By Becky, Special Education Preschool Teacher, Virta Patient 9 months
I found out I had type 2 diabetes in 2015 from my doctor’s office manager. I had seen my doctor about a week earlier for a check up, and when I called the office to follow up, I was “reminded” of my metformin prescription. I asked, “What metformin?”
“Oh, for your type 2 diabetes,” they said. And there it was. That is how I learned of my diagnosis.
How I got the news was a bit surprising, but the news itself wasn’t. Both my mother and sister had been on medication for type 2 diabetes and I had struggled with weight most of my life. I had tried various weight loss programs and diets, but even if I managed to lose a few pounds in the beginning, I quickly fell off the programs or my body adjusted and I gained the weight right back.
When I did speak to my doctor about my diagnosis, the conversation centered on control. We discussed control through medication, like metformin, through diet and exercise, but the goal was always only control. The concept of reversal never came up.
In the year before COVID-19 hit the country, I was hit with a series of my own crises. My father had gone into hospice care for what should have been a month but lasted four. I am extremely grateful for the extra time with him, but it was also emotionally draining. Then, two months after my father went, a very good friend of mine passed away and his partner, another dear friend, tried to take his own life. The combined impact was devastating and food—particularly unhealthy food—was, as it was throughout my life, my coping mechanism.
A few months after that, COVID shutdowns hit and it was almost a relief to stop and have time to make sense of my life. I was home for about a month, not doing a whole lot but contemplating life, how short it is, and how precious. It was then that I decided something good needed to come from the losses. I could no longer take life for granted.
I started to exercise again and took advantage of some of the nutritional programs my benefits fund, California Schools Voluntary Employees Benefits Association (VEBA), offered. But even with the extra effort, my A1c remained in the mid-to-high 6s. My doctor had increased my medications in the previous Autumn to get it under control, but it didn’t change enough, and I could see the trajectory of my life, with my sister and mother now both on insulin, I knew I’d be there too one day if I didn’t make some serious changes. I was ready to try something new.
That’s when VEBA introduced me to Virta. Virta was different from the type 2 diabetes treatments I had tried before. For one, Virta uses food as medicine to lower A1c rather than prescriptions, and instead of just controlling type 2 diabetes, Virta puts you on a path to reverse it. Virta provided me with the exact kind of change I was looking for.
At the very beginning of the treatment, I met my Virta health coaches. They explained why my body reacts to carbohydrates the way that it does, that type 2 diabetes is a form of carb intolerance, and by teaching my body how to get energy from fats, I could naturally reduce my blood glucose and A1c.
After the first few months on Virta, I felt that I may have slipped a few times, and was nervous. That’s when Tyler, my primary Virta health coach, uttered the words that have served as my mantra ever since. “It’s okay,” he said, “it’s about progress, not perfection.” It was with those words that I realized that this was something I could do. Unlike diets, this was sustainable. I have been down on myself for so long because I was always trying to be perfect and missing the mark. With Virta, every small step forward is a successful one.
Since August, I have taken a lot of steps forward. I reduced my A1c to 6.2, even as I stopped needing glipizide. I have lost 40 pounds and kept it off. And most importantly, by improving my physical health,I have been able to regulate my emotional health too. I was never this emotionally balanced when I was using sugary snacks as a coping mechanism. I feel wearing the extra body weight was weighing on my soul too. When I felt unhealthy, I also felt curt and unbalanced. With Virta, It is so much easier to be mindful of my emotions and be the calm and compassionate person that I strive to be.
I am so grateful that VEBA introduced me to Virta, and that through Virta I have been able to find my happier, healthier self. This has truly been a life changing experience so far—and I am just getting started.
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