My Experience With Ozempic: Stevie Cook’s Story

Ozempic is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) medication that is commonly prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes to help manage blood glucose (sugar) and A1c levels and to address insulin resistance.

While approved for type 2 diabetes, Ozempic has also seen off-label use in type 1 diabetes cases to manage similar issues, such as insulin resistance. 

This off-label application has contributed to its growing popularity among a broader range of people with diabetes, although such use is not officially approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Hearing about the lived experience of someone taking this medication is still quite rare.

Stevie Cook, a legal assistant in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has lived with diabetes for the past 23 years. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10, they have been using Ozempic for the past 15 months for diabetes management, in addition to insulin pump therapy.

Stevie sat down with us to share their story.

Stevie Cook smiling up at the camera

Key Points:

  • Stevie Cook, who has lived with type 1 diabetes for 23 years, shares their 15-month journey with Ozempic, a medication typically used for managing type 2 diabetes, to combat insulin resistance. Hesitant at first, Cook’s doctor eventually prescribed it off-label, leading to significant improvements in blood sugar and A1c levels.
  • Cook faced several challenges, including initial severe side effects like nausea and difficulties having Ozempic covered under their insurance because it is not typically prescribed for type 1 diabetes. They emphasize the importance of persistence and self-advocacy in dealing with healthcare providers and insurers.
  • The cost of Ozempic, not initially covered by insurance due to Cook’s type 1 diabetes status, posed significant financial challenges. Cook’s successful negotiation with their insurer highlights the complexities and frustrations often encountered in obtaining necessary medical treatments.
  • Despite anticipating side effects, Cook was surprised by Ozempic’s effectiveness in managing their blood sugar spikes and overall diabetes control. The side effects, while intense at the beginning, eventually subsided, further validating the decision to continue with the treatment.

Table of Contents

How did you get started taking Ozempic? 

Cook was interested in exploring Ozempic for managing insulin resistance — a condition where the body requires more insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels — and consulted their pharmacist, who believed it could be beneficial. Encouraged by this, Cook remarks, “So I approached my doctor to begin the discussion.”

Many people with type 1 diabetes develop a level of insulin resistance similar to that seen in type 2 diabetes, especially after managing the condition for many years.

Ozempic and other GLP-1 medications mimic the action of hormones that are naturally involved in regulating hunger, feelings of fullness, insulin sensitivity, blood sugar levels, and stomach emptying. These hormones are typically deficient in people with both types of diabetes, which can complicate management of the disease.

Read more about this medication in: Everything You Need to Know About Ozempic.

This deficiency is why medications like Ozempic can be useful. They help treat insulin resistance and improve blood sugar and A1c levels (a measure of glucose control over the previous 2 to 3 months).

Learn more about blood sugar levels and A1c in: Blood Sugar Chart: Blood Sugar and A1c Targets.

Why did your doctor want you to take Ozempic? 

Overcoming physician hesitancy is a significant barrier for people with diabetes, especially those with type 1 diabetes, in accessing medications like Ozempic. This hesitancy stems from the fact that Ozempic is officially approved by the FDA only for managing blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

However, the underlying mechanism of action of Ozempic — the way it affects insulin secretion and blood glucose levels — is similar in both types of diabetes. 

As a result, many doctors consider prescribing the medication “off-label” (without FDA approval). This is particularly common for people with type 1 diabetes who are dealing with insulin resistance and persistent high blood sugar levels.

Research is ongoing to evaluate the effectiveness of GLP-1 medications like Ozempic for treating type 1 diabetes, with the hope that these studies will lead to FDA approval for this use. Such approval would simplify access to these medications for everyone with diabetes.

Cook recounts, “My doctor wasn’t too keen on prescribing it at first, but agreed we should try it for insulin resistance and gave me a 3-month prescription to start. That was 15 months ago.”

Did you experience any side effects? Do you still? 

Ozempic can cause a variety of adverse side effects, especially when first starting the medication. Cook experienced some of these effects, noting, “I had a lot of nausea and vomiting for the first three to four weeks, but that has since dissipated.”

It is common for people to experience side effects initially when they begin taking the drug. These side effects of Ozempic can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Low blood sugar (especially if you also take insulin) 

Typically, as the body adjusts to the medication, these side effects often subside on their own. However, it’s important to be aware of rare but serious side effects, such as severe gastrointestinal problems, and discuss any persistent or worsening symptoms with your healthcare provider.

Learn more about potential side effects in: Ozempic Side Effects: What You Need to Know.

Has your diabetes management improved since taking Ozempic?

Ozempic has been effective for Cook in not only lowering blood sugar and A1c levels but also in curbing blood sugar spikes. 

Cook shares their experience: “I don’t experience vicious high blood sugars as often now, and when I do, they are less ‘sticky’ — they don’t stay high for as long, and the crash down isn’t as severe.”

Thanks to these improvements, they have continued using Ozempic for over 15 months, demonstrating the medication’s long-term effectiveness in improving both blood sugar levels and overall diabetes management.

Did anything surprise you about taking Ozempic?

While Cook anticipated some adverse side effects from Ozempic, they were pleasantly surprised by how effective it is for managing their blood sugar levels.

Despite a nationwide shortage of the medication in the United States, Cook reports that they did not encounter any difficulties obtaining Ozempic in Canada.  They plan on taking the medication for the foreseeable future. 

Is the medication affordable for you?

One of the more challenging aspects of managing diabetes with medications like Ozempic is their cost. Cook notes that without insurance, the medication would be unaffordable. In the United States, for example, the list price is $935.77 per month.

They say, “I have a great benefits plan through my employer, but at first they would not cover Ozempic because I am a type 1 diabetic. My doctor provided a note, which they still denied. I then spoke to my insurer directly and explained the situation, and they approved it under my coverage.”

Navigating the complex prior-authorization process to secure necessary medications can be frustrating. Fortunately, through persistent negotiation and clear communication, Cook successfully secured coverage for their Ozempic prescription.

Do you have any tips or advice for people looking to take Ozempic? 

Cook offers an essential piece of advice: 

“If cost coverage is an issue for you, I recommend being pushy about it with your insurer. If you are a long-time type 1 diabetic and experience insulin resistance, advocate for yourself! Tell your doctor you think it’s worth trying, and note your side effects and benefits thoroughly for your doctor’s review. 

Be consistent with your injections. And don’t let anyone tell you that you’re ‘just taking it to lose weight.’ People don’t want to hear that it could be beneficial, they just think we’re being vain. Self-advocacy can be challenging, but it was worth it for me!” 

Final thoughts

Navigating the complexities of diabetes management requires more than just following a prescribed medical regimen. 

Cook’s experience with Ozempic underscores the important role of self-advocacy and personalized care in managing chronic conditions like diabetes. Despite the hurdles, Cook’s persistence in overcoming physician hesitancy and insurance barriers highlights the importance of advocating for yourself in the healthcare system.

Cook’s journey also highlights the evolving landscape of diabetes treatment. With the off-label use of the drug in people with type 1 diabetes, there is hope for more people to access this effective medicine. 


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