Written by: Alex C.
Reviewed by: Emily J., MSc RD
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Hana is a 30-year-old product manager living in New York. She started experiencing blackouts at a young age and would later be diagnosed with PCOS in her teens. After struggling for 15 years to find a solution, Hana took her health into her own hands.
After interviewing Hana in April of last year, we discovered she had extensive product experience, including working at Fitbit. The universe had aligned. A few months later, we extended an offer to Hana to come work for us! She now leads a new product that allows coaches to seamlessly integrate Veri into their nutrition practices. This is her story.
The first time I remember passing out I was 3 years old at a family reunion. I was playing with my cousins, then everything went dark and I came to in another room. These ‘fainting episodes’ continued throughout my childhood, to the point where it became fairly normal to ‘wake up’ surrounded by paramedics. I had EKGs, ultrasounds, but doctors always pronounced me healthy, despite the increasing loss of consciousness.
At 15 I had an ovarian cyst rupture, and was subsequently diagnosed with PCOS. Doctors told me that I would likely never be able to have children, gave me birth control pills in an attempt to reduce future ruptures and sent me on my way. After horrific side effects, I gave up on the pill, and throughout my twenties, my cycle continued to be erratic and painful.
After a particularly terrifying ‘fainting episode’ when I was 23, a friend said some of my symptoms reminded her of her own hypoglycemic episodes and asked if I’d ever had a glucose tolerance test (I had never heard of one). Sure enough, my response to the test was abysmal - the first light was shed on my mysterious ‘episodes’.
Doctors essentially shrugged and vaguely recommended a healthier diet, but without much specific guidance. It was then that my research into metabolic health began. I started experimenting with a low-carb diet, and strength training-oriented exercise and slowly began to see improvement. The ‘fainting episodes’ (hypoglycemia) stopped and I felt I had my life back for the first time.
Then came COVID. Quarantined at home and stressed, I began experiencing intense gastrointestinal symptoms. A doctor recommended gall bladder removal. I got a second opinion and was given a diagnosis of ‘psuedo-ischmia’ (extreme stress resulting in the body reducing blood flow to certain organs). On this doctor’s recommendation I started eating a carefully balanced vegan diet. The gastro issues subsided, but my weight began to climb, my sleep worsened and my energy levels dropped. I knew something wasn’t right. When my annual physical exposed a pre-diabetic A1c level, change was suddenly necessary.
Cue Veri. I’d had a finger prick glucometer since the hypoglycemia diagnosis when I was 23, but it was really only helpful in confirming a suspected hypo. I’d wanted a CGM for years, but my doctors had refused to prescribe it because I wasn’t diabetic. One day I saw an ad for Veri on Instagram and immediately applied to the waitlist. The rest is history!
I briefly looked at Levels, but resonated more with Veri as I was on the ‘fringe’ dealing with health issues, rather than trying to optimize my performance.
My first week with Veri was like getting my first pair of glasses - everything was suddenly clear. It became evident that my body was not responding well to my carefully curated vegan diet. I started introducing eggs and cheese again and almost immediately felt the difference. Seeing the more objective data in the app gave me the confidence to break with my doctor’s recommended diet and find something that worked for me specifically. Conceptually I loved being vegan, but I couldn’t argue with the data (or how my body felt).
Starting my Veri membership in Fall 2021 was truly a turning point in my life. For the first time, I was able to have a solid feedback loop to manage what I believe were interrelated diagnoses of PCOS, hypoglycemia and pseud-ischemia. After nearly a decade of believing I needed to ‘graze’ and avoid fasting at all costs - or risk passing out - I began to experiment with intermittent fasting. Extending my overnight fast turned out to be key to improving my insulin resistance, and I had been afraid to try it before having the window into my body that Veri provided. During those first few weeks, I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to scan my sensor and calm my anxiety around having a hypo. Being able to check my glucose level built back trust in my own body and its capabilities.
Now, over a year and a half later, I’m no longer pre-diabetic (dropped 0.5 points on my A1c), I’ve lost ~30 lbs (14 kgs) and my avg glucose has dropped by about 10mg/dL (0.6 mmol/l). All the while, I’ve been able to expand my diet and embrace carbs strategically. I feel free and the confidence I have in my body, I couldn’t have dreamed of 10 years ago.
It’s truly an honor and pleasure to now work at Veri and help build this product that has meant so much to me. From a kid who had to withdraw from sports, believing that her body was fundamentally broken, to an adult capable of backpacking and rock climbing, I cannot understate the value of understanding your own body and getting in tune with your metabolism.