How Diabetes Got Him Back in the Swing of Things

Kevin Bush was always active in athletics. He played both organized and back yard football and baseball with friends growing up in Thomasville and, ultimately, in high school for the Bulldogs.

As a junior, he led the region in receiving yards for the Bulldogs. Once out of high school, his love for sports remained, and Bush turned to softball and golf. While Bush remained active, he also loved fried foods, bread with every meal, and good ole sweet tea.

“I was drinking gallons of sweet tea like it was going out of style, and I was eating a lot of fried food,” he said. “I loved fried food.”

Fast forward to 30 years later. It was 2013, and Bush was 47 years old. Married with children, he understood the need to stay active, plus he had always enjoyed sports. He had evolved into an active golfer, playing as much as he could. Then, one day, Bush noticed a constant pain in his elbow that didn’t seem to go away with over-the-counter
pain medicine.

He decided to go to the doctor to get it checked out. The doctor quickly diagnosed Bush’s condition as “tennis elbow,” which is fairly common with anyone making a repetitive motion with either arm- as in tennis or golf.

However, the doctor didn’t stop with the tennis elbow diagnosis. He asked Bush when he had his blood checked last. Bush mentioned that it had been several years ago since his blood had been tested whenever he and his wife got married. Bush didn’t understand the question.

“I asked him why he needed to check my blood for just tennis elbow,” Bush said. “He told me it was just something he wanted to check while I was there in his office.”

It wasn’t long before the doctor came back with some startling news. The doctor told him he had diabetes. Bush was shocked. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” he siad. “Here I was in the doctor’s office wanting to get my elbow checked, and he’s telling me that I have diabetes. I just couldn’t believe it.”

The doctor told Bush that his blood sugar was 246, and he was going to test his AC1 level, which would take a few days for the results to come back. However, he was fairly certain that Bush had diabetes. Sure enough, Bush’s AC1 level was 7.2, which confirmed the doctor’s initial diagnosis that Bush indeed had Type 2 diabetes. Did the doctor see something other than the tennis elbow that made him suspicious about Bush maybe having diabetes?

“If he did, he never told me,” Bush said. As a person with Type 2 diabetes, he wouldn’t need insulin shots but would instead take prescription medication, along with changes to his diet, to control the blood sugar levels, and in turn, diabetes. The doctor prescribed Metformin for Bush to control blood sugar levels. He also suggested changes in his diet, which, along with the medication , would bring Bush’s blood sugar levels back down to an acceptable range.

The whole episode was a bit of a shock to Bush.

“I had no family history of diabetes,” he said. “But I had always heard that you could eat your way to diabetes, and I did.”

There were also his family responsibilities that he had to consider. With a wife and as a father of four, Bush knew that he had to change the way he ate to make sure he would be around for them, and beyond. With his wife, Martha, they have Jason, 19; Bailey, 15; and twins Nathaniel and Ethan, 8.

Bush explains that the diet changes have taken some effort, which meant stopping some of the foods that he so dearly loved. He had to cut out the bread and the sweet tea. In August, Bush went on the Keto diet. That involves eating all the meat he wants, but no bread or sweets.

“I have cut out all carbs,” he said. “Some vegetables are OK, and some aren’t.”

With this regiment of taking the prescribed medication along with changes in his diet, and as a father of young children, it’s the most crucial thing in his life.

“I had to make changes with my diet, and it hasn’t been easy,” he said. “But, it’s all worth it now that I’ve been able to go out and play with my boys now. I’ve got more energy than I’ve ever had, and I need it to keep up with my little rascals.”

There is a chance that Bush may be able to control his diabetes with the ongoing dietary changes only. He will know soon.

“I go back to the doctor in the next couple of weeks, and he may either reduce my dose or take me off altogether,” Bush said.

Whether it’s with or without the medicine, Bush knows he’ll do whatever it takes. After all, he must make sure he’s there for those little rascals.

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

Blurry Vision
Increased Frequency and Volume of Urination
Increased Hunger
Increased Thirst
Tingling, Numbness, or
Pain in the Feet or Hands
Sores, Cuts, and Bruises
That Are Slow to Heal
Weight Loss

Written by: Phil Jones | Photography by: Eric Vinson

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