Diagnosed at 17 and finally getting off of my diabetes medications
By Matt J, a Virta patient
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2000 when I was 17 years old. It was a big shock at first, and I have always felt ashamed of the fact that I was diagnosed so young. I have always had body image issues and struggled with depression and anxiety tied to this issue. I dealt with bouts of depression and physical issues for the next several years. I would go for long periods of not taking care of myself and would feel pretty bad physically.
There were also times where I would try to get physically fit, lose weight, and improve myself. Most of these were fleeting, and I would end up getting frustrated and quit. I tried low carb/Atkins diets. I tried working out. I would work out until I got wear and tear injuries. I would take time off to heal, and during that time I would get out of the habit. I looked into laparoscopic surgery (either the lap band or stomach pouch), but it was never financially doable. I do believe exercise is good for general well-being, but it never helped me to lose weight effectively. Nothing worked for me.
I was on several diabetic medications: eighty units a day of NovoLog 70/30, two 1,000 mg tablets of Metformin, 5 mg of Farxiga, and 2 mg of Bydureon weekly. I felt like they were barely affecting anything and couldn't keep up with my needs. My A1C was staying around 9 despite the massive amounts of medications. I hated that I was young and on so many drugs. Things never really got better even when I was trying. I saw very few improvements. There was a financial burden with these medications especially during times where my medical insurance wasn't all that great.
I first heard about Virta through the TED Talk about Reversing Type 2 Diabetes featuring Dr. Sarah Hallberg. My employer, the Chickasaw Nation, covered the cost of the treatment, and I joined in February of 2018.
Since joining Virta, I have lost 43 lbs. I started out 269 pounds, and I’m now down to 225 lbs. I’m also only taking only one diabetes medication: metformin twice a day. I no longer fear checking my glucose levels anymore, and I sometimes brag about how low they are to my wife.
I’ve been thrilled every time I’ve been able to remove a medication. The best time was last week when I was told I could stop taking the weekly Bydureon injection. Since I no longer have any daily or weekly doses, I don’t have to worry about how I am going to travel with needles, or a cooler for the insulin, or explaining to someone new how I am diabetic and have to take insulin. The injections were painful, and I’m happy to rid of them!
The initial diet change was tough, but so very worth it. My food cravings really changed. I don't have the appetite spikes I used to get, and I don't feel hungry all of the time and have a steadier supply of energy. I also don't have tingly and painful extremities anymore. Doing physical labor is easier, and I don't get as tired doing chores around the house or yard work. I also just feel better.
And because I feel physically better, I feel emotionally better too: I am not so worried about what my life will be like in the future as my health progressively worsens. To be quite honest, I sometimes catch my reflection and cannot recognize myself.
The whole Virta treatment is an incredibly valuable package. As you're first starting out, it is very helpful to have the coach for support and advice. The sacrifices don't feel like sacrifices for very long. The benefits outweigh any costs to such a degree they are insignificant. It's worth it and life-changing. I am just thrilled with the successes I have had.