The American Gazette

Commonsense political and social commentary from "Flyover Country"

Location: Rural Michigan, United States

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo

I have not posted in a long time. I had decided that I had to quit smoking and the only way to do that was to stay away from my computer as much as possible for a couple months while I learned to modify my behavior. The good of that is that I have quit smoking, something I would recommend to all who care about their heart. The bad in that is that I have not posted and this post may well be a shout into the wind since many who were coming here have quit.

Nonetheless I am going to press on and state my opinion on the Terri Schiavo case. As a nurse the biggest thing I will state is that the coverage on this from any media, be it MSM or blogs that I often read, have been so horrid that I find it stunning. The discussion of this subject should NEVER have been separated from the medical FACTS. It is those facts along with relevent studies that have been woefully lacking in the coverage, and because of that the polerization of the issue has become incredibly intense by people who are not educated into the medical field but who are most happy to issue out their ignorant opinions.

I am also incredibly disappointed with the politictians. This matter was not any of your business. Not the business of the Gov. of Florida, not the business of his brother President Bush. Lets get down to the brass tacks on this. Regardless of what either of the Bush brothers felt regarding the issue of withdrawal of treatment for Terri Schiavo, it was none of their political business in the least. Every year there are thousands of people who die from lack of hydration and food, just like Terri Schiavo, but there are no political grandstanding on their behalf. You know why? Because they do not have family who will not recognize the reality of their loved one's medical condition.

I have no doubt in my mind that Terri's parents and siblings loved her, I also have no doubt in my mind that what they wanted ultimately became more important than what they were doing to their daughter. As someone who has seen hundreds of people die, those like Terri's parents make me angry as well as sad. They are the family members that no matter what medical people tell them will not believe a word you say. In essence they become the expert and you, the medical person are stupid, lying to them or both. People like Terri's parents become like this because they are emotionally unable to accept what has happened to their loved one.

It is vitally important in this case to realize a couple things that no one in the media or the very misguided politicians or the incredibly clueless protestors want to talk about. Hospice has done studies, which can be accessed through hospise as well as the New England Medical Journal as well as other medical journals, regarding what a person experiences when food and hydration are not given to a patient. These studies are not politically motivated, they are not right to life motivated, they are motivated by anything except to be able to in the end provide what is the most appropriate and pain free care to an end of life patient possible.

And what NO ONE in MSM or bloggers or otherwise have done as far as I can find anywhere is to discuss those studies. Instead they dwell of the sensational-TERRI SCHIAVO IS BEING STARVED TO DEATH. Oh the horror of what they are doing! Yet they did not want to talk about the hospice studies that show the opposite occurs. They do not want to dwell on the fact that as people come to the natural end of their life they refuse hydration and food 95% of the time. That 95% by the way is from my own experience. If it was pain causing etc... to not have food and hydration does anyone seriously believe that as people come to death in a fashion that was the norm for thousands of years before we learned to put feeding tubes into people, if refusing food and hydration caused all the horror described by those who opposed removing Terri's feeding tube that people would naturally SEEK THAT VERY COURSE?

How many dying people have those protestors taken care of, especially the idiot trying to bring a bottle of water to a women who can not swallow, which is why the feeding tube was placed to begin with with Mr. Clueless. How many dying people has Jeb Bush taken care of? How many dying people has President George W. Bush taken care of? How about all those politicians who got into this?

Does it not occur to anyone, including the Priests who have weighed in on this, that 40 years ago this would all be a moot point because the use of feeding tubes was not a common event? That simply because we can do things medically now that in the past we could not, does that mean that we should? When President Bush talks about a "culture of life" does he intend on helping to pass legislation that would free up money to assist families to properly take care of loved ones like Terri Schiavo? While I have supported George Walker Bush on many issues, this one makes me so furious that I can not even adequately express it. Having had a stepdaughter who was in the same condition as Terri Schiavo, except that Samantha was born that way after being deprived on enough oxygen in utereo and having taken care of Sam, including when she was dying and her parents and stepparents opted to not to any further medical intervention because of what she would have to endure, I find all those grandstanding politicans repugnent in the extreme.

Just because someone is breathing does not mean they are living. A person who does not have the cognitive ability to express themselves, to recognize those who love them, still feel pain. Cognition has nothing to do with feeling physicial pain. But those without cognition cannot understand why they are in pain, or what to do with it, or how to ask for relief. It is then up to those who purportedly love that person to give them proper relief, even if that means having to be unselfish enough to let them die. What discussion was there on this from MSM? Did you hear on person reporting on this what Roxanol is or how it works or that it is commonly used by hospice for pain relief of the dying because it requires no invasive shot or the ability to swallow? Roxanol is absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth. It can be placed into the mouth of an unconcious patient and absorbed to give pain relief.

Was there any discussion from anyone reporting on this about all the wonderful properties morphine offers besides just pain relief, if morphine was to be used for Terri? Of course not. No discussion that for those who are at the end of life and struggling to breathe as many do, that even a small dose of morphine erases that sensation of drowning for a person who cannot breathe and take in enough oxygen. No discussion at all on what can be done for Terri at end of life and ultimately what can be done for our own loved ones or ourselves at end of life. Only reporting designed to scare the hell out of people or the rouse emotions that are just as base regarding a decision that is not mine, yours or anyones to make but the person who was Terri's legal guardian. And that was not her parents.

I will write more on this later, but for now I have to cook dinner and get ready for work.

In the end make sure you have your wishes in writing, realize that a living will is not considered a legal document in many states, including my own but considered only a guide. However a Durable Power of Attorney is fully legal, required to be offered to all who end up as impatient in a hospital free of charge. Didn't get that from MSM either did you?