I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes right after I retired from the Navy. I felt like I was going to have this disease until the day I died. When I joined the Virta Treatment, I was so happy because I knew I was going to live longer. Virta enabled me to fix my high cholesterol, get my A1c down to 5.8%, lower my blood pressure, end my joint pain, improve my kidney function, and heal my fatty liver.
Life before Virta: Unable to do the things I liked doing
When I retired out of the Navy, I was at 224 pounds. After I was diagnosed, I gained a massive amount of weight. I ballooned up to 338 pounds. I had chronic, constant pain in my joints and feet. I was afraid I was going to have a heart attack. I suffered from sleep apnea and had to use a CPAP machine. I might sleep maybe three to four hours at the most and I had to sleep basically sitting up. I remember having high blood pressure of 180 over 90. I tried different fads and diets and didn’t see results. It was frustrating and depressing. I’d either have no weight loss, or have momentarily weight loss and gain it all back.
I couldn't do the things that I used to do. I like to hunt and fish, and do outdoor activities like boating and motorcycle riding. I have a Harley, but at the point where I was at with my diabetes, I was scared to ride any length of distance because I'd have numbness in my hands. That life was very miserable.
I was on three different diabetes medicines that I would take three times a day: in the morning, at noon, and at night. That's a total of six different pills that I was taking. Some were for the chronic pain. Some were to help with my joints because it got so bad I could hardly walk. I've had experiences before where I've lost my meds or I didn't have the meds I needed, and I was very dizzy, very lightheaded, and nauseous. These pills just tore me up.
And the medication was very expensive. It was an enormous, enormous amount of cash that was being thrown into these meds because I was taking so many of them every day, three times a day. There's just a tremendous amount of expenditure, and I don't know how a regular person would cover that. I was lucky that the VA covered most of mine. There are so many people out there hurting and suffering because of the cost. It’s so painful to go down to the VA and see people who have lost a limb because of diabetes, lost their eyesight because of diabetes, and shortened their lives, because the disease eats you up and tears you down.
Life with Virta: Diabetes-free, no more fatty liver, and nearly 100 pounds lighter!
Thank God for the Virta Treatment. All the issues I described have gone away. I’ve lost nearly 100 pounds, and I haven’t regained the weight back. It’s been three years since I've been on the treatment, and I’ve maintained my weight loss. I get a normal seven to eight hours of sleep a night. I don't have any joint pain at all and I don’t need my pain meds. My primary care doctor at the VA even told me I don’t have fatty liver anymore!
I'll never forget the moment when my Virta doctor said my A1c was down to 5.8% and I was free of diabetes. I was thanking God. It was just a joy. It was a happy moment in my life knowing that I was going to live longer and that I no longer carried those chains.
Celebrating Veterans’ Day with my granddaughter
This most recent Veterans’ day, I got to wear my uniform, which I haven't done in years. I got to go to my granddaughter’s school, and it was the very first time she ever seen me in my uniform, and she was so enthusiastic. She had this smile on her face, and she was like, "Oh Papa, I love this. Where'd you get this?" I explained it to her that I was in the Navy and I couldn't wear it before, and I wanted to wear it today to the Veterans’ Day program with her. I let her know that I did all this so that I could be with her.
When I started this, my goal was that I wanted to live longer because I want to dance at my granddaughter’s weddings. I can't wait for that moment. That day that I walked into that school in my Navy uniform and was able to stand there by my granddaughter and pay tribute to all the veterans, I had a feeling of pride and joy that I hope everybody gets a chance to experience.
Support from the Virta community
I do a lot of creative cooking, especially with recipes I get from the Virta app and community. In the patient community, we share recipes all the time. Last night, I put in the Virta online community that I was going to make a cabbage lasagna, and I've probably gotten 30-40 responses from other Virta patients that we're all in this together. I got the family into eating this way, and they're following my footsteps. I'll make a couple lasagnas tonight, and one's going to go to my daughter-in-law. She said it sounded great and she wanted to try one. I grow tomatoes and I can them with no sugars and no preservatives so I get a healthy jar of tomatoes when I go to make my Italian sauces. We grow all our own herbs and I make these butter balls with butter and garlic, rosemary, sage, parsley, basil, all the good stuff, and I freeze them, and then I take and slice them and slide them underneath my turkey skin when I go to roast my turkeys. It’s a lot of fun to cook creatively on Virta. I use the Virta community to share a lot of ideas and pick up a lot of ideas. It's like one big family out there.
After three years being in the Virta treatment, the support that I get, not only from fellow people that are on Virta, but from all the coaches, the doctors, everybody, is just tremendous. I love it so much. Every Sunday I get a text from my coach telling me, "Hey, are you ready? Are you prepared?" or, "Is there anything I can do for you? Have you tried this? Did you hear this?" Things like that mean so much and keep me motivated to stay with the lifestyle. I have somebody watching over me, and I don't want to let my coach down or let myself down. I can reach out to my coach and the Virta online community easily, and every day I get on the scale and I know somebody's looking at it, because they send me feedback. I feel that relationship is tremendous, and it helps me stay where I'm at. I don't ever want to give it up. Virta gave me confidence and makes me feel that I can do anything. Controlling your health is an unbelievable amount of joy and happiness.