In Categories: Patient Voice

By Deb D., a Virta patient

My mother was a self-sufficient and self-reliant person who produced food for the family by having a huge garden every year. As I look back on our diet, we ate home grown vegetables; however, our diet was full of starchy and sugar-enhanced foods, like pickle relishes, pickled beets and jams. Meat, potatoes and gravy, with either corn or green beans, was the basic meal plate. My mother was also a baker, which meant homemade breads, pies, cakes, and cookies. My siblings and I learned these home-making skills, such as working the garden and canning, and I carried on my mother’s traditions when I began my own family.

I struggled with my weight as a child and adolescent, but I didn’t really start gaining weight until after after my pregnancies. I continued to garden and put food up like my mother had taught me. I also was a baker, and my husband and kids liked the foods I prepared. As the years went by my weight continued to increase. I would try several diets and lose some weight, then plateau, get frustrated, and then give up. Every time, I would gain back the weight I lost, and then some more. Then, in 2009, I tried a diet plan called Healthpointe 2.0, which was basically a high protein diet where you ate less than 100 grams of carbs per day and made sure that you ate a protein snack every 2 hours. I lost the 65 extra pounds that I was carrying at that time. I looked good and felt great.

However, over time, the increased stress of my work as a nurse and my husband’s liver failure caused me to slip back into my old eating habits. I became very dependent on fast foods, gained back my weight again, and then much more. I was over what I had previously decided was my “forbidden weight” of 200 pounds. I was eating to help me deal with the emotional and mental stress, which included the possibility of losing my husband and trying to maintain my work life so that I had insurance coverage for the medical services he required.

Finally, in October 2014, my husband had a liver transplant. Then came the recovery process, which was quite intense. He developed a couple of post-operative wound infections. He also had a hip replacement, treatments for pancreatic cysts, and then a hernia surgery from the liver transplant scar. I am so relieved that I can finally say he is healthy and living a normal life.

After my husband’s recovery, I was finally able to shift the focus off him and more on myself. And the neglect had wrought serious damage on my health. I was overweight with hypertension and prediabetes. My joints hurt all the time, and I was probably suffering from sleep apnea. I was miserable and not happy. It was time for things to be about me!

The first thing I did was to get control of my weight. I tried several of my past strategies to lose weight, even Healthpointe 2.0, and nothing was working. Now, I know that it was not working because high protein diets are not good for people living with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

While I was attempting to gain control of my weight, I also decided I needed to find a new job. One where I could advance, be stimulated to think differently, and have less stress and responsibility. In January 2016, I came to Purdue University as a Continuing Lecturer in the nursing department. It has been a good place for me to grow and develop my professional skills and abilities. I just recently was promoted to Clinical Assistant Professor and completed my certification as a Certified Nurse Educator.

Prior to Purdue’s endorsement of Virta Health, I had heard about Virta’s study in Lafayette, at the Indiana University Health clinics. I called and got the necessary testing completed. I remember going to see Dr. Hallberg for the first time and her asking me how long I had been living with type 2 diabetes. I always thought I was prediabetic; however, as of that moment I was considered diabetic. My response was “not for long.” I also remember the nurse saying that I could be at a healthy weight by August and have my diabetes reversed by then also. I thought she was nuts! I thought it would take a lot more time and work than a few months.

Virta patient Deb

That nurse was spot on! By August, I was doing great! My hemoglobin a1C went from 6.5% to 5.6% from January to May. I lost 20 pounds my first month, and, by August, had lost 60 pounds. I have been with Virta for over 2 years now, and it will be my way of life forever. I take no medications, have no joint pain, no sleep apnea, and feel great. I can walk all over campus at Purdue and walk up the stairs without being short of breath. I have so much more energy now! I started working on a doctorate of nursing practice degree. I would have never considered doing that before Virta.

While I may not follow all of my mother’s traditions anymore, I believe she would be proud of the resilient woman I am today. Through her garden, I learned as a child that the practice of tending to plants and pulling out weeds is just as enjoyable as the bounty. I have made many course changes in my life journey, and, with Virta, I will continue to reflect on what I need to do for my health. I am my mother’s daughter. I will not give up, I’ll keep myself open to new possibilities.

I am so grateful to Virta Health and all the people responsible for bringing this program into fruition. It has not only changed, but saved, my life. I am continuing to be a productive person in the world. I am not chained to an illness with many problems and medications to manage or the costs associated with the health care resources needed to manage those problems or medications. I have been empowered to take control of my health. I am responsible, and I am in the driver’s seat of my health now. Today, the future looks bright.

4 Comments

  1. Shari Bradley June 14, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    Great testimony. Your mom passed on great values. So glad for you and all your successes.

    Reply

  2. You nailed it! Good job and thanks for sharing. To your continued good health!

    Reply

  3. Hi Deb
    You are doing great. I am a Canadian so there was no help for me but I followed the science and got there too. Congrats on your wonderful new life.

    Reply

  4. Very inspiring.. thank you for sharing.

    Reply

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