Marlowe's Shade

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: The Big Lie

This has been covered ad nauseum in the blogosphere, but the MSM, including Fox, still hasn't gotten it. It's infuriating to see indignant pundits condemning the "interference" of the legislatures of Florida and the Congress, all based on the assumption that Terri is in a "persistant vegitative state".

I haven't seen one journalist challenge these "experts" to define PVS, and of course, they haven't done their homework themselves. But lets go over it one more time:

A persistent vegetative state, which sometimes follows a coma, refers to a condition in which individuals have lost cognitive neurological function and awareness of the environment but retain noncognitive function and a perserved [sic?]sleep-wake cycle.

I've seen a number of people who were in favor of "letting Terri die" do a complete 180 after seeing the videos, because it was obvious that Terri was reacting to her environment. Any parent of a pre-verbal child immediately picks up on the body language and sees Terri as responding to her mother's loving attention.

Salespersons like myself and those trained in other forms of interrogation will note evidence of cognition and responsiveness in Terri's eye movements. But this recognition is instinctual to certain people, but apparently not to others. I may post on that later

We have to attack this lie and there is little time left.

Update Blogicus has a great post on the myth of Terri's PVS

To suit their own purposes, the "Death Crowd" has labeled Terri Schiavo as being in a persistent vegetative state(PVS), a condition that even qualified medical experts disagree on as to what it is and how it should be determined; some medical dictionaries don't even include the phrase. While some standards have been proposed, they aren't accepted by the entire medical community, and methods and time-frame for diagnostic testing are widely disputed.

But even though PVS requires considerable skill to diagnose, requiring assessment over a period of time; diagnosis cannot be made, even by the most experienced clinician, from a bedside assessment. Accurate diagnosis is possible but requires the skills of a multidisciplinary team experienced in the management of people with complex disabilities. Recognition of awareness is essential if an optimal quality of life is to be achieved and to avoid inappropriate approaches to the courts for a declaration for withdrawal of tube feeding.

Of course none of this has ever been done for Terri Schiavo, yet....

• Out of 40 patients diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state, 17 (43%) were later found to be alert, aware, and often able to express a simple wish. The study is one of the largest, most sustained analyses of severely disabled people presumed to be incapable of conscious thinking, communication, or awareness of their surroundings. The author, London neurologist Dr. Keith Andrews, said, "It is disturbing to think that some patients who were aware had for several years been treated as being vegetative.

• Studies show PVS patients feel pain — indeed, a Univ. of Mich. neurologist, in one of the most complete studies, concluded that, when food and fluids are withdrawn [to impose death], the patient should be sedated.

• A study of 84 patients with a "firm diagnosis" of PVS found that 41% regained consciousness by six months, 52% by three years. These statistics certainly discredit the terms "persistent" and "permanent".

Some patients are not actually in PVS, but are "locked-in." They may be mute and immobile but mentally alert and able to communicate by blinking or through aids such as computers — if someone gives them that opportunity. Others are severely physically disabled, which greatly impairs their ability to communicate. Of course in Terri's case, all of this has been denied for her by her husband who lives with another women and has two children by her.

In practice, the terms of PVS have become so elastic as to categorize Christine Busalacchi, a young Missouri woman, as PVS — even though she said "Hi" to a doctor, made sounds to indicate which soap opera she wanted to watch, pushed buttons on a cassette recorder to play tapes and recognized her father on TV. (Hopefully, she never understood that he was seeking to have her legally killed by dehydration and starvation.) But of course, Terri Schiavo has never been given this opportunity and was even denied the repair of her wheelchair by this husband(sic) so she could be taken to the community room and outside sunlight, both of which would have been standard in any rehabilitation unit in America, but not for Terri!

And just what is Terri capable of doing now?

Update - Here's a story of a supposedly PVS patient who was worse off than Terri and has made an almost full recovery. The moral of this tale is that a spouse who loves you is worth a whole passel of doctors.
papijoe 3:18 PM