In Categories: Patient Voice

By Charlene, a Virta patient

I was first diagnosed with diabetes in 2015 when I was in the hospital because of an allergic reaction to antibiotics: A nurse came into my room and gave me a shot into my abdomen. I asked her what that was for. She said that it was insulin. I asked her why she was giving me insulin: I was not diabetic. She said, “Now you are. Your A1c is 8.4%, and your blood sugar is close to 400 currently. We need to get it down.” I was in shock. The nurse thought that I knew. That day, I also learned that I had high blood pressure and fatty liver disease.

When I got out of the hospital, I went to the pharmacy to pick up my new prescription of insulin. But when I got there, I was shocked to see the price. My insurance was not going to cover it, because they said that there were other brands that I could get. The pharmacist put me on a different brand that the insurance would pay for. They also gave me a prescription for a blood sugar monitor. I would go through this same frustrating process every time I got a new prescription for my insulin and my test strips. The doctor would prescribe me a branded diabetes medication, insurance wouldn’t pay their portion of the bill, so the pharmacist would have to switch me to one they would pay for.

When I left the hospital, I was on a “sliding scale” for my insulin (Humalog). This meant that if my blood sugar level was at a specific number, I would need to match the units of insulin to get it under control. When I went to the doctor for a follow-up, he suggested talking with a pharmacist to get my blood sugar levels down. I worked with the pharmacist once a week, and we were able to get my blood sugar regulated to around 150 mg/dL before meals. Then they put me on time-release insulin (Basaglar) at night. I started at 15 units; then they increased the dose to 40 units. Taking insulin was hard to get used to and frustrating–I had to check my blood sugar and inject myself with insulin before eating anything.

Before Virta, the only lifestyle change I had tried was following the Atkins diet for a few weeks. I needed to lose weight for a medical procedure that my doctor would not do until I lost 10 pounds. It was hard to follow the Atkins diet on my own, and I was only able to follow it for a few weeks.

I decided to sign up for Virta at the end of January after I received an email telling us about the treatment from my employer, JLL.  Before joining Virta, my A1C was around 7.9%, even with all of my insulin. I took three different medications to regulate my high blood pressure. My weight varied, but was generally in the 280+ pound range.

A few days after I started the Virta Treatment, I was taken off the Humalog, my daily insulin. A few weeks later, my Virta provider dropped my night-time insulin, Basaglar, down to 15 units. Then she dropped it down to 8 units, and a couple of days later, down to 4 units. Two days ago my coach texted me, “Char, you are doing so well that we are going to take you off of the Basaglar. Are you okay with this?” I was so excited. I’m off insulin!

After 2 and a half months on Virta, my estimated A1c (based on my daily blood sugars) is 6.3% and my blood pressure is normal (I do still take blood pressure medications). My weight is around 260 now, which is 17 pounds lighter. I took a picture of myself to compare my picture from before my eating change. That is when it hit me. I do look different, and I am not taking any insulin!!

Life is a bit different now. I think that the best parts of the treatment are having a scale that links automatically to the Virta app, having a coach to talk to right in my pocket (I carry her wherever I go!), and the Virta shopping lists and recipes. When my husband and I go grocery shopping, we read food labels together. It’s kind of funny if you think about it. He looks at something and says, “We can eat this!” or, “Ew, stay away from that.” But the lifestyle change has real benefits: I can move better, and I have less pain in my back. I can bend over and pick something off the floor better than I did before. I have fibromyalgia, which is a chronic pain condition. Since starting Virta, I have noticed that my pain flare-ups are less than before. I am hardly hungry, and I found a new best friend, butter!

Before Virta I would say “Oh, I will do that tomorrow, I just don’t have the energy to do anything.” Now after just one month, I have the energy to do more, and it keeps increasing every day. Not to mention, I can go shopping for new clothes. The more I lose, the more opportunities I have to look good, and most importantly feel good, both mentally and physically.

I love Virta, but if you want to try it, you have to be honest with yourself. You have to be ready for the change. It is hard at first for most, but well worth it in the long run. My mom will be 89 years old this coming September, and she told me, “Can you believe it? In 11 years I will be 100 years old.” I want to be able to say that. Before Virta, I would not be able to do that: I was heading downhill. I am so excited now that I have changed my life for myself and because I now know that I will be here for my grandchildren.

 

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I love Virta, but I will not be accepted because i am over 70. I have gotten my A1c down as low as 6.1 (from highest of 8.0) I need a coach desperately. I have never been on insulin, and currently not on meds. I really feel I would benefit from Virta. When do you think I will be accepted?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Hi Diane! Thank you for reaching out. At the root of our decisions is the fact that we can never compromise patient safety and, as a science and evidence based company, we make our decisions based on our research and that of others. This means that currently, we won’t accept patients younger than 18 or older than 69 at the time of application. We don’t have any plans at this time to expand that age requirement.

      Reply

  2. Avatar

    Congratulations! Your story is so inspiring and a wonderful testament as to what a commitment to healthy living can do to change your health trajectory—and nice to have awesome support! Great job!

    Reply

  3. Avatar

    Awesome!! Congratulations on adding Quality time to your life!!!

    Reply

  4. Avatar

    How do you sign up for Virta? I get the newsletters which great!

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Hi Jess! You can head to https://www.virtahealth.com/apply to start the application process!

      Reply

  5. Avatar

    Such an inspiring story. So glad Virta stopped your diabetic progression and turned your health around. Looking good, lady!

    Reply

  6. Avatar
    Larry Underhill May 13, 2019 at 2:00 am

    Congratulations! you’re an inspiration.

    Reply

  7. Avatar

    I am so happy for you!

    rather self-reinforcing then yes?

    I do not know what the coach in your pocket is, as I am not on Virta… I just tell others to do it 🙂 as I know it works

    Reply

  8. Avatar

    This is an awesome testimony!! Congratulations on making changes and improving your health and extending your life!

    Reply

  9. Avatar

    A wonderful story that is an inspiration for others’ facing a similar battle. All the very best for the future

    Reply

  10. Avatar

    Amazing! Very inspiring!

    Reply

  11. Avatar
    Subhash C. Jatana June 6, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    Hi: I am 75 years old; physically very fit. I am a Financial Advisor and still working about 30 – 40 hours a week; and will continue to work for about another 10 years or longer. I play intense Tennis twice a week, 2 hours each time, playing with players, 30 – 35 years younger; no heart problem, no blood pressure ( BP reading: 120 / 65, consistently ). I have been diabetic for about 26 years. My current A1C reading is 7.1. I would like to live to age 100. I do take diabetic medications ( Janumet, Actos and 25 units of Insulin at night before going to sleep. I have a special needs daughter and a special needs grandson ( Autistic ). My goal is to see my grandson for at least another 25 years and the only way that can happen is for me to control my diabetes and bring my A1C down to 6.0 or below. I have tried very hard but have not been successful. I realize that I am over the age limit ( 69 ) that Virta has set up. I have my back door neighbor, a very good friend, who is a Endocrinologist and willing to help me with the diet changes as required in your program. She has read a lot about Virta’s program and mentioned to me about joining this program to improve my A1C. I am highly motivated to join this program if Virta would allow me. I would truly appreciate your help. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks – Subhash Jatana, MBA

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Subhash, Thank you for reaching out! At the root of our decisions is the fact that we can never compromise patient safety. As a science and evidence based company, we make our decisions based on our research and that of others. This means that currently, we won’t accept patients younger than 18 or older than 69 at the time of application. We do encourage you to find a healthcare provider who can support you, whether that is your neighbor or someone else.

      Reply

    2. Avatar

      Amazing!

      Reply

  12. Avatar
    Guy P. Wilkins June 12, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    I too work for JLL, and received an e-mail stating that JLL would cover the cost of a Program by a Company called Virta. The Virta Program stated that JLL employees with Type 2 Diabetes would be able to submit a Form to see if they would be a Candidate to enroll with Virta. I was so Happy to Read and See this!!!! Once I submitted my info and after a few phone calls and e-mails I was told I was accepted. I was at 12.7, A1C and Daily 244-250 glucose readings. I also was injecting 35 Units of Levemir , nightly along with two Metformin 1,000mg tablets, and three Nateglinde 120 mg tablets.My weight was 294 and my Blood Pressure 154/94. Now after 3 months on Virta I’m 34lbs lighter, Glucose is 111 average daily, BP 120/80, 6.7 A1C, No More Injections!!! No Nateglinde tabs!!!!! Yes Virta Does Work and Thanks to JLL and Virta I’m a much Healthier Man!!!!!

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Thats fantastic, Guy! Congratulations!

      Reply

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