When my doctor diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes in 1998, she also laid out a 10-year plan for me. She told me that type 2 diabetes was progressive, and I might have 5 years left before I would need to go on oral medications, and another 5 years from there before I would need injectable insulin. She said that there was no other way around it, but the silver lining was that advancements in medication would mean that by the time I needed it, insulin would be “easy” to inject through a pen.
At 35 years old, I really did not see a silver lining in that kind of a future.
Sure enough, about 7 years after my diagnosis, even with watching what I ate, I had to start on metformin. And because the metformin never quite got my blood sugars down enough, 5 years after that, I was given insulin—just as my doctor predicted.
Not only did I need insulin, but my endocrinologist said that I showed really high insulin resistance. Even with ever-increasing dosages, my A1c stayed above 8%. All the while, I gained weight, my knees started bothering me, and my overall health declined to where I was no longer able to perform my job as a land surveyor. I could barely walk more than a quarter of a mile, much less be on my feet all day at work. Fortunately, I was able to find another job as a cartographer for the local county commission in Alabama who offers benefits through the Local Government Health Insurance Plan (LGHIP). This was how Virta came into my life.
I received an email from the LGHIP about how Virta could reverse my type 2 diabetes, meaning I could stop the insulin injections. And it was completely free for me to join! My wife, a nurse by training, and I immediately began doing our own research. Seeing nothing wrong with the way Virta customizes eating plans for their patients, she encouraged me to join. I thought back to how my doctor described this disease as progressive, and I felt determined to prove her wrong.
Virta helped me do just that. For one thing, within 2 months of starting on Virta, I lowered my A1c from 7.1% to 4.4%—something my Virta doctor said is one of the lowest numbers he’s ever seen. I’ve also stopped taking all of my insulin, so no more daily injections for me!
I’ve also lost about 45 pounds over the course of the last few months, which takes some pressure off of my knees. I used to struggle walking just 600 feet, but the other day, I walked a whole mile without looking back. My family home has about an acre of grass that needs to be mowed, and I’m now able to do that too, something I couldn’t for the last 7 years!
When family and friends ask me what I’m doing to get healthy, I describe Virta as the easiest lifestyle I’ve ever had to adopt. I’m a pretty easy-going eater, so I always have something that I can make instead of higher-carb foods. I will admit that I do miss potatoes sometimes, but there are so many other vegetables out there that I enjoy just as much. Substituting the carbs for some healthy fats also adds more flavor to everything, which is why eating this way is so easy and satisfying.
Virta also provides support every step of the way. From my daily chats with my Virta health coach to sitting with my Virta doctor on a call for 45 minutes, I always know that they are there to help me along. 45 minutes is the longest I’ve ever spent talking to anyone about diabetes, much less a doctor!
For those who are nervous about trying it, or have doubts, I can tell you that it’s OK. I did as well. But do your research and learn more about Virta. Apply and talk to an enrollment advisor who can answer all of your questions. When you do, you’ll see that everything Virta lays out for you makes sense.
Were it not for the LGHIP, I would never have learned about Virta. Instead, I would still be on the path laid out by my doctor years ago—a path I didn’t want to be on, but didn’t know what other options I had. I hope with all the medications that I’ve stopped needing, the LGHIP has also saved some money by not having to cover the costs of the insulin. It’s a win-win for everyone! And all it took was giving Virta a try and seeing how rewarding it can be to take full control of my health.
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