Mounjaro Allowed Me to Participate More in Life
Mounjaro (tirzepatide) is a once-weekly injectable medication from Lilly Diabetes. It is the first and only dual GIP/GLP-1 receptor agonist. It has proven to help people with diabetes gain significant reductions in A1c levels and body weight.
Mary Bruehl, a type 2 diabetes community member who participated in a clinical trial, shared her experience and results with Mounjaro.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
BT1: I’m very excited to speak with you Mary. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Mary: I’m 63 years old and from Norman, Oklahoma. I have lived with type 2 diabetes for about 15 years. I work as a managing attorney in a civil litigation law firm and have worked in criminal defense for 25 years. I have two kids that are all grown and no grandchildren.
Do you use insulin or other medications for your diabetes management?
I don’t right now. I was on Mounjaro (tirzepatide) and metformin. I went off Mounjaro after about a year in June of 2020, then I was just on metformin.
Now I’ve quit metformin. About three or four months ago, I started on a very low dose of Ozempic.
How did you hear about the trial, and what made you decide to participate?
Well, I’ve been struggling with weight for a long time. When I first was diagnosed, I was very good about doing everything correct—exercising, eating, no carbs. As the years went by, I found myself gradually falling off the wagon and not taking care of myself as well as I should have.
I also had a hip issue where I ended up having to have a hip replacement. I was in a lot of pain for several years before that. That sort of leads to the cycle of overeating to make yourself feel better to get out of the pain. But it doesn’t really work.
With type 2 diabetes, it just seems to keep insinuating this cycle. The insulin resistance happens. It makes you hungrier, you eat more, you gain more weight and it seems very difficult to break the cycle.
My family physician has known that I have struggled with this for quite a few years. She has a research clinic and asked me if I wanted to participate in the Mounjaro clinical trial. I was very excited about it because I knew it wasn’t a placebo trial.
I was going to get either the Mounjaro or another drug type. It was going to help my A1c because I had started spiraling out of control, and my A1c was about 7.5 at the time.
I had other health issues start like fatty liver. My liver had lesions on it and that was really scaring me. Between my doctor and this trial coming up, I decided it would be a good fit for me. I also knew about the side effect of weight loss.
You’re not alone in this vicious cycle. We’re told, “just lose weight and it’ll get better,” but it doesn’t get better sometimes. You get stuck in that cycle for a long time. I’m glad your doctor thought of you and asked you to be in the trial.
Did you have to change your lifestyle to participate in the trial?
I did. I did naturally because I was trying to exercise and do hip rehab. You had to do some exercise with it. I joined TaeKwonDo and began hiking on the weekends.
As my hip healed, I could actually hike. That’s always been something I loved to do, but I became unable to do it because of my hip and back pain and everything else I had going on.
Has your diabetes management experience changed after the trial?
Yes. During the trial, I found that one of the things it does is it makes you feel full. I don’t have that “turn off” switch in my stomach naturally. Through the trial, I developed that switch and I learned how to do that.
While on Mounjaro, if you overeat, it’s not going to be comfortable. It’s actually going to make your stomach upset. It’s very uncomfortable feeling that full. I learned to stop overeating and have kept it up since then. I also have continued with my hiking and exercising because now I’m able to physically move. The weight loss changed my life. I can move now and do activities I couldn’t before because of the hip replacement and weight loss.
Are you able to share the results you got with Mounjaro?
I lost about 60 pounds in 11 months. Since I’ve lost it, I’ve gained back about 10 back, but I’m okay with that and so is my doctor. My numbers are good.
One of the most amazing things about my results was after about six months in the study, they did blood work to check my fatty liver and they were below normal. My doctor said they had to send it back to the lab again to redo. They thought that it was a mistake. I have completely reversed my fatty liver.
I have completely gotten my A1c under control. My cholesterol is under control now too. All the things that I had that were bad before now seem to be in check.
However, I had a dramatic weight loss in a very short period of time. I found when I went back to the office, I looked a lot different than the last time people had seen me. People thought my body was theirs to comment about all the time. It’s not.
I had a mismatch. My body that I was in was still my old body. Because I had body image issues going on, it took me a while to catch up—to feel comfortable in my skin. That was something I didn’t expect—the psychological impacts. I wish I knew more about that beforehand or had been given more support about that part of it.
I took it upon myself to actually seek counseling after I had lost the weight. I realized that my reaction was anger. I’m the same person that I was before I lost the weight. Why am I being treated differently now? Why do you think my body is up for discussion now?
Is there anything else that Mounjaro has changed in your life?
Energy. Beforehand I would come home from work and gave everything I had at the office. I didn’t have anything left in the evening. I felt like my world was getting closed in or small. I don’t know if that was because of the pain of my hip going out. But all I know is being out of pain and losing the weight made me have mobility, which I didn’t have before.
Even after the hip replacement, I still had issues with my flexibility and back hurting. The weight loss made those all go away as well. It just allowed me to participate more in life. That’s the best way to describe it.
What are your hopes for this medication for people with type 2 diabetes?
People who have struggled like I did for 20 years to lose weight and think that they’re never going to be able to lose weight and get this under control—I would want anybody else to know that it is in your grasp. Maybe you’ve tried the conventional way, but there’s no harm in needing some help from medication.