Friday, March 25, 2005

Terri Schiavo – Rights to Live Or Die

There is a lot of coverage on the case of Terri Schiavo, she suffered severe brain damage in 1990 when a chemical imbalance caused her heart to stop beating for a few minutes. Since then she has been in a persistent vegetative state and staying alive with the help of a feeding tube. That tube was removed on 18th March 2005. Refer to CBC, BBC and MSN news. There is a website called Terrisfight created by a foundation which contains a lot of materials.

Terri Schiavo could not speak nor make any signs to make any decision. So who has the rights to determine and decide if she could continue to live or die? Spouse, parents, sister/brothers or courts? Some may argued, is lying on the bed for 15 years called living.

When I was in my early 20’s, my mom passed away due to Oral Cancer. During her last week as a “human”, her condition has worsened until she has difficulty in eating. We decided to admit her into the hospital as we felt it is more equipped to accommodate such situation. A few tubes were inserted into her, to feed and to help her breathe. She was very weak due to constant medical morphine that she has consumed to ease her pains.

I was at her side during her last few days; during that time she constantly tried to tear away the tubes that are keeping her alive. This resulted in her hand being tie to the bed railing by the nurse. Even then she still moves her hand weakly trying to break free. Although she could not actually speak but I could feel the pain she suffers through her eyes. I tried to calm her by touching her hands and legs, which I felt is the only way to make her forgot about the suffering.

Until the very last day, the doctor walks in and told us that medically there is nothing he can do anymore. She will be passing away soon. He said, “Now is the time that you all as a family to decide. Do you want us to take away the breathing tube now or wait until ‘later’?”. My mom was still trying to break loose as we speak. The feelings of letting her go hit us hard. Although my mom is hot temper but she is a kind person, who helps almost anyone who came to her. Is it possible to still have a miracle at this stage? By unplugging the tube will immediately cease that hope.

After discussing with my father and sister, we decided to free her of the tube and the cloth that was tying her hand. She did not struggle at all after that as though she agreed and happy with us on the decision that we have made. After few hours, she slowly and gently gasps her last breath.

I know it’s difficult to let go sometimes as we do always feel there is always a chance. As we have lived together and love her for so long but there are times we could not do anything but to let go. Let her go peacefully to some place whereby there is no suffering or pain. In situation like this we should not look at how we feel but we should look at how they feel. They might also be reluctantly to let go, to let go the company, the love, the warmth and other physical needs. There is no right or wrong, correct or incorrect decisions in this kind of situation. As either way is the love of one person that are in play.

I hope Terri Schiavo will find her peace finally no matter what happens next.


leecs said...

soo, you all making the right decision....

FilthyRottenAngel said...

I didn't know anything about her until recently, when the trial moved to ATL.
It scares me to think that someone out there (be they family or not) could prolong my life against my wishes.
My biggest fear is to be buried alive, and though that's not what's happening to Terri... what if she's still somewhere in her own mind, where even the machines can't reach her?
I don't agree with all the groups that belive she should be attached to the machines and 'forced' to live.

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