The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Thursday, March 24, 2005


              Good-bye Terri, and Good-bye to the Nudnik's

This will be my last post for the Nudnik File. And since it is hard to think about anything in the news other than the plight of Terri Schiavo, I'd like to take this opportunity to make the case why this whole Terri Schiavo story is so wrong.

I recognize that Terri's mother and father have lost, her "husband" has won, and as a result Terri will die sometime in the next few days. Dozens of judges have ruled on this case (well, only one judge has reviewed the actual facts of the case, while dozens of other judges have merely ruled on the initial judge's findings, despite new evidence that has come to light since the initial ruling) ... But the case has been ruled upon by virtually every court in the land. The Governor of Florida, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the President of the United States have all weighed in. And despite all of these efforts, Terri will still die.

We don't know if this is what she wanted, other than to take the word of her husband (a man who may have abused her, according to many). She didn't leave a living will. He claims she mentioned something to him once. It is odd that he failed to mention this prior to 1997 (seven years after Terri's initial injury), when he first made this claim. His sworn testimony is contradictory on the matter. But the point is: she may want to die - she may not. We just don't know.

We also don't know what her true condition is. Her "husband" has refused access and denied treatment. Some claim that she is in a permanent vegetative state. Many disagree. Many who watch the video of Terri interacting with her parents find it hard to believe that she is.

So even though we don't know if this is what she wanted, and even if we don't know whether she is in a permanent vegetative state or not, Terri will still die, simply because this is the wish of her estranged husband (a man who is now living with another woman, who has borne two of his children - an act that would result in a "common law" marriage if it were to have occurred in one of 12 other States in the Union other than Florida, and therefore would legally prevent him from being allowed to serve as Terri's guardian).

And the really disturbing part to me is that most of the country (as well as bloggers and readers of this site) agree with this outcome (according to these FoxNews Polls and ABCNews Polls) as well as comments to my recent post titled "A Sad Day in Florida".

I am personally appalled by all of this, and embarrassed for my country (and to a lesser degree, for my blog).

But enough of that - and enough of all of this. On to business.

So why is this Terri Schiavo story all so wrong? We all know her story is sad. Very few enjoy seeing another die. But what makes this so wrong?

Well, there are two main issues that factor into it:

Reason #1: Michael Schiavo should not be Terri's guardian.

Michael Schiavo is not representing Terri's interests. This Affidavit of Carla Iyer, R.N. (Original PDF file of affidavit by Carla Iyer, Registered Nurse) speaks for itself:

9. Throughout my time at Palm Gardens, Michael Schiavo was focused on Terri's death. Michael would say "When is she going to die?," "Has she died yet?" and "When is that bitch gonna die?" These statements were common knowledge at Palm Gardens, as he would make them casually in passing, without regard even for who he was talking to, as long as it was a staff member. Other statements which I recall him making include "Can't you do anything to accelerate her death - won't she ever die?"
Michael Schiavo may have abused Terri. Note this excerpt from a detailed account posted in Wikipedia:

A bone scan done one year after her injury showed (according to the radiologist who evaluated it) that she had also suffered previous traumatic injuries to multiple ribs (on both sides), to both sacroiliac joints, to both knees, to both ankles, to several thoracic vertebrae, and to her right thigh, plus a minor compression fracture of the L1 vertebra. Mrs. Schiavo's family did not know of the existence of this scan until November 2002.
Michael Schiavo has violated Terri's rights. Just read a few of these excerpts from "Myths about Terri" at terrisfight.org:

MYTH: Terri does not need rehabilitation
FACT: Florida Statute 744.3215 Rights of persons determined incapacitated:

(1) A person who has been determined to be incapacitated retains the right
(i) To receive necessary services and rehabilitation.

This is a retained right that a guardian cannot take away. Additionally, it does not make exception for PVS patients. Terri has illegally been denied rehabilitation - as many nurses have sworn in affidavits.

MYTH: Removal of food was both legal and court-ordered.
FACT: The courts had only allowed removal of Terri's feeding tube, not regular food and water. Terri's husband illegally ordered this. The law only allows the removal of "life-prolonging procedures," not regular food and water:

Florida Statute 765.309 Mercy killing or euthanasia not authorized; suicide distinguished. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to condone, authorize, or approve mercy killing or euthanasia, or to permit any affirmative or deliberate act or omission to end life other than to permit the natural process of dying.

For a complete list of Violations of Florida Statutes against Terri Schiavo, click here.
Reason #2: Terri Schiavo is not in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS).

A good explanation is contained in these excerpts from "Myths about Terri" at terrisfight.org:

MYTH: Terri is PVS (Persistent vegetative state)
FACT: The definition of PVS in Florida Statue 765.101:
Persistent vegetative state means a permanent and irreversible condition of unconsciousness in which there is:

(a) The absence of voluntary action or cognitive behavior of ANY kind.
(b) An inability to communicate or interact purposefully with the environment.

Terri's behavior does not meet the medical or statutory definition of persistent vegetative state. Terri responds to stimuli, tries to communicate verbally, follows limited commands, laughs or cries in interaction with loved ones, physically distances herself from irritating or painful stimulation and watches loved ones as they move around her. None of these behaviors are simple reflexes and are, instead, voluntary and cognitive. Though Terri has limitations, she does interact purposefully with her environment.

MYTH: Many doctors have said that there is no hope for her.
FACT: Dr. Victor Gambone testified that he visits Terri 3 times a year. His visits last for approximately 10 minutes. He also testified, after viewing the court videotapes at Terri’s recent trial, that he was surprised to see Terri’s level of awareness. This doctor is part of a team hand-picked by her husband, Michael Schiavo, shortly before he filed to have Terri’s feeding removed. Contrary to Schiavo’s team, 14 independent medical professionals (6 of them neurologists) have given either statements or testimony that Terri is NOT in a Persistent Vegetative State. Additionally, there has never been any medical dispute of Terri’s ability to swallow. Even with this compelling evidence, Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, has denied any form of therapy for her for over 10 years.

Dr. Melvin Greer, appointed by Schiavo, testified that a doctor need not examine a patient to know the appropriate medical treatment. He spent approximately 45 minutes with Terri. Dr. Peter Bambakidis, appointed by Judge Greer, spent approximately 30 minutes with Terri. Dr. Ronald Cranford, also appointed by Schiavo and who has publicly labeled himself “Dr. Death”, spent less than 45 minutes examining and interacting with Terri.
More evidence about this can be found in the following excerpts from affidavit by Heidi Law, a nurse who cared for Terri in 1997: (Original PDF file of affidavit by Heidi Law, Certified Nursing Assistant)

11. 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 vegetative state and was dying. After they left Olga [another nurse at the hospital] told me that Terri was extremely agitated and upset, and wouldn't react to anyone.

[...]

15. During the time I cared for Terri, she formed words. I have heard her say "mommy" from time to time and "momma," and she also said "help me" a number of times. She would frequently make noises when she was trying to talk. Other staff members talked about her verbalizations.
And if you still think that Terri is in a permanent vegetative state, just watch this video and you'll see the only person in the world who has ever been in a permanent vegetative state who could actually laugh at her father's jokes.

So, if all of this information doesn't convince you that 1) this is a travesty, 2) Michael Schiavo has not acted in Terri's interests as he should (and per Florida law), and 3) the starvation and dehydration of Terri is wrong and she should be allowed to receive treatment per the wishes of her parents (and per Florida law), then I'm not sure what will.

And if it did convince you, then you should be appalled too. It's not good enough to say "yeah, I agree, it's wrong, but it's not the government's place to get involved." What if the government said that in the 1960's about desegration or other civil rights abuses? What if the case was about Jewish rights being violated and a judge not recognizing it as such? Should the federal government just ignore this and not get involved?

This kind of stuff should not happen in a country like ours. The United States is better than this. If our system allows Terri's rights to be violated in this manner, then it allows yours and mine to be violated as well. I usually don't take interest in these kinds of stories - ya know: the amber alerts, the child sexual abusers, the courthouse / schoolroom shootings ... it's just not news to me. They are all sad stories, but I must admit that I am quite jaded and recognize that we live in a world divided between good and evil - and that there is real evil in our world. And when that evil strikes one individual, to be perfectly honest, it usually doesn't phase me. Another kid got abducted / raped / killed. Whatever. It happens every day. No big deal. And please don't judge me - it's just a recognition of the sad state of affairs in our world.

But this is different. This is about our government - and what it will allow and not allow to occur in our society. And it's just wrong. It's not only a sad day in Florida (as I have been posting this past week), but it's a sad day for the rule of law in our country. For the first time in my life, I am somewhat embarrassed to be an American knowing that my country's government has allowed the events of this past week to transpire.

I could go on and on about how our judicial branch of government is out of control. But you would be better served reading Mark Levin's new book Men In Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America.

Instead, I'll share a funny with ya at a time when things aren't so funny.

An extremely non-religious friend of mine told me today that this all reminded him of the movie, The Seventh Sign - remember the last sign? The death of innocence? I think the Bible actually refers to it as "Martyrdom." But the movie manifested this as the execution of a retarded kid that wound up being the straw that broke the camel's back and lead to the coming of the apocalypse.

I don't think that the world is coming to an end, I just thought it was an interesting thought for a non-religious guy like him to have at a time like this.

And why will this be my last post? Well, life has become quite busy for me. And to be honest, Nudnikette has quite often asked me to stop posting certain opinions and images on this blog. So has it been requested, so shall it be done.

I would feel remiss if I were to create discord in the house of Nudnik, so good-bye all. And good-bye Terri. May God have mercy on you (and all of us as well for allowing this to happen). And this is coming from a not-very-religious person.

Enjoy your blog! Happy Purim! And don't eat too much hamantaschen! (you may get sick if you eat too many because of all the Arab blood we use to make 'em!)




Original files for independent research on Terri Shiavo's story can be found at:
http://www.terrisfight.org/
http://www.zimp.org/stuff
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terri_Schiavo

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