The Diabetes Blogger’s Dilemma

I have a confession and an apology to make. The apology is this: I’m sorry if I’ve let down any of you who read my blog expecting some snippet or anecdote or (maybe) insight into what it is I was contracted to do, which is to talk about what it is for me to live with diabetes. I’m sorry as well to those of you who may have clicked your way to one of my entries in the hopes of finding something related to diabetes and instead ended up with a several-thousand-word entry on some guy’s thyroidectomy.


You probably won’t find anything in this week’s entry to help you if you seek those things.

I won’t say that I can’t help it. I can. It hasn’t been impossible for me to write about my Type 1 diabetes. In fact, a few weeks ago I wrote a two-part entry in which I don’t recall mentioning my thyroid cancer. (That should earn me a few points.) However, each week since my cancer diagnosis I’ve tried to find diabetes-related material to incorporate into the blog, and each week I found doing so burdensome. My confession: for the most part I shifted my focus for this blog away from the diabetes to talk about my cancer because it helped me cope with what I was going through. The diabetes is under control; my thyroid — now gone thanks to the surgery — has been paramount in my thoughts. A little self-serving? Sure. Again, I’m sorry.

While I no longer have a thyroid, and while the tests showed the cancer hadn’t spread, I’m not out of the thyroid medical woods yet. So do you want to know a bit about what’s happened in the past week for me?

I still have to undergo radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU). This will take place the first full week in April. I’ll probably miss work that entire week. RAIU consists of three or four different half-day outpatient trips to the hospital, during which I’ll ingest or have injected a small amount of radioactive iodine to target any thyroid tissue that may not have been completely removed by the thyroidectomy. They’ll then do full-body scans to see if there is any cancerous thyroid tissue elsewhere in my body. If you want the full details on RAIU, you can read about it here.

But wait, there’s more.

As I mentioned last week, the anesthesiologist chipped one of my teeth (my left front tooth, actually) during intubation. Sometime in the next three months or so I will decide whether or not to have that small chip repaired. It’s very tiny, almost unnoticable, and the hospital will pay for the reconstruction. I would be fine with not repairing it, but I’m concerned with whether leaving it as-is could lead to problems down the road. Why leave it? Right now I’m about doctored out, and I’d like to avoid the dentist for a while if possible.

I also mentioned difficulty speaking. I still don’t have much voice, and while it’s not atypical for a patient to have voice difficulty following a thyroidectomy, the level at which I’m experiencing problems is greater than the norm. To be brief, I had three different appointments at the hospital on Tuesday. My laryngeal nerve, while not permanently damaged — they monitored the nerves during the procedure — was stretched during surgery; therefore it isn’t really communicating with my body in such a way that allows the left side of my vocal cord to close.

My voice will return, but when that will happen is something they can’t predict. Could be next week, three weeks from now, or months from now. I’m finding it tough to navigate through the world without the ability to speak above a whisper.

I’m scheduled to meet with an otolaryngologist in two weeks, after which, if I’m still having voice problems, I’ll work with a speech pathologist so that I don’t develop bad speech habits while my cords aren’t working correctly.

So there you go. Another entry pretty much sans diabetes. I suppose I could force my way into diabetes writing, but for two and a half years now as a blogger for Diabetes Self-Management — after nearly 130 blog entries and probably close to 100,000 words — I’ve had little to no difficulty coming up with something diabetes-related to write about on a weekly basis. For most of those entries, I’ve cared about the topic I wrote about on any given week. Lately, though, apart from the few times my blood glucose went out of whack due to an oversight on the part of the nursing staff while I was in the hospital, I’ve had very few diabetes topics that interest me. I rack my brain trying to think of something, but it always comes back around to, “Yeah, but that thyroid thing…that voice thing…the swallowing difficulty…oh, and that tooth thing…”

I know this isn’t Thyroid Cancer Survivor’s Self-Management, so believe me, I’ll return with diabetes stuff soon. In fact, next week I see my endocrinologist for the first time since my cancer diagnosis. I will talk about how that goes, about my diabetes (with a touch of thyroid news peppered in), the next time I see you.

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  • Andrea

    No apology needed, and none expected. Health is health, and it matters what’s going on with your thyroid as much as with your diabetes. Please do keep us posted, as some of us have come to think of you as a virtual friend, and are concerned for you, not just your blood sugars.

  • Deb

    Second that, Eric. I’ve been waiting anxiously to hear how things are going. As a matter of fact, the fact that blood sugar issues are not uppermost after this surgery is a good thing to know – obviously your diabetes self-management has a great deal to do with that.

  • PJ

    Eric, I must fully agree with everything that Andrea said!

    I also want to say that anyone who doesn’t want to see the posts about your overall health only has to hit the Delete key.

    They must be extremely lucky if diabetes is the ONLY medical problem that they ever have.

  • Peter Mead

    How have your glucose levels been post op?

  • Eric L


    My blood glucose levels have been really great after the operation (once I got home and got back into a normal routine). Once home, I returned the basal rates on my insulin pump back up to normal (during fasting I’d dialed the levels back by 0.1 for the three or four different rates throughout the day). But my average blood glucose, according to my pump meter history, with about eight tests a day, is around 135, which I’m not worried about.

    A few times I felt a low coming on, and when I checked I was in the low 70s… but I’m not too concerned about this.

    Thanks for asking.


  • Mary

    Eric – No apology is needed! Whether one is battling a seemingly simple cut, respiratory virus or as in your case, thyroid cancer, having diabetes ALWAYS adds another layer of potential complications to treating the condition. I can’t believe (and hope not) that someone called you out for blogging about this. Please continue to take best of care! And, do think about getting that tooth smoothed out … later this year -:) Hang in there …. you’ve got more people than you realize who are out there and on your side.

  • Suzy

    No apology necessary. I’m scheduled to go for a biopsy on my thyroid soon and so I’ve really appreciated the information and the insights that you have shared.

  • maryann salvin

    Dear Eric, You are a trooper as well as your wife.Unfortunately all these problems we get are inter-connected with the human body. Thank God you have the ability to outwardly vocalize what it is to live our daily problems that occur.I’ve had type-1 this March. 50 years. Insulin dependent. I also am hypo-glycemic unaware totally. Blood Glucose,every minute of every day is an unknown,unless you test to be accurate. I am using a continuous-glucose since June 2009. I must check and recheck to be sure. Point of my message to you directly, is I had two 131 txs 24 years ago. Side effects for me was double vision in both eyes.It was a problem for two months and then thank God that disappeared, I was back to normal with the vision, but my body finally had all the thyroid depleted where I was sent by ambulance to the Hospital where synthroid was finally started in March of 1987. I had an over-active thyroid problem not thyroid cancer. Hopefully you will be improve daily. Sincerely,M Salvin You do not have to post this if it doesn’t fit the terma and conditions I just want to let you know how important reading your blog means to the readers. Thank you sincerely.

  • Cathy A.

    Eric – I agree with everyone else. No apologies needed. You are part of a family of people out in the virtual world who care about you. During the cancer and thyroid crisis, we all have been worried about you. At least from my perspective, your blogs have had a good amount of info about how your blood sugar was reacting to all the poking and prodding and just plain “Medical Stuff” you have been subjected to. That has been helpful for any of us who are- or will be – having surgery or any medical procedure that could affect our levels. See? You have been doing the job you were contracted to do and didn’t even know it. What a pro!

    Hugs, dear Eric

    Cathy A.

  • Chris Stocker


    There is no reason nor need to apologize for situations like that. Some of us don’t blog about diabetes all the time and we’re not even worrying about cancer or anything else, maybe it was a football team losing in the play-offs. Not everything we read has to be about diabetes and I really like the other type of posts.

  • Marina

    No apology needed! I agree with those who say we (or most of us, anyway) are interested in your overall health. You have become a friend, and friends care about friends! Thyroid cancer is not a minor cut on the finger;it is a major situation and
    we are interested in such things when they happen to someone we “know”. Plus,the fact that your diabetes was controlled through all this shows how well you have taken care of it overall. Keep us up on how thyroid & diabetes things are doing. We care!

  • Twanna

    I’ve just joined your group of bloggers so I’m not holding anything against you for not writing about diabetes. I’m a cancer survivor of over 10 years and I understand what it is like to undergo treatment…nothing else is more paramount in your mind than the challenges you are facing just dealing with the day to day aspects of your treatment and concentrating on healing. Hang in there, many prayers and well wishes are being sent your way.

  • Lorraine

    Eric no apology needed. We all have other problems besides the Big D.
    Regards Lorraine

  • maryann salvin

    Eric, Continued Get well wishes!!! Hope the tooth finally gets repaired as well. I just wrote on your previous blog (details of your surgery)Jan.7,2010. stating my post was lost and re-wrote a note. I apologize, as I now read it is posted above, so thanks. Hope Kathryn and yourself manage with whatever comes up. Sincerely, Maryann Salvin

  • srose

    I didn’t have thyroid cancer, but I’ve has RAIU 2x
    for an agressive overactive thyroid. After the 2nd treatment, I was told that my thyroid would slip into underactive. That took 6 years.
    I was taking 25mcg of Levothyroxine(generic)for the overactive thyroid after the 1st RAIU. Now I take 75mcg generic Levothyroxine for the underactive.(2nd RAIU)
    With no thyroid, did they tell you about thyroid pills for the rest of your life?
    Here’s hoping the rest of your post-op scans are negative! You are an inspiration!