I'm sitting here stunned by an e-mail a viewer just sent me about Terri Schiavo (search), the Florida woman whose husband wants her feeding tube removed. (The tube is scheduled to be removed nine days from now.)
First, I got this:
I live in Clearwater, Forida, so I have been familiar with the case for years.... On your show Congressman Dave Weldon (search) stated that removing the feeding tube would be a painful death. In reality, she would feel nothing; her body would simply shut down as if she were falling asleep...
Now, I'm not a doctor, so I don't know whether this is true. But here's the e-mail that stopped me cold:
I have seen this done to someone and it is the most horrific thing I have ever witnessed. The doctors said he would be gone by midnight or the next morning, but he lived for almost a week. I have never seen such screaming and moaning... His tongue was so swollen, it protruded out for the last two or three days; and even though he had not opened his eyes or spoken for several days, I once got a nurse to give me one of the huge syringes and filled it with water. Even though he could not open his hands he grasped the syringe like a starving baby and held it to his mouth even when it was empty. I still have nightmares and cry when I think about it...
—Linda Dell, Hennessey, Oklahoma
More e-mails on this later in the blog.
But first I need to let you know what's on tap for Thursday's “DaySide.” First, a congressman is introducing a bill to ban child erotica sites from the Internet. Have you ever heard of these so-called "child modeling" websites? Apparently, viewers pay to see photos and video clips of little children (as young as five) in suggestive poses; then somehow make contact with the children and converse with them by e-mail.
There even have been cases of adults holding "parties" in hotel rooms where pedophiles can meet the young children face to face. My first reaction as a parent is, "Shut 'em down!" Seems like a no-brainer. But if the material on these sites is not obscene, aren't they protected under Freedom of Speech? Tell me what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the lighter side, we'll have a special interview with actor Bruce Willis (search); his new movie, "Hostage" debuts this Friday. (Some people say it's a lot like the first "Die Hard.") I've never met Bruce before, but I'm hoping he'll take questions and comments from you all. I plan to get personal with him in this little chat... So what do you want to know about him? Ask away, and I'll forward your comments to Bruce.
Okay, now back to the Terri Schiavo case, and more of your e-mails:
It is selfish for people to keep this girl alive. They should think about the girl's life and what it might be like to be trapped inside her mind and body.... I do not want to be like this and hope that... my wife would be able to pull the plug or tube, or anything keeping me alive...
—Scott Towler, Wilmington, Illinois
People should be allowed to die with dignity... Being kept alive with tubes and machines is undignified. Anyone, including her parents, who really believe that she will bounce back from this tragedy, is being selfish and keeping Terri alive for all the wrong reasons...
Terri is NOT in a vegetative state... heroic measures are NOT being used. Food and water are NOT heroic... ventilators and drugs are. Food and water are BASIC elements that no one should be deprived of by someone else...
— Melissa Elliott, RN (A Nurse), Springfield, Ohio
I have worked with patients who have been in Terry's condition and have seen that with therapy they can be rehabilitated to talk, sometimes to walk, and to eventually care for some of their own daily needs. We will not know to what extent she could have been rehabilitated if we allow her to die...
—Carmillia Kimmel, BS RN (Also a Nurse)
You know, it's so hard to decide for other people what's "dignified." My Dad fell ill with pancreatic cancer and had written instructions that he did not want to live, stripped of his dignity. He was very specific about his definition of quality of life. But everyone is different. And unless you're Terri's doctor, do you really know what kind of recovery she is or is not capable of? Just asking.
See you on the air,
Watch "DaySide with Linda Vester" weekdays at 1 p.m. ET
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