I hope that if I am ever in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery, my husband, family and all of my friends will rally behind me. I hope they will band together and tell the doctors to pull the plug and let me die. Let me leave the cage that is my body, where my greatest accomplishment is that I do not need a respirator and can open my eyes. What use is opening my eyes if I can't see anything?
Terri Schiavo had been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years. Fifteen years of doing nothing but breathing and opening her eyes. Fifteen years of having a feeding tube stuck down her throat, pumping nutrients into her body. I can only hope that the original brain damage was severe enough that she truly was brain dead, and was not aware of what her life had become. That she was not living in a hospital bed, day after day, year after year, completely unable to do anything. How terrible it must have been for her to starve to death those final 13 days. How much worse it must have been for her to live those first 15 years.
Terri's parents were unable to let go of their child. According to Wikipedia.com, they videotaped her for six and a half hours, to document exactly how she responded to people and voices. From six and a half hours of footage, they got four minutes and twenty seconds of “proof.” How much of that proof is just the wishful thinking of well-meaning parents?
I wish that all the people, including Terri's parents, that insisted she live could exist like she did, just for a day. Just one day of being unable to move or speak or do anything more than blink and have people insist that you are still responsive and alive.
How brain dead do you have to be before people stop shoving food down your throat? What constitutes responsive and how often do you have to open your eyes for you to be declared conscious and desirous of life?
The loss of a feeding tube was a blessing to Terri Schiavo. How much longer would she have continued to exist conscious but unaware, before her body finally gave out and let her die as she should have years ago?
© The Voice, 2005
Revised 050408 http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/2_18/commentary3.htm