March 2005 Archives

Today is my Birthday

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Today is my birthday. I am one human year old. Behold my presents:

The absence of a new toy among this lot did not escape my notice, but the old dame says I have toys "all over the house" and I can't argue with that. I'm quite taken with the new collar. Masculine but stylish-- I think it suits me:

The matching leash is a bit much; bordering on a "metrosexual" look, but the old dame likes it.

Of course nothing beats a new filled bone--my very favorite treat.

I'd also like to extend my compliments to the chefs at Eukanuba; my new chow is considerably more to my liking than the puppy food I've been getting up until now.

Birthdays are good.

The Schiavo Case

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Subtitle: I read this stuff so you don't have to.

Only a cold-hearted person would not be bothered by the Schiavo case. I've gone back and forth, back and forth on this, being a mother myself. It's hard to witness Mrs. Schindler's desperation without thinking: Why not let her take her daughter home and care for her? What's really on Michael Schiavo's mind, and why have all the court decisions been so consistently in his favor?

To settle my mind I've researched the case just a bit. Many if not all of the legal documents are online at If you've just been watching the developments on TV news and you don't know the whole history of this case, you've probably made a few assumptions that are false--I know I had.

This afternoon I read one of the documents: "Guardian ad Litem's Report on Terri Schiavo" , and it settled my mind. It's long, but well worth reading for anyone who is bothered by this case. It was written by a court-appointed guardian in 2003.

Skip down to the section titled "Historical Facts in Theresa Marie Schiavo's Case", which begins on page 7. The gist of it goes something like this:

Terri had been very overweight most of her life: at the age of 18 she weighed 250 lbs. At the time of her heart attack she weighed 110. She drank 10 to 15 glasses of iced tea a day, resulting in a dramatically reduced level of potassium in her body. She was seeing a fertility specialist because she and Michael wanted to start a family, and after her heart attack Michael filed a malpractice suit against the doctor for failing to diagnose her eating disorder: he claimed she was bulimic. After about a year the suit was resolved: Terri received $750k, which was put in a trust fund. SouthTrust Bank was the trustee, and the document states that "The fund was meticulously managed and accounted for, and Michael Schiavo had no control over its use."

He was awarded $300k for loss of companionship. The Schindler's received nothing, and the author of the document, the GAL (Guardian Ad Litem), made a point of saying it was at this time that the relationship between Michael and the Schindlers turned sour:

After the malpractice case judgment, evidence of disaffection between the Schindlers and Michael Schiavo openly emerged for the first time. The Schindlers petitioned the court to remove Michael as guardian. They made allegations that he was not caring for Theresa, and that his behavior was disruptive to Theresa's treatment and condition.

They lost. Indeed, the court found that:

His demanding concern for her well being and meticulous care by the nursing home earned him the characterization by the administrator as "a nursing home administrator's nightmare". It is notable that through more than thirteen years after Theresa's collapse, she has never had a bedsore.

Although Theresa's condition was formally diagnosed as pvs in autumn of 1990 following months of therapy and testing, for four years Michael Schiavo refused to believe his wife's case was hopeless. Only after trying everything including aggressive therapy and experimental treatments did he finally accept the diagnosis. At about that time--Terri had been in a pvs for four years--she developed a bladder infection. In consultation with her doctor Michael Schiavo decided not to treat the infection, and he placed a DNR (do not resuscitate) order on his wife. The nursing facility challenged the decision, and he removed the DNR order. Shortly after that he moved her to another facility.

In 1997 he decided to initiate legal action to withdraw artificial life support. By this time he and the Schindlers had not spoken for years. They fought him aggressively in court. After more legal wrangling, Judge Greer ordered the removal of artificial life support in February 2000.

I'll skip the details or this post will be as long as the legal document. Suffice it to say the Schindlers tried over and over to remove Michael as guardian, and they failed again and again. It wasn't just that the court decided Michael was adequate--the court decided he was a better choice than they would be. This passage is telling:

Testimony provided by members of the Schindler family included very personal statements about their desire and intention to ensure that Theresa remain alive. Throughout the course of the litigation, deposition and trial testimony by members of the Schindler family voiced the disturbing belief that they would keep Theresa alive at any and all costs. Nearly gruesome examples were given, eliciting agreement by family members that in the event Theresa should contract diabetes and subsequent gangrene in each of her limbs, they would agree to amputate each limb, and would then, were she to be diagnosed with heart disease, perform open heart surgery. There was additional, difficult testimony that appeared to establish that despite the sad and undesirable condition of Theresa, the parents still derived joy from having her alive, even if Theresa might not be at all aware of her environment given the persistent vegetative state. Within the testimony, as part of the hypotheticals presented, Schindler family members stated that even if Theresa had told them of her intention to have artificial nutrition withdrawn, they would not do it. Throughout this painful and difficult trial, the family acknowledged that Theresa was in a diagnosed persistent vegetative state.

Gosh, maybe those who love the most aren't necessarily the best people to make these tough decisions! Trying everything, the Schindlers produced affidavits from medical doctors alleging Terri's condition could improve. In 2002, the court allowed additional medical review. Five doctors were chosen, two by Michael, two by the Schindlers, and one by the court. The GAL writes:

The scientific quality, value and relevance of the testimony varied. The two neurologists testifying for Michael Schiavo provided strong, academically based, and scientifically supported evidence that was reasonably deemed clear and convincing by the court. Of the two physicians testifying for the Schindlers, only one was a neurologist, the other was a radiologist/hyperbaric physician. The testimony of the Schindler's physicians was substantially anecdotal, and was reasonably deemed to be not clear and convincing. The fifth physician, chosen by the court because the two parties could not agree, presented scientifically grounded, academically based evidence that was reasonably deemed to be clear and convincing by the court.

The three doctors who presented the convincing evidence all agreed that Terri was in a pvs and there was no hope of improvement in her condition. The Schindlers never gave up, continuing to file motion after motion. It goes on and on.

Now I know why all the court decisions have been so one-sided: the judges read the legal documents, the politicians do not. Now I'm even more outraged by the political grandstanding. Tom Delay is ever the shameless scumbag; it's more shocking that Frist, a doctor, would pretend to diagnose Terri's condition based on videotape. As for W, well, he doesn't even read the newspapers, never mind the legal documents.

At this point I hope Terri dies quickly, even knowing that her "martyrdom", like the murder of Joseph Smith, could lead to a whole new branch of "Christianity". There is already a buzz surrounding the symbolism of her potentially dying between Good Friday and Easter, and this morning I read this in the Washington Post: "People will say, 'Terri Schiavo died for our sins in a society that does not care enough for the helpless.' " (The whole article is here.)

As much as my heart goes out to Mrs. Schindler, I think she needs to let go. I've tried imagining myself in her position, and I honestly think I would have let go in autumn of 1990. She believes her daughter responds to her--I believe she's projecting. When I hear her say "Don't let my little girl die; she's my whole life," she's not saying "Don't do this to Terri," she's saying "Don't do this to me."

Long essay on Bush crimes

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The dean of the Massachusetts School of Law believes Bush has committed impeachable felonies. Read what he has to say here. (Warning: it's long.)

Thanks, Adam

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Thank you, Adam Felber. No one else has expressed how I personally feel about the Terri Schiavo case, nor has anyone else dared do it with humor.

Best comments to Adam's post:

Ken writes: Is there a big Persistant Vegitative Citizens voting block out there that I don't know about?

To which Lynne responds: They're called Republicans.

P.S. I have a living will. It specifically states that if I ever become a carrot stretched out on a bed, I do not want to be kept alive by respirator, feeding tube, hydration, or any other means. Yes, Mike, this means you get the house. The carpet is ruined where Saint knocked over the oil lamp; just saying.

Ahh, Spring Break


It doesn't get any better than this...

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