The doctor I just saw is a quack. I knew he would be, but I set up an appointment anyway. I've been dealing with fatigue and chronic pain, and regular doctors haven't had an answer. So I set up an appointment with a doctor that practices "functional medicine" as a last ditch effort. How do I reconcile what this doctor told me with what I know about real medicine and the load of bullshit I was just fed?
I don't want to go into the long history of my medical issues or I could end up writing a book, and this ask is going to be long anyway. But the short of it is, I've been experiencing fatigue for the past couple years with no definitive cause. Had a round of fatigue a few years before because of low serum ferritin and restless leg syndrome. Got better, but after a while started getting tired again. No problems with serum ferritin but RLS is back. Later started having reoccurring chronic pain no one one could diagnosis, fatigue and pain continue to worsen. Some odd test results, but nothing significant enough to lead to a diagnosis. I have seen 80 billion doctors. (okay, maybe not that many) and the provisional diagnosis is atypical fibromyalgia with chronic fatigue syndrome. This diagnosis, I'm told is only a diagnosis of exclusion.
I'm now being treated at a pain clinic and by a rheumatologist. And my GP and sleep doctor are still involved for good measure. Not to fond of the rheumatologist, but that's another story.
I had my first appointment a few weeks ago with the MD that will be treating my pain. We talked about a lot of things. I liked her a lot, in part because she told me that there wasn't a lot more they can do for me (mainly, because she was honest, and didn't beat around the bush.)
I asked her something that had been bugging me for a long time. "Is it possible it's my thyroid?" I've been asked by so many doctors if my thyroid has been tested because my symptoms always sound thyroid-y. Friends and family with thyroid issues have said "you sound just like me before I was treated". But my thyroid has been tested multiple times and it has come back normal. But there is scores of information on the internet that say that normal results might not actually rule out thyroid issues. But the internet doesn't have it's medical license, and I try to take it with a grain of salt. We chat about this for a bit, she says my symptoms do sound a lot like hypothyroid symptoms, but the value looks normal. But, she goes on to tell me, that she's heard of people with subclinical hypothyroid that get relief when put on a low dose of thyroid medication.
In fact, she tells me, she had a patient a few years ago who had pain very similar to what I'm describing, who eventually went to a functional medicine doctor, was put on a low dose of thyroid, and it cleared up her pain, her fatigue symptoms, and made her a whole new person. So much so that the doctor says it may be something I want to try, because I've tried everything else. She said she doesn't feel comfortable prescribing thyroid meds herself because it's not in her wheelhouse, but seeing an alternative medicine might be something I can give a go since I've tried everything else.
Now, I have considered, after researching thyroid issues, seeing an alternative medicine/woo type doctor, and I haven't been able to get over the fact that I think most/all of it is nonsense. But, after this discussion with this doctor, I decided to do just that. So I find a doctor in the area that is associated with a real hospital, and seems to have the least amount of woo. If I'm just going to get a prescription of thyroid medicine, maybe I can stomach the nonsense.
I had that appointment yesterday, and the whole thing has rubbed me the wrong way. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the place is that they were offering an ionic foot bath to "detoxify". I've never heard of this before but immediately I knew it was snake oil. They showed pictures of people in the foot bath with clear water to progressively darker water. (Having an internet enable phone is a wonderful tool for skeptics like me
). The alarm klaxons warning me this is not real medicine are going off in my head.
I finally meet with the doctor. He starts to explain what feels like a speech he's said a million times. I'm not sick, my hormones are out of balance. He prescribes the thyroid medication. But he also tells me my progesterone is low, and I need a prescription for that. And that I need weekly b12 shots. I need to eat better (well, I can't disagree with him there) and I need to cut out gluten. I need to only eat organic food. And I have Adrenal Fatigue and need to take supplements for it. I have Epstein barr antibodies and the eb is what is causing my chronic fatigue (GRRRRR) Further down the rabbit hole I go, trying hard not to just say this is exactly why I didn't want to talk to a doctor like you.
Meanwhile, he's not really listening to me, and keeps talking over my questions and comments. I ended up buying two of the three supplements he told me because I'm a sucker and I honestly wanted to get out of there. He gave me DHEA and Rhodiola rosea. I commit in my head to doing what he says because it's not going to interfere with anything the other doctors are having me do. And why not? Maybe I will feel better.
The problem is, the further I get from the situation, the worse I feel about it. I got what I came for, the thyroid medication, but I feel a bit like I need a doctor I can trust before I go down this path, and this guy wasn't it. But I haven't been able to find a good doctor in the area that is willing to be a little more creative when it comes to considering thyroid. Whenever I look for doctors in the area that specialize in it, it's always the out there alternative medicine types. Outside the area, there are doctors associated with schools and doing cutting edge research, being published, but right now I do not have the money to travel to areas where these doctors are located.
I've already seen an endocrinologist, but I didn't like him much*, and my understanding is that it's the rare endocrinologist that takes subclinical hypothyroidism seriously. (*He rules out two possible illnesses and then became obsessed with my blood pressure and continually ignored me when I'd try to bring the subject back to the pain and fatigue. And he thought my high blood pressure was cured when I was off of blood pressure meds for a week and it didn't go up right away, thus claiming my birth control pills were causing it all along and I was cured. Of course it came up within a couple weeks as one would expect. He was upset with me because I had bad reactions to certain medications, including one that sent me to urgent care. And he'd get mad when I'd probe about thyroid but wouldn't explain why other than "you can't trust the internet." Which, while he probably was not wrong, I would expect a little more patience and willingness to answer my questions than to just dismiss them.)
I don't know it's my thyroid that is the problem, but I feel like it's something that hasn't been tried and it's the one thing that so many doctors keep asking about so obviously they think it's something at least initially. I'd like to have a serious conversation with a real doctor that will take me seriously.
So I don't know. Do I just go along with what this doctor is saying, or do I bail? And if I do bail, do I keep trying to find another doctor, and see if there is something to the possibility of a thryoid issue? And where?
(And since it will probably be asked, my most recent thyroid tests are TSH 2.57, FT3 2.8, FT4 0.87, Total T3 119.4. TSH bounces around 2.2-3.2, but no one has been able to tell me if that is a "normal" variation. Thyroid antibodies negative)