Schaivo is the young woman in Florida who suffered brain damage 15 years ago from a medical condition allegedly brought on by Bulimia - or if you believe some versions, she may have been attacked and strangled by someone.
No matter how it happened, she has been incapacitated, and to what degree is a matter of some debate. I've seen video that makes it look like Schaivo is interacting with her caregivers, while others insist she exists in a persistent, vegetative, coma-like state.
Schaivo's feeding tube was removed today, 3/18/05 by a Florida court order.
I'm sure there are a number of us who have cavalierly or otherwise, stated our wish to others that we not be kept alive by a machine - if that was the only thing keeping us alive. I'm sure most of us who did, didn't figure on being conscious and aware enough that we might feel the pangs of hunger and associated suffering consistent with a slow death that might last as long as two weeks! I think that prospect might have given us all pause.
So I think there are a number of lessons we all might learn here, because the judge who ordered Schaivo's feeding tube removed today, made his decision based upon not only the word of her husband, Michael Schaivo, but on the testimony of others who claimed Terri told them the same thing - that she didn't want to be kept alive by artificial means if such a tragedy should befall her.
Based upon the video I've seen, I think Schaivo is going to suffer unless she is placed in a medically-induced coma during the process.
Quite a few legal experts being interviewed are mentioning the need for a "living will" by everyone, no matter which side of the debate they are on, and I intend to execute one for myself because of this case.
I can certainly envision Terri Schaivo telling those who testified that she didn't want to be kept alive artificially. It was then up to the judge to decide what she meant by that - and I've got a feeling Terri Schaivo might not agree with it. Unfortunately, her diminished capacity prevents her from amending the words she uttered while in health.
It was confirmed today on CNN that husband Michael Schaivo was offered $10 million dollars at one time to keep Terri alive. Reportedly, he turned down that and another $1 million dollar offer on "principle". That strikes me as odd to say the least, but I'll make no other comments about it.
I certainly believe that if Terri Schaivo is interacting with her caregivers in any way, her life should be preserved to the best of our medical capability, and a living will executed by Terri might well have specified that.
thought for the truly thoughtful.
Editor's Note: For more information about making your own advance directives, consider the references below. As Terri's situation so clearly shows, it is important to understand your options and make careful, detailed directives, with the complete understanding and agreement of your family and loved ones if at all possible.
It is just as important to read and reconsider them - at least once a year or so - to make sure they still reflect your wishes and health status. There is no cost, and no lawyer need be involved in the process, so it is easy to keep them up to date and relevant to your life so you and your loved ones can avoid winding up at the mercy of the court.
1. A "living will" is not the same as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health care. Find out what a living will is and what it does, then compare with the Durable Power of Attorney before you decide what you want to use. Excellent overview of all the options.
2. Advance directives, The American Academy of Family Physicians