In Categories: Patient Voice

By Jake, Army Veteran and Virta Patient

When I was a kid, my uncle was in the army. He would come visit once a year, and when I was seven or eight, I’d listen to his stories. One time, he said “Every man in the world should do at least one stint in the military”. He said it once, but it stuck with me. I joined the Army in 1986, and was in the field artillery. 

We were deployed to Saudi Arabia in August 1990, 15 days after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. It was an… experience. I was married at the time, and my second daughter was born while I was there. We came back to a hero’s welcome in March 1991, but what I was most excited about was seeing my daughter for the first time. My first daughter was 2.5 years and the other 3.5 months old when I got back to the states. It’s been 30 years, but I still get choked up when I think about meeting her for the first time.

Jake, a veteran and Virta patient.

Jake joined the US Army in 1986.

I retired shortly after coming back from the war. I live in Fort Worth, Texas and use the VA Fort Worth Outpatient Clinic.

While I’ve had type 2 diabetes for 10 years now, for the longest time I never watched what I ate. I’d eat ice cream and cake and cookies. I acted like I wasn’t a diabetic. My blood sugar was getting really high – as high as 500 mg/dL. They ended up putting me on insulin 6 years ago to try to bring it down, but I hated the insulin. I’d rather have high blood sugar than a low one, since I really didn’t feel the high blood sugar like I did the lows. When I would get below 50, I would get all hot and shaky and just feel like crap.

About 4 or 5 years ago, I started counting calories and tried to keep it under 1,800 calories per day. I lost some weight, but my diabetes stayed the same. I always eventually gained all of the weight back. It was hard to eat so few calories, since I always felt hungry. The diabetes drugs weren’t working either. Even though I was taking 68 units of insulin twice daily, my A1c climbed every time I went to the doctor. Even when I was at the doctor for other health reasons, all the doctor wanted to focus on was my A1c. They told me if I lost weight I could get off insulin, but it was so hard to lose weight on the insulin. I just didn’t feel good either; I never had energy.

My life changed when I heard about Virta through an email from the VA, which said that Virta’s diabetes reversal treatment was free for the first 400 eligible Veterans to enroll. You get emails all the time with BS stuff about turn this around, turn that around, so I was skeptical. I didn’t know if Virta’s diabetes reversal treatment was going to work, but I was curious enough to give it a try. Since it wasn’t going to cost me anything, I just went ahead and looked at the Virta website and signed up. My Virta enrollment advisor made the process so smooth, she even helped me get the screening labs done at my house since I don’t like leaving my house if I don’t have to. Virta did all the heavy lifting and made it simple.

I’ve been on Virta for only 2 months, but I’ve already taken some big steps to reversing my type 2 diabetes. Before Virta, I was taking 136 units of insulin daily, and now I am down to just 24 units per day. Now I am working on getting off insulin completely. A few months ago, I didn’t even think that was even possible. 

I’ve already lost 37 pounds, and I am on my way to my goal of being under 200 pounds. Getting the weight off will make it easier for me to get out of my house, work out, and lift weights like I used to. My knee pain is improving, but it’s still there. I look forward to even less pain over time. I am working towards being able to walk around the block. My shorts are now too big. I fit into a pair of jeans I couldn’t wear for the last 4 years. I have a closet full of smaller clothes, and I’m looking forward to wearing those. Every time I step on the scale, it seems to be going down. I didn’t want to weigh myself every day at first, but it’s good to stand on the scale and see it go down every day, way more than I expected. I actually made a bet with an old friend to see who could lose 10% of their body weight first – and I won!

My energy is so much better now. I tried to wax my truck, something that would have been way too much for me before Virta, and I did it all by myself! I am sleeping better too, and not waking up as often in the night. I used to wake up every 30 minutes. I am surprised at how I am not ever that hungry now, which makes it much easier to fight the cravings. It’s easier than I thought it would be. I was skeptical at first because I’ve tried different things, and nothing had ever really worked. But I’m fully on board now, I see it working. I see a future. 

Since starting Virta, I really pay attention to what I eat! I miss bread but I’m getting used to it. I make some killer omelettes and that’s my favorite meal of the day. I tried spaghetti zucchini for the first time, and it was pretty good. That’s something I never would have touched before. I notice I don’t need as much meat as I did before. I’m satisfied with less. 

My coach is great, and when I need help on the weekend, other coaches are there to step in. They’re all great and seem to know me. I’m guessing they have lots of other patients so I wouldn’t think they’d really know me but they do. They check in and they seem to really care. 

Before Virta, I thought I was going to have diabetes for the rest of my life. Now I am not going to get limbs amputated or go blind like so many of the Veterans I see suffering from diabetes. So many Vets are just out of it, they can barely live. I am so much more hopeful now that I can see myself getting better. I have something to look forward to, so the suicidal tendencies are gone. Life doesn’t look bleak like it has in the past. I still have plenty of problems, but this is a part of my life that is actually improving.

I want other Veterans to know that Virta is well worth it. There is no reason NOT to do it. I know what the prices are, and if it weren’t for free coverage I’m receiving as one of the first 400 to enroll, there is no way I could do it. I am healthier in the last 6 weeks than I have been in years, and it hasn’t cost me a DIME. There is no reason not to try. The last time I went in for a visit at the VA, the nurse told me that her dad is a Vet and has type 2 diabetes, so I wrote down the information about Virta for her. 

On Virta, I see results. I see a future. With my Virta coach and my provider, it’s all planned out. They’ve all been through this before, and it works. I see it working. It’s not some pipe dream, and I am enjoying this process of getting rid of my diabetes. If I wanted to, I could bail. But I really believe in it now. If you give it 100% and follow the treatment, you can get what you want. My diabetes is going away!

Veterans interested in learning more about Virta can get started at www.virtahealth.com/veterans.

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Congratulations Jake for stepping out and trying a new program such as Virta. I’m a veteran whose also enrolled with Virta going on 5 weeks. My fasting and after meal (post-prandial) glucose readings are now typically in the 80’s rather than 120 plus. I don’t think I’ve had a reading over 100 since I started Virta. I’m within 10 pounds of my goal weight, so that’s a plus in my view. I also like the ease of adhering to the Virta guidelines, and I do keep track of my protein consumption, but I don’t really track the rest of my micronutrients which makes the process infinitely simple. To be candid, I do sometimes miss certain comforting foods such as really good french fries or a French baguette recently baked, but it gets easier. I buy quality food since 95% of foods in the grocery stores are off limits, so my meals taste fresh and delicious. Thank Virta for your service rendered to Veterans. Hopefully you will get a contract for additional year of coverage.

    Reply

  2. Avatar
    Pierre Curtis July 17, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    I’ve been on a IF LCHF diet for eight months. I’m 71, diagnosed T2D in 1999. Went from an imobile 280 lbs to active 203lbs. From 240 units of insulin per day to 30 units per day. My Lipid Panel TG/HDL ratio of above 1.8 to 0.83. Did a CAC calcium score CT Scan for a plaque baseline. Had to pay for it myself, but only $150 here in FL Hard part is getting my endocrinologist to support me. No more GERD, my Psoríasis os improving with out drugs, just UVB treatment. Don’t have to per all the time. No cravings for sweet things, Not hungry all the time like when on carbs. Weaned myslf off 5 of my 7 medications. BP is 116/73. A1c down from a high of 8.5 to 6. Just come back from a 3 week vacation in UK. Managed to control my eating, although didn’t do 16/8 fasting. Only tomorrow will I weigh in at home and check my BP. To avoid low BG I did let my BG run higher as I was walking 4 to 5 miles most days which drops my BG sharply. Yep definitely well on the way to reversing my T2D.

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Congratulations, Pierre! Way to take control of your T2D and your health!

      Reply

  3. Avatar

    Jake,
    As an Air Force Mom, and an Air Force daughter, I first want to say Thank You for all you and your Family have done during your Military Service! I truly understand the sacrifices and service! Secondly, I am so proud of the Army for offering this to you as a Veteran and So Proud of your success!! I have been on Virta since February and it has totally turned my health and life around!! Stay strong and stay with it because you are literally adding Quality Years to your life!!

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Thank you so much for your words of encouragement to Jake. Congratulations to you on your success!

      Reply

  4. Avatar
    GEORGE M ROSS July 18, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Is this a free program for veterans? I need help and can’t afford what it cost directly.
    I worked very hard to get what we have.
    I asked for help from the VA before and they said I do not qualify.

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Have you applied through Virta? The best way to determine eligibility is to go to https://www.virtahealth.com/veterans and fill out the application form. Then, we can determine if you’re eligible.

      Reply

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