Ten years of insulin shots and the highest-dose pump available — all in the past with Purdue’s covered benefit, Virta.
Larry, before Virta and several months after starting
Larry, a Purdue Utilities Support Services Manager, had been wearing an insulin pump for five years. On the upside, it finally allowed him to keep his blood glucose on an even keel — a relief after more than five years of struggling with up to six daily shots and a steadily worsening glucose control. But the downsides were numerous. “You wear the pump clipped to your belt, so you can go about your daily business okay,” says Larry. “But it’s still an encumbrance. I had to have a special pocket sewn into my sleeping shorts, and it’s in your way when you move at night; changing clothes and going to the bathroom, it’s in the way; one time I got it caught on equipment in my garage and ripped the cannula out.”
So imagine Larry’s delight when he was recently able to stop using the pump, after just one week on Virta. “The Virta doc called and put me on one shot a day, and after another week that was discontinued too. In two weeks I went from the highest strength insulin you can take with a pump, to no insulin at all. Being on insulin all those years and now not having to take any — that’s hard to believe, even for me,” he says.
Old habits die hard, though, and Larry catches himself sometimes when sitting down to a restaurant meal. “I automatically think, how many carbs am I taking in, how much insulin do I need to take? And then I remember, ‘Wait, I don’t have to do that.’ When you’re on an insulin pump you always had to feel like you’re feeding the animal — I’ve got to eat, even if I’m not hungry, to keep in balance with the insulin dose. I love the fact that I don’t have to think about low blood sugar so much,” he says.
Replacing insulin with a lifestyle-based approach for controlling blood sugar will also protect Larry from the health risks that come with medical insulin, such as overdoses, low blood sugar events and weight gain. Already Larry’s blood pressure numbers are improving and he has been able to eliminate two of four hypertension medications. In addition, Larry, 57, lost almost 40 pounds in his first three months on Virta.
Adopting the eating plan in Virta has been an easy transition for Larry. “When I was 40 I went to an American Diabetes Association meeting and started a low-fat diet, and I starved on that diet. Here, if I want a steak, I can have a steak, and vegetables with butter on them. I’m never hungry. The foods I eat are things I like, I’m not counting calories, and I’m eating until I’m full. I haven’t seen a weight of 200 since my mid-thirties, and now I’m at 203. I can go up and down stairs at the plant, and my legs don’t feel like butter. I can mow the yard and not be winded,” Grant says.
“To anyone who’s thinking about doing Virta, I’d say, ‘Give it a shot — it obviously works.”
Virta is a medically supervised intervention that uses individualized carbohydrate restriction, biomarker tracking and health coach support to reduce patients’ A1c, type 2 diabetes medications, and weight. In a clinical trial, patients lost an average of 12% bodyweight in 6 months1 and 56% reduced their A1c to below the threshold for type 2 diabetes diagnosis in just 10 weeks.2