It feels like type 2 diabetes has always been a part of my life. So much so that it inspired me to work for my current employer, a medical device company with products that support those with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes was everywhere when I was growing up. My mother had gestational diabetes when she was pregnant with me. Her mom, and all of her brothers, had it. Even my half sister has type 2 diabetes. So at only 15 years old, after showing symptoms like dry mouth, always being thirsty, and being a bit overweight, it was no big surprise that despite my young age, I was diagnosed with it too.
Yet, even though type 2 diabetes was such a big part of our lives, no one seemed to be able to manage it very well. Between the ages of 15 and 23, I was on several oral medications that didn’t make much of a difference. I tried several fad diets and exercise plans to get my weight under control, but nothing seemed to work.
After changing insurance plans, the co-pays for my oral meds got too expensive, so I just stopped taking them. That’s when things got really bad. Around age 25, I started to see a floater in my right eye, which turned out to be macular degeneration. I actually had some damage in both eyes, which required several years of laser surgery. That was my wake-up call. I already knew that the consequences of high blood sugar were terrible. My mom had lost sight in one of her eyes. Both my sister and uncle had been on dialysis, and my uncle even had a leg amputated. I had to try something new, and fast.
So I started insulin in my late 20s. Between 27 and 41, I was on two types of insulin injections, Lantus and Novolog, as well as metformin, to reduce my blood sugar. I was also going to the gym pretty regularly. Then the pandemic hit. I stopped going to the gym, lost touch with my support system, and ate my anxiety from March straight through the summer of 2020.
That’s when I got a message from my company about Virta. Now, I had heard about other programs like Naturally Slim that focused on portion control and why I was eating, but I would still have diabetes and require meds. Virta was the first time I had ever heard of diabetes reversal. I had to give it a try.
I’m not going to lie—the first couple of weeks on Virta took some adjustment as I learned how to make substitutions to my diet. As a Japanese-American, I love rice, so the lack of carbs was a little tough. Giving up foods that I love isn’t an easy decision—but I’d rather give up food than give up my leg, my eyesight, or be on dialysis for the rest of my life. And exploring all the new recipes and marinades has been a lot of fun, and it has taught me how to become a better cook—something my partner and I are both grateful for. The most powerful piece of the program has been Julia, my Virta health coach. It has been fantastic to have someone there to listen, troubleshoot ideas with, and send me information when I need it.
My original goal was to avoid getting sick like my family and seeing the terrible outcomes of high blood sugar. I also knew the longer I was using insulin, the more pronounced my belly would be and the harder it would be to lose or maintain my weight.
Thanks to Julia and the Virta treatment, I am already down 25 pounds. I no longer need to take Novolog or metformin, and have cut my Lantus dosage in half. Also since starting Virta, my triglycerides went from 500 mg/dL to 129 mg/dL. Most importantly, for the first time in as long as I can remember, my A1c has actually dropped half a percentage point to 7.0%, all while taking less diabetes meds. I can actually enjoy taking long walks again and hiking the trails of Minnesota. And I can fit in my clothes again, which feels incredible!
Today, my new goal is to get off medication altogether and shed those last few pounds. Virta has helped me rewrite my journey and take control of my life. I feel like I have finally broken the cycle of type 2 diabetes.