Jose is a father of five and lives in Austin, Texas. Due to COVID-19 and recently moving back from Chicago, he and his wife live with his in-laws, watching over them and keeping them safe. A native Texan, he’s also lived in Florida and Arizona. Jose is constantly surrounded by and influenced by his family, which can present its challenges. Here is his story.
Can you tell us a bit about your diagnosis?
I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 50, 8 years ago. It took me a long time to come to the realization that it wasn’t going to go away. I can only manage it. I still struggle there.
Acceptance was hard for me. I can tell you this experience — when the doctor told me I had Type 2 diabetes, I didn’t want to accept it, and it took me almost 5 years. My wife is a medical assistant. The first thing she said was, “I knew it. I knew you had it.” And it was based off of my symptoms at the time.
What challenges have you faced so far?
The biggest challenge for me is changing my diet to get my blood sugar under control.
Growing up, we were poor and my mom told us to eat everything on our plates and that we shouldn’t throw anything away. “We don’t have money in the first place to be throwing food away,” she would say. That’s the mindset that I came from, and as I got older, I was making money and I could afford better food, I could enjoy the best of what life had to offer.
I still want to eat all of this Mexican food that’s probably not very healthy for me. My wife has probably been the biggest advocate of changing my diet. I’m the steak-and-potatoes guy and she’s changed that.
How have you seen yourself evolve?
Back then, I would talk only to my family about having diabetes — telling my kids they had to watch what they eat, telling them that they don’t want to go through what I’m going through. I would hate to see that happen. I see them following the same path.
It’s also kind of helped me realize that if I’m talking to my kids about it, I should practice what I preach. I started to talk about it a lot more and become more open with people, telling them, “I have Type 2 diabetes.” When I started to do that, I think it really opened things up for me and I was able to accept more of the things I have to do to manage my condition. That’s kind of how I got here.
How has Livongo helped?
Over the last 3 years, I’ve been paying attention to my blood sugar levels and testing more. Before Livongo, I wasn’t even doing that.
I’m an engineer and my life revolves around data. Before I joined Livongo, I was manually tracking my own data to see my performance. A1c is something you check every 3 months and it was hard to see where I was relative to my efforts. With what Livongo offers, I can see things graphically, as a data set, and I can see whether I’m trending in the right or wrong direction. Based on what I see, I try to do workouts and curtail the food that I eat.
The glucometer that Livongo provided is top notch. I’ve been with several other insurance plans and they never offered anything like this. I joined the program in the interest of getting another tool. I was impressed with the data keeping and reporting performance of where my blood sugar levels have been.
The program itself is good. Livongo doesn’t let me off the hook. I know you guys are there for my health.
What’s one thing you’ve learned throughout your journey about yourself?
People have discipline and alter their lifestyle immediately and they adopt it and go on and live a healthy life. I’ve been on this roller coaster and the influence has been my family, and that’s a weakness because it’s hard to tell them no.
What is your motivation?
I know my mother and grandmother both suffered from diabetes. It was never diagnosed because they couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. Once I understood what they went through, I understood what it did to their bodies and what it did to them. I kept that in the back of my mind.
I knew someone with diabetes who had a lot of issues. His son would tell me that he was having issues with his kidneys and had his body parts amputated. And I had this really horrible picture of him, losing his body. He wasn’t very old when he passed away. It sounds like he was fighting very hard not to die. And I think that is the motivation for me, knowing that I can have this horrible life as I get older. I think that scares me, and I use it as my motivation.
As far as my legacy is concerned, it’s not going to be diabetes. I don’t want my sons to say, “I got diabetes from my dad.” No, I want to teach them, so when I’m no longer walking this earth, I can look back and say, “My kids are healthy.”
How would you describe Livongo to someone who doesn’t know about it?
A program that’s willing to walk with you through this journey. You guys are living it with me. You understand what I’m going through. You’re walking with me and putting things in layman’s terms. I understand Livongo a lot better than when I go to the doctor and endocrinologist.
The Livongo team is more of a peer support group. They understand what it feels like, they understand the challenges. I don’t provide kudos to anybody unless they’ve earned it or I have the experience and am able to tell you, this has really helped me to embrace what I have. It pushes me, it’s encouraging me.
Your resources are phenomenal and I’m happy with the service. I like everything about it. I’ve told my wife numerous times that this is an awesome program.