September 18, 2014
I was plagiarized last year. I found out about the stolen work just last week and addressed the matter with the person in question in the most civilized, empathetic and respectful way possible.
The woman in question was told the poem I wrote, titled “To Love a Diabetic,” was written by her husband. She, naturally, became emotional upon receipt of the poem and excitedly posted it to several of her social media sites, to show the world what an amazing and understanding husband she has. Unfortunately, the poem he claimed was written by him was actually written, published and copyrighted in 2010 by me.
When I was notified of the plagiarism, by a fellow writer and friend who came across “To Love a Diabetic” being posted in a facebook diabetes support group, I was flattered that someone loved my work so much that they would re-post it on several sites, word-for-word, claiming it as their own. But I also felt violated as the words for that piece came directly from the gut of my being, written at a time in my diabetes life when I was extremely vulnerable.
I wrote “To Love a Diabetic” days after being diagnosed with retinopathy in 2009. I had lived eleven years, at the time, being ashamed and frustrated with a disease that takes so much time and life from me every day. Despite dealing with anorexia, bulimia, abandonment, pump failures, insulin allergies and so many roller coaster blood sugar days that sometimes I felt like I was going crazy, I was diligent. I felt robbed of a long, complication-free life that I worked toward with every ounce of me.
Being diagnosed with retinopathy was devestating because of all the possible complications I was told about on Day One of diagnosis in 1998, blindness terrified me the most. I spend much of my time observing the world around me: the unspoken interactions between people, brilliant sunsets, animals dancing in fields, smiles on the faces of people I love. And I read all the time; several books per week. The part I love best about reading is the physical aspect: the weight of the words in my hands, the smell of the interior crease of the novel, the brush of my fingertips across the pages as I turn them. If I were to go blind, I would lose much of what I loved about life itself.
Which is why I wrote “To Love a Diabetic”. Because even with all the fears I hold within myself since being diagnosed (now 16 years ago), the ones who love me are also struggling with those thoughts. My parents, siblings, friends, husband and now children all worry at times about my safety. Nothing is simple about having type 1 diabetes (or any chronic condition), and as much as I try to do things the way I should, mistakes happen. Poor insulin absorption happens, miscalculations and unplanned acts in the workings of the human body occur. Every day I struggle to be present in the moment, while also keeping myself completely monitored. Everyone who loves me knows that I try and try, but one mistake could easily cost me my life.
Just two nights ago, I injected Apidra to cover a measured meal, waited a half hour to begin eating, completed the meal and four hours later, I was still on an upswing of glucose readings over 300. Sometimes injections don’t get absorbed, and since Apidra is supposed to work within fifteen minutes of injecting and lasts short of two hours in the body, I injected another dose to cover the meal and bring my glucose back into range. Two hours later, I was below 40, drinking a cup of apple juice that I didn’t want to drink, eating two cookies that I wasn’t hungry for and still trying to get my glucose back into range. An hour after that, when my blood sugar registered at 90 and my CGM said it was stable, I slowly considered going to sleep.
But, I was afraid that I wouldn’t wake up. I’ve been in over fifteen insulin shocks while sleeping. Some episodes required paramedics. Others needed my husband’s knowledge of the disease and his ability to function properly on few hours of sleep. I know for a fact that if my husband wasn’t a light sleeper, if he didn’t love me as deeply and infallibly as he does, I would be dead.
These are the people I wrote “To Love a Diabetic” for all those years ago. I shared the poem with the world, first on TuDiabetes.org in January 2010, because I believe many of us feel the same way about those who help care for us. We are grateful and indebted to these people who don’t find us a burden because sometimes diabetes just doesn’t want to play fairly.
I am honored that readers love this particular poem as much as they do. I receive fan mail at my Post Office box, in emails, random messages and comments on my social media sites. I love that the things I am most passionate about are reaching others and possibly helping them see things in a different perspective. I hope to be a support network and distant friend to many diabetics who feel desperately alone. I’ve been there.
After I addressed the plagiarizing issue with the woman in question, a few days later, she posted a statement on her social media site to correct her error in Authorship. I appreciated that she corrected her error. The statement wasn’t exactly emotional or heartfelt, but it suited my needs and the law which required it, so I was satisfied.
Now, two days after the statement posted, she is beginning to say things along the lines of her belief that I’ve given her false information, and is publicly questioning my credibility. As someone whom I’ve never met in person and whom I treated with great respect and dignity, I’m a little surprised she is attempting to muddy my reputation as a credible person.
I’ve been writing for many years. My first book published in 2005 and I started freelance writing for magazines in 2009. I work hard and I speak honestly. My work is my livelihood. Someday, it may put my children through college. I take great care in my work and in my networking. I love the writings that I produce. Each piece is a part of my soul and it deserves to be protected. The law also requires that.
I have done nothing wrong in claiming ownership of a work that I wrote. I deserve the credit that is due, regardless of bruised egos and questioned relationships. I gave respect and I hoped that I would receive respect in return.
I am still withholding the woman’s name and screennames, out of respect for her followers and her family. I do not intend on humiliating anyone. I ask that I be shown the same decency and integrity.
“To Love a Diabetic”: Written in 2009, publicly posted with my name in 2010, published in book “Wretched (this is my sorry)” in 2010, published in book “Deathly Sweet” in 2010, published with Diabetes Health magazine in 2012