Insulin has been a part of my diabetes treatment since day one, and I used to think it would be something I would need forever. Back in 2014, I had been feeling thirsty and my skin itched all the time, but my doctor told me it was just work anxiety. A few weeks later, I came down with a tooth infection that caused my entire face to swell, so my wife took me to the hospital. There, I discovered that my blood glucose levels were in the 400 mg/dL range, meaning I had type 2 diabetes. I was given insulin at the hospital and was monitored for a week until my levels stabilized. I have been on insulin from that day forth. That is, until I started on Virta 13 months ago.
Right from the beginning, I was prescribed an entire cabinet of medication: metformin, Farxiga, Humalog, Lantus, Tresiba, and Trulicity. For years, I injected myself multiple times a day with insulin and other medications just to keep my blood sugars in check. I found that I couldn’t stay on the metformin because it caused indigestion, which interfered with my day-to-day life, both at home and at work. But I stuck with the injections because I really thought they would help me get better.
What surprised me quite a bit was how expensive my prescriptions became. Even with insurance, I was spending around $400 a month on medication and supplies. The Humalog, a fast-acting insulin taken before meals, was particularly costly because I needed anywhere from 10 to 24 units a day. It went fast, and I had to pay for a large part of it out of my own pocket.
After I started my job at US Foods as a store manager for the Dallas US Foods CHEF’STORE, I met Mrs. Polly, my HR Manager, who told me about a fully covered diabetes treatment called Virta. There was no out-of-pocket cost for me because US Foods covered the entire thing, and she said that another employee had joined some time ago, lost a bunch of weight, and improved his health and diabetes numbers. I thought it sounded too good to be true, but after doing my own research, I decided to sign up and give it a try. I thought I didn’t have much to lose, and it was worth seeing if I could stop my medication and save me some money.
I signed up for Virta in May of 2019 and have never looked back since. Learning about my personal carbohydrate tolerance was so helpful, and while I did initially have a hard time figuring out the right foods to eat, Virta supported me every step of the way. My health coach checked in regularly to answer my questions, and I enjoyed learning about my health at my own pace through Virta’s great educational videos and activities. I felt safe because I knew that I had Virta to turn to when I had questions or needed support, specifically from my awesome health coach, Keila, and my Virta provider, Nurse Practitioner Nicole Recine.
Since being on Virta, my blood sugars are so much better, and it’s all from just adjusting what I eat. I have stopped needing all but two of my diabetes medications, and I am working on getting off those as well. While my average fasting blood sugar used to be around 180 mg/dL, it is now consistently around 114 mg/dL. I’ve also lost about 30 pounds, and I never had to go hungry in order to lose them. I actually love what I get to eat. I have new favorite recipes, and I enjoy a variety of meats with vegetables, including my favorites: salmon, tuna, broccoli, and cauliflower. I have snacks for when I do get hungry, such as cheese crisps, and I have even found that my meals are not that much different from my family's. For example, when my wife and I make burgers for the kids, they eat it with a bun. I add more cheese and use green leaf lettuce as my “bun.”
I have referred several coworkers at US Foods to Virta because I truly believe in this treatment. It’s free, so what have you got to lose? While I let them do their own research and come to their own conclusions about what is best for them, I think they see my results and are very convinced. A huge thank you to US Foods for covering such a valuable benefit for employees.
Because of this benefit, I save about $400 a month because I hardly need any medication. We are putting that money toward a Class A Diesel RV so we can make new family memories by hosting tailgate parties at college and professional football games. We are also excited to use the RV to travel the country and see some national parks. But even beyond the finances, my improved health means I will live longer and have more time to spend with my family, which has been the most important part of my Virta journey.
When it comes to my kids, I do worry about their health in the long run. Both of my parents have been on metformin to manage their diabetes, so the disease runs in my genes. I pray that my kids’ overall health will improve alongside mine as they watch me make changes to the way I live. I hope that they will learn that they can break our family history and not have to worry about type 2 diabetes in their future. As much as I am doing this for myself, I am also doing it for my wife and kids.
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