule that happens to be nearby. With even stronger radiation, even the nucleus of neighboring cells is split. That is an ionizing radioactive chain reaction and we call it nuclear fission.

Depending on the radiation intensity and the action of ionization during decay, ionization can destroy cells (completely burn them up), damage them (cell function is reduced), but also lead to mutation (the cell is damaged but can still function, albeit in battered shape, and as such also divide or renew, but is then energetically weakened, which can cause unhealthy cell growth).


The half-life, which is the radioactive decay, depends on the strength of the radiation. The medical isotope I-131 has a half-life of 8 days. This means that after every 8 days, the radiation decreases by half. It then radiates at exactly half the radiation intensity for another 8 days, and then at a quarter of the radiation intensity, and so on, until the radiation has become stable and extinguishes. During that process, I-131 decays to another atom, the isotope xenon Xe-131, and thus becomes stable again. This is of course also a halogen, with tiny residual dust particles. I do not know how this gas behaves in the body, and whether this gas leaves the body.

I-131 and I-123 are therefore halogen ionizing substances released during nuclear fission of Uranium or Tellurium and are therefore in fact a waste product. These substances are also released during nuclear disasters (such as in 1986 near the city of Chernobyl in the Ukraine & Russia, and in 2011 in the Fukushima province of Japan). This also releases cesium Ce-134 (half-life 2 years), cesium Ce-137 (half-life 30 years) and Strontium-90 (half-life 29 years). The I-131 is also formed after the radioactive decay of tellurium-131 ​​(Te-131 or 131Te).

C-137 en Sr-90

After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, a high percentage of damaged thyroid glands was measured among the population. It can hinder both physical and mental growth in the physical development of children and young people. In adults, radiation causes a very wide range of associated diseases, including cancer.

Cesium-137 spreads throughout the body, but tends to accumulate in the muscles, it has an affinity with potassium. Strontium-90 mimics calcium, also competes with magnesium (they are each other’s antagonists) and accumulates more in our bones and also the spine.

Units of Measurement

There is an international system of SI units and prefixes, which has been given official status and has been recommended for universal use by the General Conference on Weights and Measures.

This includes various units of measurement for various forms of radiation, such as curie, rad, rem, roentgen, gray, sievert, coulomb. Moreover, these come in different dosages such as tera (T), giga (G), mega (M), kilo (k), centi (c), milli (m), micro (µ) and nano (n).

mCi en Mbq

I limit myself to the units that I have dealt with during my medical treatment. These are Millicuries (mCi) and Megabecquerels (Mbq). Millicuries (mCi) are considered a general unit in the SI Unit system and are the English unit of measure for radioactivity. The Becquerels (Bq) are the unit of measurement used in Europe.

The International System of Units for Radiation Measurements states:

Common Units: Radio-activity: curie (Ci), Absorbed Dose: rad, Dose Equivalent: rem, Exposure: roentgen (R).

SI Units: Becquerel (Bq), Absorbed Dose: gray (Gy), Dose Equivalent: sievert, Exposure: coulomb/kilogram (C/kg).

For the sake of completeness, I also place the technical definition here as I found it on the internet, a lot of information on the website:
The International League Of Atomic Women:

A millicurie (mCi) Is a decimal fraction of the deprecated non-SI unit of radioactivity defined as 1 Ci (is 1 curie) = 3.7 × 10¹⁰ decay per second. One curie is roughly the activity of 1 gram of the radium isotope ²²⁶Ra. 

A megabecquerel (Mbq) A becquerel (Bq) is the number of atomic nuclei that decay radioactively per second. 1 Bq = 0.0000010 MBq. Bq is the SI derived unit of radiation activity. The Bq is defined as the activity of a quantity of radioactive material in which one nucleus decays per second. The becquerel is therefore equivalent to an inverse second, s⁻¹.

My dosage of I-131

For the definitive treatment of my overactive thyroid gland, I was administered 18 Millicuries of I-131 in America at the time. This has been converted for the European unit of measurement into Mega-becquerels: 666 MBq. I didn’t know that at the time I took it. I didn’t know anything about radiation. The internist in America had told me that the dosage had been suggested by my endocrinologist in the Netherlands. Previously I had already had a thyroid uptake scan twice in the Netherlands, which is performed with I-123, which has a half-life of 13 hours.
In total, I received 18 mCi of I-131 and 1.357 mCi of  I-123

Named After

The Millicuries are named after the double Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie (1867-1934), who has also named the word ‘radioactivity’. She worked with her husband and fellow Nobel Prize-winning inventor Pierre Curie. To describe the behavior of Uranium and Thorium, she based radioactivity on the Latin word for sunbeam ‘radium’ or ‘radii’.
The Becquerel is named after Antoine Henri Becquerel.

Radium-emissions Standard

Marie Curie also won the right to define an international standard for radium emissions. Such a standard was essential for an efficient radium industry and uniform medical applications. The measure she introduced was accepted by the international scientific community, which called it the ‘Curia’.

However, she and her husband had to pay for their ‘magical’ invention with death later in life, because they and many others, unaware of the side effects of radioactive radiation, had handled it carelessly. In a letter she wrote to her cousin just before her death in 1886:

“My plans for the future? I have none….I mean to get through as well as I can, and when I can do no more, say  farewell to this base world. The loss will be small, and regret for me will be short….”

For me, as the author of this article and an expert by experience, it has a kind of nostalgic value to read this, and the sentiment is not entirely alien to me. I also try to make the most of every day and enjoy all the beautiful moments that life offers. Even though the personal injury caused by radiation is difficult for me to bear on a regular basis (every day), there is still a lot worth living for.

In part 3 I will further discuss the consequences of radioactive radiation through nuclear energy for nature and our society.


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En dan ter afsluiting van deel twee nog even het motto van de website van The International League Of Atomic Women:

“We may as well move forward, because we can’t go back”.

© 2024 | Margreet Wilschut – Atomic Woman
Bron: www.margreetotto.net



Me along the IJssel-lake

So that’s me taking a hike along my beloved IJssellake. Here you can see my puffy face and cheeks due to high dosage of prednisone at the time. This I need when not having sufficient T3-thyroid hormone. It’s all very complicated! And by the way, did you notice the white dispersed contrails in the air? Oh well (lol).

This is part 3 of my RAI series. If you haven’t read the first two, please start here: RAI 1 – MY STORY
To continue from the previous part: Many organs and cells in our body absorb thyroid hormone and thus iodine in their metabolism. Because Iodine is important for the metabolism of all people (and mammals), which we ingest through food and is absorbed by the stomach.

I-131 in a nuclear disaster

In the event of a nuclear disaster, iodine pills are provided by the government to citizens living in an area around a nuclear power plant. In such case iodine becomes vacant, thats why people prefer to store it in advance. But, is iodine alone sufficient? Indeed, the thyroid is the organ that first absorbs iodine to link it to proteins from food. That is for the production of various forms of thyroid hormone. But there are other chemicals as well, which we will get later into.

Increase in thyroid disorders

First it is important to notice that the uncontrolled release of radioactive iodine into the environment, as well as other chemicals that interact with iodine, may explain why thyroid disorders have increased exponentially in recent decades.

You don’t see it, you don’t feel it, you don’t smell it, you don’t taste it

After all, radiation spreads throughout the entire ecosystem, although it initially concentrates in the area around a nuclear power plant when released uncontrolled. But even at further distances you don’t hear it, you don’t see it, you don’t taste it, you don’t smell it, and you don’t feel it either, except at very high doses. But even small doses can cause a lot of damage to the body.

Iodine pills?

There is a chance that thyroid disorders will increase even more in those who ingest radioactive iodine unknowingly. And perhaps also a slight damage to other organs as shown by I-131 (see scinti scan in parts 1 and 2 of this RAI article series). Believe me, ingesting it is an ordeal. However, iodine pills are not a sufficient plaster on the wound for radiation released during a nuclear disaster, or from radiation leakage after long-term storage.

Other radio-active materials

After all, in the event of a nuclear disaster at a power plant, or a disaster involving nuclear waste at a disposal site, or during transport, other forms of radiation are also released, which no iodine pill can yet cope with. Spent fuel contains large amounts of radioactive uranium, plutonium, cesium and many other isotopes. These types of radiation spread through the body in a different way (accumulate, among other things, in the spine, see part 2 about RAI).

How long does it radiate?

There is low, medium and high radioactive waste. Intermediately active radiation is, for example, cesium Cs-134 with a half-life of 2 years, and cesium Cs-137 with a half-life of 30.2 years.

I’m not sure about what I read online about the halflife of extremely high radioactive substances.  Such as “cesium Cs-135, whose half-life has been calculated to be 2.3 million years”, as well as the “longest-lived isotope of Iodine I-129 with a half-life of 15.7 million years (after which it decays by B decay to the stable isotope xenon-129), and Thorium-232 with a half-life of 14 billion years.”

I myself can hardly imagine such a very long period. Are the scientists sure about this? It is simply inconceivable for us people with an average life expectancy of around 80 years.

What now?

Technically speaking, we may only be able to verify the above mentioned half-lives the moment they no longer radiate. According to the ‘Central Organization for Radioactive Waste’ (COVRA), highly radioactive waste no longer produces heat after 100 years of cooling. In the Netherlands, this storage amounts to 68 m3. However, the Borssele nuclear power plant produces 10 tons of nuclear waste every year.

Green Peace?

According to the international environmental organization Greenpeace, highly radioactive waste continues to radiate for about 240,000 years. The highly radioactive isotopes therefore pose a danger as long as there is no secure storage for the next thousands of years, as well as when something goes wrong during the production of nuclear energy in the power stations.

We must therefore deal with radiation even more carefully than we do now (for example, we can ask ourselves whether storage near the coast in the Netherlands is wise. Or what has been going on for some time in Germany: with radioactive storage in underground leaking salt domes). In addition, radiation waste must be stored securely for a long time in order to further decay into stable isotopes.

Appropriate Measures

It is therefore advisable to take appropriate measures, even though we still know too little about how radiation will behave in the very distant future. Better to be safe than sorry, right? The LAKA Foundation, a documentation and research center on nuclear energy, believes that highly radioactive nuclear fission waste, which continues to radiate for up to 200,000 years, is the greatest danger:

“An additional problem is that it continues to emit a lot of heat during this extremely long period of time, to which the storage environment also responds. Moreover, that period of time is so enormous that natural disasters and other catastrophes cannot be ruled out. In short, far too many problems. The production of all that waste must stop immediately: All nuclear power stations and other nuclear factories must close.”

Storage where?

Nuclear energy is therefore a major threat to our planet and all living things on it. This type of radiation can leave a trail of destruction for at least thousands of years.

The storage of nuclear waste is also very expensive, because the containers containing the radiation have to be replaced every so often. Otherwise, the radiation can penetrate the insulation material, causing it to leak into the outside world. In fact, both the containers, the insulation material, and the environment of the storage space become contaminated over time and must also be stored again.

Stable areas

Given the increased number of earthquakes, ‘fracking’ on a global scale, the sudden or otherwise rising water of the oceans due to earthquakes, the melting glaciers and polar ice caps, as well as increased cyclones and hurricanes, torrential rains, mudslides, forest fires and ‘what not’, few areas are geographically stable. So there are few areas suitable for centuries-long storage.

Lasting centuries

Which areas are suitable for storage? Just a first broad estimate: Higher areas with stable earth layers on rock formations are suitable. Not suitable are: islands, land below or just above sea level or near river beds, areas where gas extraction takes place or where there is a risk of earthquakes.

Small pebbles

And really NO ONE wants to store radiation waste in his or her backyard. However, according to Vladimir Megre that is actually what we should do! Small portions of fissure waste can be distributed over many family domains. His suggestion is to place one portion in the middle of every hectare (2 ½ acres) and then 30 feet underground! (9 meters). Pondering on this, such portion of radio active waste might have the size of a small pebble, or probably even half of that size?

How much RAD it should contain is a question for experts. From my personal experience, 19 millicuries of radio active iodine is already a great danger for our health when it is released in the environment. And this type of radiation only has a half life of 8 days. So what about the other radio active particles that will be radiating for centuries or even millenia? What would be a safe storage amount for such radiation? Just 1 or 3 mCi per pebble? A question for the experts!

Evenly spreading small radiating portions in the middle of all hectares is the safest way of storing fissure waste. Because, if two neighbors place their portions on the border of their adjacent hectares, cluster formation of radio active waste can occur. Therefore, placement in the middle of every hectare ensures a proportional spread, especially when we consider it might be hundreds (or even thousands?) of hectares that need to be appointed for this purpose.

This spreads the risk that during an environmental disaster or other unforeseen circumstances, a large amount of radiation could leak into the environment due to damage to the storage space and the protective casing of the radioactive waste. That would be disastrous for all life on Earth, wouldn’t it?

Dispersed storage

However, such dispersed storage over many hectares will come at a cost. Suppose that in the near future every hectare receives one tiny amount of radiation for centuries-long storage. How often per year or every how many years should it be checked? And how often does the protective covering need to be renewed every few years? Questions that radiation experts may know the answers to.

NOW or never

Considering the current climate problem, what do you think, should we put the planning for early implementation of this plan on the agenda NOW?  This involves politicians and professionals from different disciplines. But also We The People.

Costs and benefits

Let us first deal with the radiation waste problem sufficiently, and therefore have it carried out to everyone’s satisfaction, and only then let us build new nuclear power stations. It is certain that no one will want the latter anymore, unless of course there were better methods of dealing with fission waste.

The costs of disposal of radiation waste, spread over an extremely long period of time, are extremely disadvantageous compared to the short-term benefits. And what’s more, are we burdening future generations with it and washing our hands in innocence? Verily, radiation is no easy feat! Therefore the question is, what kind of bright future do we wish for ourselves and the planet?

When the alarms go off

Then it’s too late. Let’s face it. And that will not be a pleasant hearing in times of storms, floods, earthquakes and heavy, prolonged driving rain. Especially when we know that we could have prevented nuclear disasters by taking timely measures. As mentioned, transport all radioactive waste to areas preferably 30 to 40 meters (like 100 feet) above sea level based on stable underlying rock layers and distribute it in small portions over very large areas.

Ready or late?

To err is human and we only have to remember the disastrous nuclear disaster at Fukushima on March 11, 2011 and we know that this is NOT completely unthinkable. Its dramatic consequences are still incalculable.

But nowadays, both major storms and earthquakes can be predicted even more accurately than before. Perhaps it would be advisable to switch off the nuclear reactors at the slightest signal or doubt regarding a weather forecast of a storm or earthquake, even if only for a temporary stop? (if one does not want or cannot proceed with complete dismantling).

Timely intervention

People working in this industry, both employees and managers, could be assigned a separate task or voluntarily undertake to intervene in a timely manner. Perhaps thousands to millions of lives can be saved and nature can be preserved. There is no other way.

Just explain

Can we ensure that the radiation waste is distributed evenly over thousands of hectares of agricultural land spread over large areas? Can we ensure that in the (possible) thousands of years that follow, there will be a simple logistics system to replace the radioactive capsules in a timely manner? And can we then re-encapsulate and store them, including the surrounding soil of the storage areas? And what does that cost? Yes, a lot of money. Much more than what it brought us. But hey, explain it to your great-great-great-grandchildren and so on if you conveniently forget about them for a while.

An idea

And besides, can we just stop production? Can we bear the burden of dismantling power stations together? Because we can no longer leave the outdated nuclear power stations to their fate due to the market forces of our current economy, can we? So I mainly focus on those who have a large budget for this and preferably want to donate voluntarily.

How about taking down the names of the people who make generous donations towards this end? (also for contributions from people with a small budget). As far as I’m concerned, let’s have a message of thanks with the names of these people engraved in gold, so that it can still be read centuries later. Then the gold still has a genuine ethical value, because you cannot eat or drink it.

It depends

Oh well, and of course we can just leave it to chance! Not true? Just like the side effects of my medical treatment at the time.
The organization:
‘The International League Of Atomic Women’
claims the following about the medical treatment with the isotope I-131:

‘It depends where it all lands’.

Various factors

This refers to the radiation that spreads uncontrollably in the body and which can vary considerably from person to person. After all, with I-131 it does not only depend on the size of the dose. It is also important how much stock of iodine is present in the body. For example, sometimes there is iodine deficiency. Then the radioactive iodine will spread deeper into the body tissues and remain active in the metabolism. (Moreover, for the experts among us, a thyroid uptake scan can give a completely different result a day later).

Different effect

With specific medical treatment with I-131, the dosage may also have a different effect in people who no longer have thyroid function. For example, after surgical removal of the thyroid gland. When these people receive a thyroid up-take scan to determine whether thyroid cells are still active in the body, they are not allowed to take replacement thyroid hormone for several days.The radiation will then not remain in the tissues and organs for a long time and will quickly leave the body. This is because I-131 is not linked to thyroid hormone.

Treatment protocol?

No empirical research has been conducted into the effect of this medical treatment in the short and long term. Except with guinea pigs. Nor does it look at all the mutual differences and differentiations that occur under different conditions and circumstances. There is also no official recognition and medical treatment protocol for people with injuries caused by radioactive iodine (or other forms of radiation).

At World level

Even at a global level, it is impossible to predict exactly how the various radioactive substances will behave after a few centuries. Let’s all just hope that it won’t be too bad. However, in the first week of April 2020, forest fires broke out in the area around Chernobyl (where there was a nuclear disaster in 1986). Quite unusual for this time of year as we are in the first month of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere.

We will continue

However, increased radioactivity in the air was measured due to the intensive fires. But this does not burn or extinguish the radioactivity. It simply ends up somewhere else with the combustion residues and carbon. With a strong wind we also have a radioactive storm to deal with. And where does it all end? It makes me very sad to see and hear these kinds of news reports. And that is why I have decided to also publish this third part in the RAI series. I therefore also use the motto of The International League Of Atomic Women:

‘We may as well move forward,
because we can’t go back’.

Atomic Woman
© 2020-2024 | Margreet Otto Wilschut
Source: www.margreetotto.net

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