Veronica is the caretaker to her aging parents, who also have diabetes; a single mother of an adult son; and the youngest of five siblings. She lives with her brother in Chicago and is a huge Madonna fan, which means monthly Madonna parties with friends and seeing Madonna on stage 14 times during her last tour. Diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes just 2 years ago, Veronica hopes to start taking her health more seriously, especially with Livongo’s help. This is her story.
When did you first hear about Livongo?
I heard about Livongo [through my insurance]. I didn’t know that I could join the program. I thought it was just for Medicare Members. When they started offering it to us, I got a postcard in the mail. I felt like it was in my face, and I looked at it and said I had to sign up for it.
Can you tell me about your diagnosis?
About 6 years ago, I was diagnosed with prediabetes and my doctor put me on medication right away. Then I got a new job where I was very active. I wasn’t just sitting at a desk. I lost a lot of weight and went back to the doctor because my sugar was too low and he took me off of the medication.
When I lost my job, I was depressed and gained weight again. When I finally got a new job, I did a yearly physical and my A1c came back high. The doctor said that I had Type 2 diabetes, and I asked, “Am I prediabetic or is this the real deal?” And the doctor said, “You have diabetes.” That was 2 years ago.
How did that all make you feel?
I knew I was eventually going to get diabetes because my grandfather passed away from complications. It is hereditary and in my family. When I was diagnosed with prediabetes, I just lived my life and didn’t seek to make many changes. When it “went away,” I was happy because I could eat whatever I wanted without guilt again.
So when I got diagnosed with diabetes, I was sad about it. I thought, “This is it. There is no going back.”
And then I think about my mom. I always think about my mom. She’s the best example of what can go wrong when you don’t take care of yourself. Once the disease takes over, the damage is done. I have to remember that because that’s what happened to my mom. She thought everything was fine while she wasn’t taking care of herself. And I was there every step of the way with my mom, watching as she had teeth removed and started losing her eyesight. I keep telling myself, “Just because you don’t feel anything now, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to have issues.”
Has Livongo been helping?
I wasn’t checking my blood sugar. I really wasn’t. I thought that the strips were expensive, especially because they weren’t covered by my insurance. When I heard about Livongo, one of the things that enticed me about the meter was that it was so digital, and when I go to the doctor I can show them my results and graphs. I thought that was amazing.
There’s so much you can do with the meter and I love it. And the supplies ship to your door! There’s no excuse. At that point there’s absolutely no excuse.
I check my blood sugar every day. It’s become a routine. When I talked to my doctor about it, she was excited that I joined the program. I love the fact that I can send reports to my doctor as well.
I do want to take my diabetes seriously because my mom is legally blind and she has retinal detachments. My siblings, my father, and I have seen what it does to someone we love. Yes, with diabetes, you can manage it, but you have to take it seriously. There are moments when your life is so chaotic, you don’t want to deal with it.
My sister is very strict on her diet because we’ve seen my mother go through her challenges, so she takes this all very seriously. I’ve only had diabetes for 2 years and I’m still trying to process that I have this condition.
Are there any other aspects to the program you use?
I reached out to my coach about tracking my blood sugar levels and how I should categorize it on my meter. I loved talking to her. In the back of my mind, I thought she might judge me. Like, I’ll get scolded. She was so nice and made me feel good. We talked a bit about my eating habits, and I told her that I would like to get to a better place with that. We also scheduled a follow-up session because she wants to know how I’ve been doing.
I know that my coach is going to tell me things that I don’t know. We talked about food, which is one of my biggest issues. I do need education on that.
What’s your motivation to take care of yourself?
I want to live to be as old as my parents. I want to be able to see my son grow up and make me a grandmother at some point. My motivation is to not end up like my mom, as harsh as that is. I see my mom, I’m taking care of her, and everything that’s wrong is her not handling this condition. So that’ll always be my motivation — my mother.
What would you tell someone about Livongo who’s never heard about it?
I need someone to hold me accountable, follow up with me, basically. I need to be micromanaged about my health because I’m terrible about it. So this extra nudge as an email or a text message saying, “Hey! We’re here!” is so helpful. That’s one of the things I love about the program. I love everything about the meter and how you have an app for your phone. I mean, even the supplies come to your doorstep. You don’t have to go to a pharmacy, you don’t even have to spend any money. The coaches and the recipes are an added bonus.