Thursday, April 28, 2005

My mother and the Terri Schiavo affair

This is kind of late. The Schiavo affair is no longer news but her story reminds me of my mother.

Mother developed goiter while young. When she retired from teaching her goiter was already worse. She had other ailments bothering her. But it was her goiter that finally caused her death.

The goiter became cancerous. After some time her breathing became difficult because the lump in her throat was pressing on her air passageway. The oncologist gave her at most six months to live.

But she asked for surgery to allow her to breathe easier. Although we knew hers was a terminal case, we could not refuse her request for surgery.

Money was a big issue. It was good that my younger brother was close to a surgeon, who was also a politician, who offered his services for free.

After the surgery, mother could not anymore speak. We resorted to sign language. She had to be fed through a tube with liquified fruit or whatever it was. We took turn watching over her at the hospital. We knew she would die anytime soon.

One week after her surgery she weakened. Her close relatives were already there feeling it was her last hours. Finally she stopped breathing but our younger sister frantically called on the doctors to revive her. So they applied electric shock on her chest which made her breathe again. She was attached to a breathing apparatus and confined at the ICU.

After a few days at the ICU she was still not awake. My siblings and I decided to return her to the ordinary room because the ICU stay was very costly. Two days later she was still unconscious and could not breathe on her own. And we knew that she still would die of her cancer even if she recover from her unconscious state.

One night while we were watching over her, I told my sister that I planned to stop the respirator. If she breathes on her own, well and good. If not, then that would be it. Then I went home to rest since my turn to watch was over.At dawn we were called on the phone and informed that mother was already dead when they looked into her.

What I still distinctly remember now about the episode was that the surgeon gave his services free but the visiting physician who would only visit her a few minutes each day was getting most of our payments.

If I understand it right, the parents of Terri were willing to shoulder the expenses just to keep her alive. I think they should have been allowed to do that if that makes them happy. Some people had been embalmed and put on public display like Marcos. And their adoring fans and relatives are happy about it. So be it.