by Spencer Yeomans
Coca-Cola saved Matthew Bauman’s life. At the age of four, Bauman was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a disease that is common in his family. In the years since his diagnosis, Bauman’s life has been riddled with doctor appointments, needles and close calls where his life was almost lost.
The most severe incident occurred when Bauman was 5 years old. “I was spending time at my grandparent’s house for the first time since I was diagnosed with diabetes,” he said. “We were having corn dogs, and my grandparents didn’t ration the carbs correctly. My blood sugar dropped down to 14, which is almost to the point where I would have entered into a coma. To bring my blood sugar back up, I drank a two-liter bottle of coke, which ended up saving my life.”
Type 1 diabetes is a hereditary disease that can develop at any point in someone’s life. In Bauman’s case, the doctors didn’t know what triggered the onset of the disease. Bauman said: “The symptoms of diabetes are that your pancreas fails. The pancreas produces insulin, which is supposed to break carbohydrates down into energy. When insulin is not present, my blood sugar goes high, I can’t think clearly and all of my thoughts are jumbled together. In addition, I can have too much insulin inside of my body, which causes me to shake uncontrollably, and I can’t think straight.”
Bauman, a freshman history and social studies education major, has faced challenges like this for the last 15 years of his life. “It’s really hard,” he said. “This disease isn’t one that you can just treat and wait for it to go away. Diabetes always has to be at the forefront of your mind, and you always have to be taking actions against it. I always have to keep my blood sugar between 80 and 120, and if I don’t, it can lead to a lot of terrible side effects in the future.” Bauman hopes to use his degree to become a high school history teacher because he feels like it fits his personality and skill set well.
Grant Harbo, a freshman engineering major and Bauman’s roommate, said: “Matthew is always sticking needles into himself, and it scares me a little when blood starts to spurt everywhere. But he always handles it with a positive attitude, and I really admire that part about him.”
Despite having to constantly check his blood sugar and poke himself with needles, Bauman refuses to be discouraged by his condition. Instead, he sees it as a blessing, saying: “Having diabetes at such a young age has made me have to mature a lot faster than most other people. Yeah, it hasn’t always been easy or pleasant to deal with, but I’ve seen God work in my life in ways that I probably wouldn’t have if I didn’t have diabetes.” Bauman claims that maintaining a positive attitude helps him to feel better physically as well as mentally.
Bauman encourages anyone who is suffering from diabetes or a different type of disease to stay positive and look on the bright side. Baseball has played a fundamental role in his life, and he has tried to learn as much as he can about the game, including every World Series matchup since 1984. While some people think him obsessed, he prefers to think himself a deeply serious geek. He said: “I’ve been able to do a lot of things, like meet professional baseball players, because of my diabetes. While I would prefer it if I didn’t have this disease, I’m not going to let it keep me from enjoying life and doing what I love.”