What They Said About Surgery Was Right

Hi, readers. Many of you know I have Type 1 diabetes. Diabetes is what I write about, mostly, for this blog. Two days ago my intentions for this week’s blog entry were (honestly) to write about my blood glucose numbers the past ten days or so. “Keep it focused on the diabetes,” I thought.


I was going to be good. I planned this long — OK, somewhat long — meditation on why I think that maybe, in conjunction with going off my thyroid hormone (liothyronine sodium, brand name Cytomel) and moving towards hypothyroidism, I also discovered I’d been experiencing lower blood glucose readings. Not lows, necessarily; in fact, I was mostly always right at my target level.

It’s been an almost ideal blood glucose existence for the past ten days or so.

But my speculation about why will have to wait. See, next week I go in — all week I go in! — for radioactive iodine therapy. It’s the last major hurdle (I hope) in getting completely rid of the thyroid cancer I was diagnosed with last fall. Four half-day outpatient days at the hospital, then a few days of isolation because I’ll be mildly radioactive. After that, I’ll just need to get my new synthetic thyroid hormone dosage (a daily pill) adjusted by working with my endocrinologist.

In preparation for the radioactive iodine therapy — to make any remaining thyroid cells thirsty enough to take up the radioactive iodine — I have (1) stopped my Cytomel and (2) started eating a low-iodine diet.

And, whoa, but the hypothyroidism symptoms have come on strong the last day or two. I’m finding that I can’t think coherently enough (or simply can’t muster the energy to try to think coherently enough) to write what I’d like to write. Oh, I could sit here and babble on for quite awhile about not much in particular, but I doubt my editor would find it publishable or editable.

Thus, while I’m not sure what may have been contributing to my wonderful blood glucose numbers — a slower metabolism because of hypothyroidism? A different diet? Other stuff? (I had a long mental list prepared) — that blog entry’s just not going to happen. I wish it was. I wanted to write through it to see if I couldn’t figure it out. Had I stumbled upon a secret formula?

The world may never know.

The thyroid gland, as you probably know, controls metabolism. I don’t have a thyroid gland any longer, and without the synthetic hormone in my system, my metabolism right now is moving at a snail’s pace. I’m completely exhausted and full of aches and pains, spaced out, kind of numb. Oh, and the cramping’s started; it was one of the symptoms I read about but hoped to avoid. Yet it’s here, mostly in my legs, neck, and hands.

The hypothyroidism has really been hitting me hard the last few days, with last night the worst yet. Although I’ve been utterly exhausted, I still wasn’t able to fall asleep until two or so. It felt like my skin wanted to separate and crawl off of me, and I couldn’t lay still. I think I probably burned several hundred calories with twitching and tossing and turning, in and out, dozing, drifting, mind racing, all so very disconcerting. It was difficult for me to separate that liminal, in-between world of dreams and falling-asleep thoughts with what was really going on in my life. Kind of trippy, and if I felt better, it’d be kind of fun. Yet it wasn’t fun because I was miserable.

So the chances are it’s not going to get better before it gets worse, and chances are that if I have another evening tonight like last night, I’m not going to be motivated for much blogging the next few weeks. I’m leaving open the option to write my entries during radioactive iodine therapy, because sometimes the writing helps even if it’s difficult to get started. But if there’s a lack of Eric Lagergren in your RSS feeds, you’ll know why.

Wish me luck!

Oh, and regarding this week’s title? What it was they said about my thyroid surgery? I was told that the actual thyroidectomy part was the easy part; that this, what I’m experiencing right now — the hypothyroidism — is the worst part.

I’m inclined to agree. Where’s the morphine now?

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  • Andrea

    Hang in there, Eric! Just started chemo for breast cancer myself, so I’m more sympathetic now than usual.

  • shinaye

    Welcome to the club, Eric.
    I am a former hyperactive thyroid now turned hypothyroid due to radioactive-iodine treatment (2x – very stubborn gland).

    Once on pill-form thyroid meds, the confusion, tiredness, etc will mellow and you’ll be back to the person you recognize.

    I now take 75mcg of Levothyroxine, the generic version of Synthroid. Started @ 25mcg because of my overactive thyroid. Iwas told after my second dose of radioactive iodine that my thyroid would slip into low thyroid;weren’t sure when. Took 5 yrs.

    I wasn’t told about the terrible (at least to me)depression that comes along w/ low thyroid. Forced me into a prescription for generic Zoloft to lighten my moody depression.

    Hang in there, Eric. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

  • maryann salvin

    Yes, we all silently even if we do not post a comment wish you more than luck. Prayers and good thoughts will be near when you least expect it.Speedy recovery — even if it is at a snails pace will be a welcome I’m sure for you as well as your wife. Regards, Maryann Salvin

  • Debbie Drechsler

    Eric, my Type 2 diabetes was diagnosed while I was very hypothyroid. When I set out to control my BGs with diet and lifestyle it was so easy! I felt so virtuous! Two months later I was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma and had my thyroid removed. I’ve spent the better part of this year working to get my thyroid levels to a normal place and I’ve noticed that being hyperthyroid seems to make it harder to control my glucose. I’ve recently started taking Cytomel and it seems to make that even worse. Increased glucose levels is listed as a side effect of Cytomel but I haven’t been able to find out if it’s something that occurs if you’re taking too much (and thus hyperthyroid) or if it’s just something that happens when you take Cytomel. I’ll see my endocrinologist in May and plan to ask about it then. In the meantime, you have my sympathy going through the hypothyroid thing. Ugggh! I hope it’s over with soon and that the RAI goes well!

  • Joy

    Hi, I was reading on this blog and needed info. I just picked your entry to read and write back because of you mentioning surgery. I just had a total hip replacement at 48, I feel while letting my cat out at 3 a.m. and oh boy was that fun. Anyway, when I went into the hospital that day to the ER, they found out that my blood sugar was 492, and I was like “what”??? I had no idea that my blood sugar was high. After surgery they said that surgery sometimes causes high blood glucose numbers to spike but mine stay up in the 3 to 400’s until they started giving me insulin in the stomach (that was fun too !!).

    Anyway, I was given Metformin 500mg. upon my release 8 days after my surgery and now I am out of meds. I have no money to go to a Dr. for myself, I care for my Mom who is very ill and now in a rehab center trying to learn to walk again so all of the cash we get in goes towards her needs. I don’t have hundreds of dollars to go to a new Dr. just to get a rx for metformin. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how I could get diabetes meds asap and hopefully, for as close to free as I can get them !!!

    I simply can’t afford the 120.00 Dr. visits for new patients. The Dr. assigned to me in the hospital gave me the rx’s I came home with but is no longer allowed to prescribe meds for me since I am no longer hospitalized. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    God Bless – Joy 🙂

  • shinaye

    Update on my low thyroid: just has a lab test done.The medical asst. from my PCP’s office called to say that my thyroid is overmedicated.
    My dose is reduced from 75mcg to 50mcg.
    Could be why fuzzy thinking & confusion sapped my energy.