March 27, 2005

No I Wouldn't Like to Live Like That

I would not like to live as Terri is living; it is not exactly the choice of the month. I doubt if anyone in their right mind would choose to live as she has been living.

But I don't want to die like she is being killed either.

If forced into that position I would want someone coming into my room and talking to me. I would want music put on. I would want a massage and to be taken out to see flowers and trees. I would want to be loved.

Posted by Rachel Ann at March 27, 2005 08:49 AM

Posted by: muse at March 27, 2005 07:07 PM

You see - you wouldn't want to "live" this way - Terri's been kept alive with other than God's will for 15 years now - barbaric as the cruel what you call "murder." I agree - there should be a better way - music, colors, mouth care - attempts at taking water.

She was given a blessing before this all started and family is always there (some or the other) The "tube feeding" was not of God, but of man.

We will have a terrible time all through our country for the remainder of time if we don't follow some set of order. The best solution is to have our "living wills" created and kept current.

I don't agree that Terri is being "murdered" (the un-natural, cruel and questionable "tube feeding" has been discontinued - but I do agree she is being treated without the comfort - (back to the music, etc.) all of us would want without question.

What comfort did they provide for Terri before?! Is should still all be there. She should be allowed to die naturally with full comfort and even attempts to receive nurishment with her own strength, ability or even by God's gift of a miracle.

Posted by: chrys at March 27, 2005 07:44 PM

You see - you wouldn't want to "live" this way

Chrys, you have misunderstood me. No, I wouldn't want to choose to live the way Terri is living. I also wouldn't want to choose to live under a bridge, with poor eyesight (which I have)with a hearing loss, with a whole lot of things. But having a disorder means making the best of whatever the situtuation is; the "making it better" being incumbent on all. The purpose of our existencance is to make this world a better place.

Terri could be made happy for the moments she is cognizant and aware. She does not have to be "put out of her misery" she needs to have her life made joyful. It takes work.

A feeding tube is an alternate method of nourishment. Like my eyeglasses or another person's hearing aide. Unnatural isn't evil. G-d gave us minds and science to better the world.

Treating her as if she were meat because she isn't able to verbalize her needs is cruel, inhumane, and beneath the dignity of our souls.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at March 27, 2005 09:23 PM

Rachel Ann:

I respect your position, but there's something I feel needs to be pointed out that far too many people are either ignorant of, or don't want to consider.

The decision to remove the feeding tube wasn't based on the fact that Ms. Schiavo wouldn't get better. It is based on the fact that, to the best of its extensive efforts and abilities, the Court has ascertained that THIS IS PRECISELY WHAT MS. SCHIAVO WOULD HAVE WANTED!!!!

I'm sorry to shout, but the level of misinformation and intentional efforts to portray this as something it's not are infuriating to me. (Not saying that's what you're doing, just that I'm incensed over this too.)

And lest you think no one in their 'right mind' would ever want such a thing, I watched my father make just such a decision in September. (A physician, he knew exactly what his decision entailed.)

And when the time came, I could have overridden his wishes by saying just 2 words. But why would I do that to him? Why would I deny him the ultimate human right - to determine one's own destiny?

It doesn't matter what Ms. Schiavo's parents want, or what her husband wants. Or what Jeb/George Bush or any particular political persuasion wants.

What matters is what Ms. Schiavo would want, and the Courts have done the absolute best they could to ascertain what that would be, under the circumstances. Nineteen judges in addition to the Trial Court justice have determined that the Court performed its obligations appropriately and effectively, right up through the Florida Supreme Court to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It's time to honour Ms. Schiavo's wishes as best it is humanly possible to know them.

Posted by: Light & Dark at March 29, 2005 04:30 AM

Light & Dark (Paul?),

The problem with honoring wishes like that is that people express them when they're healthy. What Terri Schiavo may have wanted when this circumstance was only hypothetical has to be weighed against what Terri Schiavo wants now.

All indications are that Terri NOW is fighting for her life. It may all be autonomic. We don't know. But, don't reserve the right to change our minds when circumstances become not exactly what we expected them to be? If Terri had no means of communicating then, yes, honorher last expressed wishes. But, again, she seems to want to disagree with her former, ignorant self.


Posted by: Tuning Spork at March 29, 2005 04:42 AM

There are two problems that I see Paul with the assertion that this is what Terri would want. First as Robert pointed out, that is what she said then, if the real Terri is gone, then a)she isn't being pained b)the "new" Terri also has a presumtive right to life. If she is still in there then: we need to establish, without a doubt, that she would have wanted it this type of action to be taken and that is a bit hard to do. The only person making this claim is her husband and his family, and the comments are off spontaneous reactions to a condition none of us would want for ourselves. What tubes was she talking about pulling? At what point did she mean? I have said things like that as well; my feelings are that I don't want to be starved to death. There is a large difference between disconnecting a respirator when the patient is in stage one of a pvs state (and it isn't proven that she is in that state) and allowing a person to starve to death.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at March 29, 2005 06:13 AM

Rachel Ann;

To start with your last point first - the best medical minds who have actually examined her are satisfied that she is in PVS. The people who are claiming otherwise are being disingenuous at best and are outright crackpots at worst. Whose opinions do you feel are more reliable: folks (the majority of whom are ridiculously ill-equipped to be making assessments) who have viewed clips of videos on the web, or the 5 medical experts who performed extensive physical examinations, analyzed the tests they did, and created and reviewed the many hours of video from which those clips were taken? I've never been one to believe in the omnipotence of doctors (I grew up with one) but I sure as hell know the difference between anecdote and science.

As for your and Spork's contention that she might have changed her mind - of course that's possible. The Court has been forced to work with the information they have available, which I will be the first to admit is not nearly as explicit and complete as I, and I'm sure most others, would have liked. I thought I'd made it clear in my earlier comment, but I guess I didn't - I in no way claim that we can ASSERT what Ms. Schiavo would have wanted.

But what's better? To act on what she has actually said, (as best ascertained by the Court) on several occasions? Or to take a wild, hairy-assed guess based on what WE want for her in these circumstances?

Of course people change their minds, especially about matters of life and death. But if we're going make that the overriding consideration in matters of personal determination, then the whole system collapses, because in almost every instance, there is a delay between when a person makes a determination for themselves, and when it's actually acted upon. Even a written declaration wouldn't hold up under that approach, since there'd always be the possibility, however remote, that the person had changed their mind at the last minute.

Spork - I find the idea really offensive that we ignore a person's stated wishes made when healthy, because WE think they MIGHT think differently when actually in trouble. That's treating them like children who aren't smart enough to know what they're really saying. We have to quit acting like we know better what the person would 'really' want, despite what they've actually said.

As for your suggestion that she was attempting to communicate, I haven't seen ANY credible evidence that's true or even possible, but that's just my opinion, which should have as little value as any other 'internet opinion'. I can't help but wonder, however, why those who claim to have witnessed it waited, what, 5 days to mention it?? And why suddenly she gained the ability to communicate on the day the tube was to be removed? I have to assume if she truly was developing the rudimentary ability to communicate, her family would have sought independant, unbiased witnesses? (Not to mention that, if indeed communicating, she could just as easily have been trying to say "Let me die". But that would be me projecting my own wishes in such a situation onto her,)

It still comes down to the same thing, for me. Who are we to second guess what she has stated she would want (again, as best as has been ascertained by the Court), because WE don't like the results?


(By the way, Rachel, Spork et al... I really appreciate that this is one of the very few places on the web that people can discuss and disagree about this very difficult, emotional, and heartbreaking issue without being insulted, sworn at, or belittled. Thank you.)

Posted by: Light & Dark at March 30, 2005 02:01 AM

Spork - I find the idea really offensive that we ignore a person's stated wishes made when healthy, because WE think they MIGHT think differently when actually in trouble. That's treating them like children who aren't smart enough to know what they're really saying. We have to quit acting like we know better what the person would 'really' want, despite what they've actually said.

I don't think that we should re-examine someone's judgements that were made when they were healthy because they might've been "children" when they made them; but, rather, because we, I think, suck ass at anticipating what we would want in a hypothetical future circumstance.

Heck, I'd prepared to have a chicken dinner tonight. Turned out I craved pizza.

A friend of mine once said "If I ever go blind, you have permission to shoot me."

Was she serious? Maybe, half-way. She was expressing a horror of the prospect of being blind. If she went blind and mute tomorrow would I shoot her? Of course not. I'd assume that her love of life would inspire her to cope and explore this new way of being herself.

We don't know what Terri Schiavo experiences. But, clearly, at times, she is awake and responsive to family and friends. Her cerebral cortex may be long gone but her lower autonomic near-reptillian version 3.0 brain is marching right along. Should we kill her just for being not much more aware of her own existence than is a crocodile?

Whatever her level of self-awareness, or inability to function as a "normal" human being, she deserves to live out her life because she is experiencing her life. We don't understand how she experiences it, but that shouldn't mean that she -- or a snapping turtle -- ought to be made to starve and dehydrate because of an offhand remark about not wanting to be kept alive on life-support, in an unconscious state, made when neither she nor we ever imagined that the facts of this particular case would ever come 'round.

If she smiles when her parents enter her room then she is enjoying her life. When their not there she may be in limbo, non-conscious stasis, just waiting to come to life again at their next visit. I dunno. But, the joy that her parents feel when she smiles is something, not nothing. Maybe it's just gas. But it still, despite what little it means to the world-at-large, gives her life meaning.

If she can open her eyes and moan and respond to verbal cues then she's awake. If she's awake then she's experiencing a life. A life that we don't understand, yes. But, a life that we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss and to put out of it's so-called "misery".

This is not the situation in which Terri said that she wouldn't want to be kept unnecessarily alive. This is weird. It's new ground for all of us, not just for Terri Schiavo.

Look at photos. Forget what the experts tell us and look at Terri. Can a woman look, eyes focused, straight into a camera lens and not be aware of what she's doing? Can she smile at her mother's face and laugh and still be oblivious to what surrounds her?

Whatever her experience of her life is -- however "sub-human" it may be -- she is experiencing It and deserves to continue to experience It, not to suffer for living It as it's, unfortunately, her lot. We are not easing her pain right now, we are causing it.

I'm going to stop myself now before I go all friggin' night......

Your right, Paul. It is nice to discuss this without the ad hom crud ya find at so many "popular" pit stops.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at March 30, 2005 05:24 AM

Oh, and

The "tube feeding" was not of God, but of man.

There's gotta a verse that addresses that perfectly. Didn't find one so I'll make one up:
Blessed is he whose hands are plied to do good work. For he is truly doing the Lord's own work.

I made that up. :D

Posted by: Tuning Spork at March 30, 2005 05:35 AM

No matter who judges this situation, they bring a personal bias. Whether it be gov't officials or judges - each has a thought in the back of their minds what they would prefer. I so agree that anyone regardless without formal specific and written instructions deserves music, comfort (feeding if possible), and love. When I was young I would not want to live that way. Now that I am older I have a stronger desire to live -- that's why I drive slower, I no longer water ski, I no longer skate or stand up in boats, and I no longer slide down hills on old car hoods.

Posted by: Roberta S at March 30, 2005 06:41 AM
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