Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Who will set a guard over my mouth, and upon my lips an effective seal, That I may not fail through them, that my tongue may not destroy me?

Let this be a lesson to you.

Be very very careful about what you say in casual conversation. With things going they way they are, you might find it being taken very seriously indeed.

The Milan appeal court said it had been proven that Englaro's coma was irreversible.

It was also convinced that the young woman, when fully conscious, had stated her preference to die rather than being kept alive artificially with no perceptive ability or contact with others.

Hey, let's take a look at this business of being "peacefully" and "naturally" "allowed to die" by dehydration.

At age 33, Kate Adamson collapsed from a devastating and incapacitating stroke. She was utterly unresponsive and was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). At the urging of doctors, who believed she would never get better, her nourishment was stopped. But midway through the dehydration process, she began to show subtle signs of comprehension, so her food and water were restored.

Adamson eventually recovered sufficiently to author "Kate's Journey: Triumph Over Adversity," in which she tells the terrifying tale. Rather than being unconscious with no chance of recovery as her doctors believed, she was actually awake and aware but unable to move any part of her body voluntarily. (This is known as a "locked-in state.") When she appeared recently on "The O'Reilly Factor," host Bill O'Reilly asked Adamson about the dehydration experience:

O'Reilly: When they took the feeding tube out, what went through your mind?

Adamson: When the feeding tube was turned off for eight days, I thought I was going insane. I was screaming out in my mind, "Don't you know I need to eat?" And even up until that point, I had been having a bagful of Ensure as my nourishment that was going through the feeding tube. At that point, it sounded pretty good. I just wanted something. The fact that I had nothing, the hunger pains overrode every thought I had.

O'Reilly: So you were feeling pain when they removed your tube?

Adamson: Yes. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. To say that — especially when Michael [Schiavo] on national TV mentioned last week that it's a pretty painless thing to have the feeding tube removed — it is the exact opposite. It was sheer torture, Bill.

O'Reilly: It's just amazing.

Adamson: Sheer torture . . .

In preparation for this article, I contacted Adamson for more details about the torture she experienced while being dehydrated. She told me about having been operated upon (to have her feeding tube inserted in her abdomen) with inadequate anesthesia when doctors believed she was unconscious. Unbelievably, she described being deprived of food and water as "far worse" than experiencing the pain of abdominal surgery, telling me:

The agony of going without food was a constant pain that lasted not several hours like my operation did, but several days. You have to endure the physical pain and on top of that you have to endure the emotional pain. Your whole body cries out, "Feed me. I am alive and a person, don't let me die, for God's Sake! Somebody feed me."

But what about the thirst, I asked:

I craved anything to drink. Anything. I obsessively visualized drinking from a huge bottle of orange Gatorade. And I hate orange Gatorade. I did receive lemon flavored mouth swabs to alleviate dryness but they did nothing to slack my desperate thirst.


BillyHW said...

Hilary, do you know what happened to your RSS feed?

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

What's that?

(No, that wasn't a serious request for information)