She was 60 years old.  She weighed 87 pounds.  She looked her stated weight.

Grave’s Disease had reduced her to a skeleton.   She had resisted any form of treatment.  She was haunted by fears of painful treatments, miserable surgeries, and death.

She sized me up during our first appointment.  We explored her fears and discussed treatment options.  And what each would be like to undergo.

She chose I 131 treatment.

I ordered the Thyroid Uptake Scan, the radiologist calculated the millicuries for the iodine dose and we set up a date for the procedure.

“By the way, doctor,” she turned to me on her way out, “I don’t swallow capsules.”

“Excuse me?”

“I won’t swallow a capsule…I can’t…so it better be a pill.”

I131 comes in a capsule.  No options.

Back to the drawing board.  I got on the phone, made some arrangements and made a pact with her.


The big day arrived for the ablation.  I walked the patient to nuclear med.  The HazMat dressed tech arrived with the lead-lined I131 container.  With a pair of special tongs, he removed the bright-blue capsule from the container.  “Stand back everyone!”  I wasn’t sure how far we could stand back since the patient was supposed to swallow the thing.

“Open!”  The patient dutifully opened her mouth. “Drink!”  The patient dutifully drank the glass of water that had been set before her.  “Swallow!”  The patient dutifully swallowed.

She was wheeled back to her room on the fifth floor.  The technician turned to her one last time: “Open!”  The patient dutifully opened her mouth and he looked in the oral cavity to make sure the capsule was gone.  He left the room


“Got it?”  I asked.   The patient smiled wryly and opened her mouth.  I extended my gloved hand and she spit the capsule into it.

“You pulled that off quite well,” I said.

“I told you,  I don’t swallow capsules.”

I used a 21 gauge needle and poked a hole into the capsule.  “Vanilla okay?”  She nodded.  I squeezed the contents of the capsule into a cup of lunchbox vanilla pudding, purchased for this special moment.  I stirred the I131 into the pudding and the patient gladly spooned the irradiated pudding into her mouth.  This time she really swallowed.


Six months later, the patient was a new woman.  Dressed to kill, hair down up, make-up on, and sporting a new 100 pound frame, she was ready for Hollywood!

We had plenty of wonderful laughs over that crazy, unconventional deliver of I 131.

And, praise God, I don’t glow in the dark.



Galatians 5:1  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Don’t be afraid to innovate.  To create.  To use God’s gift of imagination and invention to do what needs to be done to bring healing, hope, and health.

Let lose the radiation!


Doc Leibert