Sometimes I think managing my healthcare is more of an art than a science. That’s how my T3 process feels at the moment.
Two years ago I thought my thyroid problem was just an inconvenience solved by taking a daily pill. Since then, through a huge amount of reading, I’ve come to realize that it might actually be the main cause of most of my problems. Or maybe not. But it could be. So it would be crazy not to try and treat it.
Through this same reading, I realized that the medication I’ve been on for the last 8 years (synthetic T4) may not be adequate. Well whaddayaknow! A lot of people seem to have luck on natural dessicated thyroid (NDT) – that’s part of a thyroid taken from a pig or a cow. They produce the same hormones as healthy humans and in the same proportions. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a doctor who’s covered by insurance to prescribe it. Most endocrinologists believe in strictly T4 treatments. I have finally found someone who’s covered by my old insurance, so if the disability insurance ruling goes in my favor and I get my old health insurance back, then I’ll head there. But until then, I haven’t found anyone who takes my current insurance. And I don’t really have the funds to pay cash.
So I started to think about the alternative. After months of searching, I considered the benefits of trying a synthetic thyroid med. Many patients report a big improvement on synthetic T3 and then a further improvement on NDT. So why not try T3? It wouldn’t be a complete solution, but at least it could be a partial one. Sounds good, right? Well, first I need the prescription. So I made an appointment with the endocrinologist who has been insisting that T4 is the way to go (as most endos seem to believe.) Before the appointment I asked him to send me a lab form so I could have tests done in advance. Sure enough, the two T3 tests weren’t on there. Hmm…. At the appointment I oh-so-casually mentioned that those tests hadn’t been done in a while, at least a few years. He said he didn’t think it was necessary. I pointed out that I’d be on the same meds for a long time, and maybe we should check just to be sure. He said why not, we could do it at my next appointment. My first thought was, I’m not waiting another 4 months! So I casually said that I didn’t mind having more blood taken. In fact, I joked, I have so much blood taken, I hardly notice anymore! So he said sure, and ordered the tests. Yippee!
Sure enough, one test came back in the range that the lab calls normal, and that my endo calls normal, but that my naturopath and the online patient community think is too low. But the other test, well, that was definitely too high! (They’re inverse tests, so it makes sense that one is high and the other is low.) Bingo! My endo debated with himself while I listened through the phone and nudged him gently. He decided that we should try the lowest possible dose of synthetic T3. If there are no side effects, then we can consider raising the dose. If it works, then I know I’ll have more evidence that NDT could really help me.
On my way home from the pharmacy today, T3 safely in my purse, proud of this small and yet not-so-small accomplishment, I started thinking about what could happen. I’m a bit worried that it could make me “too well” before my big IME appointment. The disability insurance company wants me to be examined by an independent medical examiner (IME) to make sure I’m really unable to work. What if this med makes me feel better and then the doctor rules against me?
And then it hit me: What if it doesn’t?
For some reason, I hadn’t really considered that before. I’ve just been assuming this would help me. I didn’t pursue it sooner because my adrenals were in such a sad state, we had to focus on healing them a bit before trying any thyroid treatments, but all along I knew I’d try it one day and I assumed it would help. Many have us have had a magic-type cure in mind at one point or another. But the scary thing is, if this doesn’t work, then what? I could still try NDT. But if that doesn’t work? Then I have no idea what to try next. I have no idea what else could be causing my problems. And then maybe I could be this sick for the rest of my life.
It’s a scary thought. It’s not impossible. It took me many years to find this avenue to pursue. If need be, I’ll start the research over again and find a new avenue. I know that’s what would happen. But still, right now, knowing that I’ll be starting that new med in the morning, I’m really worried that I could be wrong. That this med I’ve been holding out hope for for so long won’t be my salvation. That maybe it won’t work.