Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Got Iodide?

Today the Navy started handing Potassium Iodide (KI) pills out to personnel and family members.  It is purely precautionary and erring on the conservative side as seems to be the theme with the Navy lately.  No big deal, I went down with a friend to go pick up pills for myself and the kidlets.

Guess what?  I cannot take the pills.  Apparently, if you are allergic to shellfish or have a thyroid disorder, you cannot take the KI pills.  Well- if you have only a slight allergy to shellfish- you may be ok and it might be worth the risk.  But me?  I have a thyroid disorder- can't take the pills.  My doc was there to confirm.  He said I will just have to "shelter indoors".  Soooo, if we are trying to evacuate should the sh-- hit the fan (which I don't think it will), I would either have to stay behind and send my kids off with someone else (and their pills), or risk exposure and go out with them.

But after doing a little research, I feel reassured I will be ok.  And I understand why I can't take the pills.  The KI pills saturate the thyroid with potassium iodide- which prevents radioactive iodine from being absorbed in the thyroid.  Basically it is like filling all the hotel rooms with clean guests before the radioactive guests get there.  Oops, sorry no room for you!  People exposed to radioactive iodine (what is released in the event of a nuclear plant explosion)- are at serious risk for developing thyroid cancer.  As I understand it- it is 90% treatable (though it would require a lifetime of care- I do know someone who had it.)  The reason I can't take the KI pills is because one of the side effects is hypothyroidism, which I already have.  So for me it would make it much worse and could cause serious health problems (think heart.)  In my doc's words- "it would cause more harm than good".

I confess- after a day filled with defeats, this tipped me over to the panic side- but only for a little bit.  I did a little research, and then I felt better.  This is all hypothetical, right?  We are not in immediate danger, it is all ok.  I am ok, and so is my family.  My friend tried to convince me to put myself on the "people with medical conditions" list (ie priority and first to go).  Women and children go first- the youngest children and those pregnant are at the top of the list- along with people who have special needs/medical conditions.  It didn't feel right to me to try and get out sooner.  Children are at the biggest risk in the event of radiation exposure- the younger, the higher the risk.  I don't want to bump someone with young children.  Also, from what I read, those who are 40 and older are at the least risk.  Well I am three years from 40, close enough!  I talked to my hubby's boss today- who chided me and told me not to be the "hero" and get out of here.  I am still not going to put myself on that "must evacuate" list.  But I am going to try and get a flight out of Narita if possible.  At the rate they are getting people out of here, I would probably make it home before them anyway!

Crazy huh?  I wish someone could just wave a magic wand over the power plants and put them all back to together in perfect working condition.  Japan has suffered enough.  What we are going through here is 100, no- 1000 times worse in Sendai and the areas surrounding the power plants.  So instead of KI pills, I'll take another dose of perspective- Vitamin "P".

Praying for good news and relief for those who are suffering.


  1. Nobody explored the option of using other halogen compounds (which are similar to iodine) for thyroid protection. According to the some articles the fluoridated water saturated thyroids with fluoride, thus reducing iodine uptake. For people who are cannot take KI due to the thyroid disorders why not to give them sodium chloride (table salt).
    The most annoying contaminant from the radioactive fallout is the cesium , however a dust control can minimize exposure to it.
    Wearing the plastic bag on the hair , closed shoes and long pants can provide good protection against that substance.
    Eating cheese can protect against strontium contamination (which is similar to calcium)
    Good luck!!

  2. Doctor J- thank you for the information, it is very much appreciated!


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