Ah Bugger

The vapid utterings of a neurotic mind.

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Location: DC, United States

I ain't too proud to bug.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Everyone is talking about...

Is Terri Schiavo really alive? I have been watching snippets of the news, as I am sure everyone has been. The news channels are inundated with Schiavo news as the future of this Florida woman becomes political. They show footage of her responding to stimuli. She has an almost smiling expression. I had heard of this case in the past, and had always assumed that Terri Schiavo was in a coma. They refer to her as being in a “permanent vegetative state”. I did not expect to find her somewhat reactive. I was not aware that the only tube she has is a feeding tube. I had previously thought that she was on all sorts of life support and were she unplugged from them, she would almost instantly die. It is cruel to let her starve to death. Is a feeding tube considered artificial life support? According to CNN, without liquids, it could take Schiavo two to four weeks to die from dehydration. That does not seem like it is the pathway between life and death for her. What I mean is that she can’t feed herself, so she needs a feeding tube. But that tube is not all that is keeping her alive. She would continue to live until she dies in two to four weeks from what ostensibly can only be considered neglect. After all, we don't let other people too weak or incapable of feding themselves starve to death. Taking out her feeding tube is akin to smothering her.
I understand that her husband would like to move on with his life. He wants to let her go. The only problem with his involvement is that he already has let her go. He has a whole new family. What is his motivation for being involved? If her family, the ones who are actually concerned with her day after day, want to continue to look after her and care for her, they should have that right. If you were a member of her family and were an active part of her life, there is no way that you would be okay with letting her starve to death. She looks at you. She moves. She reacts. I think seeing what had formerly been a vivacious, lively person relegated to becoming this shell, must be devastating. Some neurologists say that she has no higher brain activity. Understood. It does not, however erase that she is still your friend, sister, daughter, etc. My guess is that her family holds her dearly and the day she dies, for whatever reason, will be a day of great mourning. The hope is still in them; regardless if they are choose to accept that she will never be the person they once knew.
I, personally, am having the hardest time wrapping my brain around the whole situation. Her body is still alive. She is not dying. They want to kill her by removing her food and water. But what kind of life is this? I would not want to be in existence in this manner. I would not want someone I love to have to exist in this manner. Perhaps I feel this way because it would be too hard for me to deal with. I do not think we have a say in the matter, truthfully. She is alive. She is not struggling for life nor is she struggling for death.
Make no mistake about it. I am aware that Terri Schiavo is never going to be well. I understand that she might simply be reacting to stimuli, not to situations. But, we are not omnipotent. We can say from experience that she is never going to get better and that her brain could never heal from the damage. But we don't know all the things a human body is capable of. She will die when it is her time and if she needs a feeding tube in the meantime, she should have it. As long as she is alive, it is our duty to tend to her. We can’t just let her starve to death because she has become an inconvenience. It is not our place to play God.

On a side note: I understand that people might get up in arms about the cost of keeping Terri Schiavo alive. Unfortunately, to address this properly, we would have to address all of Medicare and welfare and any other aid that we give our citizens.


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