Where is your sting?

What a week.  The Reaper scored big this week as far as big names
and big events goes.  Terry Schiavo, Johnny Cochran, hundreds of
Indonesians (due to the earthquake) died and the Pope may not survive
the week.  Good grief.

You know, I’ve been trying to understand this whole ordeal with the
Schiavos over the past months.  I’ve heard so many opinions when
all I wanted was to get the facts.  But everyone I listened to had
“facts” that were influenced, biased, and colored by their position on
the issue.  Argh.  That’s very frustrating.

One side says she’s in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) and the
other side says that she’s brain damaged (also referred to as disabled
or handicapped) but responsive.  One side says that the CT scans
showed that she had no consciousness and the other says that the scans
don’t prove anything.

Although, Dr. Gupta on CNN said that the CT scans show that she had
fluid on or in her brain — indicated by the black areas — but that
some people with similar scans are merely brain damaged while others
with scans that are not dramatic at all like that are in a PVS.

I was also wondering why this case — of all cases — became the
nationally divisive issue that it did.  But the more I hear, the
more I understand why.  It really is a very complex and nuanced
set of circumstances.  It was a tragic case with no easy way
out.  Well, that depends on your beliefs, of course.  But
legally, socially, familially (if that’s a word) it’s so
difficult.  Then the courts were involved and then the governor,
then Congress, and then the President.  Not necessarily in that
order.

I don’t think this is a conservative/liberal issue, though.

Y’know, I think that it’s wrong to withhold food and water from a
living being, regardless of the level of consciousness.  If Terri
Schiavo were comatose or on respiratory support that would have been
different.  But withholding nutrients?

I’m trying not to use polemic terms like “starve” but you know
what?  Euphemisms are a pet peeve of mine.  George Carlin did
a routine a few years ago about how we dumb down language and avoid the
impact of issues by coming up with gentler phrases for things.  He
said that when soldiers came back from wars and they were all messed up
we used to call it “Shell Shock”.  Shell shock (Carlin did a kind
of punching motion with his arm when he said it).  It really does
drive home the point.  It sounds harsh because it is, right.

Actually, I think he said that during WWII they called it shell
shock.  During the Korean War they called it “Battle
Fatigue”.  That sounds a lot less harsh but it still conveys the
point that something is wrong.  Instead of the image of being
shocked or damaged by the machinery of war you get a picture of someone
coming home from the battle field being worn out.

Then he said that during the Vietnam War they — whoever they are —
called it “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”.  From two
straightforward syllables (shell shock) to eight round-about syllables
(post-traumatic stress disorder).  What does that even mean? 
Instead of the result of the brutality of war it became a clinical,
psychological event loosely correlated to the experiences of a
traumatic circumstance.

We hide behind language and we manipulate it so that it serves us and
makes us feel good about ourselves.  Or we use it to make other
people feel bad about themselves.  You know. to control a
situation.  Good, bad, or somewhere inbetween it’s a natural part
of being human and living with language.

That’s why supporters of Terry Schiavo’s parents coined terms like “err
on the side of life” and “culture of life”.  And it’s why
supporters of Michael Schiavo and the media, in an attempt to use
language as neutrally as possible, used terms like “withhold
nutrients”.  And that’s why everyone described Terri Schiavo’s
decline, shall we say, as “her death process”.

If you withhold nutrients from a living organism you’re starving that
organism to death.  If you withhold nutrients from a human being
you’re starving that human being to death.  Whether or not we
think that person can feel the pain to suffer, and regardless of the
intent, that’s what’s happening.

Believe me, I’m aware of the many facets of this dicussion.  I’ve
had a few good conversations about the issue.  I can understand
Michael Schiavo’s point of view.  And I can understand her
parents’ point of view, too.  Tragic all around and it’s sad how
this affected the families to the point where they’re going to have
separate funerals.  Now that’s rancor.

If I’m ever in that situation — I mean, if I’m ever in a severely
brain damaged state — there are a few things I’d like to request.

1. If there’s any sign of consciousness — even a hint of
responsiveness — I want an attempt at rehabilitation.  Give me a
fighting chance.

2. I want to be able to have therapeutic time with a dog and other
animals. I like animals.  And dogs are stimulating and
tactile.  Put a puppy in my lap or on my chest or something. 
Face-licking (by the dog) is allowed.  I’m serious about this.

3. If you have to withhold respiration or nutrients, dope me up. 
I want pain suppressors whether or not the medical establishment thinks
I can feel pain or not.

4. If all else fails and I become a financial burden then pull the proverbial plug.  It’s alright.

That’s all I can think of at the moment.  There was something else
I meant to do tonight but I can’t remember what it is.  Oh
well.  I’m sure I’ll remember after I’m comfy and snug under the
comforter tonight.

Hasta la vista, baby.

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3 comments

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  1. linkfelix2

    PART 3 – READ POSTS FROM TOP TO BOTTOM

    I feel that once the media changes (I’m not hopeful), the information people are fed can be focused on actual problems in the world, and while covering those problems they will do so in as much of an open, unbias, revealing way as possible. If Iraq is so god-damn important, why aren’t we seeing the bombs being dropped and the people engaging in combat? If I want to hear about Iraq on the news, I want to see the full extent of it. I want people to see how bad war is. At the same time I want the media to focus on how screwed and how poor some Americans are becoming! We have Americans who are homeless, jobless, hungry, etc., and yet we have to go to another country to spread freedom and democracy? I think we have a lot of work to do on our own so called “democracy” (or should I say hijacked Republic) before we start looking at individual cases like Schiavo’s or spreading our own backasswards “democracy” to other lands.

    The end. Aahhh a good rant feels great doesn’t it?

    (Sidenote: I don’t actually believe the hype about spreading freedom. I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re only over there for the oil and natural gas)

  2. linkfelix2

    I could comment on why defining PTSD the way we define it now (clinically and such) is beneficial, or at least more beneficial than defining it in a less precise way like “Shell Shock,” but to save time I’d rather comment on the public (and governmental) uproar about the Schiavo situation.

    The whole debate about the ethics of ‘starving’ Schiavo, notwithstanding, I think much of the public outcry was about the fact that people like Tom Delay got in the way. (Hey that rhymes, as does “Dump Delay; Don’t Delay!”)

    My rancor about this situation derives from the spectacle that was made out of it by Delay’s crowd, and hence, the media. How dare they get all worked up over whether Schiavo’s life support will be terminated!! Shame on them!!! The reason I condemn them so harshly is because they are the same people who are, quite frankly, screwing most Americans out of health care, social security, the right for a woman to choose what to do with her body, and at the same time create the illusion that they are lowering middle-class Americans’ taxes. (See articles on the Alternative Minimum Tax in the NYtimes).

    Anyway I digress. My point about the media uproar on the Schiavo case is expressed quite clearly by Tom Hayden, former california state senator; part author of the 1960s Port Huron Statement; speaker at our recent Teach-In at UM[http://www.teachin2005.org]; and former husband of Jane Fonda:

    “If you left your tube tonight you saw that the country is caught up in the sad spectacle and agony of a woman dying, or functionally dead in a hospital in Florida, but when was the last time you saw any parallel outpouring of concern about the 10,000s of Iraqi children since sanctions were imposed, who starved to death from malnutrition and never had their tubes turned on and never had their malnurished bodies given the kind of treatment, the kind of food, the kind of medication….”

  3. linkfelix2

    PART 2 – READ POSTS FROM TOP TO BOTTOM

    Why do this neo-conservatives who have so much power in our government consistently and hypocritically support “life” in individual cases such as abortion or the Schiavo case while simultaneously shirking their responsibilities both in the U.S. and around the world in doing REAL humanitarian efforts like FEEDING PEOPLE, or NOT going to war. They don’t support stem-cell research either, which could result in millions of saved lives in the long-run. The dark humor of it is that they are willing to save an embryo and allow that embryo to be raised by perhaps a drug-addicted mother, very unsuited to raise children, at the cost of a grown person with a neurological disease such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s etc. Although this is starting to slide towards a pro-choice argument, I think you see my point:

    Something is really messed up with the way we receive information, that being mass-produced infotainment via television. Before things get any better, that has to change because that is the best way the neo-conservatives can push their agendas, which most often aim to SCARE the American people with fear tactics such as… OMG… GAYS kissing, or terror alert warning levels!! What’s the frigging difference between orange and yellow?!!!!

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