I spent 5 years on active duty with duty stations up and down the East Coast, as well as an overseas assignment in Saudi Arabia. After receiving an honorable discharge, I worked in various consulting roles and eventually came under the care of the VA health system. There is no history of type 2 diabetes in my family. I have 5 siblings, and none of us have had a reason to be concerned about this disease. However, in 2010, after I was prescribed some statins to lower my cholesterol, my follow-up lab results on my blood sugars came back with an extremely high A1c of 13.6%.
It was a complete shock to everyone. I had no symptoms, so I had a hard time believing that this diagnosis could be true, but I read some research that showed statins could elevate the risk of type 2 diabetes in certain people. I just happened to be one of them. Fortunately, the Veterans Health Administration (VA) covers my healthcare, and they were very proactive in addressing the issue, prescribing me additional medications to manage my new condition. My medication regimen included metformin, Jardiance, alogliptin, and Januvia, all of which are quite expensive.
I am very familiar with the high cost of diabetes medications because I work for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state’s largest health insurer. For chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, these drugs can cost hundreds of dollars a month for both the patient and the health insurance company. Before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I saw this trend as an observer. Once I was diagnosed and prescribed 4 medications, I saw it for myself. While I was lucky and had no out-of-pocket costs for my prescriptions, the VA carried all of the financial burden.
In 2019, I learned about a pilot program between the VA and Virta Health, where hundreds of US veterans were receiving Virta’s diabetes reversal treatment free of charge. I had never even heard that diabetes reversal was possible in the 10 years I had been managing it, but the VA believed in it enough to work with Virta, so I thought it was worth investigating further. I read Virta’s clinical studies and saw the reported results in hundreds of people like me. This clinical evidence made me believe that Virta was the answer I had been looking for, to a question I hadn’t even thought to ask: how do I reverse my type 2 diabetes?
After signing up, Virta first educated me on the science behind the treatment and why it would work for me. I finally understood how carbs affect my metabolism, and why someone like me would experience high blood sugar when eating carbs while others wouldn’t. Virta taught me how to find my personal carbohydrate tolerance, lower my blood glucose, and remove the need for medication. At the same time, I would teach my body how to use fat for energy instead of carbs.
After I understood the science behind Virta’s approach, I was ready to go all-in on the treatment, and I started in December of 2019. Within a month, I was able to stop taking Jardiance, Januvia, and alogliptin because my fasting blood glucose consistently measured under 100 mg/dL, and my dosage of metformin was cut in half.
Virta has also helped me lose 9% of my body weight in just 3 months, dropping 27 pounds to go from 255 to 228. Less weight makes doing my everyday activities that much easier, and by stabilizing my blood sugar, my energy no longer goes through the rollercoaster it used to. This has even led me to pick up a consistent exercise routine.
After just 3 months on Virta, my A1c has dropped below the prediabetic threshold without medications, down one whole percentage point to 5.2%. My next goal is to try some new Virta-friendly recipes. No matter what I want to eat, whether it's zucchini noodles, almond flour-based treats, or berries and cream for dessert, there are seemingly endless substitutions and alternatives. I never feel deprived or hungry, and when I have questions, my Virta health coach is always just a message away.
I’m glad that my health improvements through Virta help the VA too, as they no longer have to foot the bill for those expensive diabetes medications! I want everyone thinking about joining Virta to know that the overall health improvements are priceless. I finally feel in control of my own health. Virta has created a positive cycle for me, where the successes I’ve already seen fuel my motivation to stay on the plan and see future improvements.
I was extremely fortunate to have gained access to Virta through the VA partnership, and I hope that this life-saving treatment will be offered to many more Veterans like me. I tell as many people as I can about how Virta has transformed my life. In fact, the positive effects of a treatment like this across the entire North Carolina state would be tremendous. It wouldn’t just improve overall health, but it would also save money for both the patient and the health insurance company. It is simply a win-win for everyone.