Diabetes Dialogues

Meet Natalie

Natalie Profile Photo

Natalie has been living with type 1 diabetes since she was six years old and is based in NYC. She loves to travel in order to push herself outside of her comfort zone and has been to all seven continents and 50+ countries. During the COVID-19 pandemic Natalie has been salsa dancing, learning to knit, and writing to connect with others!

On a morning in early November I woke up late, rushed to the subway, and couldn't see out of one eye. I thought it was a dirty contact and vowed to replace it later at work. One emergency eye appointment and one panic attack later I was told that my diabetic retinopathy had advanced significantly with a hemorrhage in my right eye. When the vision chart was put up not only could I not read the letters, but I couldn't even see the big giant “E” with my right eye.

It was terrifying. Over the last few months I have had eye injections—one in each eye monthly. Before this occurred the prospect of having a needle in my eye seemed unfathomable but once again, I learned that you will do whatever you need to do to live; to save your sight. My eyesight has progressed for the better—extremely slowly at first and then more quickly.

This past Friday I had my injection in my left eye (my better eye), which was then covered with a bandage, and I walked the 18 minutes home from my appointment as to not take public transportation. This meant that I could only use my right eye—the one that has been struggling all these months. It was a moment many months ago that I thought was impossible, but I made it back at the same pace I did the week prior with my other eye.

We have been forced to slow down recently—one way or another. I often think about what this means. Is there something I was not able to see that I needed to discover with only one eye? Is there something in this shift that will change our perspective? All I know is a deep need for survival and that I tend towards isolation when scared. I'm not sure what happens next but nothing will ever be the same.

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