Cecelia Francisco

Right To Die

By Sharon M. Kolankiewicz

After hearing that Terri Schiavo passed away last week, I was saddened. However, I also felt a bit of relief after hearing the news. I was relieved knowing now that this woman can now rest in peace. I just want to make it clear that both the husband and the parents have legitimate reasons. On the other hand, I am siding with Schiavo’s husband, despite any legal matters or current personal lifestyle. I am mainly supporting this side for my ethical beliefs.

First of all, I know that if someone very close to me was on his or her death-bed, like Schiavo, I would be devastated. It is not right to have someone living in a hospital while being connected to tubes and machines. If my child or any relative were that sick and was basically a “vegetable,” I would not want him or her to suffer.

When I was younger, one of my family members was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. I watched her suffer and I watched her live in agony while she was going through chemotherapy. I loved her so much that I kept praying that she could get through it. At the same time, I also wanted her to be happy. I realized that it was selfish on my part to want her to live if it meant she would have to deal with pain on a daily basis. I do not believe that it is shallow to feel that sometimes I thought it would be better if she died. I knew that she would be happier and better off than in agony.

Obviously we want the best for the people we love. However, what is best for the individual may not be the best for us. Many people use the term regarding love and relationships that, “if you love someone, let them go,” but I think this term can be used in situations regarding life and life support. Obviously you love the person and you want what is best for him or her. Sometimes what is best is letting them go.

I think having someone who is in a vegetative state and hooked up to tubes is a horrible situation to put someone in. I think of it as if that person is already gone. You are not interacting with the person on a normal basis. Instead, you are watching them get worse and you cannot connect with that person on the same level as you would if he or she was healthy.

Even though we want to keep loved ones in our lives, do we want them still “living” if they cannot function or enjoy the everyday joys of life? I believe that a person is alive if he or she can interact in daily activities and with the people in his or her life. Honestly, I see keeping someone alive with machines and feeding tubes does not replace the missing bond with that person. Obviously, the bond between you and that person is not there anymore. Your love and memories still remain in your mind and heart. However, the memories are in your mind, not the other person’s mind.

Sometimes we have to step back and let nature take its course. Death is a fact of life, but having someone die peacefully, personally puts me at ease. I hate to think of the ones I love dying in pain if I kept them living with tubes and machines for my sake. Most of us do not want or like to have our lives controlled, so why should we control others’ lives?

Right to Life

By Cecelia Francisco

If you love someone let them go. This is always easier said then done. In cases like the one involving Terri Schiavo, it’s easy to see how and where battle lines were drawn. The hard part is knowing who should win the fight.

How many times have you found yourself, especially after the big debate of Terri Schiavo’s, talking with relatives and saying, “If that ever happens to me I want you to pull the plug,” as if your life wasn’t worth the possibility of a miracle.

I understand that if you are pronounced brain dead, then you have basically slim to nil chance of coming out of it. I also understand how that could lead relatives to lose hope in the recovery of their loved one; However, what if you were trapped, and you had no way to communicate that you were still there and you really wanted to live despite what you had said in passing, or in a heated debate in the past?

There’s a woman from New Zealand who lapsed into a deep coma after having knee surgery while having septicemia, a bacterial infection. She had talked with her husband once about life-support situations and had told him that she wouldn’t want to live in a vegetated state.

Her husband and her children decided eventually that if she didn’t improve within the following 36 hours they would have the hospital turn the machines off and stop her treatments. After the decision was made, he sat down next to her bed and held her hand and asked her to squeeze his hand if she could hear him.

The woman squeezed his hand every time he asked, with a desperate need to survive. She was aware of her surroundings despite her coma, and despite the fact that everyone was oblivious to her slight consciousness.

Now, knowing that this can happen but is not always possible, are you willing to say out loud to your relatives, “if that ever happens to me, I want you to pull the plug,” with the clear, concise knowledge that you may be conscious of what’s going on while they are starving you to death for two weeks like Terri Schiavo? And, with no way to communicate your consciousness with the ones you love?

Moreover, would you want to put your family through the guilt of knowing forever that it’s possible they murdered you? Not only murdered you but starved you, which I might add is cruel and unusual punishment.

If they are going to rule that life support can be turned off, but it means that the person has to starve to death, then there should be a law passed stating that they can be euthanised. Of course that would never happen because then all assisted suicide would have to be legal and that’s not right either, or is it?

Lines are being drawn, crossed and redrawn all the time. There is no black and white.

Everything is all gray matter on this subject. If there’s one thing you should be sure of, you should have a living will drawn up so that your wishes will be followed should something happen to you. Of course, what if you fill out that living will, and no one knows that you’re conscious because you can’t communicate to them that you’re alive and you want to live despite your previous wishes? Just some thoughts to keep you up at night.

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Cecelia Francisco and Sharon M

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