Though I had been living with type 2 diabetes for over 25 years, I never took it seriously, thinking of it mostly as an inconvenience that I had already been expecting–you could say I have a bit of a family history.
My mother had type 2 diabetes, and six out of her seven children also developed type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, two years ago in 2018, I lost my mother, a sister, and a brother within six months due to complications of diabetes. The last conversation I had with my sister, one week before her passing, was a promise to take better care of myself.
I was overwhelmed by all of this loss, as well as losing a job I had worked for over 25 years, all while completing a doctorate in education. At the end of each exhausting day, all I could bring myself to do was sit on the couch, watch TV, and eat whatever brought me pleasure. By then, my diabetes was completely out of control, and I was taking so much medication daily, including 2,000 mg of metformin, 10 mg of glipizide, 30 mg injection of Novolog, and a once-a-day injection of Tresiba. I gained weight, and because of my high A1c, I developed bleeding behind my retina. Through a series of six needle injections and laser treatments, I was able to recover, but I was told that if I did not get my A1C under control, I would go blind.
With so much drama going on, I felt myself quickly spiraling downhill, and I knew I had to regain control. To honor my sister’s last wishes, I sought counseling for my depression and grief, found a health coach, and began actively addressing the stresses in my life. Although I started exercising and watching what I ate, it still was not enough to control my blood sugar. In August of 2019, I received a call from my health insurance provider, Florida Health Care Plans, asking if I would be interested in a program proven to reverse diabetes. I reluctantly agreed thinking I had nothing to lose. Also, the coaching, medical supervision, and daily support sounded exactly like the help I needed, and I could do Virta right from my home in Daytona Beach, Florida, so I started 2 months later.
Shortly thereafter, my doctor and I discovered that the bleeding and swelling in my eyes had returned, along with a newly-developing lump behind my retina in my right eye. This time, however, because I had been on Virta for about a month and already seeing improvements in my blood sugar, I only needed three injections instead of six, and the lump went away quickly. Additionally, my A1c, which at its highest was around 12%, dropped to 7% and has continued to come down. My doctor was amazed at the improvements he saw in my overall health, and of course, I gave all the credit to Virta!
Now, after almost a year since I received that life-changing phone call from Florida Health Care Plans, I am off my injectable medication and the glipizide, and as I continue to lose weight, I have extremely high hopes of getting off the metformin as well. I have lost over 45 pounds, and the weight continues to drop. I find myself making better food choices, which gives me more energy, which motivates me to be more active.
Virta focuses on safety as I make changes to my lifestyle. Virta’s doctor and health coach make up the team that monitors my progress every step of the way, keeping me safe as I make adjustments. As they saw my blood sugars come down, they adjusted my medication doses accordingly. A few years ago, before I had even heard of Virta, I tried making similar changes on my own. However, I didn’t know what to look for in terms of blood sugar levels or what to do about my medication dosages. One morning, my blood sugar dropped to around 60 mg/dL, and I felt shaky and could barely walk. I am honestly surprised I even woke up that day! I never worry about that with Virta because I know my Virta doctor is scaling back my medication in a safe and healthy way.
I also owe so much to my Virta health coach, Dana, a perfect support system who is always just a message away with her positive attitude and helpful advice. With her help, I have found foods that I enjoy eating and that fit into my Virta treatment. I’ve learned that if I don’t like a certain vegetable, I don’t have to eat it! Dana has helped me find delicious substitutes that I can cook for myself, like the big pot of collard greens and cabbage I made the other night.
Dana makes me feel like I can conquer any goal I set for myself, and I am indeed conquering them all. I am only one semester away now from finishing my doctorate degree, and I have found a lasting way to take care of myself, just as my late sister wished for me. In fact, I look at life in a completely different way. For a long time, I have wanted to be healthier, as healthy as I was 20 years ago, and for the first time since, it’s actually happening. Not only do I feel better physically, but also mentally and spiritually as well.
My successes on Virta have given me a new lease on life, and my friends and family can see it. Whenever I can, I tell them about my new lifestyle with Virta. I can see my whole life changing for the better in so many ways, and it all started with a phone call from Florida Health Care Plans about a fully covered treatment called Virta. At the beginning of my Virta journey, I was asked a question, “What are your goals for the future?” And I had said that I wanted to complete my doctorate degree in educational leadership and develop an educational resource center for the kids in my community. An additional goal I would now like to add is to become the global spokesperson for Virta Health! I love it that much!! What a blessing it is to be helped by Virta so that I can turn around and help others in return.
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