Life with type 2 diabetes began about 15 years ago with some tell-tale symptoms. I had an insatiable thirst, and I felt constantly tired, even drifting off as I was driving sometimes. My wife convinced me to go see our doctor, who discovered that my A1c was abnormally high and diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes.
The doctor immediately wanted to put me on an insulin pump, which I thought was a really drastic step, so I resisted. Instead, I was prescribed metformin and insulin shots, both of which seemed to work at first. The doctor warned that this is considered to be the “honeymoon phase” with using new medication, so she also recommended I change my diet, exercise more, and attend a day-long diabetes class. The only thing I remember from the diabetes class was a woman who started crying because she was told she could no longer have rice. None of that was helpful, and I really had no idea what I was doing or should have been doing.
Over the years, just as the doctor warned, the honeymoon phase wore off, and I needed stronger meds. I switched from fast-acting insulin shots to long-lasting to a combination of both. “Success” on these meds, if you can call it that, was a double-edged sword. Because of how my body responded to the new medication combinations, my blood sugar and A1c numbers came down, which meant that I could reduce my dosage. When it’s high, sugars don’t bother you, but as soon as it drops, it feels like the world stops. I’d rather run high than ever be low. Since I felt like the medication was working, I stopped checking my sugars regularly, thinking I was doing just fine.
I wasn’t, however. Over the course of a few years and several medical complications related to type 2 diabetes, I felt like I had gone through the ringer. Between a trip to the ER for an infection that turned out to be diabetes-related gangrene, as well as an eye hemorrhage that resulted in surgery and several laser treatments, I felt like I was losing control of my health. My blood sugars were on a crazy rollercoaster, and it didn’t seem like any of the medication my doctor prescribed worked for long. Worse, starting each new medication made my weight swing wildly.I remember one particular insulin caused me to gain 40 pounds in two weeks! I grew frustrated at this cycle of gaining and then trying to lose excess weight and not knowing how to do it safely.
I found out from a coworker towards the end of 2019 that my employer, Cadence Bank, had announced they were covering Virta’s type 2 diabetes reversal treatment. Through my research on Virta, I realized that they basically confirmed what I had suspected all along: there is no single solution to type 2 diabetes that works for everyone. What drew me to Virta was the personalized treatment that caters specifically to my health needs, dietary preferences, and the way my body works.
When I started Virta, my baseline A1c was 9.2%, “controlled” by the medication I was on at the time: a daily shot of Xultophy, a combined injection that included insulin and other diabetes medication. I met my Virta health coach, Elizabeth, who helped me begin making dietary changes in a way that both reduces my blood sugar and and works with my life. For example, I don’t like eggs, so omelettes for breakfast are out. Elizabeth recommended alternatives, such as cheese roll-ups, various smoothies, and chaffles, which are egg and cheese waffles that don't feel like eggs. I appreciate that she has always taken my dietary preferences into consideration when working with me to develop my Virta plan.
Before joining Virta, I had been on some form of insulin for 15 years, so I honestly didn’t think I would see improvements quickly. However, it only took about a week to not only see results in my body, such as a modest 5 pound weight loss and increased energy, but I was also able to cut my Xultophy dosage from 45 units to 15. Now, after about 6 months of treatment, I’ve lost a total of 56 pounds, and I’ve eliminated the insulin injections altogether. My latest A1c result came back as 6.3%, down about 3 points prior to joining Virta.
Also, now that I am eating foods that work for my body, my blood sugars throughout the day have stabilized. I no longer experience low blood sugar moments that make me feel like my entire world stops. Even if my readings are on the lower side, my energy levels stay constant.
These energy improvements are important to me on so many levels, but particularly because I am an avid fisher and hunter near my home, which is an hour south of Atlanta, GA. Last season, I wasn’t even able to enjoy my hobby because I just didn’t have the energy. I was also carrying around 50 extra pounds, and hiking through the hot, humid woods immediately took the wind out of me. You know it’s bad when I can’t even enjoy the things I used to enjoy because of type 2 diabetes. This year, however, I can’t wait to get back outdoors!
I want to thank Cadence Bank for offering and fully covering this invaluable benefit to employees like me! The benefits I’ve experienced have improved my life so much. When I think back to just a few years ago, struggling to manage my health while juggling medication, I can’t even believe the progress I’ve made. Virta has made all the difference in helping me get to where I am today.
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