In Which We Review Victoza
A new drug gives hope for a life of normalcy.
By Kathryn Foss
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
June 2011 — It's been about seven weeks since I started taking my new drug, Victoza. It has been my friend for the most part, but hard going at the beginning. Before I started taking Victoza, I did my homework and read as much as I could about it. I read the basic facts and warnings from our friends at the pharmaceutical companies, but I was more interested in the stories from real people.
As far as diabetes drugs go, Victoza is the new kid on the block, so many people who are on it view themselves as guinea pigs. We all know the risks, but have decided to take it because the alternative side effects of diabetes are much scarier. Aside from treating symptoms of diabetes, Victoza is also touted as a weight loss drug. So I have to admit, I was excited to try it.
I started at the lowest dose. It's an injectable and comes in a pen just like insulin. So, a quick shot in the belly and my first dose was in. In a word, it was non-eventful! The next morning, my fasting blood sugar was still 130. I was a bit discouraged, but continued on. By day two my fasting blood sugar had dropped to 110! I was shocked! That is borderline normal! This was exciting.
Still on day two, I was also hit with horrible nausea. And that is what I think is the secret to weight loss on Victoza. The nausea was so bad, I couldn't eat more than a few bites of anything and I was drinking massive amounts of homemade ginger ale to stave off the waves of sickness. Obviously, I started dropping weight. The directions I received from my doctor were to double the dose after two weeks, but the thought of the kind of nausea I would have after hitting myself with two times the drug caused me to call my doctor and ask if I could do what I had read about online in one of the many reviews — increase the dose incrementally on a daily basis.
It was actually a good idea! I was still nauseous, but it was much more manageable. It took a full six weeks to get up to my maximum dose of Victoza, and a full six weeks of feeling waves of sickness. I wouldn't say it was totally debilitating, but one of the things I heard most out of my husband was, "Is that all you're going to eat?"
It truly did take away all of my desire for food, which is great for people who are a slave to their cravings (and if you have followed me for any amount of time, you know that is me). It felt great to be able to say no to things that would have been a stumbling block before. And in those six weeks I lost 10 pounds.
I had read online that the weight loss aspect of the drug eventually stops working. But I don't think that it stops working, but rather the body adjusts to the medication and you are able to eat again. That is where willpower comes in. If you had emotional eating issues before, you will still have them once your body adjusts to the medication. So I can see why people start gaining weight again.
The other said goal of Victoza is to reduce blood sugar over time. This has been my greatest result of taking it, my fasting blood sugar especially. Some mornings, I get down to 85-90, which is fully in the normal range! I also think the blood sugar numbers are highly dependent on what kind of diet you eat. My doctor advised me to add carbs back into my diet; however, I can tell a huge difference in my blood sugar on days I have starchy carbs versus the days I don't. If I want good numbers, even on Victoza, I have to greatly reduce the starchy carbs I consume.
I haven't been to my follow up appointment yet, but I am expecting my A1C to show improvement as well. All in all, Victoza has been like a breath of fresh air. It's liberating to wake up and see lower numbers on my monitor and my scale. It gives me hope that a life of normalcy may not be that far out of reach, and that is a priceless feeling.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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