Life Through A Tube?

by Techniguy 03-19-2005

For the past week now, the news and talk media have been dominated daily, with one or two exceptions, by one story; the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. With the information being presented by the media, I found myself at odds with the mainstream Republicans and the view of the Conservatives who have taken this issue all the way to the Superior count and the President of the United States. I have always believed that it’s just wrong to keep someone alive with artificial means when their time has come to go whether it‘s by natural causes or artificial. I still believe that but there were questions in the Schiavo case that needed answering.

The media turned this into a circus of ideological and moral issues with views from both sides of the question, but really hadn’t given us enough information to understand what is really going on. All we really knew was that Terri was in a vegetative state with irreversible brain damage resulting from a heart attack 15 years ago and her husband, Michael Schiavo wants the feeding tube removed as it was Terri’s wish, or so he says. There have been plenty of discussions regarding the legal issues involved, and who is right and who is wrong, but we’ve learned little more from them.

I have been thinking about writing this article for a couple of days now which I knew would be controversial with most of my readers, but the way I saw it, no one would want to be kept alive in Terri’s condition, and as her Husband, Michael is really the only person who has the legal right to decide the issue. It was bad enough that Terri’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had been waging a seven year court battle to fight against the rights of the husband, but then when the Florida State Legislature, the Governor, and the Federal Government started getting involved in this, It seemed it was going too far. The law is the law, and the law says that Michael Schiavo has the right to have the feeding tube removed, so obey the law and grant him that right. Right? It turns out that the issue just isn’t that simple.

I am not going to try to support either side of the feeding tube issue here, but rather provide some information that you may not have seen in the news reports. I still believe that the Federal Government has no more business getting involved in this than they have getting involved in steroid use in baseball, it’s not their job or any of their business in either case. The government simply has no right interfering in family business. However, there is another issue here that may be government business, what if Michael Schiavo is responsible for Terri’s condition?

Does Michael Schiavo want Terri dead for her sake or for his own? Some say it’s for money but I don’t believe that’s the case. In November 1992, her husband, Michael, won a medical malpractice lawsuit after claiming that doctors failed to diagnose the chemical imbalance that caused the heart attack. The court awarded approximately $1.3 million in damages with $300,000 to Michael for his loss and another $700,000 to Michael for Terri’s guardianship and care. Schiavo claims the money has been used to fund therapy for Terri and only about $50,000 remains in her fund. World Net Daily has reported, Attorney and Director of Florida Right to Die, George J. Felos has been paid some $358,000 from the fund and Schiavo's other attorney reportedly received $80,000. Schiavo added that there is no life insurance policy on Terri's life and stressed he stands to gain nothing financially from her death. Mr. Schiavo is financially sound in his own business and has even turned down a $1 million offer to transfer custody of Terri to her parents and walk away. He doesn’t need or want the money. For him, it’s not about money yet he refuses to allow Terri’s parents to take responsibility for her care and divorce himself from the situation altogether. Why?

According to the record based on statements by Mr. Schiavo, and supported by a decision by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George W. Greer, Terri had told Michael that she wouldn’t want to be kept alive in an incapacitated condition by artificial means. In late 1991, 1½ years after Terri’s collapse, Michael Schiavo became involved in an intimate relationship with Cindy Shook. The romance continued for approximately one year. Unwilling to come forward because of her immense fear of Schiavo, Cindy had to be subpoenaed and was then subsequently deposed on May 8, 2001 to try and learn more regarding her intimate knowledge of Michael Schiavo’s character traits. Cindy said Schiavo got angry when asked questions about Terri saying: "this had destroyed his life and he was being robed of a normal life."

When asked about Terri’s medical care and being kept alive, according to Cindy Shook, Michael Schiavo said, "How the hell should I know we never spoke about this, my God I was only 25 years old. How the hell should I know? We were young. We never spoke of this." But Michael says that Terri had expressed her wishes to him regarding this during court proceedings. He is not being consistent.

Carole Lieberman, M.D., M.P.H., Psychiatrist and expert medical witness, and the author of the book, “Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them and When to Leave Them“, was quoted as saying, "I have studied men who exhibit pathology in their relationships with women. Profiles of the twelve different types of bad boys are explained. Michael Schiavo fits the profile, described in the book as the Prince of Darkness. Michael Schiavo was likely to have known that Terri had begun making plans to divorce him, since she had told a coworker and family member. Stalking is characteristic of this type of man, as well. And a girlfriend of Michael’s, Cindy, accused him of stalking her in 2001."

Cindy Shook described Schiavo’s possessiveness this way: "he’s very jealous. He stalked me at my… at where I worked after I stopped dating… when he would get mad at me he would tell me, I would rather be laying in bed in the nursing home with her than with you. I mean he can be the most incredibly mean person" When asked if she were afraid that Michael would physically harm her or if he would harm children. "I am concerned about retaliation because I have a child -I have children and a husband. I know him, I know what he told me I said he could be a very mean person."

She spoke of how Schiavo stalked her for close to a year after the breakup and that she received repeated phone calls. "He came on the floor looking for me several times”. I felt it was out of character for him to get a job as an orderly at the hospital That was concerning to me. When he would come up to the floor looking for her she was not scared the first time but later was scared. “In town I would look up when I was driving…not at my work” - she would look up in the rear view mirror and there would be Michael Schiavo. “I would look up and he would be behind me in traffic”. It continued for several months after he didn’t work at the hospital. She would change lanes, try to make a turn and he would do the same. He did this about ten times. “One time he was behind me in traffic he got next to me in a two-lane going the same way, and he changed lanes basically right on top of where I was at, and I had to swerve not to be hit. I had to swerve off the road. Michael ran me off the road. I considered it as stalking, dangerous and guessed potentially life threatening."  They discussed marriage. She said Schiavo asked what would you do if I asked you to marry me. He never discussed getting a divorce.

"In June of 1993, eight months after he got the malpractice money, he tried to kill Terri by withholding antibiotics needed to treat an infection. There was $800,000 in the fund at the time”, Terri’s brother Bobby Schindler told World Net Daily. According to court records, the caregivers at the nursing home overruled Schiavo's order and treated Terri for her infection. As additional "proof" that he's not in the legal battle for the money, Schiavo told Larry King he offered three times to donate the money to charity two years ago. But Bobby Schindler called it a "hollow offer." "The offer came with the stipulation that my parents agree to let my sister starve to death. Why would we let her starve to death?".

According to Schiavo, he heard a "thud" in the hall at 4:30 a.m. and got out of bed to find his wife lying face down on the floor. Schiavo said he rolled her over and saw she was "lifeless" and called 911. "If Michael rolled her over, then he rolled her back," Schindler told World Net Daily. "He has also stated [in other interviews] that when I showed up he was cradling her in his arms. Now he's changing his story?"  According to Schindler, Schiavo called Robert Schindler first, who then alerted Bobby because he lived in the same apartment complex as his sister, and then called 911. Bobby Schindler said when he arrived on the scene, Terri was face down with her arms underneath her and her hands up by her neck. "It's etched in my mind," said Schindler, adding that he heard a "gurgling or snoring sound" coming from Terri. Schiavo has declined to answer where he would be willing to take a lie detector test regarding the events of that night.

It is Michael Schiavo’s contention that Terri suffered a heart attack as the result of a potassium imbalance likely due to bulimia. But Michael Baden, who is co-director of the Investigative Unit of New York State Police in Albany and former chief medical examiner for New York City, ruled out potassium imbalance and a heart attack as factors in Terri's mysterious collapse 13 years ago – which left her severely incapacitated and unable to speak – and pointed to head trauma and bone injuries as a more likely cause. Baden said he studied a bone scan made in March 1991 at a rehabilitation facility that describes Terri as having a head injury: "That's why she's there, that's why she's getting a bone scan." "A head injury can ... lead to the vegetative state that Ms. Schiavo is in now," he continued, adding the scan showed evidence of other injuries, bone fractures in her thigh, lower back, ribs and both ankles.

Coupled with medical records that indicated Terri was admitted to the hospital the night of her collapse with a "suspiciously rigid neck" which two physicians described as being consistent with attempted strangulation, prompted the Schindlers to seek an investigation of the 1990 collapse. Amid strenuous objection from Felos, Greer ruled against such a probe. Bobby Schindler said the refusal to investigate Terri's collapse casts doubt on Schiavo's assertion he still loves his wife. "The broken bones got there somehow," he said. "It seems to me if I were her husband I would want to find out what happened to her." In the interview with Larry King, Schiavo addressed the strangulation testimony by asking why her neck was not bruised and her trachea damaged. I have asked the same question.

If these injuries were evident during the medical examination at the hospital, then why was there no investigation into the prospect of assault and spousal abuse? Why were Felos and Greer covering for Schiavo? Judge Greer has ruled that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). This ruling was necessary under Florida law to allow dehydration. Under Florida law, this means that Terri exhibits no voluntary action or cognitive behavior of any kind and is unable to communicate or interact purposely with the environment.

Hospital nurses Heidi Law, Carla Sauer-Iyer, Carolyn Johnson have been ignored and dismissed without hearing; each testified that Michael was abusive to Terri and may have attempted to kill her by insulin injection and attempts to induce pneumonia by turning the thermostat in her room to 64 degrees. Within months of the money being deposited in the bank, Michael ordered a do-not-resuscitate order placed on Terri's chart. He has also repeatedly denied her other forms of medical care, such as treatment for infections. In the mid 1990s, according to another nurse's affidavit filed under penalty of perjury, Michael was overheard saying things such as, "When is she going to die," "Has she died yet?" and "When is that bitch going to die?"

It should be clear by now that Michael Schiavo wants Terri dead, probably so that she can never tell anyone what really happened that night. Forget about all the “right to life” and “right to die” rhetoric. The real questions is; if Terri is allowed to starve to death now, will Michael simply be allowed to finish what he started 15 years ago? I think this needs further investigation before any action is taken by Schiavo but that was done yesterday. It wasn’t the first time the feeding tube has been removed, it’s the third. Late last year the tube was removed for six days before it was re-inserted. There may be a repeat of this on Monday when the current regular judge returns to his court.

Whether Terri lives or dies will make little difference to her. Her life ended that night 15 years ago and will never be recovered. They say she is “brain dead” but that’s not the case, she is only half brain dead. All of her autonomic functions are working but her cerebral cortex is dead which is the area of the brain that deals with conscious thought and memory. She swallows her own saliva but doesn’t seem to be aware of food or water in her mouth and rarely swallows it. She lives in a dream state with occasional moments of lucidness when disturbed. She awakes and responds to stimulus but has no idea of where she is or what is going on. At times she tries to speak but can get no further than the first word on occasions.

While being visited by her family and their attorney, she was told “Terri, if you can just say ‘I want to live‘, this will all be over“, according to a close relative being interviewed on the Sean Hannity Show. Terri’s response was “I waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”. He said she then continued yelling “waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” until the attendants came in to see what was wrong.

Did she really know what she was trying to say? Was she just mocking what she had heard like a parrot? Or was she trying to say “I want to die”? We’ll never know. If it was me, I would not want to live like that, would you? It’s not a life, it’s not living. Brain cells do not regenerate, once they die, they are gone for good. Terri will never recover from this. We have heard reports of a woman who, after a head injury, was in a coma for 20 years, then suddenly woke up. At times, her condition was very much like Terri’s with apparent moments of consciousness but she was not there. One day she just came out of it and now lives a normal life. The difference is that half her brain did not die, but rather was in shock for all that time. In Terri Schiavo’s case, the brain cells are dead and will never work again. What the world needs to know now is what part Michael Schiavo played in Terri’s condition, if any.

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