Saturday, April 02, 2005

Skip this if you're easily offended..... 

Soap box time.

I know the Schiavo case has gotten way too much media coverage. But I'm gonna throw in my two cents anyway, and risk
offending my readers still further by including a vicious but thought-provoking vignette I received in an e-mail tonight.

My grandmother died a month ago in a hospice without a feeding tube. I do not honestly know for a fact my grandmother's wishes, but my aunts were ok with not artificially prolonging her life, and thus, so was I. I was secretly relieved that no one voiced any objections. My mom had a DNR posted in the house when hospice was caring for her prior to her death eight years ago. I did know that's exactly what my mom wanted, but I feared an argument from her sister who has strong religious beliefs. Thankfully, Mom's wishes were granted without protest.

The person I feel the sorriest for in the Terri Schiavo case is Ms. Schiavo herself. She lived for 15 years unable to communicate her wishes. She is at last at peace, and I fervently hope her family will be able to honor her memory by mending the rift that went on for so many years. I saw her brother and sister making the first steps in this, and I hope more are to follow.

While I strongly urge all adults to issue advance directives regardless of religious belief, poiitcs or health status, I am ashamed to admit that I have not done this myself. I have meant to, and in fact have the necessary paperwork buried in a tower of stuff on my desk right now. I've had this on my "to do" list since I was in college and wrote a lengthy article on the subject.

Dan and I have discussed this many times, and we are both in agreement that, for us, artificially prolonging our lives should we fall into a persistent vegatative state would be a fate worse than death. But we both have conservative parents who could possibly argue to preserve our lives no matter what. The wisest solution would be to fill out that paperwork so that we could be spared from a horrific situation like Ms. Schiavo's. So I gotta stop procrastinating.

What follows is the text of the e-mail I received. Is it in bad taste? Yes, it certainly is, but I feel it puts things in perspective better than I can:

With everything that's happening in the news, I thought I should get this written down in case anything should happen.

* In the event I lapse into a persistent vegetative state, I want medical authorities to resort to extraordinary means to prolong my hellish semiexistence. Fifteen years wouldn't be long enough for me.

* I want my husband and my parents to compound their misery by engaging in a bitter and protracted feud that depletes their emotions and their bank accounts.

* I want my husband to ruin the rest of his life by maintaining an interminable vigil at my bedside. I'd be really jealous if he waited less than a decade to start dating again or otherwise rebuilding a semblance of a normal life.

* I want my case to be turned into a circus by losers and crackpots from around the country who hope to bring meaning to their empty lives by investing the same transient emotion in me that they once reserved for Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy and that little girl who got stuck in a well.

* I want those crackpots to spread vicious lies about my husband.

* I want to be placed in a hospice where protesters can gather to bring further grief and disruption to the lives of dozens of dying patients and families whose stories are sadder than my own.

* I want the people who attach themselves to my case because of their deep devotion to the sanctity of life to make death threats against any judges, elected officials or health care professionals who disagree with them.

* I want total strangers - oily politicians, maudlin news anchors, ersatz friars and all other hangers-on - to start calling me "Terri," as if they had known me since childhood.

* I'm not insisting on this as part of my directive, but it would be nice if Congress passed a "Terri’s Law" that applied only to me and ignored the medical needs of tens of millions of other Americans without adequate health coverage.

* Even if the "Terri’s Law" idea doesn't work out, I want Congress - especially all those self-described conservatives who claim to believe in "less government and more freedom" - to trample on the decisions of doctors, judges and other experts who actually know something about my case. And I want members of Congress to launch into an extended debate that gives them another excuse to avoid pesky issues such as national security and the economy.

* In particular, I want House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to use my case as an opportunity to divert the country's attention from the mounting political and legal troubles stemming from his slimy misbehavior.

* And I want Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to make a mockery of his Harvard medical degree by misrepresenting the details of my case in ways that might give a boost to his 2008 presidential campaign.

* I want Frist and the rest of the world to judge my medical condition on the basis of a snippet of dated and demeaning videotape that should have remained private.

* Because I think I would retain my sense of humor even in a persistent vegetative state, I'd want President Bush - the same guy who publicly mocked Karla Faye Tucker when signing off on her death warrant as governor of Texas - to claim he was intervening in my case because it is always best "to err on the side of life."

* And because Gov. Jeb Bush is the smartest and most righteous human being on the face of the Earth, I want any and all of the aforementioned directives to be disregarded if the governor happens to disagree with them. If he says he knows what's best for me, I won't be in a positon to argue.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?