My journey with type 2 diabetes began when all my “numbers” told me and my doctor that something was wrong. After blood sugar tests came back higher than they should have been, my primary care doctor was concerned and wanted to put me on medication. I resisted and checked with my endocrinologist for a second opinion. Unfortunately, my blood sugar was indeed on the higher side, but he agreed to keep me off medication as long as I made some adjustments to my diet and routine.
This was 5 years ago, and I did alright at first. I watched my diet and tried to cut out some unnecessary sugar. But then in March of 2020, the COVID pandemic hit, and with the stress of everything that was going on at the time, along with the restrictions on everyday activities, I was not as diligent with my diet as I should have been. When I saw my doctor for a check-up around that time, my A1c came back at 8.1%.
This time, my doctor gave me an ultimatum: I had 6 months to deal with it on my own, and if things didn’t improve, I would have to start medication. He referred me to a diabetes class, which I did not find all that helpful. The information I received there did not seem practical, and I doubted my ability to put it to use at home.
Right around this time, the Local Government Health Insurance Plan of Alabama, or LGHIP, began considering a new type 2 diabetes reversal treatment called Virta for its members. Reversal meant naturally reducing A1c, stabilizing blood sugar, and reducing or eliminating type 2 diabetes medications. In my case, I thought it could help prevent me from ever needing them in the first place.
As a member of the LGHIP board, I could not say “Yes” fast enough when I saw the description of Virta. Not only did I think it was perfect for me, something I had been looking for since I learned of my high blood sugar, but I just knew that there were others out there who could benefit from something like this. Once the board approved and we launched the benefit, I was probably one of the first people to join!
Now, about 7 months later, I am just as excited about Virta as I was when I first began, maybe even more so now that I know just how doable this is. Of course, I had to make some adjustments to my diet, but these are adjustments, not necessarily restrictions. I’ll always want to have my cookies, but with Virta, I just find ways around it. For example, I just got back from an annual summer vacation where my family and I would relax on the beach with chips and dip all day. This year, I substituted those chips with pork rinds. It was just as good, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. Because of these adjustments, my average blood sugar has dropped around 20 points from where they used to sit around 150 mg/dL.
I am so grateful to have a plan to follow with Virta. I think what makes it work so well is that I can focus on all the different kinds of food that I CAN have. One of my favorite desserts is cheesecake, and I have even been able to make one that fits with my Virta plan. In fact, my husband, who does not have high blood sugar, decided to join me in doing Virta, and he enjoys his meals as much as ever. Better yet, he has lost 25 pounds since starting!
Two factors have played a big part in my success—my Virta coaching team, Haley and Jim, and the private patient community within the Virta app. Haley and Jim are always available when I need them. I know that when I sometimes feel frustrated, they will offer helpful suggestions on how to move past it and focus on success. Similarly, if I want to see how Virta has changed the lives of others, I can go onto the community forum within the app and see who else is on this journey with me, which motivates me further. Some of these stories have brought me to tears, those of others who have been on insulin for years and years, but are now living their lives in a way they never thought they would be able to live again.
That the LGHIP decided to offer this life-changing treatment to members is huge, and I want to encourage everyone who is struggling with type 2 diabetes to give it a shot. Virta helps you focus on what you can achieve toward improving your health—all while finding the kinds of food that satisfy your taste buds!
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