Marlowe's Shade

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: Some Thoughts on Why This Is Happening Part 2

I was going to comment on the Mainstream Media's role next, but after reading this affidavit from one of Terri's nursing assistants, Heidi Law CNA I'm going to comment on the third factor which is personified in Terri's husband Michael.

Reading the affidavit has removed all doubt for me of Michael's malevolent intent. He not only wants her dead, but views her with appallingly cruel indifference, bitter resentment, and at times what can only be described as hatred. Ms Law paints a portrait of a petty despot who intimidates all caregivers who would show any kindness or extend even the slightest comfort to Terri. Similar testimony has been given by a registered nurse Carla Sauer Iyer. Here is an excerpt:

I know that Terri did not receive routine physical therapy or any other kind of therapy. I was personally aware of orders for rehabilitation ther were not being carried out. Even though they were ordered, Michael would stop them. Michael ordered that Terri receive no rehabilitaion or range of motion therapy. I and [Nurse] Olga would bive Terri range of motion anyway, but we knew we were endangering our jobs by doing so. We usually did this behind closed doors, we were so fearful of getting caught. Our hearts would race and we were always looking out for Michael, because we knew that, not only would Michael take his anger out on us, but he would take it out on Terri. We spoke of this many times [Section 4]

On one occasion Michael Schiavo arrived with his girlfriend, and they entered Terri's room together. I heard Michael tell his girlfriend that Terri was in a persistent vegatative state and was dying. After they left, Olga told me that Terri was extremely agitated and upset, and wouldn't react to anyone. When she was upset, which was usually the case after Michael was there, she would withdraw for hours. We were convinced that he was abusing her, and probably saying cruel terrible things to her... [Section 11]

Ms Law also stated that any positive reports of Terri's condition where tossed in the trash. Nurse Iyer accuses Michael of this and worse:

I made numerous entries into the nursing notes in her chart, stating verbatim what she said and her various behaviors, but by my next on-duty shift, the notes would be deleted from her chart," claimed Iyer in potentially devastating detail. "Every time I made a positive entry about any responsiveness of Terri's, someone would remove it after my shift ended. Michael always demanded to see her chart as soon as he arrived, and would take it in her room with him [snip]

Iyer claims that she "became fearful for my personal safety" and was terminated after she called police about comments and activities at the nursing home relative to the Schiavo woman. "When Michael visited Terri, he always came alone and always had the door closed and locked while he was with Terri," the affidavit alleges. "He would typically be there about twenty minutes or so. When he left Terri would be trembling, crying hysterically, and would be very pale and have cold sweats. It looked to me like Terri was having a hypoglycemic reaction, so I'd check her blood sugar." The glucometer reading would be so low it was below the range where it would register an actual number reading. I would put dextrose in Terri's mouth to counteract it. This happened about five times on my shift as I recall. Normally Terri's blood-sugar levels were very stable due to the uniformity of her diet through tube feeding."

The Ms Law's whole affidavit [seven pages] is worth reading to get a full sense of how Michael is denying Terri the faintest hope and the simplest comfort, as well as how his misrepresentation of her condition can't be attributed to ordinary denial.

I can't see any reason not to hold Michael Schiavo up as a paragon for the current moral climate. The erosion of marriage is certainly a factor but larger than that is the fact that he is able to get away with his treatment of Terri because neither our legal system or any of the other institutions that are supposed to protect her have the moral courage or authority to end this domestic atrocity. It's not that the solution is unclear, anyone with an ounce of compassion can see that Michael Schiavo should be removed as her guardian. But our society has degenerated to the point that passing moral judgment on someone is a worse crime than murder.

The infuriating part is that the ethical standards that would stop him are universal rather that subjective, appealing to anyone of goodwill regardless of their religion, and supremely practical. For example Michael's infidelity alone disqualifies him as a guardian, not because of prudishness or hurt family feelings, but because it is a conflict of interest. But we as a society have abandon what is sensible for fear of imposing an absolute moral value.

And the Michael Schiavos of the world run amok.
papijoe 1:01 PM