I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes while attending Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. At one of the health fairs they offered a biometric screening and I took a blood glucose test. After I took it, the person said, "Well, it's a little high. Maybe you should go see your doctor". I went to see my doctor and after getting some more labs done, the doctor called me and said, "Your blood is much sweeter than it should be”. That’s when I learned I had diabetes.
Having diabetes affected me, of course, but it also had an effect on my family. My son actually wrote me a letter before we had any grandchildren and said, "I want you to do something to take care of yourself because I want you to meet my children when I have them. I want you to be grandpa. I want them to know you".
I did change some things. I substituted Splenda for sugar. I started to walk for exercise and introduced more activity into my life, but it was difficult to fit it into my schedule. As a pastor, honestly, you spend much of your day sitting: I’m sitting in the office, sitting with members in their homes, sitting with people in the hospital, and sitting with shut-ins. I kept putting more weight on over time, but just thought, “Well, this is who I am”.
My doctor put me on a variety of diabetes medications. Still, over time, my blood sugar numbers only went up. Finally my doctor said, “Jon, you’re going to have to make some hard decisions here because your numbers are going up and up and up”. At that point, my A1C was around 8.1%, even with adjustments to my medication. My doctor warned me that I had to consider insulin and maybe even bypass surgery. I started to consider what I should do. I thought I didn’t want to have surgery because I felt that would take the control out of my hands. Also, I’ve been around people who have had surgeries. While many of them had short-term success, the long-term results were not encouraging. I prayed as I thought about what I should do.
Then in January I was informed by my insurance, Concordia Health Plan, that a new option for treatment was available. The Virta treatment was fully covered by the plan. I thought this might be the answer to my prayers. It gave me options, and it left things in my control. I could decide what I was going to eat, when I was going to eat, how much I was going to eat. So I applied and was accepted into the treatment.
I began on Ash Wednesday, March 6th of this year.
When I started Virta, one of my medications for diabetes was removed immediately. Within three months, all of my diabetes medications had been removed, including Trulicity, Janumet XR, and Jardiance. For the last several months, I’ve had no out-of-pocket cost for diabetes at all!
Virta also helped to treat my fatty liver and triglyceride levels. My triglycerides were in the mid-400s before Virta. I thought I’d have to live with those high numbers forever. But I just had labs done recently, and my triglycerides were the lowest they’ve been in 30 years – 100 mg/dL!
I’ve also lost 75 pounds now. I’ve had to buy new clothes because my old ones don’t fit. I’m actually at a lower weight than I was when we got married 37 years ago, when I was actively involved in martial arts and running five miles a day! I have more energy. My wife and I even went kayaking together for the first time.
I recently went back to see my primary care provider for the first time since starting Virta. He looked at my labs and said, “Well, I’m a believer now. The numbers don’t lie”.
Virta has been so easy for me because I didn’t have to change a whole lot of my lifestyle. I didn't increase my walking. I didn't start going to the gym or any of those kinds of things. The only primary adjustment that was made was in the ratio of foods that I ate. Any diet regimen that includes bacon is pretty good with me, and this one does! I don't feel deprived of anything, and I feel satisfied after I eat.
When I began the Virta treatment, I had hopes that I would see some success in six months or a year. It literally happened within less than three months. My numbers are great. My A1c was 5.8% at my last reading.
I believe Virta is something I will continue for the rest of my life. It’s relatively easy to do and it has brought much joy into my life. When I just saw my daughter who lives in Omaha she told me, “Dad, you look good. It looks like you're going to be here for a while".
My wife and I are so looking forward to retirement, especially now that we have the energy to travel and visit our grandkids. My oldest grandson (we now have six grandchildren and counting), the son of my son who asked me to take care of myself, just asked me, "Grandpa, when you come visit, will you take me fishing?". I was like, “Are you kidding me? Of course, I will! I love to fish”. Those are the kinds of things that I'm looking forward to doing.
These days, I am trying to help spread the word about Virta. I was even interviewed on a local podcast about my experience on Virta! I want people who are dealing with type 2 diabetes, like I was, to know that Virta is a wonderful option. For me, it removed the need for medication or surgery. I want them to have the opportunity to enjoy their lives, spend time with their loved ones, and really feel the joy of good health. This is just what I am doing now.