Thursday, February 24, 2005

Terri Schiavo

I hadn't posted on this case before, even though it's happening right in my neck of the woods and in the local news even more than the national news, if that's possible. I hadn't posted on it because I was just avoiding the story. When I did think about it, I went back and forth. Let her go, keep her alive, back and forth.

I mentioned it at work one day to our nursing staff. This was when they were talking about removing her feeding tube, oh, a couple of months ago. I had heard this was a particularly gruesome way to die. Both nurses, one an RN the other an LPN, said that it wasn't. It was a humane way to end her life. Being that I had absolutely no experience with ending a life this way, I accepted what they said. Then, today I read this.

Some people say that her husband wants the money that she received from a malpractice suit won after she suffered the stroke that put her in this situation. According to news here, there is no money left. All the money has been used to care for her.

What I do know is that her husband has gone on with his life. He has a girlfriend he wants to marry. Good thing since they have two kids together. Terri's parents want to keep her alive. Some have asked why her husband doesn't just divorce her and turn her care over to her parents. I don't know. There is one group I haven't heard from or about. Maybe they've spoken out and I've missed it. I admit to avoiding this story, it's too painful for me. What do her kids think? I think there are three? I hope her youngest, the child she gave birth to when she suffered her stroke, isn't blaming herself (I think it was a daughter). It can't be easy for her. This child is now a teenager, which is hard enough under the best of circumstances and to have your father and grandparents at odds about what to do about your mother. Plus the daily local and national coverage.

Doctors say that Terri is brain dead. That her brain has turned to mush or a liquid. That she is in a persistent vegetative state. That description says to me that there is no muscle movement except when done by someone else (someone lifting her arm, leg, moving her head etc). Brain dead would say to me that she can't breathe on her own. There is footage showing that she reacts to people, her head moves, she seemingly is excited to see her mother. That doesn't sound like there is no brain activity to me. I don't know that she is really understanding that she is seeing her mother or nurse or whomever, but she's apparently reacting in some manner. I have seen that. I don't believe that she's on breathing apparatus, so she's apparently breathing on her own.

If she weren't able to breathe on her own and did not have the ability to move her body, I would agree that ending her life might be in Terri's best interest. I would say, take away the ventilator and let God take her if He deems it's her time. But, since she's apparently able to breathe and to move, and apparently react to at least her mother, I can't agree with taking away her feeding tube. After reading how the last week or so of her life would be, I wouldn't, couldn't, do that.

I remember my mother. Because of the illness she was suffering, she wasn't allowed to have water. She couldn't swallow correctly and the medical staff was afraid she would take water into her lungs. She cried out because she was so thirsty. We were finally allowed to wet a washcloth and let her suck on it. Had I known how close she was to her death, I would have given her the freaking water. This only went on for a couple of days. I can't imagine watching a loved one die the way that Raven describes.

Unfortunately, at this point, Terri's wishes can't be carried out. No one knows what she would want to do. There is one way to keep this from happening to you. Make sure that your loved ones know what you want. I don't want to be "kept alive." If I'm on a ventilator, remove it. If God wants me, He'll take me. If not, then let me live. It might not be the life I would want, but I know I don't want to die by starvation either.

We put animals to sleep with chemicals. We execute criminals using lethal injection so they don't feel pain. We spend billions of dollars to keep children overseas from dying of starvation. Why do we think starving this woman to death is humane?

Thanks to Matt Margolis, here is a site where you can get answers to just what a living will is and how to customize one to your own wishes. Don't wait until later. This is too important to wait. Your very life may depend on what your wishes are and who knows about it.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would want my husband to end my misery, if i was in this state.

the nanny goverment needs to step aside and the parents of the women need to wake up and realize their daughter died 3 or 4 years ago and move on.

Brain dead is brain dead, you can hook up a battery to a dead person and make them twitch also, doesn't mean there any more alive.

Raven said...

Terri is not on any machine for breathing-she does that on her own. The only medical device she has is a feeding tube in her tummy.
Thats it. Her food costs less than the average person spends in a week to feed themselves.

Deborah said...

Hi Anonymous! As I said, I don't believe that she is brain dead. Her movements seem to be more than "twitches", they seem to be real movements made by Terri.

Thanks for coming and for your comments. I hope you'll come back.

Deborah said...

Ravendare, Welcome! Thanks for clearing up the ventilation question for me. As I said, if she's breathing on her own, then let God decide when to take her.

Please come back again!