Though the details are fuzzy now, I do remember freaking out when I first got the news that I had type 2 diabetes. I mean, how could I not freak out? All the potential health issues immediately ran through my mind, like heart disease and foot amputations. I wondered if I was going to die young.
People may not realize this, but having diabetes caused me to lose a bit of who I was. I used to love to run. I used to go out and ride my bike. I used to be outdoorsy. I quit doing all of those things because you become more comfortable doing nothing without even realizing it.
And as the years progressed, the news kept getting worse. I started on oral meds first, such as lisinopril and metformin. This was annoying, since I had to keep track of which pills to take and when. I hated the idea that I needed that next pill in order to lower my blood sugar.
So you can imagine how I felt when my doctor put me on Novolin, which is injectable insulin. It was such a pain–literally, since I had to shoot myself up twice a day, every day, in my belly. I also didn’t have insurance at the time, so the cost of insulin, along with lab work and doctor visits every three months, really stressed me out.
Luckily, I found a job that I love with the City of Lafayette in Indiana, which offers great health insurance. This meant that I could see my doctor, get my lab work, and cover the costs of the medication. Even though I was a little less worried about my medical bills, it didn’t make any of my fears about diabetes go away.
Even with all the oral meds and insulin, my blood sugars were still saying above 150 mg/dL, often even higher than 200 mg/dL. I was trying to change my diet, cutting meals, doing shake substitutes, but nothing was working. I didn’t know what else I could try.
When I got the email saying that the City of Lafayette was offering this new diabetes treatment called Virta, my first reaction was, “I’m just going to see what happens”. I didn’t think that diabetes was reversible, and I thought I would be lucky if I could just control it and live a little longer. I thought Virta would just be a different fad diet I would give up on eventually. But it was covered, and it sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a shot.
A year and 3 months later, I’m so glad that I gave Virta a chance. Overall, I went from an A1c of 7.8% to 6.0%, which puts me below the diagnostic threshold for type 2 diabetes (6.5%). My blood glucose started above 200 mg/dL, and now it’s in the 90s. The best part is that my blood sugar and A1c are lower even though I am completely off the insulin. I also cut the oral meds in half. As a bonus, I’ve lost 32 pounds and went from a size 44 waist down to 38!
As a security officer, I walk 8 miles a day throughout downtown Lafayette. My job is to look for safety issues and help people with directions and other information that they might need. That’s my favorite part: meeting people throughout the day and making sure they’re happy and content. Before Virta, I couldn’t even walk down Main Street without huffing and puffing.
Now, I want to run down Main Street because I can.
Virta helped me believe that I could really reverse my diabetes. The Virta doctors and health coaches were there with me every step of the way. My coach is available, even when I just need to say, “Hey, I’m struggling”. She responds quickly and never harps on me. She even sometimes just sends a text to check in and make sure I’m doing OK. My doctor helped me reduce my insulin as my blood sugars went down. That day he told me to stop taking insulin, I couldn’t believe it. I no longer had to remember, “At such-and-such time, I need to give myself a shot”. It was so awesome.
One of the greatest things the Mayor of Lafayette did was provide Virta for us. I missed six days of work when I first started because of problems from my diabetes. Last year, after being on Virta, I only missed 3 days, and none because of diabetes! I think that every company should offer Virta because it saves the company money in the long run and helps employees stay healthy so they can come to work.
In my personal life, I went from not wanting to do anything to being able to run again, something I’ve always loved. I sometimes get a 13-mile run in, just because I can. I can’t believe my life has changed so much in just a year! And there is still so much more I’m looking to accomplish.
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