It almost seems to me as if nothing else is happening in life except trying to keep Terri Schiavo alive. I guess I care that much.
Why, you wonder? Because I had a son who suffered an aneurysm in his brain that killed him. But he was alive, totally paralyzed, on feeding tubes for six weeks before his kidneys, liver, lungs and brain gave out. He could communicate only by blinking once for yes, twice for no. And during that entire six weeks no one once -- not even one single time -- suggested that we should kill him. If they had, I probably would have pitched them out the sixth story hospital room window.
We read to him and talked to him, sang to him, prayed with him. We treated him as though he would someday be well -- and we believed he would. I still believe he would have gotten well if God hadn't decided to take him (or, medically, if his organs hadn't quit.)
So I know what Terri's parents are going through. I can't help but empathize. And, more important, I remember my shock when I saw the difference between life on machines and pure, cold, hard, irrevocable death.
The attorneys and medical experts who say Terri is reacting only because of "involuntary subcortical response," are applying book medicine to life and that is irresponsible.
Terri's story is amazing -- although her husband has $2 million awarded for her therapy and care, he has refused even the most basic medical care for her for 10 years. She has made fantastic improvements; with therapy and medical help she would have improved immensely more than she has.
Read another version of a first-hand witness to this case at the Ragged Edge, here.
Michael Schiavo says Terri is brain dead. He wants to remove her feeding tube and end her life. Her parents maintain that their daughter smiles, turns her head, vocalizes and tracks with her eyes. They say she would improve with treatment.
To date, the husband has refused to OK antibiotics or dental work -- "Her teeth are fine; she doesn't eat," he has said. She has not had physical, occupational, recreational or speech therapy for years. She has not had a mammogram or pap smear for four years. When a complete physical was ordered for her in preparation for the current hearing, a urinary tract infection was discovered.
The major issue involved in this round of the fight for her life is what is meant by "new" treatment. The hubby says it means untried, pointless care. The parents say they want the kind of care she hasn't gotten yet.
The husband's doctors maintain that she does not feel pain, yet have prescribed pain medication for her "to make the nurses feel better," they say. Terri's moaning and crying is only primitive brain stem activity, it's said.
When she smiles at her mother coming in the room, it's just primitive stem cell activity, say the doctors hired by Michael.
I attended the hearing in Clearwater, Florida to determine whether Terri Schiavo should have her feeding tube removed. She is stable. She is not terminally ill.
The hardest part of that first day was watching videos of Terri. "That could have been me," I thought.
On one of the videos, a doctor asks Terri to open her eyes as widely as she can. While she was doing this on tape, I looked around the courtroom. Everybody in the courtroom was doing the same widening action . . . including the husband, his attorney, the sheriffs and the judge himself.
In the videotape of Terri, she is responding to doctors and family. Sometimes she is responding to music. Frequently she can be seen clearly responding to spoken requests to move parts of her body.
A snip of the tape was shown on Tampa's ABC--V affiliate: At its end, the news anchor said, "I guess it seems a matter of semantics, but it doesn't look like a coma.""
Throughout the hearing, Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, has been trying to doctors to agree that Terri is not "with it" enough to be allowed to continue her life. One of the doctors seemed to consider message boards a rare thing, and claimed to have never heard of the most famous computerized message board user of all -- Stephen Hawking. While examining Terri's videotaped interaction with her mother, he had to be asked twice to please look at his monitor, and to put his glasses back on so he could see his screen clearly.
We read about torture of terrorists who have tried to kill our citizens and our soldiers and the ACLU screams "injustice," "what about rights," etc. ad nauseum. But Terri, who has every right to live? Where are the indignant shouts when attorneys try to take her life?
Remember when Janet Reno sent the troops in to send the little boy back to Cuba?
I don't know about you, but I'm ready to storm the hospice care home (it's not a nursing home where they help people live, by the way. It's a dying place). If I were her parents I would go in there and get her. I'd take her to Scotland or Portugal and I'd hide her so Monster Michael and his Death Troopers could never find her.
I know the difference between death and life -- intimately. And I wouldn't sentence Terri Schiavos' parents to a lifetime of grieving for their daughter for anything on this earth.