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February 24, 2005
I was in a Persistent Vegetative State – Part II
Topics: Medical Issues
Thank you, Andrea, for being willing to expand on your prior comments. Your testimony dispels the widely held myth that those who are classified as PVS lack mental capabilities. It also confirms the benefit of rehabilitation and being placed in familiar surroundings; opportunities that Terri has not been given. Of course, the PVS classification seems to have been used rather liberally (or erroneously) on both Andrea and Terri Schiavo (more here and here).
I want to tell you all a little of what I remember after my brain surgery in 1984 when I was PVS, mute and paralyzed. My earliest memory was from late November- about two or three weeks after surgery. My aunt came to visit me and gave me a gift: a music box that played "It's a small world". She played the music for me and asked me if I knew the song. I knew it! I was so mad that I couldn't tell her.
I came home for Christmas that year. My parents thought it'd be my last Christmas so they made everything perfect for me. I got lots of attention and lots of gifts. My uncle gave me a doll for Christmas. I knew it was a doll and cuddled it. In fact, I have a picture of me in my wheelchair (I couldn't hold my head up- I looked just like Terri with my head cocked to the side) holding the doll.
I had a picture board to communicate which I brought home with me that Christmas. I had been pointing to pictures of things that I wanted: a blanket, a doll, mom and dad, etc. I also had pictures of the alphabet. One day my mom wanted to make me lunch. She gave me several options for lunch: none of which included a peanut butter sandwich. After grunting and pointing to the letters, I got my peanut butter sandwich!
I was walking by the time I was discharged from the hospital but I was still mute and vomiting. My brother had just gotten a bunk bed and I wanted to sleep in the top bunk that night. Because I was vomiting, he wouldn't let me. I stomped, grunted and threw things to show my anger. I got so mad that I screamed "No"! Mom was so surprised that she had me talk again and again. Then I had to call everyone we knew. That night I finally got to sleep in that top bunk.
Maybe doctors know what Terri is capable of understanding. Her parents say that she recognizes them: I recognized my parents. Maybe Terri could indicate what she wants if she had a picture board. I don't know for certain and no one knows because it (to the best of my knowledge) has not been tried. And she may never get a chance to show the world what she does understand. God help the society that has such little value for human life.
Posted by tim at February 24, 2005 5:44 PM
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Testimonies from those formerly in a Persistent Vegetative State here and here. [Read More]