Skip to comments.Questions swirl around husband of brain-damaged Florida woman
Posted on 10/23/2003 8:22:40 PM PDT by Gelato
Posted on Thu, Oct. 23, 2003
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - (KRT) - Michael Schiavo is in hiding, concerned over threats to his life, his attorney said Thursday. Yet the attorney for the parents of Schiavo's wife, Terri, the brain-damaged woman at the center of a contentious end-of-life case, says Michael Schiavo was seen shopping at an upscale Tampa mall in recent days.
As an advocacy agency continued its state investigation of Terri Schiavo's case Thursday and her parents resumed their vigil outside the hospice near St. Petersburg where she was receiving nutrition through a feeding tube, questions multiplied about Michael Schiavo's role and motivations.
Terri Schiavo "looks great," her father, Bob Schindler, said Thursday, even as legal scholars and medical ethicists criticized Gov. Jeb Bush's intervention this week to reinsert her feeding tube and predicted that a new law signed by Bush allowing that action would be struck down in the courts.
The growing national fascination with a case wrapped in a quality-of-life drama that many families know all too well increased the pressure on Michael Schiavo to tell his story. He issued a three-page statement through his attorneys to explain his position earlier this week. The statement tries to humanize a man who has been portrayed in testimony and affidavits as a tall, menacing bully who grew weary of his wife's continued presence in a persistent vegetative state as he built a life and a new family with a longtime girlfriend.
"I never wanted Terri to die," Michael Schiavo wrote. "I still don't. After years of desperately searching for a cure for Terri, the death of my own mother helped me realize that I was fooling myself."
Even his attorneys acknowledged the need for Schiavo to surface publicly.
"It's been very difficult for him to understand and accept that he has got to publicize his situation," attorney Deborah Bushnell said. "He doesn't want this to be public; he wants it to be private."
Yet with more public attention focused on the case than in the preceding 10 years, Michael Schiavo - as his wife's legal guardian - publicly banned his wife's family from visiting her Wednesday at a Clearwater hospital and initially refused to disclose where he planned to transport her. She later was returned to Woodside Hospice, where she has lived since April 2000 and where Michael Schiavo's other attorney, George Felos, is a former board chairman. On Thursday, Michael Schiavo once again allowed the Schindler family to visit Terri.
Though her family has no access to Terri's medical records, Pat Anderson, attorney for her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, speculated that she was too weak for the move. "She needs to be in an intensive-care unit," Anderson said.
Thus, for the second time this week, Felos was left to explain to reporters Thursday the reasons his client continues to seek the removal of his wife's feeding tube.
Felos used this analogy as a window into his client's motivation: A couple is sitting around watching TV and sees a program about a horrible illness or an accident. They turn to each other and ask that they each not be kept alive artificially.
"That's basically what happened between Terri and Michael, and he's just determined to keep his promise," Felos said. "I think he's unable to live the rest of his life if he walked away knowing he let Terri down and was unable to keep his promise to her."
Bob Schindler Jr., 38, Terri Schiavo's brother and a teacher at a Tampa Catholic school, said his family believes the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities will turn up evidence of abuse and neglect in its investigation of Michael Schiavo's guardianship.
Michael Schiavo has strongly denied those allegations.
But Schindler charges an effort to cover up "attempted murder" is the reason behind Michael Schiavo's determination to let Terri die and cremate her body since there no longer is any money for Michael Schiavo to inherit from his wife's medical fund, which was depleted largely by Michael Schiavo's legal costs.
"The money has now deteriorated," Schindler said outside the hospice on Thursday. "That's why Michael is trying to kill her. If she wakes up and gets rehabilitated, she can tell us what happened that night (in 1990) - that's one theory why he wants her dead and cremated. Why does he want her cremated? If you start connecting the dots, it paints an ugly picture."
Michael Schiavo's attorneys say the Schindler family's accusations are fabrications born of desperation as their legal fight has foundered over the years.
Schindler said a bone scan taken a year after his sister's mysterious collapse 13 years ago recently surfaced; it shows a history of trauma, including broken bones. Schindler lived in the same St. Petersburg apartment complex as his sister and brother-in-law in 1990. He says Michael Schiavo knew CPR but did not perform it the night Terri collapsed and was deprived of oxygen for 10 minutes. Schindler said his family and their doctors suspect Terri Schiavo was beaten and suffered brain damage.
Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney, says the bone scan only shows the normal changes of a sedentary person in a nursing home.
Felos vowed again Thursday to challenge the governor's new law all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.
Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the world's leading bioethicists who spoke this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons in Chicago, says he thinks the law will tumble.
"I think the action by the governor and the state legislature is immoral and unconstitutional," he said. "When did the Florida Legislature decide it couldn't trust its courts? The principle here is: Let a spouse make the decisions for their loved ones because they know them best."
Caplan pointed out that courts have consistently ruled in favor of Michael Schiavo even though his wife's parents and siblings have alleged he abused her.
"Look at the evidence," he said. "They keep coming back and saying, no, he's not in it for life insurance; he's not in it because he doesn't care for her. It's just that (the biological family members) want to be the decision-maker."
Caplan said the case also has implications for couples without a marriage license.
"If you're not married, if you're gay, or a common-law wife or husband who've been together for a long time, if this law holds up, then your mom is going to make the decisions, not your partner. You have no legal rights. They're out the window."
As to Terri Schiavo's legal rights, they remain in the hands of her guardian, Michael Schiavo.
(Martinez reported from Florida; Kampert reported from Chicago; Chicago Tribune correspondent Peter Gorner contributed to this report.)
A bald faced lie.
Better your mother, than an alledgedly abusive spouse with something to hide.
I think it was November-December 2000 thereabouts.
I hate to say it, but a bioethicist is someone paid by a hospital or drug company to tell them whatever they want to hear. He who pays calls the tune.
This article forgot to mention that Michael Schiavo also blocked a priest from administering Holy Communion and Extreme Unction to her.
Nevertheless it's encouraging, because the suspicious facts are starting to get out, even to a liberal newspaper like the Tribune which would normally stick with the usual Culture of Death line.
You can sign a power of attorney and a living will.
Gee! Do you mean HE doesn't want to die?
Oh, maybe 'round about November, 2000, Mr. Caplan?
Sounds like laywer babble to me.
"I think he's unable to live the rest of his life if he walked away knowing he let Terri down and was unable to
keep his promise to have her killed."
STATE OF FLORIDA ) COUNTY OF PINELLAS )
BEFORE ME the undersigned authority personally appeared CARLA SAUER IYER, R.N., who being first duly sworn, deposes and says:
1. My name is Carla Sauer Iyer. I am over the age of eighteen and make this statement of my own personal knowledge.
2. I am a registered nurse in the State of Florida, having been licensed continuously in Florida from 1997 to the present. Prior to that I was a Licensed Practical Nurse for about four years.
3. I was employed at Palm Garden of Largo Convalescent Center in Largo, Florida from April 1995 to July 1996, while Terri Schiavo was a patient there.
4. It was clear to me at Palm Gardens that all decisions regarding Terri Schiavo were made by Michael Schiavo, with no allowance made for any discussion, debate or normal professional judgment. My initial training there consisted solely of the instruction "Do what Michael Schiavo tells you or you will be terminated." This struck me as extremely odd.
-1- 5. I was very disturbed by the decision making protocol, as no allowance whatsoever was made for professional responsibility. The atmosphere throughout the facility was dominated by Mr. Schiavo's intimidation. Everyone there, with the exception of several people who seemed to be close to Michael, was intimidated by him. Michael Schiavo always had an overbearing attitude, yelling numerous times such things as "This is my order and you're going to follow it." He is very large and uses menacing body language, such as standing too close to you, getting right in your face and practically shouting.
6. To the best of my recollection, rehabilitation had been ordered for Terri, but I never saw any being done or had any reason at all to believe that there was ever any rehab of Terri done at Palm Gardens while I was there. I became concerned because Michael wanted nothing done for Terri at all, no antibiotics, no tests, no range of motion therapy, no stimulation, no nothing. Michael said again and again that Terri should NOT get any rehab, that there should be no range of motion whatsoever, or anything else. I and a CNA named Roxy would give Terri range of motion anyway. One time I put a wash cloth in Terri's hand to keep her fingers from curling together, -2- and Michael saw it and made me take it out, saying that was therapy.
7. Terri's medical condition was systematically distorted and misrepresented by Michael. When I worked with her, she was alert and oriented. Terri spoke on a regular basis while in my presence, saying such things as "mommy," and "help me." "Help me" was, in fact, one of her most frequent utterances. I heard her say it hundreds of times. Terri would try to say the word "pain" when she was in discomfort, but it came out more like "pay." She didn't say the "n" sound very well. During her menses she would indicate her discomfort by saying "pay" and moving her arms toward her lower abdominal area. Other ways that she would indicate that she was in pain included pursing her lips, grimacing, thrashing in bed, curling her toes or moving her legs around. She would let you know when she had a bowel movement by flipping up the covers and pulling on her diaper and scooted in bed on her bottom.
8. When I came into her room and said "Hi, Terri", she would always recognize my voice and her name, and would turn her head all the way toward me, saying "Haaaiiiii" sort of, as she did. I recognized this as a "hi", which is very close to what it sounded like, the whole sound -3- being only a second or two long. When I told her humrous stories about my life or something I read in the paper, Terri would chuckle, sometimes more a giggle or laugh. She would move her whole body, upper and lower. Her legs would sometimes be off the bed, and need to be repositioned. I made numerous entries into the nursing notes in her chart, stating verbatim what she said and her various behaviors, but by my next on-duty shift, the notes would be deleted from her chart. Every time I made a positive entry about any responsiveness of Terri's, someone would remove it after my shift ended. Michael always demanded to see her chart as soon as he arrived, and would take it in her room with him. I documented Terri's rehab potential well, writing whole pages about Terri's responsiveness, but they would always be deleted by the next time I saw her chart. The reason I wrote so much was that everybody else seemed to be afraid to make positive entries for fear of their jobs, but I felt very strongly that a nurses job was to accurately record everything we see and hear that bears on a patients condition and their family. I upheld the Nurses Practice Act, and if it cost me my job, I was willing to accept that.
9. Throughout my time at Palm Gardens, Michael Schiavo was focused -4- on Terri's death. Michael would say "When is she going to die?," "Has she died yet?" and "When is that bitch gonna die?" These statements were common knowledge at Palm Gardens, as he would make them casually in passing, without regard even for who he was talking to, as long as it was a staff member. Other statements which I recall him making include "Can't anything be done to accelerate her death - won't she ever die?" When she wouldn't die, Michael would be furious. Michael was also adamant that the family should not be given information. He made numerous statements such as "Make sure the parents aren't contacted." I recorded Michael's statements word for word in Terri's chart, but these entries were also deleted after the end of my shift. Standing orders were that the family wasn't to be contacted, in fact, there was a large sign in the front of her chart that said under no circumstances was her family to be called, call Michael immediately, but I would call them, anyway, because I thought they should know about their daughter.
10. Any time Terri would be sick, like with a UTI or fluid buildup in her lungs, colds, or pneumonia, Michael would be visibly excited, thrilled even, hoping that she would die.
He would say something like, -5- "Hallelujah! You've made my day!" He would call me, as I was the nurse supervisor on the floor, and ask for every little detail about her temperature, blood pressure, etc., and would call back frequently asking if she was dead yet. He would blurt out "I'm going to be rich!" and would talk about all the things he would buy when Terri died, which included a new car, a new boat, and going to Europe, among other things.
11. When Michael visited Terri, he always came alone and always had the door closed and locked while he was with Terri. He would typically be there about twenty minutes or so. When he left Terri would be trembling, crying hysterically, and would be very pale and have cold sweats.
It looked to me like Terri was having a hypoglycemic reaction, so I'd check her blood sugar. The glucometer reading would be so low it was below the range where it would register an actual number reading. I would put dextrose in Terri's mouth to counteract it. This happened about five times on my shift, as I recall. Normally Terri's blood sugar levels were very stable due to the uniformity of her diet through tube feeding. It is medically possible that Michael injected Terri with Regular insulin, which is very fast acting, but I don't have -6- any way of knowing for sure.
12. The longer I was employed at Palm Gardens the more concerned I became about patient care, both relating to Terri Schiavo, for the reasons I've said, and other patients, too. There was an LPN named
Carolyn Adams, known as "Andy" Adams who was a particular concern. An unusual number of patients seemed to die on her shift, but she was completely unconcerned, making statements such as "They are old - let them die." I couldn't believe her attitude or the fact that it didn't seem to attract any attention.
She made many comments about Terri being a waste of money, that she should die. She said it was costing Michael a lot of money to keep her alive, and that he complained about it constantly (I heard him complain about it all the time, too.) Both Michael and Adams said that she would be worth more to him if she were dead. I ultimately called the police relative to this situation, and was terminated the next day. Other reasons were cited, but I was convinced it was because of my "rocking the boat."
13. Ms. Adams was one of the people who did not seem to be intimidated by Michael. In fact, they seemed to be very close, and Adams would do whatever Michael told her. Michael sometimes called Adams at -7- night and spoke at length. I was not able to hear the content of these phone calls, but I knew it was him talking to her because she would tell me afterward and relay orders from him.
14. I have contacted the Schindler family because I just couldn't stand by and let Terri die without the truth being known.
FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NAUGHT.
CARLA SAUER IYER, R.N.
The foregoing instrument was acknowledged before me this 29 day of August,
2003, by CARLA SAUER IYER, R.N., who produced her Florida's driver's license
as identification, and who did take an oath.
< signed Patricia J. Anderson >
My commission expires___________
< Notary seal of Patricia J. Anderson >
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.