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Between you and your maker (Right to Die?)
Buffalo News ^ | 3-6-2005 | MYRIAM MARQUEZ

Posted on 03/06/2005 10:36:52 AM PST by Houmatt

I loved that chirping little chick, all downy yellow, pecking away in its box. I'd rub the chick against my cheek, hold it and give it a love squeeze. Maybe a little too hard, because sometimes it would try to squirm out of my grasp. Until the day that it jumped and landed on the floor head first. It started convulsing, chirping wildly, and then its little eyes closed and it lay perfectly still.

It couldn't be dead, I prayed. No, no, and no. In search of a miracle, my 7-year-old brain came up with a plan. I would put the chick in a pan on the stove, over low heat. Like a premature baby in an incubator. The chick started to move erratically. I was pleased with my quick thinking, but once out of the pan, it was clear there was no life to it.

That was my first experience with death.

I've never told anyone what happened - well, except a priest. It was the first sin I listed in my first confession. I was a murderer. And a liar - I had told my mom that I found the chick dead in its box.

It's an odd thing to share, I know, but there's a lesson in my sorry tale. It may help explain why I remain so conflicted about what to do when people are terminally ill. At my core, I'm always praying for a miracle. I'm not alone in wondering if people should be allowed to "choose" death with dignity. Millions of Americans struggle with what is ethical, moral and just in fashioning laws giving people the "right" to die.

A living will is an easy call. If I'm brain dead or can't breathe on my own, don't hook me up to machines, thank you very much. Using science to prolong "life" that can't think or feel is anathema to life itself. But what if it's your child whose brain no longer functions past involuntary twitches? How many parents have faced such a terrifying choice? Some parents of adult children, like Terri Schiavo's, refuse to give up.

As agonizing as those decisions are, though, there's a certain spiritual satisfaction in letting a loved one who's suffering, or simply not feeling anything, go to a better place. That's the other side of the wrenching Schiavo drama.

What if you are terminally ill and your doctors have given you six months to live? Should you, being of sound mind and broken body, have the right to get your doctor to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to die?

Oregon's Death With Dignity Act allows what some believe to be state-sanctioned suicide. Why should it matter to you or me what other people want to do about their own bodies? Grab a gun or rat poisoning. Skip the middle man. Except. We want to die peacefully. Most of us want to make the call about our quality of life when ill, so help us God. And good doctors already help horribly ill patients die every day. Just a bit more morphine not only eases the pain but eventually weakens the heart until it gives out.

One man's suicide can be another's death with dignity, can't it? That's the fundamental question the U.S. Supreme Court will decide in the Oregon case, though it need not go so far. It only has to address the legal issue of whether the federal government's Controlled Substances Act can usurp Oregon's 1997 law. The Bush administration argues that Oregon's doctors can't use medications meant under the federal law for a "legitimate medical purpose" to help patients die.

To me, Oregon's law is narrowly tailored for ex tremely ill people and doesn't cross over the ethical line to assisted suicide for people not as gravely ill. As it stands, only 171 patients have opted for it since 1997. And it should be their choice.

Yet with his intervention in Oregon, President Bush wants to put his own spiritual imprint on medi cal care, deciding how we should die. We have souls to save, he implies, and suicide is a ticket to hell.

If choosing death with dignity is a sin, let that be between me and my maker - and you and yours. Gov ernment shouldn't play God.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: euthanasia; judicialtyranny; killer; medicalmurder; schiavo; t4; terrischiavo; torturer; wifebeater
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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If I'm brain dead or can't breathe on my own, don't hook me up to machines, thank you very much. Using science to prolong "life" that can't think or feel is anathema to life itself. But what if it's your child whose brain no longer functions past involuntary twitches? How many parents have faced such a terrifying choice? Some parents of adult children, like Terri Schiavo's, refuse to give up.

As agonizing as those decisions are, though, there's a certain spiritual satisfaction in letting a loved one who's suffering, or simply not feeling anything, go to a better place. That's the other side of the wrenching Schiavo drama.

Shows you what Ms. Marquez knows about Terri Schiavo, which is nothing at all.

Should you, being of sound mind and broken body, have the right to get your doctor to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to die?

Uh, no. If you want to commit suicide, then do it. It's when you include a second or even third party in the mix that it stops being the act of killing one's self and turns into something entirely different.

Government shouldn't play God.

But Ms. Marquez hasn't any problem with doctors playing God.

And, yes, they already are. In the Netherlands, they too had something quite similar to Oregon's law. But now they are ready to mutate that into where other people will literally decide who will live and die in that country. Anyone who thinks it will not happen here are even more brain dead than Ms. Marquez claims Terri Schiavo to be.

1 posted on 03/06/2005 10:36:54 AM PST by Houmatt
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To: Houmatt

I have friends in Oregon who have told me about a couple of the cases where the person who 'died with dignity' didn't have any choice. It was their children who were tired of the burden. As I understand it, all one needs in Oregon are two doctors willing to sign the prescriptions, not that one needs to have told anyone ahead of time that one wants to go. It is the slippery slope for sure.


2 posted on 03/06/2005 11:08:43 AM PST by Vor Lady
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To: Houmatt
I am deeply conflicted on this issue

As an MD, my oath is to Do no harm, relieve suffering, and to act in the patient's best interest. The Hippocratic Oath also states

"And I will not give a drug that is deadly to anyone if asked nor will I suggest the way to such in counsel"

I am bound to this oath as I am bound in marriage, and to untrue to it would be faithless. I cannot for the life of me understand a Physician acting otherwise or giving such counsel, no matter how I or they "Felt" about it. Irrespective of Law, I am bound by Oath
3 posted on 03/06/2005 11:18:38 AM PST by HangnJudge
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To: Houmatt

No one wants to see warehouses full of Terris being kept alive indefinitely on machines. Do they?


4 posted on 03/06/2005 11:22:05 AM PST by DManA
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To: HangnJudge
I am bound to this oath as I am bound in marriage

Many of your colleagues don't feel bound by the part that talks about abortions.

5 posted on 03/06/2005 11:23:52 AM PST by DManA
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To: DManA

I don't understand this either....

"And likewise I will not give a woman a destructive pessary"


6 posted on 03/06/2005 11:27:20 AM PST by HangnJudge
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To: DManA

I don't understand this either....

"And likewise I will not give a woman a destructive pessary"


7 posted on 03/06/2005 11:27:23 AM PST by HangnJudge
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To: DManA
No one wants to see warehouses full of Terris being kept alive indefinitely on machines. Do they?

Terri is not on any machines. She's only fed by a gravity tube 3 times a day.

Terri's doctor asks her to wakeup.


8 posted on 03/06/2005 11:36:38 AM PST by DJ MacWoW ("Are you cops? FBI" bad guy, "I'm currently unemployed" Tony Almeida of 24)
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To: DJ MacWoW

X 14 years.


9 posted on 03/06/2005 11:38:01 AM PST by DManA
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To: DManA
X 14 years.

Which means exactly what??????

10 posted on 03/06/2005 11:39:50 AM PST by DJ MacWoW ("Are you cops? FBI" bad guy, "I'm currently unemployed" Tony Almeida of 24)
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To: DManA
I'm sure Terri would love to be fed but it's not allowed.

Source

In April 2001, her death by dehydration was ordered to begin, and the day her feeding was stopped her brother and sister came by with a spoon and a cup of pudding, asking a nurse to try to feed her by mouth. The nurse refused and reported the request to others. When Schiavo found out he demanded that Bobby and Suzanne be removed from the list of approved visitors, and Greer rubberstamped his request.

Five months following their banishment from the Hospice, Bobby and Suzanne Schindler had their visiting rights restored, but only on condition that they not attempt any spoon-feeding.

"I don't want anyone trying to feed that girl," Greer thundered.

11 posted on 03/06/2005 11:50:38 AM PST by DJ MacWoW ("Are you cops? FBI" bad guy, "I'm currently unemployed" Tony Almeida of 24)
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To: Houmatt
I live in Oregon and I'm getting on toward the point where I might have to deal with this issue.

I've lived a good, active life. I've raised a bunch of kids and even more "Hell." Things are changing though. I can't do many of the things I've enjoyed over the years and I know that list will only lengthen as I grow older. As a young man I pretty well defined what I thought a "fun" life should be and now I'm drifting inexorably further and further away from that standard.

On top of the physical deterioration, I find that my memory is failing too. My aunt died a couple of years ago from Alzheimer's and I know it's a possibility for me too. I don't want to go there.

As a young man, life was fun. In middle age, it was pleasant. Now, it's painful but bearable. My legs hurt. My hands need frequent applications of various salves and oils to keep them limber. Life isn't fun anymore.

Will I ask for 'the pill' when I've had my fill of all this? I don't know. I have a gun, but that would be messy and I wouldn't want to make my wife have to clean it up. It's a difficult question and one that detached moralists can't answer. Not only that, unless they have a dog in this fight they shouldn't even be expounding on the subject. Until a person is old and infirm and staring death in the eye they have only hearsay evidence by which to form an opinion.

I guess it can best be said by turning an old phrase: Instead of "walk a mile in my mocasins," try 'shuffling to the bathroom in my slippers.'

12 posted on 03/06/2005 11:57:54 AM PST by oldfart ("All governments and all civilizations fall... eventually. Our government is not immune.)
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To: Houmatt

I don't think that government should play God, I say leave that to God. From a biblical stance, when Jesus was hanging on a cross by nails in his hands and feet, he told the thief next to him that 'Today you will be with me in Paradise'. That thief's time had come to die.
Perhaps Terry's time has come to die, perhaps not. There is no way of knowing. Either way, she should not be forced to die a painful death by starvation and dehydration. But sometimes, even though it's hard, you just need to let go and hand things over to God.


13 posted on 03/06/2005 12:01:22 PM PST by RedBeaconNY (The greatest mystery to man, is man himself.)
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To: RedBeaconNY

One small problem.

TERRY ISN'T DYING!!!!!!!!!!!!

She is merely disabled and has been held hostage
for 5 years, without fresh air or sunshine.

The criminal ghouls who are profiting from her abuse
will undoubtedly receive the justice they so richly deserve, in His perfect timing.


14 posted on 03/06/2005 12:06:47 PM PST by Lesforlife ("For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb . . ." Psalm 139:13)
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To: DJ MacWoW

Life is precious but death doesn't need to be fought at all costs.


15 posted on 03/06/2005 12:10:13 PM PST by DManA
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To: RedBeaconNY
Perhaps Terry's time has come to die, perhaps not.

If God wanted Terri, man couldn't stop Him.

16 posted on 03/06/2005 12:13:34 PM PST by DJ MacWoW ("Are you cops? FBI" bad guy, "I'm currently unemployed" Tony Almeida of 24)
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To: DManA
Life is precious but death doesn't need to be fought at all costs.

Terri is not ill, only disabled. Death isn't being fought at all costs. Terri simply eats via a tube. So where do we draw the line for euthanasia? The Judge will not allow any food by mouth. So that's Terri's crime that she should be starved?

Btw, if you don't believe she's healthy consider that the last time the tube was removed, Terri lasted 6 and 1/2 days without food and water. If she were at death's door, she'd have been through it.

17 posted on 03/06/2005 12:19:21 PM PST by DJ MacWoW ("Are you cops? FBI" bad guy, "I'm currently unemployed" Tony Almeida of 24)
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To: HangnJudge
I too believe in death with dignity and not prolonging suffering.

However the process of a lingering death may not be all downside.

I lost my Mother to Cancer, With Chemo and Radiation her life was lengthened by about 15 months . She went through the anger, the bargaining, the depression and I am sure during those stages she would have readily ended her life.

She came through the other side and as her body withered away, her spirit grew.

She had an almost childlike wonder about life and nature and she seized every moment she could to enjoy. She started taking walks with me and we talked.

Each weeks the walks got shorter as she weakened but she told me things about her life that I had never known , and she asked me about mine.

She died at home as she wanted to, her family with her. In 20 years of working as a nurse, I have rarely seen a more peaceful death and more spiritual calm in the few weeks leading up to it. It was quite strange, when she was at her sickest, she was also at her most alive.

Working through life and death with my Mother was better training for me as a nurse than 80% of my formal education.
18 posted on 03/06/2005 12:27:54 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (Certified cause of Post Traumatic Redhead Syndrome)
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To: oldfart

I'm not surprised nobody has responded to your well thought out post. You're right, of course. I only hope that if and whent the time comes to make a decision you do it the way you, your family and your God choose and I pray no strangers have the audacity to come in and tell you what to do. God bless you.


19 posted on 03/06/2005 12:34:54 PM PST by Hildy
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To: Houmatt; floriduh voter; phenn; FreepinforTerri; kimmie7; Pegita; windchime; tutstar; ...

Terri ping! If anyone would like to be added to or removed from my Terri ping list, please let me know by FReepmail!


20 posted on 03/06/2005 12:35:37 PM PST by Ohioan from Florida (The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.- Edmund Burke)
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To: HangnJudge

theres a good reason why they make you take that oath as well. Sorry, but I would never see a doctor who didn't take that oath seriously.


21 posted on 03/06/2005 12:40:28 PM PST by Halls
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To: Ohioan from Florida

From another:

Jay Wolfson was just on television (Channel 28) building up Greer, that DCF never had any complaint until now, saying that Terri never had a bedsore and that he visted with Terri for a full month.

Ch 28 said I am the only one who has called.
813-354-2800

+++

From me:

DCF needs to investigate this in their probe re: Terri Schiavo - AHCA Coverup

Information, materials, etc. pertinent to crimes being perpetrated against Theresa Schindler Schiavo and pertinent to a current DCF investigation listed below:

http://tekgnosis.typepad.com

Let your Congressman and Senator know and tell them to vote in favor of the Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act as well.

NOTE: Free faxing for entire Washington D.C. area:

http://www.tpc.int/sendfax.html (send a free fax from your web browser)

Format of number to input is:

(ex. Pres. U.S. [POTUS]) -> 1 202 456 2461
(ex. Ashcroft) -> 1 202 514 1009
Vice Pres. Dick Cheney 1 202 456 2710

U.S. Senators and Congressmembers, etc.

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm


22 posted on 03/06/2005 12:40:28 PM PST by pc93 (http://www.blogsforterri.com)
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To: DManA; All

23 posted on 03/06/2005 12:40:34 PM PST by Ohioan from Florida (The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.- Edmund Burke)
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To: Grannyx4
It was their children who were tired of the burden.

This is commonplace in the Netherlands too. I saw a cartoon years ago, where an old lady on her deathbed suddenly jumps up and tries to strangle her son, telling him, "I knew I should have aborted you TOO!" It's all in the money, as the liberals said in Watergate.

24 posted on 03/06/2005 12:55:28 PM PST by Theodore R. (Terri has already outlived Eleanor Centzone.)
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To: DJ MacWoW
In April 2001, her death by dehydration was ordered to begin, and the day her feeding was stopped her brother and sister came by with a spoon and a cup of pudding, asking a nurse to try to feed her by mouth. The nurse refused and reported the request to others. When Schiavo found out he demanded that Bobby and Suzanne be removed from the list of approved visitors, and Greer rubberstamped his request....

We're supposed to be polite here, right?

I cannot be. What I have to say would not be the least bit polite. What I would like to do would get me in quite a bit of trouble.

I have an odd habit of laughing and tapping my fingers when I don't think something is the least bit funny. I laughed and tapped a lot at the above.

What I would like to do is to go down into the basement and open a few boxes. I better not.

25 posted on 03/06/2005 12:55:59 PM PST by The Other Harry
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To: oldfart; Hildy

You know, as we grow older, our bodies do tend to fall apart, and our minds are not always as sharp. But it's still life, and having been bedridden at one point but received the therapy to recover from my injuries, I have the perspective that comes from experience. At first I thought it was unbearable. I took great joy in the few things I was able to still do, like sit up in bed with help, and eat (without help). I couldn't walk, but I could sit. I watched TV a little, read a lot, and prayed a whole lot more. I learned patience and humility like I had never known before. I am a better person having gone through a severe injury.

Each day I learned how to cope and deal with my problems. I had to communicate with my family differently. They could not afford to tend me every minute, or even every hour, but I was grateful for every thing they did even if it was an hours old request. Being disabled is not the most horrible thing in the world. We can make it through these difficulties in life if we keep our faith in that what we have become is still important, worthwhile, and good.

I've always loved life, much as you say you have, but I now have a deeper appreciation for my blessings. I learned to count each and every little blessing I had, and knowing that I was loved and treasured by God is by far the most important blessing I've been given.

If God gives me a cross to bear, I am going to try my best to carry that cross until He calls me home. It's His decision, not mine.


26 posted on 03/06/2005 12:57:53 PM PST by Ohioan from Florida (The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.- Edmund Burke)
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To: oldfart
I live in Oregon and I'm getting on toward the point where I might have to deal with this issue.

We all do, sooner or later. Not necessarily on our own schedule.

I have been working on my "final book". It has been turning out to be more complicated than I expected.

I intend to make several copies and pass them around.

27 posted on 03/06/2005 1:00:16 PM PST by The Other Harry
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To: TASMANIANRED

Thank you for sharing that with us. There is value even in the 'winding down' parts of life. Many times, we are just too busy to take the time with each other, just to be together and to share whatever life has for us, with each other. It's so good that you were able to spend that precious time with your mom!


28 posted on 03/06/2005 1:02:49 PM PST by Ohioan from Florida (The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.- Edmund Burke)
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To: The Other Harry
We're supposed to be polite here, right?

I hear ya'. This situation is so cockamaymie that's it's hard to understand why others don't see it. What's so wromg about feeding her by mouth? It makes no sense.

Another Freeper told me the judge was probably afraid she'd choke. I had no words for such an inane answer.

29 posted on 03/06/2005 1:04:04 PM PST by DJ MacWoW ("Are you cops? FBI" bad guy, "I'm currently unemployed" Tony Almeida of 24)
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To: Ohioan from Florida

There are different levels of disability. I'm glad you are able to deal with yours and have prospered spiritually from it. But that doesn't mean everyone can, or everyone is as blessed as you were.


30 posted on 03/06/2005 1:04:08 PM PST by Hildy
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To: Ohioan from Florida; Lesforlife; pc93; Theodore R.; Halls; DJ MacWoW; MeekOneGOP; Grampa Dave; ...

terrisfight.org

31 posted on 03/06/2005 1:05:09 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: Hildy
But that doesn't mean everyone can, or everyone is as blessed as you were.

How can we judge anothers blessing? Or whether their life is blessing someone else? How can we claim someones life has no value without debasing our own?

32 posted on 03/06/2005 1:09:52 PM PST by DJ MacWoW ("Are you cops? FBI" bad guy, "I'm currently unemployed" Tony Almeida of 24)
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To: DJ MacWoW

we can't. All I'm saying, and have always said, is that it should be up to the patient him/herself.


33 posted on 03/06/2005 1:12:22 PM PST by Hildy
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To: TASMANIANRED
Our friend Sandy died of brain cancer Monday morning at ten at home surrounded by loved ones and under Hospice care.

My smarter half is now cancer-free having gone through surgeries, radiation and five years of Tamoxifen.

Twenty-five years ago she remained with her sister as her sister's cancer metastasized throughout her body.

My younger brother ten years ago came back from virulent testicular cancer with a new chemotherapy from IU-PUI.

You describe your mother's vision enlarging even as her life was being withdrawn.

When we are in the presence of the miracle of life, it stills all mocking, leaving only awe.

34 posted on 03/06/2005 1:13:45 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: DManA
Many of your colleagues don't feel bound by the part that talks about abortions.

I don't know the actual percentage of physicians who perform abortions, but I do know it is very small. Most people in the medical profession are repulsed by the procedure and avoid work in clinics specializing in them.

That's one of the reasons some activists try to get bills through legislatures that would force med schools supported by government money (all of them) to train students in abortion. However, that would not be an answer to the problem because it's not that doctors don't know HOW to do them, it's that they don't WANT to do them.

35 posted on 03/06/2005 1:14:04 PM PST by PLK
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To: Hildy

36 posted on 03/06/2005 1:14:22 PM PST by Lauren BaRecall (Disconnect GREER, not the feeding tube!!!)
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To: Hildy

I agree that there are different degrees of disability. I disagree that not every one can learn to deal with it. It's matter of will. IMHO. Just like with anything else in life, if you say "I can't do it" then you surely won't. But if you say "I might be able to" you open yourself up to the possibility of accomplishing that which you previously thought may have been unattainable. Sometimes the struggle is hard, yes, but not impossible. Impossible happens only when we give up hope. Hope is part of faith. Do you believe God can do all things or just sort of? (I'm not asking you personally, it's rhetorical.) It's just something I thought about a lot while I stayed in bed healing.


37 posted on 03/06/2005 1:14:28 PM PST by Ohioan from Florida (The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.- Edmund Burke)
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To: Houmatt

I will always be curious as to what shape Terri would be in today if she had been allowed the therapy she was entitled to.


38 posted on 03/06/2005 1:17:16 PM PST by freekitty
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To: Hildy
we can't. All I'm saying, and have always said, is that it should be up to the patient him/herself.

If Terri was asked (and taped), in front of unbiased persons, I think it would be a solution. But we both know that won't be allowed. Unfortunately.

39 posted on 03/06/2005 1:17:58 PM PST by DJ MacWoW ("Are you cops? FBI" bad guy, "I'm currently unemployed" Tony Almeida of 24)
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To: Ohioan from Florida

Some people just don't have the will...why make them suffer? why? Why not let their inner spirit free? And you are absolutely wrong about most people being able to deal with it. You're wrong. But why can't we just respect people enough to not second guess their wishes? That's all I ask.


40 posted on 03/06/2005 1:19:04 PM PST by Hildy
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To: DManA

41 posted on 03/06/2005 1:20:10 PM PST by BykrBayb (5 minutes of prayer for Terri, every day at 11 am EDT, until she's safe. http://www.terrisfight.org)
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To: Houmatt
The right to take one's own life is de facto, if one is really determined, it's almost impossible to stop them. But as a society it is barbaric and unconscionable to endorse suicide in any form.
42 posted on 03/06/2005 1:20:21 PM PST by thoughtomator (Gleefully watching the self-demolition of all things left-wing)
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To: HangnJudge

That Hippocrates really knew the value of a life, didn't he? I commended you for living your Oath.


43 posted on 03/06/2005 1:20:47 PM PST by Lauren BaRecall (Disconnect GREER, not the feeding tube!!!)
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To: DJ MacWoW

OMG...Terri WOULD NOT UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION.... There is so much misinformation about this case, it's astounding. You really think that she would understand that question if posed to her? Do you? Because people's eyes are open and they seem to respond to stimuli, does not make them coherent. That's what a PVS is.


44 posted on 03/06/2005 1:21:24 PM PST by Hildy
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To: Ohioan from Florida

I couldn't have paid for the education my Mother gave me.

Young Physicians and Nurses frequently are the worst at dealing with death. They try to ignore it, fix it or joke about it.

What most people need is someone to sit down eye to eye and treat them like they are still real people.


45 posted on 03/06/2005 1:22:55 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (Certified cause of Post Traumatic Redhead Syndrome)
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To: DJ MacWoW
A Visit With Terri Schiavo

Attorney Barbara Weller

This past Christmas Eve day, 2004, I went to visit Terri Schiavo with her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, her sister, her niece, and Attorney David Gibbs III. The visit took place at the Woodside Hospice for about 45 minutes just before noon.

When I knew I was going to visit Terri with her parents, I had no idea what to expect. I was prepared for the possibility that the Schindlers love their daughter and sister so much that they might imagine behaviors by Terri that aren't actually evident to others. The media and Mr. Schiavo clearly give the impression that Terri is in a coma or comatose state and engages only in non-purposeful and reflexive movements and responses. I am a mother and a grandmother, as well as one of the Schindlers’ attorneys, and I could understand how parents might imagine behavior and purposeful activity that is not really there. I was prepared to be as objective as I could be during this visit and not to be disappointed at anything I saw or experienced.

I was truly surprised at what I saw from the moment we entered the little room where Terri is confined. The room is a little wider than the width of two single beds and about as long as the average bedroom, with plenty of room for us to stand at the foot of her bed. Terri is on the first floor and there is a lovely view to the outside grounds of the facility. The room is entered by a short hallway, however, and there is no way for Terri to see out into the hallway or for anyone in the hallway to observe Terri.

From the moment we entered the room, my impression was that Terri was very purposeful and interactive and she seemed very curious about the presence of obvious strangers in her room. Terri was not in bed, but was in her chair, which has a lounge chair appearance and elevates her head at about a 30-degree angle. She was dressed and washed, her hair combed, and she was covered with a holiday blanket. There were no tubes of any kind attached to her body. She was completely free of any restraints that would have indicated any type of artificial life support. Not even her feeding tube was attached and functioning when we entered, as she is not fed 24 hours a day.

The thing that surprised me the most about Terri as I took my turn to greet her by the side of her chair was how beautiful she is. I would have expected to see someone with a sallow and gray complexion and a sick looking countenance. Instead, I saw a very pretty woman with a peaches and cream complexion and a lovely smile, which she even politely extended to me as I introduced myself to her. I was amazed that someone who had not been outside for so many years and who received such minimal health care could look so beautiful. She appeared to have an inner light radiating from her face. I was truly taken aback by her beauty, particularly under the adverse circumstances in which she has found herself for so many years.

Terri’s parents, sister, and niece went immediately to greet Terri when we entered the room and stood in turn directly beside her head, stroking her face, kissing her and talking quietly with her. When she heard their voices, and particularly her mother's voice, Terri instantly turned her head towards them and smiled. Terri established eye contact with her family, particularly with her mother, who spent the most time with her during our visit. It was obvious that she recognized the voices in the room with the exception of one. Although her mother was talking to her at the time, she obviously had heard a new voice and exhibited a curious demeanor. Attorney Gibbs was having a conversation near the door with Terri’s sister. His voice is very deep and resonant and Terri obviously picked it up. Her eyes widened as if to say, “What’s that new sound I hear?” She scanned the room with her eyes, even turning her head in his direction, until she found Attorney Gibbs and the location of the new voice and her eyes rested momentarily in his direction. She then returned to interacting with her mother.

When her mother was close to her, Terri’s whole face lit up. She smiled. She looked directly at her mother and she made all sorts of happy sounds. When her mother talked to her, Terri was quiet and obviously listening. When she stopped, Terri started vocalizing. The vocalizations seemed to be a pattern, not merely random or reflexive at all. There is definitely a pattern of Terri having a conversation with her mother as best she can manage. Initially, she used the vocalization of “uh’uh” but without seeming to mean it as a way of saying “no”, just as a repeated speech pattern. She then began to make purposeful grunts in response to her mother’s conversation. She made the same sorts of sound with her father and sister, but not to the same extent or as delightedly as with her mother. She made no verbal response to her niece or to Attorney Gibbs and myself, but she did appear to pay attention to our words to her.

The whole experience was rather moving. Terri definitely has a personality. Her whole demeanor definitely changes when her mother speaks with her. She lights up and appears to be delighted at the interaction. She has an entirely different reaction to her father who jokes with her and has several standing jokes that he uses when he enters and exits her presence. She appears to merely “tolerate” her father, as a child does when she says “stop” but really means, “this is fun.” When her father greets her, he always does the same thing. He says, “here comes the hug” and hugs her. He then says, “you know what’s coming next---the kiss.” Her father has a scratchy mustache and both times when he went through this little joke routine with her, she laughed in a way she did not do with anyone else. When her father is ready to plant the kiss on her cheek, she immediately makes a face her family calls the “lemon face.” She puckers her lips, screws up her whole face, and turns away from him, as if making ready for the scratchy assault on her cheek that she knows is coming. She did the exact same thing both times that her father initiated this little routine joke between the two of them.

The interactions with her family and our appearance in her room appeared to require some effort and exertion from Terri. From time to time, she would close her eyes as if to rest. This happened primarily when no one was paying particular attention to her, but we were talking among ourselves. After a few minutes or when one of the visitors approached her and started to talk directly to her again, Terri would open her eyes and begin her grunting sounds again in response to their conversations. Although I approached her, leaned close and stroked her arms and spoke to her, she did not verbally respond to me.

Terri’s hands are curled up around little soft cylinders that help her not to injure herself. I understand that these contractures are likely very painful, although there was a time when Terri was receiving simple motion therapy when her hands and arms relaxed and were no longer as constricted. When the therapy was discontinued by order of her guardian and the court, the contractures returned. These contractures would apparently be avoidable if Terri were given the simple range of motion therapy she previously received. It is very sad to observe firsthand these conditions that make her life more difficult, but that would be correctable with little effort.

When we were preparing to leave, the interactions with Terri changed. First, she went through the joke routine with her father and the “lemon face.” When her niece said goodbye to her, Terri did not react. Nor did she react to me or to Attorney Gibbs when we said our goodbyes to her. When her sister went to her to say goodbye, Terri’s verbalizations changed dramatically. Instead of the happy grunting and “uh uh” sounds she had been making throughout the visit, her verbalizations at these goodbyes changed to a very low and different sound that appeared to come from deep in her throat and was almost like a growl. She first made the sound when her sister said goodbye and then, amazingly to me, she made exactly the same sound when her mother said goodbye to her. It seemed Terri was visibly upset that they were leaving. She almost appeared to be trying to cling to them, although this impression came only from her changed facial expression and sounds, since her hands cannot move. It appeared like she did not want to be alone and knew they were leaving. It was definitely apparent in the short time I was there that her emotions changed—it was apparent when she was happy and enjoying herself, when she was amused, when she was resting from her exertion to communicate, and when she was sad at her guests leaving. It was readily apparent and surprising that her mood changed so often in a short 45-minute visit.

I was pleasantly surprised to observe Terri’s purposeful and varied behaviors with the various members of her family and with Attorney Gibbs and myself. I never imagined Terri would be so active, curious, and purposeful. She watched people intently, obviously was attempting to communicate with each one in various ways and with various facial expressions and sounds. She was definitely not in a coma, not even close. This visit certainly shed more light for me on why the Schindlers are fighting so hard to protect her, to get her medical care and rehabilitative assistance, and to spend all they have to protect her life.

I realize that Terri has good days and bad days. There are obviously days when she does not interact with her family, as they had previously told us. There are also apparently days when Terri is even more interactive and responsive to them than she was on the day I visited. Since this visit I am more convinced than ever that the Schindlers are not just parents who refuse to let go of their daughter. There really is a lot going on with their daughter and potentially, it seemed obvious to me, Terri could improve even more with appropriate care and 24 hour a day love that can only come from a dedicated family. As I watched her, my foremost thought was that on the next day, Christmas, Terri should not have been confined to her small room in a hospice center, nice as that room was, but that she should have been gathered around the Christmas dinner table enjoying the holiday with her family.

MEDIA: Call the Gibbs Law Firm Media Director, Mr. Keith Brickell, at O:727-399-8300 or C:727-458-4824 to arrange an interview with Attorney David Gibbs III or Attorney Barbara Weller.

46 posted on 03/06/2005 1:23:15 PM PST by Pegita ('Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word ...)
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To: PhilDragoo
When we are in the presence of the miracle of life, it stills all mocking, leaving only awe.

The truth enrobed in sheer poetry.

47 posted on 03/06/2005 1:23:40 PM PST by Lauren BaRecall (Disconnect GREER, not the feeding tube!!!)
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To: DManA
No one wants to see warehouses full of Terris being kept alive indefinitely on machines. Do they?

And I'm tired of the disabled/handicapped getting the best parking spaces. Vegetables in wheelchairs. It costs us tons of money to build all those stupid wheelchair ramps.

And who uses the 'special' toilet in the bathrooms? That cost a pretty penny my friend.

Wasting money, getting in the way, unable to take care of themselves. I say we put them out of their misery.

(/sarcasm)

48 posted on 03/06/2005 1:24:35 PM PST by UCANSEE2
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To: Hildy

49 posted on 03/06/2005 1:26:01 PM PST by Lauren BaRecall (Disconnect GREER, not the feeding tube!!!)
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To: Lauren BaRecall
This one is much more informative and honest:

THE REAL, UNBIASIED FACTS OF THE TERRI SCHIAVO CASE

50 posted on 03/06/2005 1:27:14 PM PST by Hildy
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