By Paul L., a Virta patient
I first found out I had diabetes in 2000. At first, I was relieved to find out why my health had been getting worse and worse every day; identifying it meant that it was treatable.
But over time, the treatments didn’t make me better and my diabetes ended up crippling me. I had to give up my police work (I was a reserve police officer for a small city). I stopped playing softball, which I was playing three nights a week. And my weight rapidly crept up on me. It made me feel bad that I could not be physically active like I once was. It was depressing. It also affected my relationship with my ex-wife, and that eventually led to a divorce.
I’ve never felt normal living with diabetes. I had to carry around a glucose monitor and glucose tabs. I couldn’t wear normal socks. I was taking tons of medication: a metformin/Glucophage cocktail, a cholesterol drug, and a high blood pressure/water retention pill. I had to have a pillbox for all the meds I was taking—just like my grandparents! I also had to take an injection of long-lasting, concentrated insulin once daily.
Everything I tried never seemed to work out. I tried diets, exercise, even Weight Watchers, all with limited success. Each doctor visit felt like a scolding. I didn’t feel like I was ever getting better; I was getting worse. I would get more medications to treat the symptoms. I was traveling down the road of a traditional diabetic, and the road was not looking good.
I first heard about Virta through my wife’s insurance at work at Mercury. Mercury offers Virta as a covered benefit for eligible employees and spouses. Since starting just six weeks ago, I’ve already reduced my A1C, blood pressure, and weight. I’m still working on lowering my A1C further, and we’re still in the process of adjusting all of my medications. But I have perfect blood pressure, and my cholesterol levels are normal, which is a surprise because I eat copious amounts of steak, bacon, and eggs! I’ve lost 14 pounds, and I’ve reduced my insulin intake by 80%.
I am now wearing the old pants that I grew out of. I have more energy to do stuff around the house and on weekends. I wake up refreshed, and I don’t feel like I am starving myself like I used to. I have a new outlook on life. It sounds cheesy, but it’s really how I feel.
I sleep well. I have so much more energy and drive to do stuff when I get home from work. Before Virta, I would come home, flop on the couch and wait until it was time to go to bed. My pain level has improved. I can tell you my neuropathy in my feet doesn’t happen anymore. Can’t explain it, but it is gone. I hated that pain so much.
I also had such terrible dry skin before Virta. My feet were really bad. My dermatologist recommended this cream and that cream, and it would never go away. His answer was, “That’s what happens to diabetics.” Now my feet look amazing, and I only need a little bit moisturizer now. My face cleared up and I no longer look like a lizard man!
I feel hopeful again! I feel like, finally, there is something I can successfully treat my diabetes with. I’m now looking forward to new challenges with being on Virta. I look forward to reporting to my wife that I lost weight. I look forward to when people at work ask, “Have you lost weight?” I look forward to putting my pants on and realizing I need to swap my current belt for the smaller one in my closet. I look forward to hearing what my health coach has to say or if the doctor wants me to reduce my medications again. I am excited about sharing my successes with my health coach.
I think that the component that sets Virta apart is the medical supervision. Virta makes sure you are fully educated. Without medical supervision, what’s the point? When I lost weight before, and didn’t adjust my meds, I would have dramatic blood sugar crashes. My old response was to not to do that again and reintroduce bad foods like carbs to stave off the lows. All I was doing was putting myself on a roller coaster again and again. By reducing my meds incrementally, in concert with weight loss, I’ve found the key, and I’ve gotten off of the roller coaster. The treatment also keeps the patient engaged, to where we don’t give up. It’s like a kid playing a video game; we need to see if we can get to the next level!
My wife is so supportive of me being in this treatment. She’s thankful that her employer Mercury cares about the wellbeing of her and her family members. Here’s what she said about my progress on Virta: “My husband and I are are on the journey together, and Virta has given my husband back control of his life. He is no longer being controlled by his medical condition. This is our lifestyle and it is not going to change. Every day we are more excited to see how much healthier our lives are. We look forward to our forever together.”
If you are considering trying Virta, I say do it! But if you do decide to do it, you have to go all in. You won’t be disappointed, but you have to keep your end of the bargain and do it 100%. And I want to say it again: I now have hope. It sounds so damn corny, but I want to be normal again and not have to take my pill case with me when I travel and make sure they have a refrigerator in my room to store my insulin. I want to travel like everyone else, and I want to lose weight. I think with the Virta treatment, I can do it.