Terri: A Nurse's Perspective

This was such a great comment from reader Dale P. that I decided to make a post of it. I hope that you all enjoy her words:

It is obvious, strong emotions play to both sides of the life or death of Terri Schiavo. There is also no doubt that both parties have within them, members who would play to a political audience or posture.

However, there is a greater group of just plain folks, who very much believe from their heart of hearts to let Terri live or let her die ‘quietly’. Gateway Pundit, along with myself, just happens to believe in Terri living, just as you, Frank think elsewise. I see you refer to Boortz “Right to Die” article from Friday. He refers to her body, for all practical purposes, ‘being dead’ and that ‘extraordinary artificial means’ are keepings her alive.


I beg to differ and I DO have some 30 plus years in the medical field to back my own thoughts:

1. a feeding tube is NOT an extraordinary mechanism = a respirator is. Far too many mistake what is above and beyond the norm because they do not realize that a feeding tube to provide nutrition, an IV to give antibiotics, or oxygen to ease strain on the heart or breathing problems is to PROVIDE comfort = not keep them alive as such.

2. A person on a tube for as long as Terri has been can die from numerous other NORMAL things – another cardiac arrest, stroke, choking, respiratory failure, bed sores and infections, etc. The tube is NOT gong to prevent that – all it does is feed her.

3. Since she has never had rehab, you cannot state unequivocally that she cannot come out of this ‘vegetative’ state – and another thing – one who can laugh and react – and she is purported to, by not just her parents, but those who work with her, CANNOT do so if they are in a vegetative state.

4. Yes, a living will is absolute – but there was NONE here and all we have is the word of her husband. Be it fair to him or not, be it a private matter between a married couple, the LAW would work (and he is a registered nurse and KNOWS the consequences of this) to end all of this, had this been done at the outset. We don’t know what went on between them and I do not care, but there is NO documentation to support his allegation, despite his seven years of trying to get this to happen.

5. You do NOT have to believe in ‘life’ a second time around, but I have seen it and participated in that for some of my own patients in these many years (including when I served in Vietnam). Maybe I also just believe that the Higher Power has something in mind. I can tell you for a fact, that many do not see people like Terri as having anything to offer now, but they do: we do not have to go out and do ‘action’ work to be productive. I have seen ‘cold-hearted’ nurses (because they have built a defense up against illness and injury), find warmth once again and purpose, just by walking into the room of a ‘terri’ who smiles at you for just being there with them; I have seen long disassociated family members become whole again, just because they have united in a love they all shared with a ‘terri’; I have seen mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, all find old memories of laughter, love, and belief again, because they find it in the ‘terri’ lying in the bed = that mystery of life.

You may not, and some others may not, know this, and that is okay. But for people like GP and me, we do from our standpoint or our experience. I have also seen some of those very ‘mysteries of life’ get up and walk out after very long times in those so-called vegetative states. Yes, miracles, Frank. No disrespect to you, sir for your beliefs, but please do not hold any against us either. We all have our reasons. Souls need some challenges – and this is one to the heart of it.

Thank you Dale P.! That was beautiful!

Update: (8:20 PM)The House is debating the Shiavo situation at this hour. The Senate already passed a bill that could prolong Terria Shiavo’s life. The democrats are continuing their opposition to this woman’s life.

Update 2: A thumbs up to Dale P. as Michelle Malkin has linked to “a nurse’s perspective”.

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