Wednesday, February 23, 2005

830 The voice of experience

One of Terri's bloggers writes from personal experience with rehabilitation. How well I remember facing the "experts." After my daughter's cancer surgery I sat in a room with a table of specialists--each recommending their own specialty, each contradicting the other.

"I am biologically tenacious, aren't you? Knowing what I know now, I am extremely grateful that I have never lived under Judge George Greer's jurisdiction. I have chronic progressive multiple sclerosis, have an electric wheelchair, and have been through acute rehabilitation at the University of Utah Medical Center four times. In two of those extended stays in the hospital I was given the beautiful opportunity to learn how to swallow, speak, eat, and to continue with my life. I was treated by experts, a multidisciplinary medical team that had the experience to evaluate and rehabilitate me. All of these opportunities have been denied Terri Schiavo.

In previous orders by Judge Greer to remove Terri's feeding tube he based the orders on the testimonies of doctors who say Terri is in a persistent vegetative state(none of which were qualified medical rehabilitation experts). But doctors employed by the Schindlers to assess her condition conclude that with therapy, she could learn to eat and drink on her own and perhaps learn to talk. However, those assessments were not allowed in court by Judge Greer." Richard has more to say.

Although I personally believe the rehabilitation will come too late, I also don't believe that is the only issue--whether she can speak (or do math or paint a masterpiece). We do not place value on people because of their speech or swallowing. The media reports slip off the horse on one side or the other--either the side that she has no brain activity at all, or swerving over to maybe there is hope for her like the woman who awoke from a coma after 20 years. When in doubt, choose life.

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