Monday, November 14, 2005

Odd Assertion

I have always found the drive to get into medicine to be one off the strangest. Someone would have to have a profound interest in their fellow man to do so, but in order to function one would have to inure oneself to the human element much of the time.

That people don't go into medicine without a drive to aid people makes this statement by Bobbi Schindler, brother to the late Terri Schiavo, ring very oddly:
“The medical community wants to refer to people like my sister who are disabled as vegetative because it dehumanizes them, it takes away their personhood,” Schindler said.

If anything, Mr. Schindler, it was the severe brain damage that took away your sister's personhood. While "vegetative state" sounds harsh, it does describe a harsh situation. Every test prior to her death (I won't include autopsy results in this discussion) showed that the portions of her brain that would act to create a human creature were gone. Whatever might have stayed alive was not Terri, nor would it have been functionally human.

So to say that the medical profession seeks to de-humanize people strikes me as absurd on its face, both in cause and effect. I doubt that hospitals would be such tense places if the staff didn't give a damn as to whether their patients lived or died. I doubt there would be hospitals at all in that case. Terri Schiavo was a sad though fortunately rare case. I am sorry that you were unable to face facts in this manner, as doctors are forced to do every day in the most human of sciences.

Issues of quality of life are important to my family. With that in mind, I point out that my father is doing well one year after his close call. We knew, and the hospital knew, my father's wishes should certain events happen. Thank God they didn't. You can never tell me that those nurses and doctors didn't care about the people they were caring for. More than the patients, as Dr. Cey of Kaiser Permanente gave my mother and I pillows and blankets for our vigil in the waiting room one year ago last night.

I don't usually speak for a group, but this is one instance where the statement must be repudiated with all my strength.

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