When I was born, I had massive oxygen deprivation. I was completely unresponsive to all stimulation and pain. Completely devoid of reflexes. My heart did beat and I was breathing on my own. It took a few days, but I did eventually swallow with stimulation. (At first, I couldn't even choke.) A nurse stuck a needle deep into my heel and I didn't even flinch. There was nothing.
The doctors all said that I was a 'vegetable' and that I'd never be able to come close to functioning on a normal level. they patted my mother's arm and reassured her that she 'could always have other children.'
My mother insisted that they give me to her. They resisted even letting her see me at first and insisted that I needed to be in an institution. When she insisted on taking me home, they balked. They said that I wouldn't survive without special care in an institutional setting.
Well, my mom won. For three months I was 'a limp rag'. She would drip milk into my mouth and stroke my throat to stimulate the swallow reflex.
All day long, all she did was massage me, work my limbs, and talk to me. Constant stimulation.
At three months old, I began to respond. After that, I caught up fast. By one year old, I was making all the milestones just as any other child.
I am angry at the attitude here on FR toward Jahi McMath's situation.
Some people here seem to believe that doctors are infallible gods who could never make a mistake. Others believe that 'brain death' means that the girl's brain is rotting in her skull.
Brain death means that there's bad damage to either the higher brain functions or the brain stem (depending on that state's legal perimeters). It does not mean that the brain is actually dead and rotting. It's also for people to understand that there is NO standard medical consensus for the definition and it can vary from location to location.
Do I think that Jahi will recover?
I don't have any idea. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd think that she'd have terrible deficit if she were to recover at all. At this point, the hospital has starved her and denied her medical care for three straight weeks that may have made a positive impact. So who the hell knows.
Jahi's lawyer says that he has a video of her responding to her mother. That's good enough for me. If she's responding at all, she's doing better than I was.
But when was the right removed from parents and family to make the ultimate life or death decisions in these situations? When did these decisions go to hospital administrators?
Just ten years ago, a person had to have a DNR to have life support removed. If there was no DNR, the family could decide on their behalf if they had authority. If a person didn't have one, it was assumed that they wanted heroic measures and these were taken.
Now the power is taken from husbands, wives, parents, and adult children.
Where there is a heartbeat, there *is* hope. We try. It isn't always going to work out and we all have to die, but it is out duty to fight for life.
The people making these decisions do NOT always have the patient's best interests at heart. Many are pessimists.
I have the ultimate respect for physicians and I believe that most of them are good people who are there for the right reasons. But I also know enough doctors to know that most get pretty beaten down and jaded over time.
It is the family's job to play the part of the optimist and to do their best to push forward.
Please stand with life. There was no hope for me and I'm happily married with two adult children. My first grandchild is due any minute.
No. I wasn't declared 'brain dead' (there was no such diagnosis back then). But I was declared vegetative. I made a 100% recovery.
Never stop fighting for life. Win or lose, the fight is worthy.
Wow. That’s quite a story.
Thanks for that.
in Jahi's case the doctors and hospital are doing nothing more than attempting to drastically reduce their financial liability.
Thanks for sharing your remarkable story.
My mother is 100 years old and living in an assisted lilving facility. We hired a private nurse to advise us throug the rehab facility whe was in when she broke her leg, but now this nurse keeps pushing us to sign a POLST and to put her in hospice. I don’t think she needs hospice. She’s just old. I won’t sign.
God bless you Marie. I could not so elequently state my case recently.
This is one case, as rare as it is, that I vehemently disagree with the majority of my compadres here on FR.
i welcome the expected deluge of posts in disagreement but I stand firm on this one.
PS I imagine your mother was an amazing woman.
I do not think doctors are God or anything like it. But I also know that a body on a ventilator is NOT the same as a comatose patient breathing on their own.
Remove the ventilator and see how her body responds if death overtakes her then maybe her parents will finally accept it
Wow! Amazing! Thanks for sharing your story! And congratulations!
Thank God you’re here. Thank you for sharing your amazing story.
The issue of when a person is truly dead is a very complex one made even more difficult with every advance in healthcare and technology.
This is made even more difficult by the stories one hears of someone thought to be beyond recovery waking up....the “miraculous recovery” that makes the evening news and is widely talked about. The reason that the incident is called a “miraculous recovery” is because they are so rare.
For every miracle there are dozens if not hundreds of bodies kept alive by machines for months and even years at the cost of a million dollars or more per year. The vast majority of these professional corpses eventually die from some complication, usually an infextion. The hard part is it is impossible to pick out the miracle from the machine dependent dead until they either wake up or die.
The fundamental issues in this case are twofold. One is moral and ethical....when is someone actually dead,who makes what care decisions and who decides if and when the plug is pulled.
The second issue is one of cost. The amount of money involved in maintaining a vegetative body is astronomical....a years worth of such care costs more than many people earn in a lifetime. WHO PAYS THE BILL?
If all the costs are born by the patient/family then the choices should be left to the family or their designated representative.
However......99.99% of ALL these cases represent a person who will have these costs paid for by society in some form, either direct write off as an uncollectible debt, via insurance which increases the costs to every policy holder, or the taxpayer ultimately foots the bill. In these cases the decision cannot and shpuld not be solely at the discretion of the family,because it’s REAL easy to spend millions of dollars of OTHER PEOPLES MONEY.
It’s the same issue faced with providing state of the art care for those who are so old and decrepit they will NEVER function as a normal human again yet they receive massive amounts of expensive care to postpone an inevitable death by a few weeks or months.
As long as people expect this care to be provided for them using OTHER PEOPLES MONEY then some process MUST be in place to justify the expense.
In the case in Oakland we are NOT hearing all the facts and in fact not even the truth. The family and attorneys are free to say whatever they like....to try this case in the court of public opinion. The hospital and doctors are bound by HIPAA, they cannot openly discuss this case as the family won’t waive
the privacy rules. Therefore we are NOT hearing an accurate accounting of this incident.
I had just graduated from Med Tech school when my husband and I moved back to our home town and I began work at the local hospital. The hospital has on staff one of the leading abortion doctors in the state and I was horrified to see young girls who were still in their teens having their second or third abortion. If the patients were admitted to the hospital, that meant that they were past 20 weeks and some had aborted babies that even in the 1980s could have easily survived outside the womb. I decided then that I would be on the side of life, whether it be that of a baby or an elderly person. God is the only one who should determine when a person passes from this world to the next.
I will never forget the example of Terry Schiavo. She was obviously responding to her parents and was not in any way on "life support". She was literally starved and dehydrated to death even though, like you, she had parents who were willing and able to care for her. The greed and selfishness of her so-called husband is responsible for what happened to her and one day he will have to answer for what he did to her.
Even before Obamacare was passed, I have always been against any government involvement in health care. Part of the reason is because I was still working in a hospital setting when the government first became involved in hospital reimbursement in the early 1980's and they were no better at it then than they are now. I also realized it was not only government involvement that was making health care more expensive, it was also the threat of litigation and the legal profession itself that were contributing to the increased cost, something that Obamacare deliberately did not address.
The biggest fear I have with Obamacare is that a group of government bureaucrats will be making these life and death decisions rather than the patient, the patient's family, and their doctors. They are the ones who are in a position to know the specifics of the case better than any government entity whose bottom line will always be whether or not the medical care the patient needs is "cost effective". Sarah Palin was exactly right when she called them "death panels" because letting these patients die will always be cheaper than providing them medical care.
Doctor disputes common acceptance of brain death
Pro-Life Perspective: Nat Hentoffs Reflections on Terri Schiavo, part 1
Back from the Dead: Resuscitation Expert Says End Is Reversible
“SPIEGEL: Basic first aid teaches us that the brain is very fragile. Three to five minutes after the heart stops, the brain incurs permanent damage due to lack of oxygen.”
“Parnia: This is a widely-held misconception, even among doctors. It's mostly based on research done in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. In those days, doctors concluded that brain cell death was inevitable in such a short time. Now we know that if treatment is correct, it really can take hours for brain cells to die. And only if all the treatments that we know today are not implemented, the damage can become apparent after as little as five minutes without blood flow. Part of the problem is that we all live in the past — patients, doctors, nurses and legislatures. We have preconceived ideas about death. For thousands of years, death was a clear, precise moment: The heart stopped beating, and that was it. Nothing could be done from then on. You either were alive or not. But since the arrival of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) more than 50 years ago, we know that this view is no longer correct. Death is not a fixed moment anymore. From a cellular perspective, it is a process that proceeds at various speeds in the different tissues of the body after the heart stops.”
“SPIEGEL: And that process is, in your words, fully reversible?”
“Parnia: Of course, it is of paramount importance to protect the brain. CPR as early as possible after cardiac arrest is essential. But the really dangerous period for brain is only after you restart the heart and get the person back to life. It is then that you start getting major brain damage. One of the reasons for this is that when you restart blood flow to the brain, which hasn't seen any blood for a while, the oxygen itself becomes toxic. The brain can become very swollen and inflamed and at the same time, blood flow to the brain drops to dangerously low levels. The brain also becomes perilously starved of oxygen and nutrients. Consequently, most brain damage after resuscitation occurs not within the first few minutes of death, but in the hours up to the first 72 hours after resuscitation. But with proper post resuscitation care, we can minimize that...”
“...SPIEGEL: Doesn't the idea of “bringing people back” imply that they weren't really dead in the first place?
Parnia: I think the state they are in corresponds to the cultural concept we all have of death. We encounter it in movies and books all the time. That is my basic message: The death we commonly perceive today in 2013 is a death that can be reversed.
SPIEGEL: But not real brain death.
Parnia: No. When brain cells have decayed after a number of hours, no intervention, neither now nor in a 1000 years, will bring them back. That death is final. But up to that point, there is a gray zone. Today, we simply do not know when someone transitions from potentially reversible to irreversible. Tests used today to diagnose brain death are tests of brain stem function — not of actual cell death....”
Thank you for sharing your story Marie. This is the case with a couple of my family members as well. The care of family moved them toward recovery. God bless.
Thanks for sharing this. You are so right that the family must be the decision maker, and fighting for life is not a mistake or being cruel.
I was extremely frustrated by the lack of care and concern when my Dad was in intensive care, and they were pressuring me and trying to make me feel guilty for not “ending his suffering”. I kept insisting that he get nutrition, antibiotics, and ventilator to see if the anitbiotics would work.
What is happening with this recent case is just awful. To think that the hospital would go against the family’s wishes and actually withhold nutrition is criminal as far as I am concerned.
Whoda thunk it?
On a more serious note, prayers for Jahi and her family.
Do you want one of commander zero's peeps deciding whether your life is worth living?
I think not.
You touched my heart today.
Just offering this up as a bit of balance - My wife is an RN and worked in an ICU for 11 years. She has told me countless stories of lifeless bodies on vents literally rotting away. The families refuse to allow the vents to be removed, but few come to visit. Removing the vent would stop the monthly checks from coming in. My wife had to finally move to a new department, she could not stand to see the cruelty people are capable of by not letting the dead go.
Hospitals harvest parts from living persons without anesthesia.
You can’t sell the parts but they sure will.
Thanks for posting your story.