Terrified that I won’t find a new doctor

March 17, 2023

I’ve written about this before, but then, that’s part of chronic illness, isn’t it? So many things recur because, after all, our health problems are chronic. Still, this is by far the biggest problem in my life at the moment, so it’s what I’m going to write about today.

The back story starts years ago, when I did my own research to learn why my thyroid treatment wasn’t working. It took a while to find a doctor who really knew how to treat me in a way that would actually improve my symptoms. When I finally found that doctor, I stuck with him.

Meanwhile, I was treating my adrenal insufficiency with supplements. I did my own research and worked with my naturopath. At first they helped, but then the company I used went out of business. I had to switch to a different brand and it was never as effective. After 7 years of supplements, my naturopath finally convinced me to do what my doctor had already been encouraging: hydrocortisone. I had resisted this course of action for a long time, but I finally gave in.

With the right thyroid treatment and the right adrenal treatment, I felt better than I had in years. It felt miraculous. For a short time, that is.

Fast forward to a year and a half ago, when my doctor urged me to go off the hydrocortisone for six weeks in order to run some tests. It was hell. In theory, after the tests I should have gone back on the same dose and felt fine again. For some reason, though, that didn’t work. We raised the dose. And then my doctor retired.

I found a new doctor, and I thought he might be ok, but at our last visit I changed my mind. First he said I’m hyperthyroid based on just the TSH, without considering the Free T4. Also, he doesn’t even run a Free T3! But even worse, when I described some adrenal hormone-related issues I have, he said they’re signs of being hyperthyroid. Which makes no sense. I’ve had these episodes for years, even when I was hypothyroid. Even though I only get these episodes once every week or two at most. Even though they stopped when I got on the right dose of hydrocortisone. They recently returned, which is why I’ve questioned whether I need to change my dose. But he insists they’re proof that I’m hyperthyroid. What?!?

Ok, so maybe I need a new doctor. But I could have lived with that. Then he announced changes to his medical practice that would end up costing me thousands of dollars a year. Literally. And I’m already not happy with him. So now I feel that I need someone else. But…. what if I can’t find anyone else?

I’ve been looking. So far, I’m not finding a lot of options, and the ones I do find don’t take my insurance. I don’t even know yet if they are taking on new patients. Or if they have the knowledge necessary for my kind of complicated case. Or if I’d like them.

My PCP won’t prescribe hydrocortisone at all, and her way of managing thyroid conditions would send me back to where I was at more than a dozen years ago. I’m terrified. It took so many years for me to get to a level of health where I felt that I could more or less function, and I worry that could be snatched away from me. Not only do I need these medications to live, I need them to enjoy life. Even with these meds I can’t do a lot of things I want to do: go dancing, hike, spend all day doing fun activities, keep up with my nieces and nephews, keep up with my own 70-something mother, attend a wedding without needing days afterwards to rest. Still, they allow me to do a lot more than I otherwise could. And I could lose them.

I’m terrified. There simply aren’t many doctors around, regardless of insurance coverage, who do the types of treatment I need. What happened? I feel like there were more options a dozen years ago, but the numbers have been shrinking and patients are left in the lurch.

I don’t know what to do. Every time I think about calling more pharmacies to ask for names of doctors, checking more doctors’ websites, calling more medical offices, I freeze up. Avoiding the issue won’t fix it, and only causes the entire situation to weigh on me and add to my stress levels – and added stress is especially bad for someone with adrenal issues that aren’t being properly treated!

Right now I’m going to take a few deep breaths and make some more calls. It only takes one, right? Just that one special doctor. Still, I’m scared. Because I know it’s possible I won’t find them. And then what?

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