Friday, March 25, 2005

Recovery Part II

My Apologies to CNN's Dr. Gupta-- I'm afraid I have to directly contradict him. I don't know much about neurology, but I found a study which asserts that there have been three people who recovered from PVS after being treated with the Parkinson's drug Levodopa.

There are very few medical absolutes. When I hear "always" or "never" in a medical context, I can't help remembering that in 1970 I was the smallest preemie to survive in the hospital where I was born-- I was "never" going to talk and would "always" have to be cared for by my parents. Today I am a mother, speaker and writer, I drive my own van and work full time. I've been told that I "never" shut up!

Doctors are smart, hardworking people who mean well. But they can't see the future.

One way to see the value of life...

My Thanks to Dr. Charles for this quote: “A lot of people pity me because I don’t see the right colors,” he told me. “That never bothered me much. First of all I don’t know what I’m missing, and second of all who’s to say my world isn’t prettier.”

I've been trying to say that for weeks now. Lovely, Doctor.

No cases of recovery from PVS?

It seems the reason CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and others can't find cases of recovery from PVS is because the treating physicians change the diagnosis if the patient improves!

Rae has posted a whole list of stories about people who were diagnosed PVS, and recovered to one degree or another-- at which time the doctors said, "Oops, sorry!" ((NOTE: scroll down to the posts beginning March 23.))

Terri Can Teach us to Choose Joy

I've noticed lately that it seems easy for people to watch the video and say "Maybe Michael Schiavo shouldn't be able to make this decision, but I wouldn't want to live like that."  The truth is, they don't know what it's like.  They're making assumptions about how they'd feel if they lost the ability to walk, talk, or be independent. Of course it's scary to contemplate a big change in someone's health or abilities.  But I hope those of us who fight for Terri will make a difference in the way that change is seen by the world.  That's what inspired me to write "18 Ways to Live--" There is no real need for Terri's life to be bleak-- She is loved; that's the big thing.  If she is allowed to be comfortable, to experience the world, and to work toward rehabillitation, that can be a rich, fulfilling life, despite limitations.  Truthfully, all of us have limitations, and any of us can choose to find joy despite loss.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Why the courts and the government don't need to help Terri now

This Morning's decision by the eleventh appellate court is devastating. I knew in the back of my mind that the Federal courts could decline to feed and hydrate Terri, but I hoped that the language of the law, the request for a "De Novo" trial, would motivate them to give her time. It seems to me that the courts may be reacting out of anger at congress' intervention, trying to protect the modern legal process: Specifically, not only ruling on cases, but deciding which cases to take and what evidence and arguments to hear, in order to shape the canon of US law.

Sadly, the extreme measures made in the House, and the rhetoric that follows, probably mean there will be no more intervention from them because of these embarrassing facts:

a) The voting public has seen the boneheaded memo that may have been sent out to Republican congressmen before the debate on the House floor.

b) President Bush, while still Governor of Texas, signed legislation that allows doctors to refuse to execute an advance directive in some cases. Texas Children's Hospital recently used this law to remove a ventillator from an infant against his mother's wishes.

d) The public, by and large, doesn't seem to find a lot of value in a life like Terri's. Once she's gone, this issue seems likely to become weighted on the side of ending treatment for others like her.

c) The next election is too far away for Terri's death to matter at the polls.

Despite the Schindler's vow to seek relief from the Supreme court, it looks to me like this is the place where the buck stops. I am not a lawyer, or a politician. I fervently pray that I am wrong.