The gels never got into my skin very much. Never went over 300 ng/dL. My brother did a little better, never went much over 400 ng/dL. He did pellets and his levels were all over the place. Now he does test U pills and he gets to about the same place, 400ish. From 50 years ago the therapeutic level for TRT has al,ways been 800 ng/dL until all these new versions came out like the gels. Now anything in the anemic range of 250-800 ng/dL seems to be acceptable by the AMA and other state versions. If it were me... wait a minute it is me too, I would just do the shot once a week. Best TRT I ever did was 100 mg Test C and 75 mg Primobolan. Primo is an anabolic steroid, the one with the safest profile, with estrogen lowering effects so you don't need an aromatase inhibitor and you get a little more anabolic effect. That's a once a week shot. Do that with gym 4-5 days a week with a clean diet and you will feel like a new man. Keep in mind you will probably have to dial in your dose and the Primo bit is not really legal so that is something you would have to add after your doc gets you pretty squared away. Get use to doing your own blood work ordering online at places like PrivateMD and such and you can manage things pretty well along with your doc.
I have heard the same thing from other guys. It takes a couple of rounds to get how much your body is absorbing. Personally I think doing shots are the best way to go pellets may be easier and less often but I don't think it works as well as getting the shots
In hindsight, if I just refused to do injections, I would look at the newer orals. I never got consistent results with topicals (gels and compounded creams). I also feel like I converted a lot of the topical into estrogen, and that was inconsistent as well (unpredictable estrogen in a man sucks). I turned down pellets due to the doctor wanting to implant what I perceived as way too many. What are you going to do at that point if you have a bad reaction? They'll have to be removed.
Otherwise, learn to inject. I didn't want to do it, either, and that first glute injection with that 1.5" needle had me shaking I was so nervous. You can even do it subcutaneously with an insulin needle if a deeper intramuscular injection bothers you. I did subcutaneous TRT for over ten years... daily. It's easy. You don't have to do it daily; I just did it daily with a shorter ester because I like tighter control and try to more closely mimic the natural rhythm. I recently switched to IM, as I just got tired of lumps that seemed to get worse the leaner I got.
That's a pretty awful total test, by the way. Get on something as soon as possible, and you're going to feel like a new person. Whatever method you decide, you're going to have a few years of acclimation in multiple ways. Finding what works for you takes painstakingly slow trial and error.