Derek is 57 years old, has worked at Meijer for 26 years, and lives in Wyoming, Michigan, a suburb of Grand Rapids, where he first moved 34 years ago with his brother. An avid movie watcher, Derek has a movie club that gathers at his home once a week. He enjoys doing outdoor activities, cooking, baking, and reading. Among other things, Derek knows a thing or two about wine and is the occasional consultant, something he likes doing on the side. This is his story.
Can you tell us about your diagnosis?
Back in 2006 I had pancreatitis around the holidays between Christmas and New Year’s. About a year ago I had pancreatitis again, and I was having some vision problems. I was explaining to my doctor all the problems I was having and he said, “It sounds like you have type 2 diabetes.” He warned me that this could happen with pancreatitis, and my mother has diabetes as well, so there’s a genetic predisposition toward it.
What kind of lifestyle changes did you make?
I did a lot of research when I first got diagnosed to know which foods to avoid, which were beneficial for controlling blood sugar, and my doctor tried to make me into a complete vegetarian. I said, “Nope. That’s not going to happen.” When I told my doctor that I had access to venison, he didn’t have any issues with that because he said that it’s very lean, and I finally talked him into letting me have a little chicken. Steak, I probably have about once a year. I eat it when I go camping with my relatives and sometimes I’ll eat a hamburger. Usually I stick to chicken and venison.
How did you hear about Livongo?
So the doctor and I worked together to set me up with the initial supplies I needed through my insurance. What really freaked me out, at first, was the initial outlay of money for supplies. Everything came to about $200 and that was just for the first month.
I looked at that and thought, “There’s no way that I can afford $200 a month to pay for all that stuff,” and I decided to start doing some research to find less expensive ways to get the supplies I needed. My coworkers knew I had diabetes and one of my coworkers saw a note in the hallway that this new company Livongo was working with Meijer, might help with cutting down the cost of supplies. So I got the information, went online, and signed up.
So long story short, I went from paying $200 a month to $50 a month. That just blows my mind. I couldn’t have done that without your help because of the free test strips, and if I need to reorder, I just push a button.
What have you liked about Livongo so far?
Two expensive elements of having diabetes are test strips and insulin. So when I found out that the strips would be free, I was impressed. It’s nice that my readings go online, too, so I can keep track. What I’ve been super impressed with is that if it goes below 80, within 10 seconds you guys are on the phone and asking if I’m okay. That blew my mind. It’s very reassuring on my end to know that there’s someone watching out for me.
If my sugar goes too low right now, I get shaky. I’ve learned to recognize some of these symptoms I’m getting. I can’t always tell when my sugar is really high — I don’t really feel any different that way. But it’s nice that this thing tells me that I’m over 180, which is what I want to stay under. It’s nice that it lets me know because then I keep track in my mind of what I ate and when I ate it. Then I can reevaluate what I did or what I can change to help my blood sugar settle down.
I check my blood in the morning before breakfast, a half hour before dinner, and before bed. In the case that I don’t feel right, I say, “Hey, I’m going to check my blood sugar just so that I know I’m fine,” and it reassures me that I’m fine. It’s just reassuring on my end to know that you guys are there to help me keep an eye on things.
If my coworker hadn’t told me about it, I probably wouldn’t have signed up. I’m happy with you guys because you’ve got my back.
What would you tell someone about Livongo who’s never heard of it?
It’s really easy to sign up online. Getting the supplies in the mail was super fast. The test strips and lancets — you order those with a push of a button or online. It’s very fast, very efficient. It’s easy to download the reports and email them to my doctor’s office. My doctor is extremely happy with the program.
I enjoy all the weekly emails you send me, with menu ideas, food ideas, and useful suggestions. It’s nice to know that I can go online anytime and ask questions. I can set up appointments with coaches when I need to.