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Terri Schiavo Again: Mild Stroke Leads to Motherís Starvation
Life News ^ | 9/13/11 | Kate Kelly

Posted on 09/13/2011 4:08:10 PM PDT by wagglebee

I watched an old woman die of hunger and thirst.  She had Alzheimer’s, this old woman, and was child-like, trusting, vulnerable, with a child’s delight at treats of chocolate and ice cream, and a child’s fear and frustration when tired or ill.

I watched her die for six days and nights.

I watched her suffer, and I listened to the medical practitioners, to a son who legally decided her fate, and to an eldest daughter who advised him and told me that the old woman, my mother, was “comfortable,” except when she was “in distress,” at which times the nurses medicated her to make her “comfortable” again.

I watched the old woman develop ulcerations inside her mouth as she became more and more dehydrated; the caregivers assured me these were not painful.

I listened to her breathing become more and more laboured, as her lungs became congested from the morphine administered every three to four hours, and later every hour.

That is what morphine does, you see.  It relieves pain, but its cumulative effect is that eventually it shuts down the respiratory system.

No one explained why the old woman was given morphine in the first place, since she was conscious and trying to speak.  It is normal that a mild stroke causes temporary inability to swallow, slurred speech, and a severe headache, but all of these are often reversed when the stroke victim is treated and the treatment includes nourishment and water.

The explanation for not giving nourishment and water – a feeding tube and IV (intravenous) – is that these were “extraordinary measures” for keeping someone alive.

I watched the old woman day and night for six days.  The first night, after the first shot of morphine, her mouth hung open and her tongue started to roll and flutter.  At the same time, her jaw trembled continuously.

This went on all night and into the early hours of the morning.  Her mouth never closed again, except to clamp tightly on wet cloths placed on her lips.  Her eyes were partially closed, but they moved back and forth, back and forth, becoming small slits after seven or eight hours, not closing fully until that long first night was over.

She opened her eyes only once after that, when the nurse was late with the morphine, on the third, or maybe the fourth, day.

The old woman started to moan. Not moaning, said the nurses and the old woman’s eldest daughter.  Just air escaping from the lungs.  Not moaning at all.

The old woman’s eyes started to open, and the air escaping from the lungs sounded exactly like a moan of agony, as the old woman’s face twisted in horrible contortions.  I screamed, “Her eyes are opening! Oh, God. Oh, God!”

Even as the morphine, quickly injected by a disconcerted nurse, caused the old woman’s eyes to close and her face to relax, I doubted its efficacy.  I thought back to the night before, when I, in tears at the old woman’s slow dying, had been confronted by a delegation of four of the nursing staff, each of them in turn trying to convince me that the old woman was not suffering in any way at all.  The morphine, they said, takes away all pain.

But, I answered them, she can feel: she’s squeezing my hand, and if I try to take my hand out of hers, she squeezes tighter, and when I hold a little piece of gauze to her lips, she tries to suck the water out of it.  She’s thirsty!  This is a horror; this is cruelty!

No, they said.  She’s not thirsty.  It’s just reflex.  But, I tell them, I watched her clamp her lips on the gauze so tightly that I had to pull to get it out of her mouth.

She reacts when you touch her feet, her legs, and her hair. If she can feel that she can feel thirst, I plead with them.

It’s not the same, they tell me.  She’s not in pain.

I look at her.  But what if you’re wrong? I say.  What if you’re wrong?

They stand there, saying nothing.  Then one looks at the old woman and says, we’d better turn her now.  She and another care worker go about the business of repositioning the old woman, to keep her “comfortable” and the other two leave.

The days and nights went in and out of focus.  I sat in a chair at the side of the old woman’s bed, one hand grasped tightly by her hand.  I slept an hour or two, here and there, waking always with a start.

“I’m here,” I murmured, so the old woman would know I was keeping the promise I made to her on the first night, after her son and eldest daughter left to get some food, drink, and rest.  I promised her then, “I will not leave here until you do.

The old woman was fading by the fourth day.  Her eldest daughter had been visiting for an hour or so each day, usually mid-morning.  This daughter, a former hospital worker, lightly stroked her mother’s face and hair and timed the length of her mother’s “breath apnea,” the length of time her mother stopped breathing.

She announced the number of seconds, and then counted the number of breaths between each stopped breath.  Seven breaths, she said, 11 breaths.

Sometimes she described the progress of her mother’s death, She’s probably down to about 60 pounds now, she pronounced.

Sometimes – I’m not sure when I noticed it first – the nurses asked us to leave while they attended to the old woman.  Other times they didn’t.  Once, perhaps on the fourth day, I told them I didn’t have to leave: I had watched them turn her, I had seen her tiny naked body as they gently washed her.  I didn’t even flinch anymore when they injected the syringe of morphine.

We have to give her a suppository, they said. A suppository?  Why?

For anxiety, they said. Anxiety.  So that she would appear to die with dignity.  The morphine was no longer enough.  This courageous old woman, who could face, who had faced, unimaginable hardships with nothing but her faith and her dignity, she could teach you about dignity, I thought to myself.

On the fifth day the eldest daughter visited twice.  On her second visit, several staff members entered the room with her.   They were all talking loudly, about nothing in particular, except for one care worker, fond of the old woman, who walked over to the bed and called the old woman’s name loudly enough to interrupt the others’ light conversation.  She examined the old woman’s hands, lifted the sheet covering her and looked at her legs and feet.  She called the old woman’s name again, and the care worker’s face showed alarm.

How long has it been? she asked.  She’s not even mottling! (Mottling is the term given to describe the blackening of the feet and hands as the body, dehydrating, tries to preserve the vital organs by stopping the flow of blood to the limbs).

You know, continued the care worker, I don’t think it’s her time.  It’s been, what, five days?  If she had been ready to go, she’d have gone in 24 hours.The room went quiet.  The care worker and I looked at each other.  You’re right, I said.  The eldest daughter and one of the nurses began to tell her she was wrong, and a nurse hustled her out of the room.

By the sixth night I was not sure I could go on.  I slept for an hour or so every four or five hours. I still sat in the chair by her bed, but now I slept with my head on bed, near her stomach.

The old woman’s breathing was laboured, her will to live defying the system and the foolish young doctor who, on that first night, gave her 24 hours to live, as though he were God Himself.

My heart was breaking for her.  I could do nothing to save her, could do nothing but suffer with her.  I cried much of the time, but softly, so she would not know.  I didn’t want to add to her agony.

I had been there six days.  She could no longer hold my hand, so I slipped my hand gently under hers.  I felt an anguish so profound that I began to wonder if I could survive it.

The old woman’s breathing was suddenly no longer laboured.  Her breath eased from her, and her face – oh, her face had become the colour of pearls.

In a split second, the frown that had creased the line between her brows was smoothed away.  Her head rested gently to one side.  Two care workers entered the room.  I saw them in my peripheral vision, but I kept my gaze on the old woman. We’re just going to turn her, one of the workers said.

No, I said, my mother is dying.

One of them left to get a nurse, and then the old woman – my dear mother, my little, child-like, beautiful mother – died.

I put my arms round her, kissed her poor, closed eyes and her now relaxed mouth, and held her limp, tiny body, no more struggling for breath.

I watched an old woman die of hunger and thirst.  I watched her die for six days and nights.  I watched her suffer, and struggle, and hold onto life.

She had not often found life easy, but she had always found it worthwhile.  She was 94 years old.  She had been born and had lived all her life in Canada.  She had worked hard all her life, married, raised three children, voted, paid taxes, saved enough money to buy her own home, obeyed the laws, donated to charity, done volunteer work, paid her bills, and given much love and brought much joy to many, many people in her 94 years.

In return, in the spring of 2009, her son and her eldest daughter, with the permission and assistance of the law, because this old woman had had a mild stroke, refused her food and water.  She could not swallow, so she would have needed the food and water administered artificially.

And the youngest daughter could do nothing except watch her mother die slowly, and write this, in the hope that my mother’s death, like her life, will have made a difference. Note:  Kate Kelly writes for Human Life Alliance. Reprinted with permission.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: deathpanels; euthanasia; moralabsolutes; prolife; terrischiavo
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This is too awful for words.
1 posted on 09/13/2011 4:08:13 PM PDT by wagglebee
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To: cgk; Coleus;; narses; Salvation; 8mmMauser
Pro-Life Ping
2 posted on 09/13/2011 4:09:07 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: BykrBayb; floriduh voter; Lesforlife; amdgmary; Sun
3 posted on 09/13/2011 4:09:50 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: 185JHP; 230FMJ; AKA Elena; Albion Wilde; Aleighanne; Alexander Rubin; Amos the Prophet; ...
Moral Absolutes Ping!

Freepmail wagglebee to subscribe or unsubscribe from the moral absolutes ping list.

FreeRepublic moral absolutes keyword search
[ Add keyword moral absolutes to flag FR articles to this ping list ]

4 posted on 09/13/2011 4:10:33 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

I’m sure each of them has put it in writing that that’s what they want their kids to do to them. Right? Huh?

5 posted on 09/13/2011 4:10:47 PM PDT by bgill (There, happy now?)
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To: wagglebee

If I am stuck in bed and people are starving me to death, I hope that aomeone will stick a loaded gun in my hand. I pray that I will have enough strength to aim it and pull the trigger-

and shoot the SOB’s that are starving me to death.

6 posted on 09/13/2011 4:13:30 PM PDT by Nachum (The complete Obama list at
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To: wagglebee
This is too awful for words.

And yet you wallow in it.

7 posted on 09/13/2011 4:15:45 PM PDT by Misterioso (The worst law is better than bureaucratic tyranny. (Ludwig von Mises)
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To: wagglebee

I’m wondering why the youngest daughter didn’t try going to court to have a guardian appointed for her mother?

8 posted on 09/13/2011 4:19:12 PM PDT by mewzilla (Forget a third party. We need a second one.)
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To: wagglebee

Yep, the Nazis did this to all of their “useless eaters”. Did it the same way at first as well, starved them to death. Then decide that it was more efficient to gas them instead. Give it 5 or 10 more years and they’ll be doing the same here as well as it will be more “humane”. Our brave new world awaits!

9 posted on 09/13/2011 4:19:25 PM PDT by trapped_in_LA
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To: wagglebee

I would be at total war with my family members over this.

I certainly wouldn’t be in a state to be allowed at my parent’s bedside. And my brother and sister would never be able to speak to me again, because every time I saw their face, they would get holy h*ll.

10 posted on 09/13/2011 4:24:23 PM PDT by I still care (I miss my friends, bagels, and the NYC skyline - but not the taxes. I love the South.)
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To: wagglebee
My mother passed away after a valiant fight with Alzheimer's. Her final episode was a massive heart attack that took her in a few hours. My siblings (two brothers and a sister) believed in death with dignity. They thought Terri Schaivo’s death was the right thing to do. I told them that they were projecting. Maybe that's what they might want in her situation but it was unlikely that's what Terri would have wanted. I asked which one of them would ‘assist’ if Mom wanted to ‘die with dignity’? No answer. I told them not to worry. Mom had always valued life and she would NEVER ask one of her children to ‘assist in her death’. I find the Death Culture appalling. I hope all those who deny lifesaving help to those who want help will someday suffer like those on whom they impose their will.
11 posted on 09/13/2011 4:27:02 PM PDT by originalbuckeye
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To: mewzilla

Perhaps the mother had appointed her son as her legal guardian? It is also tough when it’s two against one. I am heartbroken for this daughter.

12 posted on 09/13/2011 4:28:38 PM PDT by originalbuckeye
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To: wagglebee

Morphine is an Opiate it will make you very
constipated and will kill you in the end.

My father died like that but it took weeks.

13 posted on 09/13/2011 4:36:52 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: mewzilla

“Mild Stroke Leads to Mother’s Starvation”

OK, I’m the youngest daughter, and I’m watching this horror inflicted on my mother. I write a heart wretching article and refer to her as “an old woman” as I sit there and hold her hand?
This article reeks of fraud. If that were my mother, you can bet I would take that hospital and everyone envolved apart piece by piece to rescue her, and if I had to spend the rest my days in jail for it, no way in hell I would do nothing!!!

If you think there is any possibility someone in your family would be murdered in this way, get them out of that facility, get them home, get the best in-home care you can get, and take care of them yourself! No matter how primitive your home care may be, it will be worlds better than death by dehydration and starvation! And you will spend the rest of your days with a clear conscience knowing you did your best!

14 posted on 09/13/2011 4:37:31 PM PDT by WestwardHo
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To: Nachum


15 posted on 09/13/2011 4:38:31 PM PDT by waterhill (Little 'r' republican:)
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To: bgill

I’m sure each of them has put it in writing that that’s what they want their kids to do to them. Right? Huh?

I’m sure each of them has put it in writing that that’s what they want their kids to do to them. Right? Huh?

I’m sure each of them has put it in writing that that’s what they want their kids to do to them. Right? Huh?

Bears repeating!!!!!

16 posted on 09/13/2011 4:39:30 PM PDT by netmilsmom (Happiness is a choice)
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To: wagglebee

Interesting about the morphine. However there are some people who are dying from cancer that require the morphine every 3-4 hours to keep their pain down. This is a sad case but there are legitimate reasons to give morphine every 3-4 hours.

17 posted on 09/13/2011 4:39:59 PM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I'd like to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.)
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To: netmilsmom
I’m sure each of them has put it in writing that that’s what they want their kids to do to them. Right? Huh?

Some people do. Without going into personal details, some very close relatives of mine signed advance directives specifying that, under certain circumstances, they were to be denied food and water and given only pain medication.

18 posted on 09/13/2011 4:44:58 PM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: wagglebee

Man I want them to feed me.

If I become incontinent, my mind is blown with alzheimers, my body filled with bed sores,, gasping for breath, I want my family to spend every dime they have to keep me alive so I can suffer. I don’ want any of them to get a penny’s inheritance, I want it all spent with the nursing home keeping me alive in a vegetative state.I ant my two daughters to have to come and watch me waste away in pain from terminal cancer or whatever else I have, just feed me, If I cannot eat, dose me up with that liquid crap they put in my veins that keeps me alive so my kids can take time away from their families to watch me die after eating for a long time.If I am totally useless, have no mind, have no chance of recovery, just keep feeding me until they go broke , the government goes broke, and then bury me with the $200 dollars Social security gives for the purpose.

Yeah thats the way I want to go, lying there with my family grieving for me every day and saying what a sad case I am waiting to die.

19 posted on 09/13/2011 4:46:50 PM PDT by Venturer
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To: wagglebee

Been here, done this, watched my mom die from degenerative brain disease...she appeared not to know anybody for months as her body shut its own self down, her feet had been almost black for a week...and then one day out of the blue she clamped her jaws and fought the food and wouldn’t or couldn’t swallow.

We did keep feeding intravenously as long as her eyes opened and let shaved ice melt on her tongue. We didn’t know what she knew inside those blank eyes. The last day as the gray veil came over her face and the doc said pneumonia, how do you want to handle this. We allowed him to take the tube away, but kept the shaved ice coming as long as she’d hold it on her tongue.

We sat and visited, and we all gave her permission to go when she’s ready and too tired to fight. And then she closed her eyes, but the breaths kept coming. On the last two or three, I know this sounds morbid, but my older brother bent over to his Mom’s ear and said, “I know, you’re getting even with me now aren’t ya for torturing your precious daughters.” We all just burst out laughing...and then we looked at Mom saw those same pearls light her face, and said, ‘Go home, Mom. Go to Daddy.’ And she did.

One of my spiritual guru type high school friends who had come in to see if we needed coffee, leaned over and said, “The angels are there in the corner to take your Mom, and your Dad’s there with them.” Wished I could’ve seen that.

I don’t know how anybody could deny the parent sustenance as long as they are willing. Can you imagine saying, ‘OK God, let’s get this show on the road, I’m done with this, come get her! Oh geebus....

20 posted on 09/13/2011 4:56:31 PM PDT by RowdyFFC
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