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19 March 2005 @ 02:40 pm
Someone to watch over you  
The Terri Schiavo situation continues to drag on, with many crazy twists and turns as everyone tries to have the last word. In reexamining all that has gone on with this poor woman and her family, I think that many do not have her best interest in mind, but are rather using the situation to their own benefit.

And now *Congress* has gotten involved *sigh*

I do understand that they don't actually want Terri Schiavo to appear before then, and that the bill applies *any* incapacitated person without advance directives (aka living will) be appointed an independent attorney to represent his/her interests during discussions and legal actions regarding removal of artificial life support. But I think undoubtedly this particular notice of the situation (and of questions that have been around for years – why didn't they do anything about it the myriad other times constituents have asked?) and it's convenient timing is just… pathetic, really. The result may be helpful for a few, but the intent is clouded by politics and the desire for media attention.

If such a federal law is passed then we are all in trouble. All of us. The law in every state, which peopl eunderstand and perhaps have adrressed appropriately, will be thrown into chaos again. We'll may going back into the dark ages of force feeding people and subjecting them to medical care they do not wish to have, and so forth.

There will be no written advance directive which will save any of us from the inference of the government in any particular instance if someone makes a fuss and the feds become interested. It will become nearly impossible to write one in which anyone's choices will be honored with certainity and without interference and as an individual intends. Every time the government wants to meddle in a particular case, it will meddle and interfere. A situation where the government may weedle into and exploit any tiny crack in the language of the instrument could be created. People who try to write their own AD without the assistance of an attorney will be worse off than those who can afford counsel, though affording counsel will not insulate anyone from interference. Every form at every hospital for a patient to make an advance directive in a non-emergent or an emergent situation will be useless. The medical profession will be as caught by all of this as much as the patient and the spouse or family.

So much for state's rights. So much for patient rights. Even the most private moments of dying could become a matter of federal law.

Doesn't the Congress have anything more pressing to do?

Many people want to know why her husband wants to allow her to die? Or, as some phrase it, why does he want to 'kill' her? Why not just turn her over to her parents? My answer is because he loves her and is trying his best to do right by her. He is taking responsibility for the well being, in life and in death, of his wife. The commitment they made to each other really *means* something to him, and he has chosen to stand and fight for her desires rather than just abandon her. I can only hope that someday I meet someone who understands this sort of thing and to whom 'commitment' is more than a pretty word.

To most people this whole thing is merely an intellectual exercise, regarding which they conduct, for the most part, a solely emotionally based debate over something that has a vanishingly small probability of happening. I'm glad that people think about such things, but the reality is far far different than the sound bites on the evening news. I'm afraid that many such opinions and decisions are based less on real thought to such a situation than reactionary feeling.

Is being deprived of food and water a pleasant way to die? Certainly not. But it's the way thousands and thousands of people die ever year – it's pretty natural. The biggest question seems to be is that persistent vegetative state really being 'alive'? There are many people on both sides of the fence on this. Technically, yes, of course it is being alive. But is there really much other than a breathing husk that is incapable of forming coherent, independent thought? Speaking from deeply personal, been-there-done-that experience, I think not.

Her family keeps hoping for 'a miracle'. If it hasn't happened in the past decade it just ain't happenin'. Ever.

Everyone (including me! I've been putting it off) needs to avoid becoming a pawn in such a no-win game – we should all get advance directives arranged, with all the i's dotted and t's crossed. The trick is to make sure that whomever one gives such power of attorney (POA) to understands and is able *and willing* to carry out my wishes. For all that I love her, I wouldn’t trust my mom with this. I've seen her in this sort of situation, when I stood outside my father's hospital room screaming at doctors and nurses because I had promised him I would never let them put him on machines (and I did have the paperwork with me – still had to scream). It wasn't pretty. I don't think I could trust her to pull the plug if the situation was vague. I think that because I'm made it past death and vegetable and been that miracle once she would always hold onto that hope 'just a little longer' *sigh*

That means that my little brother is the only one in my life that would really be there for *me*. For what *I* want. I just hope he's always available, before they get to me with the machines. Doesn't help that in the medical profession if there is any question, even a hint of dissent amongst the family (even with paper to back it up) they will treat. The fear of litigation over wrongful death is far stronger than disagreeing with someone who cannot speak for themselves.

Gotta make sure copies of the paperwork are readily available and that others know where it is. Then maybe I will be protected...but even that is no guarantee, I'm afraid. I wonder if I could file it with the city or the state somehow?

I think all of this is a highly private matter and no one wins when it gets aired in public like this. I think that Michael Schiavo has given every opportunity for real change to happen, understands there's no miracle to be had, and has been trying to stand by the wishes his wife expressed to him for years. I wish that I have someone who cares so much and will fight so hard for me if I ever end up in that situation again.

Quite a few people disagree with me about this - my response has become 'You give that coma & death thing a try for awhile. When you got some real experience under your belt we can talk.'

-the redhead-
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Bill the bold bosthoonwcg on March 19th, 2005 09:47 pm (UTC)
If you're up to reading more on the topic, today's post in Respectful of Otters is an excellent look at the situation.
-the redhead-theredhead on March 19th, 2005 10:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link. I'm not feeling all that great at the moment, but I will certainly go look at it later this weekend.

I did manage to prematurely post these thoughts, leaving out a whole section of revisions. If you are at all interested you might want to refresh and have a glance at it again.

-the redhead-

Bill the bold bosthoonwcg on March 19th, 2005 10:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I've just read through the latest version.
AdrianGadriang on March 19th, 2005 11:51 pm (UTC)
Good link. Thanks.

Adrian
Angelamisoranomegami on March 20th, 2005 04:00 am (UTC)
Here's the really sad thing, isn't that what she already had? Since there was disagreement between her husband and her parents, a court already did an independent investigation and hired independent physicians and declared that she was brain dead and that yes she wouldn't want to be kept alive this way. That happened years ago.
peaceful_foxpeaceful_fox on March 22nd, 2005 02:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your thoughts (which mirror my own) and for the links - the links were excellent and I plan to pass them on to several friends.