Why Gary Coleman's ex pulled the plug: "Look what happened with Terri Schiavo"

terri schiavo responsive.jpgFor the gazillionth time, Terri Schiavo was not brain dead when a FL judge ordered her dehydrated and starved to death in 2005.

Oxygen deprivation left Terri mentally disabled, but she was responsive, particularly to family. There was no correlation between Terri's condition and actor Gary Coleman's apparently unresponsive condition, although even that is unclear.

What's this about?...


gary coleman shannon price.jpgNYDailyNews.com is reporting today about a strange, offensive (wonder what poor Muhammad Ali thinks), and fishy postmortem interview TMZ conducted with Gary Coleman's ex-wife the day after he died, wherein she invoked Terri's name in her defense for pulling Coleman's plug. (See the TMZ interview here.)

In this story we have a ready example demonstrating how the media always has and continues to get Terri's condition wrong. NYDN.com claims Terri "languished in a coma for years" before her husband Michael had her killed, which is absolutely false. We also see demonstrated how one should be very careful about who one decides to hand over a power of attorney...

Gary Coleman's ex-wife says she pulled the plug on the ailing child actor last Friday because she didn't want him to end up like Parkinson's-stricken Muhammad Ali or late coma patient Terri Schiavo.

"[The doctors] said even if they did take a chunk out of his brain, he would not be the same. He would be basically like Muhammed Ali," Shannon Price said in a video shot the day after Coleman's death and posted on TMZ.com.

"And he would have died sooner or later anyway from that," she continued.

"I don't want people to be so hard on me, thinking I had to pull the plug too early. He wouldn't have made it anyway. His heart would have just given out."

She's been hurt by accusations she put Coleman in the hospital and wanted him dead, she said.

"I don't want people to sit there and think I'm a b****, and that I didn't care about him," she said.

"Be in my situation. I mean, look what happened with Terri Schiavo. I always think of her case, always, when it comes to this. Gary was gone."

Schiavo, of FL, languished in a coma for years before her husband won a drawn-out court battle to pull the plug.

Price, 24, was alone with Coleman last week when he suffered a head injury in a mysterious fall in the kitchen of his UT home.

She heard the fall from the upstairs master bedroom and immediately called 911 when she found Coleman bleeding profusely and "bubbling at the mouth," she told an emergency dispatcher.

Coleman, 42, was rushed to a hospital and was dead 2 days later from a suspected brain hemorrhage when she told docs to remove him from life support.

The decision raised suspicions after Coleman's UT lawyer confirmed the couple secretly divorced in 2008, citing "irreconcilable differences."

"I don't think anyone is looking at criminal wrongdoing here, but this raises the issue of the appropriateness of her making the decision to take him off life support," attorney Randy Kester told The Daily News.

The hospital released a statement saying Price had the legal authority to end life support because Coleman gave her the power in an Advanced Health Care Directive that "remains in effect regardless of a patient's marital status."

TMZ added:

... Price is defending her decision to pull the plug on life support because she says she didn't want Gary to be like Muhammad Ali or Terri Schiavo. The comment is so offensive and wrong, it raises questions... whether her decision to terminate Gary's life was appropriate....

Price insists she didn't push Gary - a weird statement, since no one had publicly accused her of that....

Police have said there was "nothing suspicious" involving Gary's fall.

Price fondly mentions that Gary did a lot for her -- like buy her a car.


Comments:

I think the term "life support" has become hopelessly vague. Food and water is now considered "life support." A respirator is life support. A dialysis machine is life support. Insulin for a diabetic is life support, etc. It hardly means anything anymore.

It seems about the only use now for the term "life support" in the popular culture is to indicate that the person(s) terminating its provision consider that they are not doing anything wrong if they do so.

And it is so disappointing to see how lazy and incurious journalists continue to be as they sloppily misreport what the true situation was with Terri Schiavo.

Posted by: Scott Johnston at June 3, 2010 5:55 PM


Muhammad Ali has Parkinsons. That comment was out of line. Terri's condition was caused by mysterious circumstances.

Posted by: LizFromNebraska at June 3, 2010 6:13 PM


I can't believe that a hospital would let a divorced spouse be in charge of health care for an ex-spouse. This seems absolutely incredible to me.

Everything seems so suspicious and Price seems really quite creepy.

Posted by: angel at June 3, 2010 6:16 PM


"And he would have died sooner or later anyway from that," she continued.

EVERYONE dies sooner or later, it's life.

Posted by: Rebekah at June 3, 2010 6:55 PM


Angel,

An Advanced Health Care Directive specifically gives you the option to allow anyone who isn't your health care provider or employed by your health care provider to make your health care decisions for you. That's why it's SOOOOO important to update things when your life circumstances change.

Posted by: MaryRose at June 3, 2010 7:11 PM


If you look at Terri's autopsy report, she had no capacity to be responsive. She was completely blind and her brain was mostly water. Any other assertion is wishful thinking.

Something was off with that Michael Schiavo, though.

Posted by: Ashley Herzog at June 3, 2010 8:08 PM


Ashley, have you watched the video of Terri responding to her family... tracking a moving balloon?

Posted by: Jill Stanek Author Profile Page at June 3, 2010 8:41 PM


Does anyone know if Terri's parents had any type of legal recourse?

Posted by: myrtle miller at June 3, 2010 8:53 PM


Terri was not blind.

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at June 3, 2010 9:10 PM


Hate to say this folks but under the law if she was still living with him she is considered a "common-law-wife"

I believe her actions were approriate considering the circumstances. She may have not wanted to touch his blood because she thought it was tainted maybe even with AID's not from his intention but that he may have had blood transfusions.

All in all we must just pay our respects and leave it at that. I could hear from the 911 that he was confused and scared sometimes bad things happen to really good people. Rest in peace friend.

Posted by: debbie at June 3, 2010 10:56 PM


http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/459/118/

She was blind and had no awareness. You can have your personal dogmas, but I prefer to listen to doctors who actually know about this stuff.

I've already put in writing that if I end up in a state like this, I want to die. Can't imagine most people choosing differently.

Posted by: Ashley Herzog at June 4, 2010 12:18 AM


Ashley,

I'm putting on my scientist's hat here. Not all of the neurologists that consulted on the Schiavo case were in agreement about her condition.

As for what was discovered upon autopsy, those data are less than worthless. Her brain was not 'water' as you say. There was severe atrophy in the brain. That does not, however, indicate anything about functionality-and I cannot stress this too strenuously.

This year, neuroscience indicated that vegetative brains show signs of awareness:

http://gerardnadal.com/2010/02/04/vegetative-brains-show-signs-of-awareness-study-shows/

One of the remarkable capacities of the brain s to create new neural networks when substantial portions have been ravaged by tumors, strokes, traumatic injury, and removal. There is an inexorability about neural networking in the brain's constant efforts at maintaining life.

It is the final frontier of science. It is the equivalent of our latest generation fighter jets, while our understanding of the brain's functions are akin to the Wright brother's plane at Kitty Hawk.

he there is the whole issue of Afferent and Efferent pathways in the brain. Afferent pathways carry information to the brain vis the senses. Efferent pathways carry responses from the brain.

There are a great many people who have substantial damage in their ability to respond, but not in their ability to sense and perceive.

Michael Schiavo steadfastly refused to allow the type of brain scanning that could have allowed us to see the metabolic activities of Terri's brain during functional analysis. From a strictly scientific perspective, that's a major loss.

But do not labor under the false notion that an atrophied brain was not somehow a functional brain. I've spent years studying neuroscience, and continue to do so out of sheer fascination. When people suggest that Terri Schiavo was unable to perceive anything because of the brain atrophy, bear in mind that you are listening to the Wright brothers' mechanic opining on the capabilities of an F22 Raptor, the most advanced fighter jet in the world.

Posted by: Gerard Nadal at June 4, 2010 7:17 AM


No doctor that wasn't hired by the family to tell them what they wanted to hear said that she had any hope of rehabilitation or to do anything besides lay in bed and stare into space.

Also, if you watch the unedited tapes, the family spent hours trying to get her to respond, look at things (like following the balloon), and interact. It was hours of "Terri, look here" with nothing. The thirty-second clips edited out the reality.

Posted by: Ashley Herzog at June 4, 2010 7:27 AM


Ashley,

Perhaps you missed the points I made about Michael REFUSING to permit functional analysis of Terri's brain. That's essential precisely because of her being awake and having movement.

The inability to respond does not indicate an inability to perceive, or a lack of self-awareness. Read the study linked to above.

Absent a functional study of the brain (Functioal MRI, CT, PET), the physicians are left largely to conjecture based upon little more than early 20th Century technology.

When I was an undergrad, and through my M.S. research in Neurophysiology, the established orthodoxy was that the brain does not make new neurons. We are born with whatever we have and lose them from there.

Then, in 1999 a paper was published that stood neuroscience on its head: The brain makes new neurons, precisely in the areas involving cognition.

No, Ashley. Michael Schiavo is a fiend who promised a jury that if awarded a med mal. purse that he would spend it on Terri's rehab., then suddenly remembered once the money was in hand that Terri wouldn't want to live that way.

I guess over a million dollars is a powerful emory booster. He assiduously fought any efforts to show that she could have self-awareness as he campaigned for her death, all the while living with a new woman and siring children with her.

Posted by: Gerard Nadal at June 4, 2010 7:40 AM


Who WOULD want to live like that? If I've been laying in bed and staring into space with a feeding tube for years, someone needs to pull the friggin plug already. That's not a life.

Posted by: Ashley Herzog at June 4, 2010 8:15 AM


Tsk, Tsk. Just listen to yourselves. One person is arguing that life is only worth saving when a person is useful and productive, the other is arguing that science is the end all be all in these decisions and if we just "trust" science more, we'll know what to do. Poo, poo on you both. Life is worth living because, well, it's life. Period. My disabled mother lives with our family. My children love her more than anything. My mother, who I hated for so many years, is now a tremendous source of joy, courage, and faith FOR ME. I have spent years trying to help her realize that her self worth is not measured in the things she is capable of doing. We are not human-DOINGS, we are human-BEINGS. Terri Schiavo DESERVED to LIVE!!!! Someone loved her and cared for her REGARDLESS of her capacity to think, show emotion, or track and dang balloon. She was MURDERED because someone DECIDED her life was not worth living. Mohammed Ali is an amazing example of love and dignity. In spite of his medical condition, he triumphs on. His family is totally DEDICATED to him. He is loved, honored, and respected because he is a PERSON!!! Gary Coleman may have been a troubled man. He suffered over the years like the rest of us. He wasn't dead. 2 days is not enough time to even allow a brain to HEAL much less to determine any lasting condition or palliative care. For God's sake, Mr. Coleman was a human BEING, a PERSON. He deserved to LIVE and be LOVED. In the end, some crazy woman DECIDED he deserved NEITHER because it would just be too hard for her. She couldn't bear it. How horrible a world we have created when we can't even find the COURAGE to care for the sick, suffering, disabled, and needy. May God have mercy.

Posted by: Cindy at June 4, 2010 8:16 AM


I don't consider laying unresponsive in bed for 15 years with a feeding tube "living." You might *technically* be alive, but with no capacity for any type of activity. Just laying there. Who wants that? If she was at all conscious, that sounds like torture.

Posted by: Ashley Herzog at June 4, 2010 8:31 AM


Ashley, have you heard of locked in syndrome?

Basically a person looks to the world as though they're in a PVS, but the reality is that they are completely aware of what is going on around them.

One man with the condition heard doctors telling his wife that he had a UTI and that it was a good time to "let nature take it's course." The wife told the doctors to shove it, and once the man was able to communicate (using eye movements, I believe) he thanked his wife for protecting him and standing up to the doctors.

Posted by: Lauren at June 4, 2010 8:38 AM


Hoping that Terri's brother Bobby might show up and refute your analysis, Ashley. He has commented on so many of these threads already. I am sure he is tired as well, Ashley. Tired of the outright lies of those who did not know or love his sister as he and his family did. All they wanted was to care for her and offer her the rehabilitation that Micheal refused to provide.

Please be sure and get your end of life wishes in writing. Would you rather be starved and dehydrated to death? A dignified way to die right? Starving people all around the world die with such dignity everyday.

For those that do not have a directive of their end of life wishes, we should err on the side of life.

As far as Gary Coleman I was a little concerned about how fast the plug was pulled and just how young and naive his wife(?)seems. I am just so happy she has a car though!!!

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at June 4, 2010 8:43 AM


Yes, that sounds like absolute torture.

Sorry, few things sound worse than being trapped in your own body. Would YOU want to lay around every single day unable to talk, eat, or move? That sounds worse than solitary confinement.

Posted by: Ashley Herzog at June 4, 2010 8:45 AM


There was something wrong with Michael Schiavo, though. I don't know where he got off thinking he has a right to make decisions for one wife while being an adulterer. General rule: if you're living with a woman, you're not entitled to stay married to another.

I always thought it was very, very fishy that he refused to get a divorce, move on, and let the parents deal with her if they were so adamant.

Posted by: Ashley Herzog at June 4, 2010 8:51 AM


I wouldn't choose it, but if it happened I would embrace it and be thankful that God saw fit for me to have life. I would be thankful to see my children grow.

I've actually been in a situation where I was not able to communicate. I had a TIA that resulted in loss of coherent speech for several hours. There was definitely a fear that I wouldn't regain the ability, and it was something that I thought about. Still, at that moment if you had asked me if I would rather lose all communication or die, I'd gladly choose the former.

Posted by: Lauren at June 4, 2010 8:53 AM


That's fine for you. I'd rather die in Terri's situation.

Posted by: Ashley Herzog at June 4, 2010 9:19 AM


It wasnt fishy that he refused to get the divorce. Had he gotten the divorce, he would have had to give the money to her parents, since it was designated for her care, if I'm recalling correctly.

Posted by: Sara at June 4, 2010 10:06 AM


Ashley, that's fine that you would prefer to die. That is why we have things like advanced directives, so that you can choose for yourself in which direction you would like the medical personnel to err.... (because it IS a judgment call that cannot be absolutely proven to be correct)... on the side of keeping you alive or on the side of preventing what you think would be suffering. Absent a directive, however, we need to err on the side of life.

If Michael had simply allowed the appropriate scans to be done then the decision that was eventually made could have been made on the basis of fact rather than conjecture and suppositions.

Because he refused the scans, we can only think that he was afraid that they would show precisely what he did NOT want them to show... that Terri was capable of perceiving the world around her, even if she could not respond in a way we could understand. Had he been certain of being correct he would have approved the scans to vindicate himself.

In addition, Sara, I'm not sure if you actually read what you wrote you will see exactly why everyone thinks it was fishy! That money was designated to care for Terri. If he had divorced Terri, the money would have gone to... care for Terri, because that is what the family wanted done. By not divorcing her, the money went to him. Instead of caring for Terri, he had her starved and dehydrated to death.... and got to keep the money. How convenient.

Posted by: Elisabeth at June 4, 2010 10:30 AM


"...there is the whole issue of Afferent and Efferent pathways in the brain. Afferent pathways carry information to the brain vis the senses. Efferent pathways carry responses from the brain."

"There are a great many people who have substantial damage in their ability to respond, but not in their ability to sense and perceive."

Gerard Nadal @ 7:17 AM

Very interesting!

Posted by: Janet at June 4, 2010 10:49 AM


Cindy,

I never said science is the be all and end all, or that is says whether life is worth living. If you read my comments again, I was addressing Ashley's contention that Terri was no longer 'alive'.

In that, science has a great deal to teach us. The judgment is up to the individual about whether they embrace it.

Posted by: Gerard Nadal at June 4, 2010 10:54 AM


I'm glad conventional neurologists have finally started to see that the work performed by the pioneers at the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia theorized, absent today's technology, about afferent and efferent pathways and the ability to rebuild the neural network back in the 1930s and 1940s.

It is their pioneering work that allowed for my now 14 year old son to rebuild pathways around portions of his brain that were damaged during a series of seizures he had as a toddler. That same son just tested for his high school math placement with scores of post high school... and is an awesome, if quirky, teenager.

Posted by: Elisabeth at June 4, 2010 11:16 AM


It wasnt fishy that he refused to get the divorce. Had he gotten the divorce, he would have had to give the money to her parents, since it was designated for her care, if I'm recalling correctly.
Posted by: Sara at June 4, 2010 10:06 AM

I'm not an expert on this particular case, but I'm pretty sure that's not true. The parents would have no claim to any of the judgment he collected, even if it was to compensate him for the cost of Terri's care. Courts award money for future medical expenses, or lost earning capacity, etc, when there is never a guarantee the person will need the care or even live as long as predicted.

Posted by: Hal at June 4, 2010 11:27 AM


Whenever we humans play God, as in this situation and in all abortions, tragedy and death are ALWAYS the result.

I mean, we cannot create life apart from God's will, however, we are very good at destroying life.

What does that say about us?

Posted by: Phil Schembri is HisMan at June 4, 2010 11:31 AM


What does that say about us?
Posted by: Phil Schembri is HisMan at June 4, 2010 11:31 AM

I'm not sure it says anything particularly profound.

Posted by: Hal at June 4, 2010 11:35 AM


Hi Phil,
It says that we have veered so far from God that we believe we are our own masters, with no responsibility to anything (or anyone) but our own self-interests.

Just this morning, I heard Fr. John Corapi on Relevant Radio speaking about God, "I am who am" being the author of all life. That's pretty profound.

Hal, If you are not sure.....you might be interested in listening to Fr. Corapi, although I didn't know if there's a Catholic station in your neck of the woods. But then maybe not...

Posted by: Janet at June 4, 2010 11:57 AM


Oh, I can't type, and I'm getting worse. :(

"didn't" should be "don't".

Posted by: Janet at June 4, 2010 11:59 AM


Some of the comments regarding my sister Terri’s autopsy are the result of just how dishonestly the media reported her autopsy, or how people use it to try and rationalize killing her.

The autopsy did not tell us anything new and it was basically irrelevant. And the findings certainly did not justify killing her.

Terri had a profound brain injury – we already knew that. Moreover, our family could not care less what Terri could or could not do – we loved her just as she was.

Nevertheless, the whole “blind” thing is disingenuous. Perhaps the autopsy revealed that Terri was blind at the time of her death. But it would be absurd to assume that Terri could not see before she died… The videos clearly validated that she was not blind.

But most egregious in the media’s omission of the autopsy report were what the findings of neuropathologist Dr. Stephen Nelson. (Dr. Nelson was the consulting doctor to the IME, Dr. Thogmartin). Nelson said he could not rule out that Terri could have been in a minimally conscience state, which is a higher level of consciousness then the PVS diagnosis.

In addition, Terri’s frontal and temporal poles and insular-cortex demonstrated relative preservation. This meant that Terri’s cortex retained function and that her brain was more normal in the area that controls higher-level thinking.

But I think it’s important to repeat that Terri’s condition should not, and did not matter to us, only in the sense that killing her was barbaric.

I could go on, but I have generally found that facts like these do not matter to certain people. They either ignore the facts or go to great lengths to somehow justify it was still “right” to “let Terri die."

Posted by: Bobby Schindler at June 4, 2010 12:01 PM


Bobby,

Thank you for the additional info on the autopsy. We met at the Dubliner in January this year. I'm the one whose friend works with Michael, and doesn't much like him.

My point with Ashley was that the autopsy doesn't indicate function, and couldn't be used to refute what the videos clearly demonstrated. Further, Michael's refusals to have functional scans clearly indicated his nefarious intent.

Thank you for being ever-present to refute the attempts at distorting your sister's function, and the denials of her dignity. Countless lives are being saved because of Terri's struggles and your family's brave witness to truth, to love.

God Bless.

Posted by: Gerard Nadal at June 4, 2010 12:15 PM


Thank you, Bobby! God bless you.

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at June 4, 2010 12:24 PM


Hi folks,

Perhaps it is time to tell you about a medical effort used in Europe but not legal in the US. This technique was known as Cell Therapy (zelltherapie in German). Part of this treatment was applied to neurological disorders and accidents.

I remember seeing a young man staggering down a hospital corridor, bouncing off the walls on either side. So I asked .... 'And what happened to him? ANSWER: He had been in a car accident about 1 week previously and was in a coma ever since. His parents were desperate and sent him to Dr. Franz Schmid to 'help'. After just two days on cell-treatment was what I was witnessing.

I asked why this therapy helped. They found out that neurologically 'dead' tissue was often only functionally-dead' ie. that parts of neurons that were damaged (eg. by oxygen deprivation) could be repaired and the whole cell revitalized.

I doubt that even most neurologists have even heard of such. It is a rather striking example of what is possible. The death of Garry Coleman (and the medical opinions pronouncing his future) were invalid.

Posted by: John McDonell at June 4, 2010 12:43 PM


John,

Do you have any journal references, doctor's names, that I can follow up on?

Thanks so much.

Posted by: Gerard Nadal at June 4, 2010 12:50 PM


Sorry Jerry,

not very much is even written/known about this these days ... especially in the English world. The events that I wrote about were in Auchaffenburg, Germany - Christmas 1981 .... many years prior to Internet. Prof Schmid died some years ago of pancreatic cancer. He was emeritas professor at Heidelberg school of medicine. You'd likely get the best info from their medical stacks.

From what I understood, there was also a medical 'course' given re. the use and application of this technique. This technique has fallen-out of favor in medical orthodoxy ... why I do not know ....

Posted by: John McDonell at June 4, 2010 1:27 PM


Aside from the fact that killing any living being because they aren't "aware" enough in our eyes is barbaric, the very WAY they killed Terri is awful.

Convicted killers get quicker, less painful death sentences than the the execution enacted on Terri! I mean, we show more compassion to a DOG than we did to Terri!

I guess everyone could feel there was no blood on their hands to just let her starve to death instead of pushing poison into an IV right? And if someone let their infant starve to death wouldn't that be considered cruel and homicidal? Terri had as much function as an infant, right? But because Terri was some inhuman "vegetable" it was alright to torture her to death. I just don't get our schizophrenic society. We have up confused with down and everything in between. We abort children every day then turn around and charge drunk drivers with murder if they hit a pregnant woman's car and kill her fetus. We abhor starving SOME people to death while others waste away in the national news and nobody blinks an eye. What a cruel, cold-hearted society we live in. God help us.

Rest in peace, Terri. May your life save others.

Posted by: Sydney M. at June 4, 2010 1:50 PM


Did anyone else catch the inability for self-reflection inherent in Bobby Schindler's comment? He stated that "... Terri’s condition should not, and did not matter to us ..." then said "I could go on, but I have generally found that facts like these do not matter to certain people." Perhaps his concept of "facts like these" is more limited than is mine.

"I'd rather die in Terri's situation." I'm with Ashley on this. Same goes if I ever were to be stricken with Locked-in Syndrome. That would be a fate worse than death, like living indefinitely after being buried alive.

"Would you rather be starved and dehydrated to death?" To answer carla, I'd prefer lethal injection, but since that's not available due to ethical issues, starvation and dehydration would be acceptable. Either would be more "dignified" than being kept alive against one's wishes.

Posted by: Arium at June 4, 2010 1:51 PM


Arium,

Perhaps the real "inability for self-reflection" is demonstrated by someone who thinks deliberately starving and dehydrating someone to death is "acceptable."

Posted by: Lori Pieperi at June 4, 2010 2:15 PM


Hal:

It means we are fallen and separated from the very source of life.

Posted by: Phil Schembri is HisMan at June 4, 2010 2:26 PM


I prefer to live until I take my last breath.

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at June 4, 2010 2:29 PM


As a registered nurse, I despise the act of starving and dehydrating someone over the course of hours or days until they die. To me there is a huge difference between prolonging life artificially by keeping the heart and lungs functioning when they otherwise would not and ending life prematurely by denying fluid and nutrition to someone whose body is perfectly content to continue functioning.

Just as there is a difference between administering morphine with the intent to end life and administering it with the intent to ease suffering while the patient goes through whatever days are left.

Or, in mind of the main topic of this blog, the difference between a late term abortion designed to kill the baby and an early induction to save the mother's life with all proper care being given to attempt to save the life of the baby as well.

Posted by: Elisabeth at June 4, 2010 3:20 PM


I believe that in life we have hedges just as Job had a hedge around him. I believe that when health care providers insist on refusing elderly individuals sustenance in effect destroying their hedge that their own hedge (protection) will be compromised this just follows when the death of others is unnatural or persued. Hospitals are meant to be a place of healing and on occasion natural death. Death is not to be the order of the day. At the risk of being labeled a zealot I submit that the real zealots (for death) are those who intentionally interfere with natural life.

Posted by: myrtle miller at June 4, 2010 4:01 PM


Myrtle, as a health care provider, I agree with you 100%. My patients need to know that I will not decide arbitrarily that their life is not worth living. They need to trust that I will do what is right to care for them.

If you truly wish to be starved or dehydrated in that instance, get an advanced directive for that. You have that right. But in the absence of such a directive, we cannot make that choice for someone else.

Posted by: Elisabeth at June 4, 2010 4:32 PM


sorry to post yet again

but this topic is very close to me and has been for several decades. I (unlike Elizabeth) feel no compunction at all toward any kind of advanced directive. I suppose that this 'judgment' is based on the 'poor kid' syndrome, by pretending that 'they are just-like Jerry's Kids on the MD Telethon on Labor Day weekend each year. These kids ARE severally disabled ... BUT NO MORE-SO THAN YOU, THE VERY GULLIBLE PUBLIC! ... please note the advocacy of Not Dead Yet.

I have little doubt that you reject such comparison, after all you are independent with free will.

Are we not one? Are you rejecting my far-from-perfect self-image? Is heaven filled with supermen?

I am one of Jerry's Kids, and I survive (not thrive). Can't tell you the rejection I've had ... strange because I am Jesus' bro. 'Come, pick up your/our cross and follow ME.'

Jesus has led me to places/hurting-hearts where few travel. My life is anything but comfortable. Can you afford to leave me out?

Posted by: John McDonell at June 4, 2010 5:47 PM


Ashley, I don't know if you believe there are other states of conciousness besides those we commonly measure, but I believe there may be a chance that a person may be able to experience another, as-yet-unmeasurable state of conciousness. I would not want to be starved and dehydrated. Hundreds of years ago, people couldn't tell the difference between a coma and death. What kind of hubris do we have now? We think we know everything? We know very little.

Further, I'm not going to divulge my complete medical history, but as a child, I spent a year unable to speak. It was amazing. Family members spoke in front of me as if I couldn't hear, and as if I would never speak again. What a mountain of family gossip I heard and remembered! Just because a person cannot respond, do not assume they are a brick. (and yes, Aunt Mildred, I know all about your lost diamond, that was replaced by a fake, and that you never told Uncle Bob!)

Posted by: ninek at June 4, 2010 5:50 PM


Dr. Nadal
There is a doctor by the name of Dr.Aymond he appears on LPB and that's his specialty the brain. He shows pictures of peoples brains before and after receiving the help they need. Anyway you can see the difference in the before and after pictures. What a lot of people don't realize is that because of the advancements in medicine you can have a very ill patient one day and the same patient doing well later. When Daniel was diagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyocitis I thank God the doctor did not rush to put a peg tube in him she allowed the steroids time to work and as a result his ability to eat came back.

Posted by: myrtle miller at June 4, 2010 7:45 PM


Bobby
Did you'll have any type of legal recourse?

Posted by: myrtle miller at June 4, 2010 7:59 PM


Arium,

Bobby Schindler's comment spoke of Terri's condition, but did not indicate a lack of self-reflection on her part. You put those words in hid mouth.

Self-perception, self-reflection is a closed neural loop within the brain. You can't evaluate a patient like Terri, with limited efferent pathway activity, absent advanced functional brain-imaging techniques and say that the patient lacks self awareness.

So, no, none of us noticed those words in Bobby's comments, because the first time they appeared were in yours.

Posted by: Gerard Nadal at June 4, 2010 11:11 PM


sorry to post yet again

but this topic is very close to me and has been for several decades. I (unlike Elizabeth) feel no compunction at all toward any kind of advanced directive.

Posted by: John McDonell at June 4, 2010 5:47 PM

John, what on EARTH are you talking about? I think you have me confused with someone I was replying to. And my name is EliSabeth, not EliZabeth.

Posted by: Elisabeth at June 5, 2010 2:08 AM



The more we learn of the human brain the less we know and understand.

How is genius explained?
How is the savant explained?

How is schizophrenia explained? Why are these people so often brilliant?

We are only beginning to understand autism and the potential these once thought hopeless people have.

A man is discovered to have minimal brain matter and a skull full of fluid, yet he functions normally. Looking at this x-ray in a laboratory, it would be argued this is totally incompatible with life.

The more we "know" the less we understand.

Posted by: Mary at June 5, 2010 7:53 AM


Gerald,

You missed my point. I referred to Schindler's inability for self-reflection, not Schiavo's. He said (the fact of) Terri's condition "did not matter to us," then criticized people for whom facts supposedly don't matter.

Posted by: Arium at June 5, 2010 7:57 AM


mea colpa EliSabeth ... should have paid closer attention, sorry!

Now to explain: I have a rare neurological condition called Friedreich's Ataxia (FA or FRDA). In many ways the symptoms of FA and those of multiple sclerosis (MS) are similar, but ours tends to become debilitating far earlier. It should be noted that my intellect remains intact while my body via atrophy of the peripheral nerves, tends to deteriorate.

I have many questions re. therapy but before all that there is till so much to experience. A prime directive only seems to be positive. I personally have met several hundred severally disabled people and have yet to meet even one who contemplates giving up (if this happens ... let me die). I am pissed by a medical profession that espouses cures for all, but after a long while understand that this is equivalent to making everyone rich. Its like making everyone happy by making them wealthy/healthy.

So is my happiness delayed/not-possible within my circumstances? Is my happiness contingent on being 'cured'? Am I not freed from the burdens of expectations imposed on 'normal people'?

I have a continuing problem: rejection of that
which is disabled in me and accepting my 'gifts'. I am slowly learning that my prime gifts are my disabilities.

Posted by: John McDonell at June 5, 2010 10:56 AM


Um, okay... I get what you are saying.

However, I'm not sure at all why it is directed towards me? My comment was that if someone else wanted to be starved to death they were free to make an advanced directive to that end... but that without such an advanced directive we should always "err" on the side of life. Not sure how that gives me a compunction towards an advanced directive?

As a nurse, I have cared for many children with disease processes that meant that they would have radically shortened life spans and limited "abilities" as they are generally seen by the public. However, I have assisted mothers in caring for these children and have cared for them in the hospital with great love and joy because each of them touched my heart in a special way. Never would I have participated in starving or dehydrating them to death.

I happen to believe that these children, and many others, have great gifts and love to bring into our lives and in no way should we view them as less valuable or worthy of our care.

Posted by: Elisabeth at June 7, 2010 3:06 AM


Gerard, I understand your arguments and points completely. I appreciate your scientific argument. The point I was making, however, is that these decisions should not rest completely on a scientific argument. To make my point, we know that smoking is very unhealthy--it causes cancer and a whole host of medical problems. But this reason alone neither convinces one to stop smoking nor prohibits one from picking up the cigarettes in the first place. Life issues are very similar. We cannot argue them purely from a scientific analysis or data. Most people don't care what the data says and plenty don't understand what medical procedures and tests indicate. They only know what they think and feel. Therefore life issues MUST be addressed in much simpler, human terms. Just look at the abortion issue. It's an undisputed FACT that human life begins at the moment of conception. At that moment there is another human being with completely different DNA than it's mother. It's a scientific fact. However, even based on all the medical information, many people do not accept that fact at all. From that they continue argue other erroneous conclusions. Thus the argument goes round and round. It's a no win situation. What to do then? These discussions must be addressed just as simply and honestly as Bobby stated--He and his family LOVED Teri. It mattered in no way what her condition was, whether it be permanent or temporarty, whether it be short term or long. She had people who loved her and wanted to care for her the best way they could to make her life as comfortable as possible. Teri could not possibly have been "suffering" in the terms Ashley considers. We can not possibly know what was in Teri's heart. But I do know from a historical perspective, the normal state of human life ALWAYS gears towards SURVIVAL. In the worst circumstances, human beings always attempt to survive as long as they can. Even when death seems emminent, humans fight to stay alive. Ashley seems to believe that humans instinctly "give up" in the face of difficulat circumstances. Not so. These are the arguments we must make. Human nature is geared toward LIVING not DYING. Only cowards, lay down and die. Teri was a fighter. Her family were fighters. Her husband was a coward. It takes COURAGE and FAITH to get up every day and try to walk or talk or feed yourself. It only takes LOVE to help someone and encourage them and support them in spite of their difficulties. Ashley, no, I don't think anyone, if given a choice, would actually choose to live under Teri's conditions. That is not the point. Life is not a choice--it is a GIFT. It's a GIFT from God the Almighty Father. He doesn't ask anyone if they want to be born, if they want to be healthy, smart, beautiful, and he doesn't ask anyone when they want to die or how. He wills it because He is God. But what separates the godly from the evil is the willingness to embrace that gift REGARDLESS of the circumstances. God ALWAYS gives us the graces necessary to care for the gifts he gives us. Reject them at your own peril. Teri's life, as well as Gary's, were GIFTS from God. Teri no longer had the option of making decisions for herself. So what. Babies and children don't possess this option either. Her family loved her and they accepted that about Teri. That's what real LOVE is. For what it's worth, there is nothing immoral about eleviating a person's pain while they are dying a natural death. That is simple kindness and mercy. There is also nothing immoral about not offering extraordinary measures to save a persons life. But what are extraordinary measures? How do we measure a persons life? Who is worthy of living? These are the questions Ashley. If you don't value life enough to fight for your own or the people you love, then what does that say about you? But in a loving world, people don't murder each other because they are inconvenient, sick, disabled, or confused.

Posted by: Cindy at June 7, 2010 8:15 AM


superb Cindy ... absolutely great!

One of the continuing difficulties I've had [over the years on this site] is a consistent misjudgment by PC'ers of the place of significance in their own lives and activity. Significance is a belief/faith about what value a person has. It IS somewhat like 'rights'. If a being is designated as living (before and after birth) and as being 'human', then these have 'rights' (before birth) and this is one aspect of what 'human' means. 'Rights' nor 'significance' is awarded by the state.

Elisobeth, mine was clearly a butt-in and what I said was only an addition to what you said and not a rebuttal. Many folks consider a 'severely-disabled' life (whether by birth or by accident) to be a target rather than a blessing. Very few actually listen to this perspective because it invokes a sort-of-negative-judgment. Are WE NOT ONE (a right hemisphere view - drjilltaylor.com ) or are we distinct individuals, (left-brain logic, speech center view)?

Posted by: John McDonell at June 7, 2010 9:33 AM



I have heard Muhammed Ali's wife say how happy he is with his life and advises people to spend their pity on someone who really needs it, her husband doesn't.

Posted by: Mary at June 7, 2010 12:22 PM


Beautifuly stated Cindy. Thank you for your post.

Posted by: Prolifer L at June 7, 2010 1:35 PM


Okay, got it. Thanks, John, because I couldn't figure out how it all fit in. I happen to believe that every human life is a gift and a blessing, even if we don't understand the future blessings that certain challenges may bring.

God bless!

Posted by: Elisabeth at June 7, 2010 11:14 PM