In Categories: Patient Voice

By Mark, a Virta Patient

In August of 2018, I was diagnosed with prediabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. My routine blood work came back showing high liver enzyme levels, and I later had to get a body scan to find out the severity of the disease. I was also told that I had high blood pressure, and was overweight. I was shocked and scared by this news because I had been an athlete my whole life. It was a diagnosis that I was wholly unprepared to receive. Fatty liver is a “quiet” disease, in the sense that the symptoms aren’t obvious. I was also embarrassed and angered by the young physician who told me that I needed to lose 20% of my weight. That would have put me close to my college weight as a distance runner and rower, almost 40 years ago!  To get to that weight seemed impossible.

I served 8 years on active duty and 20 years in the reserve as a Marine Corps Officer.  The military provided me with both my undergraduate as well as my graduate education. While a very active athlete as a triathlete, my weight continued to increase slowly over the years. I believed working out would be enough to keep me healthy, but the exercise was not enough. I was slowly developing diabetes and I didn’t even know it.

After I got past the initial shock of being diagnosed with prediabetes, I realized that I had to do something about it quickly. I have three grandchildren that I wanted to know me for my “real” self, not the “pops” who was overweight. I was also determined to show that my “fatty liver” was not alcohol induced. My primary care physician wanted me to immediately start multiple prescription medications. I wanted to avoid more medication, and because my son works at Virta, I knew what I needed to do. I enrolled in the treatment soon thereafter.

Since starting Virta 10 months ago, my A1c dropped to an estimated value of 5.5%, and I’ve lost 25 pounds. My fatty liver is being reversed, as my liver enzymes are back to normal levels. Even my blood pressure is significantly down. I’ve also eliminated three medications, which is saving me $250 a month. I no longer take blood pressure medication, daily ibuprofen, or Primidone. I’m especially excited to be off the Primidone, which I was taking for benign essential tremors (it caused significant side effects). I never expected Virta to be able to help me get off Primidone, so I am thrilled with this result.

Virta has improved my overall health in so many ways. For the first time in years, I have not gotten sick from January through April with a cold or otherwise. I also no longer have “mind fog” anymore, and can think clearly throughout the day. I enjoy eating now, even though my meals are more disciplined. I have the energy to exercise more, and I schedule my exercise into my daily routine. I love being thinner and healthier, and I now look forward to a joyful retirement and many years of being around for my grandkids.

Mark (center) with his family on the day of his retirement.

I would encourage anyone, but especially Veterans, to take advantage of Virta. The structure and rigor of the program and the support of the coaches is really comprehensive, and can help you change your behavior. I am proud that my son Marc (who was also a Marine) is working for a company that is providing free diabetes treatments for eligible Veterans. It’s nice to see Virta serve those who have served us all.

 

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