Blue Shield of California and Virta showed me the benefits of reversing type 2 diabetes, not just managing it

February 12, 2020
February 19, 2020

By Jim, on Virta for 3 months

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2017, and I never even saw it coming. When the doctor told me the news after a routine physical, I said, “Wait a minute! How can I have diabetes if I’ve never had any symptoms?” 

But my lab results were clear: my A1c was 13.2%, and the threshold for type 2 diabetes is only 6.5%. My doctor told me that I had to start taking medication immediately, which began with metformin, but quickly grew to include lisinopril, Ozempic injections, and finally, additional injections of Tresiba, a type of long-acting insulin. It was an emotional rollercoaster to suddenly have to deal with so many health issues when I previously had no idea that I was even sick in the first place. Hearing this news, I tried changing my eating habits on my own, which helped me lose 40 pounds and feel better.

About a year later, my medications had brought my A1c down to around 7.0%, but the side effects started to become unbearable. My weight crept up again because of the insulin, which was so frustrating because I was working out and eating according to the guidelines from my dietician. This caused my joints to hurt if I walked too much, which got in the way of enjoying my daily life.

In June of 2019, I received an email from Blue Shield of California, my health insurance carrier, describing Virta as a fully covered treatment that reverses type 2 diabetes altogether. Their patients also lose weight and feel better overall. While Blue Shield also offers a number of other programs that manage diabetes and help with weight loss, none but Virta could offer me the chance to reverse diabetes and work with a doctor to get off my medications. I obviously want to stay safe as I reduce my need for diabetes prescriptions, and Virta assured me that I would be medically supported every step of the way. Because I’ve always thought of Blue Shield of California as a rather discerning healthcare organization, I trusted their recommendation to try Virta.

Now that I’ve been on Virta for 3 months, I can confidently say that I placed my trust in the right treatment option. My insulin dosage has decreased from 98 units per day when I started to just 8 units now. I feel so much better having lowered the insulin and eliminated other medications, and I hope to stop taking the rest soon. My latest A1c dropped to 6.5%, even though I am taking less diabetes medications. Losing an additional 35 pounds has eased the pressure on my joints and helps me sleep better at night, which in turn gives me more energy throughout the day.

Though I try to stay active, I never considered myself to be a “workout-for-hours” kind of guy in order to lose weight. With Virta, I don’t have to rely on exercise to lose weight. The food choices Virta has taught me fit my personal carbohydrate tolerance level, which means I can eat until I’m satisfied and still bring down my blood sugar and weight. Meals on Virta can even include dessert, and my wife enjoys trying fun new recipes. And if ever I am unsure of what to do, I can text my health coach, Jairo, for answers. The best thing is that I have so much energy now that I actually want to exercise!

When I first discovered Virta, I went to their website and read a few stories from patients who shared their own experiences. Knowing there were others out there who have gone through the treatment and succeeded gave me the confidence to know that I, too, could be successful. Now, I am one of those patients sharing their story, and I want others who may be reading this to know that it does work. The results are real.

For those who may be unsure, or are trying to do this on their own, I would say that it is better to be guided by experts who know what they’re doing. With Virta, I’m always given the best answer, specific to my needs and situation. My Virta doctor, Dr. Frank Dumont, works with Jairo to make sure that the treatment is specifically working for me, and my medication reductions are done safely.

I also now understand the difference between managing type 2 diabetes and reversing it. I had previously only been managing it with drugs, and not well. Reversing it means I am using food as medicine for type 2 diabetes, and I am on my way to eliminating my prescriptions and living free from the burdens of type 2 diabetes. 

Thank you, Virta and Blue Shield of California, for helping me find the path to a diabetes-free life.

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