Tuesday, June 21, 2005

This Man is Sick

Not only did Michael Schiavo not inform Terri's parents of her burial, but he inscribed "I kept my promise" on the gravestone. To make things even more sick and depraved, the date listed as the "day she left this earth" was the day she collapsed in 1990. Read the full story here.

The next time I see a handicapped person, remind me to tell them that I think they've "already left this earth." Mr. Schiavo should be locked up.

18 Comments:

At 2:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is, however, probably worth noting that there was a restraining order in place that would have prevented them from attending the burial anyway. And he interred the ashes in Florida, not Pennsylvania, in accordance with their wishes.

Additionally, the only source for the information about the headstone is the Schindlers' spokesperson. The pictures I can find of the grave are of a simple marble bench with flowers left all over it.

 
At 7:30 AM, Anonymous Becky said...

The picture I saw clearly showed the engraving on the stone - "I kept my promise" and the date as I indicated in the post.

 
At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Becky,

Have you ever seen someone mentally waste away? My Grandmother died last year from Alzheimers and my family was happy for her because there was nothing left of the woman she was but a slowly decaying body. She didn't know who she was, where she was, she didn't remember anyone. She couldn't talk,or eat. She not only wore diapers but had to be medicated because she would smear her own excrement all over her bed. Her heart was beating but my grandmother left this earth years before her body finally gave out. Regardless of the argument over whether the feeding tube should have been removed, it is very common for families to mourn their loved ones not at the cessation of bodily function, but when everything that was their essence is gone. My grandmother was cremated, but I know many of the families at the nursing home noted the former date on their loved ones headstones. It doesn't make them sick and they certainly don't deserve to be locked up.

Further, I don't know what Terri Schiavo wanted. It is possible that her husband was a bastard who just wanted her out of the way. But it is also possible that he was acting in accordance with his wife's wishes. We can only speculate and hope that the courts interpreted the evidence correctly. I intend to make a living will after this whole fiasco, but if something happens to me in the meantime, my husband and parents have been instructed that I don't want to be kept alive in that state. If my parents couldn't keep their promise (as I know it might be hard for them to let go), I would pray that my husband would honor my wishes even if he had to fight battles in court. Again, I don't know what the situation was here, and I don't think we as onlookers can ever know for sure. But given that we don't know, it seems especailly hateful to villify him for "i kept my promise" and the date when there are many loving families who would do these very same things.

 
At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Jake said...

I couldn't have said it any better than that anon.

 
At 9:52 PM, Blogger Becky said...

Anon,

I am sorry about your Grandmother and understand the suffering she had to endure while she was dying. I worked many summers as a nurse's aid for dying patients. They were persons, living persons, until the day their brains were dead and their heart stopped beating. They were beautiful, even through their suffering.

How in the world could you possibly know that your grandmother "left this earth years before her body finally gave out?" You have no idea. The only time you can know for sure is when she actually stops living.

What about the mentally handicapped? The little angels of joy that live among us? Are they too unworthy of living in your world because they are "mentally wasting away?" They have just as much dignity as you and I.

Terri Schiavo wasn't dying. Her husband and the courts sanctioned her murder. If she had actually told her husband to remove the tubes while she was handicapped (but not dying), she would have been committing suicide. Living wills can't change the intentional taking of someone's life.

If we "onlookers can never know for sure" then I would think it wise to err on the side of life rather than risk the chance of murdering human beings.

 
At 9:53 PM, Blogger Becky said...

Addition: when I referred to "tubes" in the last post, I was referring solely to articifical feeding tubes, not artifical respirators.

 
At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Andrew of the Outlaw Star said...

No sarcasm tonight (although I had some zingers). Just despair.

What a sad pathetic race we are. Although contrition escapes me for most of my failings, I feel the deepest sorrow and burn sincere apologies to God for my part in holding kinship with 21st century mankind.

It's a strange thing, standing over the decrepit and pulling the plug. Like a Bizzaro-last rights. Instead of sending them forth with Christ's Real Presence, we wrap the living in our own uncreative weakness, stupidity, and sloth.

Our fully human Christ wore the gamut of our undignified accidents for 33 years (still bearing more humilation than most). Yet when God had the chance to wear that our own festering modern fashion of "mercy", He found it clashed with his entire wardrobe.

I know dignity in death is a longshot for me, but to willfully choose the tube ahead of time over His cross and stripes as a path to the ultimate goal; well, I'd rather wait til I'm actually out of my mind.

 
At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Becky,
The point of my original post was that you clearly believe that Michael Schiavo was a monster- because if indeed he was following his wife's wishes, then however misguided and wrong you feel the result was, he would still be acting in a way that many loving husbands and familiies act.
In terms of the decision that was made, I think my willingness to accept the decision stems from a fundamental difference in our beliefs. Unlike you, I believe that you and I and everone else has the right to define what we consider to be "living" and respect that that may be different than breathing in and out. I know you don't agree with this, I'm assuiming it's because you believe our lives belong to God (though I could be wrong). That's fine, but I don't share your religious convictions. As I have already told you, my husband knows that I don't want my body lingering here when I feel that everything that is me is gone. I know that he will respect my wishes. My grandmother felt the same way- we all knew it. So she had do not treat orders on her chart. She was to be administered no treatment except medication to manage pain. This also meant that no feeding tubes/intravenous fluids were to be administered. If she had wanted to be kept breathing as long as possible then even though it is not what I would choose for myself, I would have respected her wishes. Under your argument of "when in doubt choose life," unless someone had some sort of uncontestable perfect written directive, then all a family member would have to do to thwart the person's wishes would be to say "oh no, that's not what she wanted." People have the right to make these decisions and the vast majority count on family to carry them out. If there is someone in the family who will not, then there has to be a mechanism for making a decision. I think it would be terrible if MY wishes could be overriden because someone in my family would not respect them. Again, I was not in the courtroom to hear the testimony and evidence, but this was endlessly dragged out and reviewed. At some point you just have to be satisfied with the process. I think the difference is that you think a mistake in favor of keeping her alive against her wishes (if indeed they were her wishes) is not such a bad mistake. But I think it is a grave grave injustice as bad as a mistake that would remove a feeding tube from someone who did not want it removed. (to put it in your terms: a mistake on the side of continued life is as bad as a mistake on the side of death if it goes against the person's wishes). If we have no process to decide then the mistakes are always against people who did not want to be kept in that state. Perhaps a default rule that only people with a written end of life directive can have their wishes fulfilled would be most efficient for reducing mistakes. Soon everyone would learn that they need this kind of directive. But I suspect even those would be challenged so we still need some kind of process to make decisions. SO because I see the need for this process, and I believe that the process we currently have was exhausted in this case, I am willing to accept the decision even though I admit that only the parties involved will ever really know the truth.

 
At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Becky said...

Anon,

Do not treat orders are absolutely fine with me. That's not what happened in Terri's case. She wasn't DYING like your grandmother. When someone is living and in a stable condition, no matter how handicapped, you don't starve them to death intentionally. It doesn't matter if I believe in God or not. Coming to the knowledge that we don't starve human beings does not require adhering to some religious principle.

Process does not always save us, and in the case of Terri - it allowed a murder. Our individual wishes can't change our dignity as human beings. Heck, I don't want an artificial respirator either, if I'm on my way out. But I know that if I was in a stable, albeit handicapped state, my family wouldn't starve me to death for 13 days. Do you think that's dying with dignity???

Process won't save us if it's an evil, destructive process. I'm a law student - I know that the law in Terri's case was followed to the letter. That's the sad part for those who created the law.

 
At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Jake said...

Becky, if I was in a state where I couldn't enjoy food, get out of bed, talk to anyone, have any sort of communication with anyone - and if I was in this state for YEARS without any real indication of progression out of this state - I'm sure that I would want to die.

In that case, a living will would be the same as a "do not treat" order. Are you saying that if anonymous wanted to "stop treatment" (like say... removing a feeding tube) if he or she was in this state (let's call it a persistive vegetative state for simplicity) for 10 years and wrote this in her living will, you would argue that we should not honor this agreement?

 
At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Becky said...

The simple answer: yes. But only for artificial feedings tubes, for the simple reason that artificial feedings tubes are "ordinary care" and not "medical treatment."

The distinction between artificial respirators and feeding tubes is very important, as is the distinction between being terminally ill and being in a stable condition.

Jake, if you were PVS then feeding you artificially won't be "keeping you alive" any more than a mother is "keeping her infant alive" by manually feeding the infant. If you're on your way out, you'll die with or without the feeding tube. Artificial respirators are totally different. You can't physicall die with one of those things attached. Terri would have died eventually from something. The feeding tube wasn't "keeping her alive."

So again, yes, I will work hard in my life as a lawyer to integrate these crucial distinctions into our law, so things like Terri Schiavo don't happen again.

 
At 1:15 AM, Anonymous Jake said...

I still can't see the distinction you make with a feeding tube vs. a respirator tube. A feeding tube, in fact, is more involved, since you have to perform surgery to insert the thing. I would see that as doing more than what is similar to "feeding an infant.." unless of course feeding an infant involved making an incision (which, I don't think would be necessary for most infants). So feeding tubes are "medical treatment" (ask a physician), but they are also part of "ordinary care." (something of a subjective, relative term if you ask me.)

Also, you are mistaken when you say that a person cannot physically die with a respirator attached. You can MOST CERTAINLY die while on a respirator (ask my great grandmother, great aunt, my uncle and my cousin).

 
At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Becky said...

I still think that a feeding tube only manually gets food into the body, whereas a respirator actually keeps the heart and lungs functioning. The feeding tube just gets the food into the body, but the person's body does the rest.

Also, the feeding tube is only inserted 3 times a day for nourishment. Terri sat for most of the day in a chair, only requiring food 3 times in a given day. The rest of the time she sat, her body requiring nothing artificial to survive. A respirator must be in place at all times to be effective. It is ongoing, extraordinary treatment. Feeding, no matter what the means, is always ordinary care, as is shelter and any other care you would normally give a disabled person.

Again, if someone was terminally ill and requested that the feeding tube be removed for comfort, there is no problem. The problem comes when someone is merely mentally handicapped and people actively cause starvation.

 
At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Becky,
If it's ok for a person to make a choice to remove a feeding tube when terminally ill, I think it is acceptable for them to make the decision ahead of time should they become mentally disabled later. That is why I feel that if this indeed was her wish, there is nothing wrong here. I also think that this is what makes it different than starving a mentally handicapped person. Such people never have the opportunity to choose (assuming they are completely handicapped and unable to make such choices). But if a mentally aware person could make the choice to have a feeding tube removed, then they should be able to delegate that responsibility to someone should they be rendered unable to make their wishes known.

 
At 7:38 AM, Anonymous Becky said...

The point is that when a person is just mentally handicapped (and nothing else), they cannot have the feeding stop, whether they said it beforehand or not. The difference is, when someone is terminally ill, it is not the lack of feeding that kills them, it is their disease. When someone is stable and is just handicapped (like Terri), the act of removing feeding is intentionally killing (starving) the person to death, for the simple reason that the feeding wasn't "keeping them alive." They were keeping themselves alive, just like everyone else. They just happen to have some brain damage. That doesn't merit starvation.

I have no problem with someone saying ahead of time that they won't want to be put on a respirator, or a feeding tube if they are terminally ill. But you can't order your own murder, no matter how sad you feel about living in a disabled condition. We don't have the right to end our lives if we don't feel comfortable anymore. Again, if like the Pope, your body is quickly shutting down and moving towards death, this is not a problem. There is no act of killing involved in not using feeding tubes.

 
At 10:06 AM, Anonymous R burnham said...

Becky, why is everything simply black or white here? There is such a thing as a "gray area." I think TS falls into this.

And how can you argue that a feeding tube is simply normal treatment? It is basically the same as a respirator. Here's why:

You cannot breathe for yourself - a respirator is used

You cannot feed yourself - a feeding tube is used

Um... so how are they so very different as you are pointing out? Your logic is flawed in that regard.

 
At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Becky,

according to your original post, you said a terminally ill person could remove a feeding tube for "comfort." If they do so, it is entirely possible that they will die of starvation before their disease kills them. I see very little difference between a case like that and a case where you make the decision ahead of time.

Further, I think you have hit upon the fundamental disagreement that I was talking about earlier. That is, I believe that people have the right to define what they consider to be living and if they feel that sitting in a vegitative state breathing in and out is not a life worth living, that's fine. No one is denying you your right to sit in a vegitative state for 30 years if your beliefs so dictate. This is what I was saying before. I think you think our lives belong to God and that it is evil to interfere with that in any way. I don't share these convictions. Perhaps you're right about it and I will burn in hell for all eternity. Rest easy knowing that you only have to deal with these kind of exasperating people until you die and then you'll have all eternity to spend with people who got it right like you (assuming you are getting it right here).

Basically, I understand why you think it was murder and I think it depends very heavily on your assumptions about the rights people have to make decisions regarding how they will live out their lives. I don't see any way to come to an agreement on this and since I don't see either of us switching sides, I think this will be my last post on this subject. I think it really does boil down to that core difference in belief betweeen us.

 
At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Becky said...

Anonymous,

I wouldn't wish hell on anyone, especially you, anonymous. The point of my life is to NOT "rest easy." There is so much to be done. I share my convictions with everyone because I want everyone to know the joy of living in Christ's love. I want you to know my joy too.

Thank you for the discussion. I still think that it's a natural law principle and not a theological principle that life is essentially good, and the intentional taking of it (whether suicide or murder or killing because you don't want to be uncomfortable) is wrong.

Many of the people who recognized that Terri Schiavo was murdered were not religious believers. Theology only strengthens the ultimate natural law principle that death should not be the solution to our problems. We're intelligent human beings, after all - you would think we could come up with a more creative solution than death and destruction...

Thanks again for the discussion. You are in my prayers, and I hope that I am also in yours as I continue to allow faith to inform what I already know by reason.

 

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