The Mundling Zone

Thoughts, rants, and raves from the desk of Michelle Mundling

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Betrayal and Denial: The Plight of Terri Schindler-Schiavo

The family of Terri Schindler-Schiavo are in the fight of their lives for the life of their daughter Terri. On October 15, 2003, the feeding tube keeping Terri alive was removed as ordered by Judge George Greer. Even as Florida Governor Jeb Bush stepped in on behalf of Terri's parents to try to stop the order and has just about exhausted every legal maneuver available to him, the order was commenced Wednesday afternoon, and Terri's feeding tube was removed.

Friends and family of Terri have a website detailing the trials and tribulations of their daughter since her collapse in 1990. Terri's website, as empassioned as it is in it's plea, is only one family's viewpoint on the matter. I have read articles about Terri's situation on other news websites. There is a lot more that has been going on than what is currently being broadcast by the mainstream media.

On the site are videos of Terri in Real Media format showing her reactions to different stimuli and interactions. I have viewed all the videos. I admit I'm not a medical expert, but it looked obvious to me that Terri was responding appropriately to the different situations depicted. In one video, Terri smiles and her eyes widen when her mother gets close to her and speaks to her. In another video, Terri shows revulsion and resistance to a cotton swab around her mouth. In yet another video, Terri is instructed to open her eyes. She blinks slightly several times before she opens her eyes fully, then opens them wide. If you listen carefully to three of the six videos, Terri tries to speak. It may come out as grunts or moans, but they are made in response to yes/no questions or reactions to specific stimuli. After viewing these videos, I cannot understand how she can be diagnosed as being in a constant vegetative state.

Gina Locke wrote an article about Terri and her husband Michael, ranging from shortly before Terri's collapse in 1990 to November 2002, plus she lists the legal pleas and arguments from January 2000 to November 2002. Ms. Locke does NOT paint Michael Schiavo in a positive light. As a matter of fact, she portrays him as an abusive two-timing husband trying to end his wife's life so he can inherit her money. Granted, it is just one person's viewpoint, but other news websites mirror the legal battles that seem to only reaffirm the suspicions against Michael Schiavo.

World Net has reported that Michael is engaged and has fathered a baby with his fiancee, but that he would not divorce Terri. In this same article, Michael Schiaavo's lawyer George Felos stated about Michael's adulterous affair, "Most people would say that it's understandable that a healthy spouse shouldn't be sentenced to life without companionship." The problem with that statement is that Michael reportedly had a girlfriend at the time of Terri's collapse. This same girlfriend is later mentioned in the April 27, 2001 timeline of Ms. Locke's beforementioned article, except by then she was Michael's EX-girlfriend. Excuse me, but what part of Michael's wedding vows "for better or for worse, let no man put asunder" does he not understand?

If that's not enough, George Felos was on the August 13, 2003 broadcast of Hannity and Colmes on the Fox News Channel. The transcript of that broadcast shows Sean Hannity's question, "All right. If that's the case and he doesn't want this to happen, and he wants to be done with this in the sense that he wants to pull off the life support. And the parents and the sister want it, why wouldn't he at least give them that wish and if they want to take care of her now and they want to take over the medical care of her, why can't they just say, ‘OK, this is important to you, I disagree but if it's important to you, it's your daughter. It's your sister, I loved her once. Let me give her to you.’ Why doesn't he just have the graciousness to do that for them?"

George Felos answered, "He didn't love her once, he loves her now ..." Excuse me, but something's wrong with this statement in my opinion. One thing I will say about Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes: they rarely agree on anything. However, in the case of Terri Schiavo, they both agreed that she should be allowed to live and both agreed that her parents should be allowed to take care of her.

Now let's get to the judge, as in Judge George W. Greer. He has consistently ruled in favor of Michael Schiavo and has consistently ruled against all motions filed by Terri's family. Judge Greer has allegedly granted Michael Schiavo permission to use the $1.2 Million malpractice awards originally slated for Terri's rehabilitation to be used for Michael's legal expenses. Judge Greer has allegedly ignored evidence presented to him that could save Terri's life and allow her to be medically treated and rehabilitated.

Jeff Johnson of has been following the saga of Terri Schiavo. In one article dated 9/17/2003, Johnson reports that Terri's family have filed motions to have Judge Greer removed and another judge assigned to the case, have Michael Schiavo removed as Terri's guardian, and even against George Felos for alleged civil rights violations against Terri. In another article dated 9/10/2003, three former caregivers filed affidavits alleging abuse, altering and/or destruction of medical records, and denial of medical care ... all by Michael Schiavo.

The more articles I read, the angrier I got. The Florida Supreme Court has refused to intervene. The U S Supreme Court refused to intervene. Based on what I've read on the internet and heard broadcast in the news, the documentation and sworn testimony proves that Michael Schiavo is not working in the best interest of his wife and should be be removed as Terri's guardian. The motions filed against Michael Schiavo, Judge Greer, and George Felos for civil rights violations have been filed, but as of this writing, I do not know the outcome.

Right now, the immediate need is to have the court order stopped so that Terri's feeding tube can be reinserted. No point in trying to win a battle if you're going to lose the war. Yes, the "courts (read: Judge Greer)" have determined that Terri is in a constant vegetative state. Keep in mind that if the courts officially declared the sky to be pink, legally speaking, the sky is pink until a higher court overturns the beforementioned sky color ruling. It's an exaggeration, I know, but sometimes you have to exaggerate the truth to make people see the truth. If Terri is legally declared a vegetable even though she's alive and responsive, isn't a dangerous prescendent being set? Keep in mind that starvation and dehydration are progressively painful to the body. Starvation is one of the methods of torture used against prisoners by sadistic captors. Remember what I wrote earlier about Terri's reaction to the cotton swab in the video?. If she can feel that cotton swab and react to it, can you imagine what she'll be feeling as she is slowly starved to death? She is not a vegetable and she does not deserve to die. I am a euthanasia supporter, but only for terminally ill patients who face prolonged suffering. Even then, each decision should be made on a case by case basis and not by blanket policy. Terri is not terminally ill.

I've been following the story of Terry's plight for some time now, even before it became national news. I am in complete disbelief at what appears to be flagrant attempts at ending someone's life under the guise of "following the loved-one's wishes." If nothing else, we all learned that we need to have Living Wills written so that there will be no doubt or debate as to what we want should be no longer be able to speak for ourselves.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

The Quality of Some Children's Shows

Having spent the last seven days with a twelve-year-old, I've seen a lot more shows from Nickelodeon than I have in the last few years. Boy how things have changed, and not necessarily for the better.

I grew up during the time that we had Bugs Bunny, Gumby, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Mr. Rogers, Zoom, and The Electric Company. The worst thing I saw as a kid was Wile E. Coyote falling off a cliff and hitting the ground without getting seriously hurt.

Then in the late 80's, Ren and Stimpy debuted. There had been some talk about other cartoons on other networks being controversial because of the battle violence depicted or because they seemed more like 30 minute commercials for children's toys. In my opinion, Ren and Stimpy crossed the line with regular references to used kitty litter, dried nasal mucous, and flatulence. Obviously, it hasn't stopped there.

During this time, Nickelodeon came out with the Dare programs that had people covered in harmless "green slime." It didn't look the greatest in the world, but at least it (I'm assuming) it was clean. Now they've got a show featuring the cast from All That having other kids do really disgusting things like drinking a gallon of human sweat. The twelve-year-old watching the commercial for the show also reacted with an "ewwwwww," while giggling at the same time. This is supposed to be children's entertainment? When did grossing people out become a spectator sport?

Like other programs that focus on the gross-out factor, I do exercise my right to change the channel or turn the television off. Because I was with other people, I tried to keep my mouth shut. However, I finally had to respectfully speak up and state that the commercial and some of the cartoons were revulsing me. I'm not a prude, but I do draw the line at gross-out humor featuring bodily functions and fluids.

I admit I have no children, but if I did, I would be very concerned with them watching cartoons and shows of this caliber. I know people say that kids are fascinated with this kind of entertainment, but they'd be fascinated with "tamer" entertainment if it was more readily available. I wish there was a wider variety of programming available instead of the current genre being cranked out by a select few in Hollywood.

sigh Where's Gumby when you need him?

Friday, October 10, 2003

Pop Up Ads: Killjoys of the Internet

I'm sick of deceptive pop-up ads that trick people into downloading spyware and junkware on their computers. People who are not computer savvy are having their internet enjoyment dampened if not outright ruined.

Soul sister told me today that her father no longer gets on the internet because pop up ads have taken over his computer. I went over to her parents house one time before to clean his computer; it seems Precision Time and Date Manager from Gator Software did a number on his internet browser.

Because of his previous experience with this software, all pop up ads have made him paranoid and have diminished any enjoyment he used to get from surfing the internet and communicating with his family via instant messenger. It's sad that a few bad companies in the name of free speech and the almighty dollar have given the more responsible advertising companies a bad name.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

My Trip to Toccoa, Georgia

Just got back from a three-day trip to Toccoa, Georgia, located in extreme Northeast Georgia. The town has a small-town charm that dates back to the 1950s (think Mayberry); the architecture of the various buildings in the downtown area are still in use with various shops and cafes. It was a nice place to visit, but I was glad to come back to south Georgia.

The housekeeper at our hotel was very pleasant; I wish more of them at other hotels I've stayed at were as friendly and helpful.

Instead of driving straight back home, we drove to Helen for the annual Oktoberfest and then to Cleveland to Babyland General Hospital, home of the original Cabbage Patch Babies. You can view the pictures here.

I like weekend road trips, and I've stayed at a lot of hotels/motels. There are some things I like and some things I dislike when I stay in a commercial lodging establishment.

When I stay in a hotel/motel, I like:

(1) Friendly, helpful service by staff members who don't mind answering any questions I have, however redundant they may appear to them,

(2) Decent amenities like refrigerator, microwave oven, cable television with more than a few channels, internet access, and decent air conditioning (I get overheated easily),

(3) Freebies like local telephone service, shampoo, soap, coffee, and ice.

(4) Breakfast buffets (would prefer free but will settle for reasonably priced).

When I stay in a hotel/motel, I dislike:

(1) Hard beds. I'm used to sleeping on a full-flotation waterbed, so I take an air mattress to place on top of the bed. It's the only way I can get a decent night's sleep without straining my back to the point of immobility.

(2) Water restrictors in the shower heads. I agree that we need to conserve water, but some places I've stayed in restrict the shower flow so much that you never feel completely rinsed off no matter how long you stay in the shower.

(3) Misrepresentation of amenities, services, or other perks the hotel/motel offers. For example, if an establishment offers free breakfast for each overnight stay, the owners/managers should specify what is meant by free breakfast. The customer may assume breakfast buffet when only cereal and milk is offered. Another example would be to offer cable television service, but only a few channels are available. It may seem minute and trivial to some, but little things like that can make the (potential) customer stay elsewhere in the future.

Overall, it was a good trip. My vacation will last until Tuesday the 14th when I must return to work. It's been 18 months since I took a week off for vacation. It's been nice :-)