Saturday, March 19, 2005

Schiavo's Chessmasters

Disgusting. It fills my mind with revulsion to consider the main actors keeping this woman (they claim to love) alive, while at the same time using her as a pawn in their religio-mania agenda. There is no form of life lower than those who would use the defenseless to advance their life-denying agenda.

Didn't Jesus say, "And God shall strike down with great fury and damnation those who use brainless people as political pawns." If he didn't, well, he died young. And unfortunately the punishment is not coming to pass. Otherwise we'd have several congressmen and preachers dead and tucked away in hell by now. They, or course, have double guilt. They use Schiavo, without much functional brain due to anoxia, and they use their flock, without much functional brain due to religio-mania.

Let's look at the facts. These are facts. They are not open to interpretation, they cannot be ignored.

Fact #1: Schiavo has been in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) for the last 15 years with no signs of recovery. That is a fact. Her doctors have diagnosed her with this condition. There is no recovery possible. There is no content to her consciousness. She has no subjective self. She may display rudimentary movements, but the diagnosis is NOT minimally conscious state, it is persistent vegetative state. It is permanent. She will not get better.

Fact #2: Schiavo’s wishes, before she had what should have been a fatal cardiac arrest, are clear. She would not have desired care in this situation. This is from the testimony of her husband. It is entered into court documents as fact.

Now the majority leader in congress, DeLay, says, "Terri Schiavo will not be forsaken." Mr. DeLay, you will not be forgiven. Mr. Delay uses this case to distract from his own legal, to say nothing of ethical, problems regarding fund-raising and his violations of congressional travel rules. Now here's a chance to play great moralist to the nation. For shame, for shame.

Mr. DeLay, while clearly not one of the last bastion’s of morality in America, is clever enough to call Schiavo as a witness. A witness: one who testifies as to what they've seen. This may prove difficult, since PVS precludes testifying, seeing, or experiencing. Calling her as a witness seems the worst sort of joke, but it also precludes removing the feeding tube, which is the medical intervention that provides Mrs. Schiavo with food and water and artificially extends her life.

Prolonging Schiavo's life is legitimized based on the worst sorts of arguments that removing a feeding tube is equal to killing Schiavo, which not only ignores the facts above, but reveals ignorance about euthanasia's definition, futility, and the appropriate role of medical care. I find it disingenuous. No-one can be this stupid without serious faith-based brainwashing.

Things are no better on the democrat side, the Democrat's Reid, keeping a careful eye on the expanse of red, where Schiavo's chess masters reside, is not blocking the bill.

An odd contradiction arises when these right to life people get up and start their horrible din. They use language with a lot of right-to-life talk. How holy life is. How valuable. How priceless. Which is fine - no human ought to argue against the value of life. But part of life's value is dignity and the ability to make choices. I'm just going to quote myself.

Seen on a bumper sticker, "The best day fishing beats the worst day working." If we bring that into relevance: Is the following true, "The best day spent dead beats the worst day spent alive?" I'd say not. I've seen suffering. I know how bad the worst day can be. And death, when it comes, can be a blessing.

Schiavo has lost so much dignity over the past 15 years. A once fully functional woman now requires people to clean her body of feces and urine. At what point does the loss of dignity, the loss of cerebral function, allow the removal of artificial means of extending her life?

I do not know. I would not make that decision for anyone other than for myself. And I know that for myself, I would not wish such an existence (not that I would be conscious of it, but I would prefer outright death to the mind's equivalent – if only because outright death involves less fecal matter on my body). Schiavo apparently desired the same. Her desires are clear. Further care, against her wishes, is called assault and battery.

To fail to recognize these points is innocent. But to not only make this failure of imagination and of empathy, but to launch from there into an attempt to control other's behavior is a great wrong. Many great wrongs in this world result from such innocence. Islamofascism exists in part, because the Mullah's believe what they say. By trying to maintain the value of Schiavo's life, her congressional, media, and blogging enemies unknowingly devalue it by attempting to deny her of the choices she made when she was mindful. In fact, there is really only one choice left to her, and that is when.

What will happen is unclear. What is clear is that our legislative government has entered into a new realm. A realm in which they display no hesitation in interfering with personal decisions. Here we see one of the oddest contradictions: conservatives, who would lament a big government, are prepared to grant government the power over the manner in which we die.


Blogger echrai said...

My only argument against what they have done is the inhumanity. If her desire was to die, she ought to be allowed to die; however it's not as simple as cutting off life support. A few minutes of struggle and then gone would be fine. They're cutting off a feeding tube for a body that is capable of sustaining itself (physically, not functionally) outside of that. Not in any great manner, but it is. So she will starve to death over a period of up to weeks. How in any right world could this be humane? I would far prefer that they just take a gun and shoot her. I'm not saying it's murder, I'm just saying that everyone has the right to die with dignity and long extended death that's already outlasted its time is anything but that.

The rest of what you've stated so eloquently, I agree.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Sunnye T said...

Your facts are wrong, Sir.
Terri Schiavo is NOT PVS -- she speaks, relates to others, sits in chairs.

Her wishes are not clear except that she told a nurse this morning she didn't want to die.

Michael Schiavo (and this is part of deposition testimony) told a girlfriend that he and Terri had never talked about the issue because "we were too young."

Why should anyone care if Terri lives as long as her family cares for her and it doesn't cost the State anything?

I have a son who has lived in the condition that Terri is for 38 years (his temporal lobes didn't develop) and he is happy and has brought much joy to our family. Terry can do the same.

Most of all, death is final. You can't get her back if you're wrong. If she lives medical science may evolve enough to cure her.

Life is a treasure we should all value for ourselves and for each other. To do less is to devalue humanity.

2:56 PM  
Blogger marybishop said...

Indeed an eloquent and compassionate post.

Sunnye says: Terri Schiavo is NOT PVS -- she speaks, relates to others, sits in chairs.
That's a new one on me. Just saw her on TV - not the sitting in the chair shot where she blinks her eyes, but lying in bed looking mostly dead.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...


"Terri Schiavo is NOT PVS"

This is her diagnosis. Every third party neurologist, including her neurologist, agrees with this diagnosis. She fits the clinical criteria for PVS. She is in a persistant vegative state. To say otherwise is to ignore the facts as we know them and pay undue attention to clearly biased third, fourth, etc., reports. This is an irreversible condition. She is not going to get better. She has been essentially comatose for 15 years, her life kept going through artificial means, with no recovery thus far, and none to come. Neuronal death is final. My children will probably not benefit from the neuroscience (oddly, you would also rob TS of the possible benefit of stem cell research, doing her yet another insulting disservice). There is no way TS's condition could be reversed.

Comparing TS to your son with (no clue what you're talking about? TLE?) is trying to compare math with colors.

Michael Schiavo told the court under oath that these are not her wishes. That is the fact of the matter.

I would make the same choice, Mrs. NOS knows it. And I am horrified that my choice would not be honored because of people like you, people who would use her as your poster child for your global assault on the "culture of death," which includes a woman's right to choose, dying with dignity, and, which is usually not stated for fear of loosing valuable soldiers, capital punishment.

You've made her into your pawn. You are a chess master. As such, I hold you in the lowest possible esteem.

"To do less is to devalue humanity."

I'm not even sure one could devalue another's life further than you and yours have already devalued TS: turning her into the unwilling pawn of your movement.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

Echrai: I agree, but I can't state it so strongly. Because she has no capacity for suffering, she will not experience thirst or hunger. Without water, her lifespan will be days, a week on the outside.

I'm actually suprised, as a doctor, that she's made it 15 years. She must have excellent care. Decub ulcers, pneumonias, UTIs, sepsis, PEs - any of these could be the friends she needs to die. The fact she hasn't had any indicates her care is excellent. Plus, she must be very tough.

Make my estimate at a week.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Sunnye T said...

I'm afraid you haven't read the testimony of the consulting physicians..but let's say she is PVS. PVS is NOT irreversible. Sarah Scantlin was PVS for 20 years and just woke two weeks ago. She is recovering. We saw a woman who describes herself as a "former vegetable" who is championing Terri's cause because she herself came out of an "irreversible coma" and recovered enough to go back to college. Google PVS and you find many stories like that.

The film you see on TV was made a long time ago -- this has been going on for 15 years. She has made progress -- and without the help of medication and therapy.

Terri deserves a chance to prove her ability to get better. She could always be killed later, but once she dies, she can never recover.

If Terri had made that choice, it should have been honored. But she didn't. Michael made it for her. A man who cheats on his wife when she is sick in the hospital would not hesitate to lie under oath.

But what we have here is court ordered murder of a disabled person.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Sunnye T said...

The debate we should be having here is what constitutes life support and what sustains life -- and what is the difference. Somewhere in that discussion is the definition of murder.

Echrai is right -- cutting off life support is quick and painless. Cutting off food and water is something else entirely.

The nurse said Terri cried and said, "No" when they told her they were going to remove the tube today.

That's how Terri feels.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

"PVS is NOT irreversible"

You may have missed one of your doses of Haldol. Neurons do not regrow. Let me assure you that PVS is believed to be irreversible by every reputable neurologist and neuroscientist out there. Otherwise, find me the data. In any case, 15 years is a good trial period for recovery.

"Google PVS and you find many stories like that."

This is your problem. You're poorly informed. Google UFOs, ghosts, telepathy, astrology - and you'll find plenty of evidence these things exist - which you may as well believe as well.

Show me some data. Try pubmed.

GOOGLE!? This is the best they can do?

10:37 PM  
Blogger marybishop said...

Seems to me one needs to have either a mind or a body to be human. If you have a mind, can communicate that even though you will have to be hooked up to machines and feeding tubes, you prefer that life over death...then great. Of if you have a body that is functioning without interventions like feeding tubes, etc. and even though the mind is gone, you have left clear instructions that you want to live minus your mind, then fine, I guess.

No mind and no body? Then your life is sustained for others to fawn over you and play pretend parents, spouse, child etc.

I always remember my mother's words as she was dying from cancer: they treat animals better than people. At least they'll euthanize an animal but a human has to live till the very last day.

No feeding tubes for mom...she died earlier ( by a few weeks or months) because she had clearly stated she wanted no life sustaining interventions and no resuscitation.

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Scott D. Feldstein said...

Just a point of clarification. The poor woman who woke from a coma recently had complete brain. Terri Schiavo doesn't. Terri has only fluid where once sat the part of the brain which serves as the seat of consciousness and thought. There's a whole lot of medical distinction between these two cases.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

Couldn't agree more. There are many cases of recovery from a neurologic insult. This is called recovery, not PVS. The P in PVS stands for persistent. I have also survived a coma - when they took my wisdom teeth out. This does not mean that TS can do likewise.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Crystal Clear said...

Before we even get to the diagnosis of whether she is or isn't PVS I believe the first relevant question really should be is Michael Schiavo fit to be her guardian just because he is her husband by law. I would say NO,,, he is the ONLY one who was with her that night when she collapsed as a woman in her 20s, he is the ONLY one who ever stood to gain anything $$$ if she were dead, and he is the ONLY one who might potentially stand a great deal to lose if she recovered...The bonescan which showed trauma around time of her collapse and yet was supressed until 2002 should have been investigated and even though not investigated (even Greer said it was interesting and should be investigated) it should been part of the picture that disqualifies Michael from being in his position as her guardian...also his multiple insults both financially and legally (not filing necessary required legal guardianship plans)should add even more to having Terri's parents be her gaurdian...if you don't like THAT idea at least agree she at minimium deserved to have her own legal really please step a back first and consider these and realize the issue of whether she is or is not PVS is not compelling enough to murder her...

6:29 PM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

This is another wacko trying to put the entire discussion on a tangent into conspiracy theory.

Another inconvient fact of this story for the right wing religiosity is that her husband actually turned down 10 million, offered if he were to act to keep her alive. He refused the bribe - and the religios right will not ever talk about it.

He is her husband. Note that this is PRESENT CASE. He has been through 15 years of this. He stated in court, and this was entered as fact, that TS would not want to be alive like this. I've met a lot of spouses of chronically ill people. And I've failed to meet a lot of spouses of chronically ill people. Many people would have cut and run years ago.

The fact that these people go out of their way to vilify someone who suffered so much is something for which I cannot excuse them. Perhaps I'm just getting old, but it stirs in me something that I have not felt: moral outrage. Moral indignation at the fact that these people will do ANYTHING, they will sink to the LOWEST FORM OF ARGUMENT: ad hominum to advance their religious cause.

It is all very disgusting. It's like roadkill though - you just have to look.

6:46 PM  
Blogger erinberry said...

What is this "sunnye-t" person smoking? Terri doesn't speak and she did not say "no" to her tube coming out.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Praying for you said...

Good evening to you sir.
While you are certainly entitled to your opinion, I can't help but counter your anger on this woman's life. Why are you politicizing your own personal hangups ("Terri shits on herself. She also urinates on herself. She has zero dignity.") in this context? What also is the basis of your "revulsion" toward those who are religious, or on the side of holding life up as sacred? It would seem to me, doctor, that if the facts are as clear as you say they are, that there would be no emotion here, just a discussion of the facts in the case. However, your post on this matter is consistently emotional and angry, leading one to see this opinion as based on personal feelings, and not factual pieces of information.
Your descriptions of those whose opinions differ from yours about this woman's life, its value and dignity are that such persons have come to these conlcusions only because they are made "stupid" by "faith-based brainwashing". As one reads the sources of your information to be that you "saw her on TV" and are able to form an opinion of her functional ability, one must question the wisdom of one who does so. Faith based or not.
With you being a "DoctorNOS", I can only hope that this is a PhD and that you are not able to use your personal revulsion to bodily eliminations to affect the health of others at large.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Still praying said...

By the way, just becasue Michael Schiavo is legally married to Terri Schiavo does not mean he hasn't "cut and run". He has broken every vow he took when he was married to her. He has deserted his wife in sickness and fathered 2 children with another woman! He can hardly be held up as a moral giant.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, my husband, because of a bowel disorder, poops his pants every night. He makes $120k a year, is a brilliant pianist, an awesome father and husband, and quite dignified.

7:17 PM  
Blogger The Mad Tech said...

No matter what side of the PVS argument that one comes down, it is not relevant. This issue at its very heart is a matter of law. Florida law requires that if one faced with the terrible situation that Terri is in and does not want to live in such a condition then those wishes must be in writing and witnessed. Michael can produce no such document and Greer continues to make illegal rulings while ignoring that very law. This is yet another example of an activist judge ruling on his own personal feelings rather then law. The Death mongering Democrats who stood up today do nothing but advance their plan of activist judges and sentence this woman to a horrible lingering death. They will have to explain their actions to the people they "represent" but more importantly, one day they would stand before The Man and be held accountable for their deeds. This issue is one that crosses party lines and I can't believe anyone, left or right, wants to live under rulings handed down by people who were never elected and seem to be above reproach. I pray for Terri and her family regardless of the outcome because I believe that God provides and each party will get what they need and deserve. But if it were up to me, Mikey would be sitting in a jail cell and his wife would have a divorce and the treatment and care that her parents wish for her.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

"However, your post on this matter is consistently emotional and angry, leading one to see this opinion as based on personal feelings, and not factual pieces of information."

The hypocrisy of those who would use (and abuse) a defenseless person makes me angry. True.

As for the dignity. You are correct. It is not my place to say someone has or does not have dignity. This is entirely my fault. It would disgust me to by in this state. I would feel an utter lack of dignity, being unable to communicate, without consciousness, with urine and stool next to my skin. I did not intend the lack of dignity as a conclusion for TS. I believe she has as much dignity as she is allowed and softened it in my post above, which I should point out, was made before benefiting from your comments.

Would you cast judgement upon TS's husband? Try walking in his shoes, which I wouldn't wish upon anyone. Another person who is making the long suffering husband into a villian. Indignation rises: how dare you?

8:20 PM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

"No matter what side of the PVS argument that one comes down, it is not relevant."


"But if it were up to me, Mikey would be sitting in a jail cell and his wife would have a divorce and the treatment and care that her parents wish for her."

Oh, I see, you are a psycho nut job. How are you enjoying Earth? Are you going to stay here long?

8:22 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

What about the bonescan that confirms trauma around the time of her collapse?

9:09 PM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

How is this at all relevant to her present condition? When people have cardiac arrests they fall down, sometimes hard, sometimes down stairs. I haven't seen the reports or scans so I can't comment.

The weather 15 years ago today in Sydney: 70s with a 20% chance of showers.

9:25 PM  
Blogger The Mad Tech said...

So rather then deal with the issue of law you insult me? Typical moonbat behavior. BTW, calling me a nut does not carry a lot of weight coming from you.

9:26 PM  
Blogger MrV said...

If you do not call starvation and deyhdration murder then I would not care to ever have you as a MD to my family or myslef.

My piont was not one tainted with religious overtones as you suggested it was however the fact that dogs and cats are treated better with the SPCA or hell even death row imates are given a more humane way of death.

As for a congresional matter I can think of nothing better for congress to get involed in being that we all have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I mean face it this is a bit more important that steriiods in baseball.

Your just plane wrong sire, doctors take an oath to do no harm so explain to me the logic in the brutal starvation and dehydration of this lady.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

"So rather then deal with the issue of law you insult me?"

The issues of law? Are you insane?

This case has been fought out in the courts for over a decade. What issues of law have possibly been overlooked?

Our courts found many times that she should have the feeding tube pulled, but our judicial branches have been unable to do this because of legislators who go where they should not, and prevent them.

This last is just another sickening example: calling TS as a witness. A witness to what we will never know.

You and yours have a perverted sense of law. One in which judicial verdicts must be overturned at every chance.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

"If you do not call starvation and deyhdration murder..."

Her condition would be the cause of death. Her life is being kept going now through artificial means. Surely even someone who is capable of posting this silly post is capable of seeing that. Again, this is being done against her wishes - as they are taken to be in court and entered as fact. This makes these interventions best classified under assault and battery.

If anyone were to extend my life in such a horrible situation in a like manner: through invasive and artificial means, then I would like them charged with assault.

By the way, every day an patient with end stage Alzheimers becomes unable to ear or drink. At that point, further care is useless, medically futile. It is very much the exception to interene at that point and force feed the patient.

Also, why don't you people go prevent death from malaria and diarrhea in the world? Your time and energy and money would be much better spent.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Praying for You said...

"Would you cast judgement upon TS's husband? Try walking in his shoes, which I wouldn't wish upon anyone. Another person who is making the long suffering husband into a villian. Indignation rises: how dare you?"

I dared to say that MS is not a moral giant. Not one to be held in the high esteem as you have done in your posts. I do not "make him into a villain", I only state the facts: he is breaking/has broken two of his wedding vows (marriage in a Catholic ceremony does say the "in sickness and in health" part). It is simply true that he is an adulterer who has fathered two children out of wedlock. These are not opinions or judgements, they are the facts of this man's choices. The very notion that these behaviors are "villainous" to you or the public at large is because of the common conscience of humnaity which testifies against MS's actions. I agree with you that to be in his shoes must be difficult beyond anything I could imagine, and I pray for him to have strength,courage, and conviction to do what he had vowed to do.
I appreciate very much this dialog, as it can only help everyone in it--on both sides of the issue--to grow.

5:39 PM  
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