In Categories: Patient Voice

By Nate P., a Virta patient

I was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure in 1994, and have been overweight all of my life.

For quite a while denial was my constant companion: We’re all going to die someday, right? Might as well die with ice cream in one hand and chocolate cake in the other.

I also thought that diabetes was just a way for the medical community to make money off of me and make me miserable. This wasn’t going to be me! I used to suffer from depression, but not over something like this. I was going to live life to the fullest and enjoy it.

I think the most frustrating thing about having diabetes was the hopelessness. It’s a life sentence without the possibility of parole—even for good behavior! I feel that’s the most frustrating thing that a lot of diabetics feel. Why change? There’s no cure, not any real help, just meds to keep you alive and mobile enough to survive until body parts start shutting down and being removed before life is done.

I never experienced anger about my diagnosis, but it did rock my world. My first doctor wanted me on a 1200 calorie a day diet. That did not go well. I tried different lifestyle changes. I joined a gym; it didn’t work. I had to belong to one that was open 24 hours because of my long work hours. I changed eating habits; it didn’t work. I tried several diets.  None were anything I felt I could live with long term. I probably sabotaged myself because I knew they all wouldn’t work.

I started taking Metformin and quickly increased my dosage to 2000 mg per day, but that wasn’t enough.  I resisted using insulin as long as I could because I knew if I started, I’d be married to the needles for the rest of my life.  I love being married, but not to bottles of insulin! In the end, I did have to start on insulin, but I couldn’t take the 70/30 mix. So I had to add another prescription.

I realized I wasn’t getting the help that I needed. I felt that everything that I tried would be temporary. I could do extreme exercise for a few months.  I could crash diet for a few months. But I wouldn’t be able to continue living that way. The meds worked in that they kept me close to the edge of where I should be with my diabetes. But I put on so much weight, and it left me with no possibility of change.

Then my new primary care physician intervened. I remember her telling me, “Nate, I know a doctor that is involved with a plan that can help you get off insulin and I feel you’re a great candidate for it.”  I took a few months to get on board, but I eventually joined Virta in September 2017.

Since joining Virta, my A1c has gone down from 8.3 with insulin to 6.9 without it. Before I started, I was using 195 units of insulin in the morning and 95 units at night to get there. I was on insulin for 15+ years; now I use none at all. Before Virta, I was on 40 mg of blood pressure meds; now I’m down to zero! As for losing weight, that has been a bit costly:  Since I’ve lost around 70 lbs, I’ve had to change clothing sizes a few times.

Nate, before and after Virta

When I first stopped my medicines, I was scared, but I trusted my coach and personal doctor’s guidance. First, I cut back the insulin and then my blood pressure meds by half. Then, I got the news not to take insulin injections or the blood pressure meds at all. As I loaded my needle the morning after getting the news, it dawned on me that I didn’t have to do that anymore. After so long using insulin as a crutch to control my glucose, now I just looked at the bottles and needles sitting there. They reminded me that I’m conquering diabetes. I have hope!

The biggest impact of the program for me has been me controlling food and not food controlling me.  As a society, we focus so much on food and how it makes us feel. Now I can go out, stay in, but make right choices. The second biggest impact is that my feet thank me every time I put a foot down. I’m 70 lbs lighter, and that’s 70 lbs less pounding.  It’s also easier for me to do everyday tasks like tying my shoes or getting in and out of vehicles. When I go hiking and hunting with my son, it’s just so much less of a struggle without the 70 lb pack!

I think the keys to the treatment are the easy-to-use app, knowing that my doctor is keeping an eye on my daily readings, and the patient coaching. My coach is amazing! It’s a real confidence builder when you are responsible to someone who is supportive and has your best interests at heart.

I’m feeling wonderful. In fact, my wife and I were at a function and several people I’ve known for 30 years walked past me, and I said “hi” to them. They respectfully said “hi” back.  Then they talked to my wife and told her she looked great, but they were hoping to see me too. She said, “he’s right here!” I must say, that’s the icing on the cake (that I did without).

No more hopelessness; success at last!

16 Comments

  1. Elisabeth Germain September 6, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    Wow….amazing story, and what an inspiration!!! I am now seeing hope for myself because of your success!! Thank you for blazing the trail. Because of you…I have courage to start my lifetime journey. Love you, brother!!!

    Reply

  2. I’m just so happy for you, your son and wife! May the hope stay with you forever now!

    Reply

  3. Nate, you look great. You lost a lot of weight and you have hope in your life. I can relate.
    If you don’t mind my asking, what is your target A1C – also known as your treatment goal? Besides the improvement in A1C, reduction in medications, and losing the 70 pounds, do you know how your lipids changed as well.

    Reply

    1. My target goal for A1c is 6.5 or lower. I supposed to go in for labs, but haven’t yet. I really don’t know all of the interpretation of the lipid counts, except my primary care doctor says they’re great. HDL 47 that increased in the 5 months I was tested before.

      Reply

  4. What an amazing story. Almost impossible to believe!

    I’m so excited and want to start Virta! Is the food plan very hard to adjust to?
    My goal is to get off insulin.

    Reply

    1. The simple answer is YES! Every time I look at my syringes and bottles of insulin that just kept me in the ok zone, everything I do without becomes insignificant. I was very strict with my food plans and didn’t deviate from that even during holidays and I was done with the needles in around 6 months. I paid out of my own pocket but saved at the grocery stores. I eat very well and the doctor and coach help me figure out how to be successful. You have to be committed to change, but if you are….. take that step confidently…. they will help you! I wish you the best.

      Reply

  5. Do you feature any examples of patients who went on to maintain their weight loss and low AIC after the Virta treatment has concluded? Is it difficult to maintain the results without daily coaching and supervision? All the stories I read here are successes but it appears that no one discusses “graduating” from the Virta program?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      We’re working on some updated testimonials for patients who started Virta in in our clinical trial (which started ~3 years ago). We’ll have them up in the next couple months!

      Reply

  6. What a marvelous change!!!!!!!!!!! Our warmest congratulations!

    Reply

  7. Thank you fir sharing your inspiring story

    Reply

  8. Amazing turnaround, thank you for sharing your story and inspiring others.

    Reply

  9. Congratulations Nate! We’re proud of you!

    Reply

  10. Congratulations Nate! We’re proud of you!!

    Ron and Diane

    Reply

  11. please i am type 2 Diabetes im om pills only so far I am scared to be on insulin but I wanna know more about Virta
    At the moment i wanna share so if this is wrong accept my apoligies.
    my morning meds i take
    Felodipine 5mg
    VIT D3 1.25mg
    Asprin 100mg
    CANDESTART 8mg
    Omeprazole 40mg
    Metformin HCI 500mg
    Gliclazide80mg
    Night Pills are:
    Atrovastatin 20mg
    Allopurinol 300mg
    Calcium Arro 500mg
    Metformin HCI 500mg
    now you can understand how and what Virtrs is all about or who can I talk to about it
    Thank you

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Thanks for your interest! You can learn more and apply here: https://www.virtahealth.com/thevirtatreatment

      Reply

  12. I watched Nate go through this transition. We visit 1 or 2 times a month, just perfect to notice the rapid change and improvement.

    This program works.

    Kelly P.

    Reply

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