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Nurses and Terri Schiavo

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
It wasn't until a couple of days ago that I found out that Terri S. had been a nurse. This made me ponder something. Additionally it made me truly believe that Terri had some sort of "end of life" discussion with her husband at some time...we tend to talk about this kind of stuff normally, due to what we see. In my 25 years as a nurse I have never heard a fellow nurse say that she/he wanted to be kept alive through artificial means. In fact most of the nurses I've know half jokingly say they want DNR tatooed om their chest. I know we have quite a few nurses here what do you think, both nurses and non nurses.
post #2 of 20
Wow, that is too spooky, I was JUST talking about that tonight with my BF! I am a RN, he is a former EMT. We went online last week and found PA Advance Directive forms and are filling them out.
I didn't know Terri S. was a nurse. I have, however, worked with a nurse who regularly said that for her 65th birthday, she was going to go and get DNR tattooed on her chest. She referred to it as "the Ultimate Advance Directive".
post #3 of 20
Even if you tattoo DNR on your chest, would it be counted as a living will??? My parents went throught that whole thing a few years ago. Instead of giving that responcibility to my brother sister and I (we were 20 at the time) they gave it to my Dad's older sister and my Mom's older sister. I was disapointed that they didn't feel we could be trusted.
post #4 of 20
Well, now, you would have to have WANTED that tattooed on your chest, wouldn't you? Kind of hard to coerce someone into that sort of thing...
post #5 of 20
I've always said I wouldn't want to have chemotherapy, but I've never been in a situation where I've had to make that decision. While I think I know what I want, those opinions could change when I'm actually in the situation.

My husband and I were discussing feeding tubes, life support, and ventilators. I asked him what he would want me to do. He said if there's any hope for improvement, leave him on support. But if he couldn't improve, take him off. So then I asked, 'but what's improvement?'

Medical ethics are murky.
post #6 of 20
I believe at some point the couple had to have had that conversation. Who hasn't? My husband and I have had that conversation both before marraige and after.

I think that the reason her family is fighting this so much is because she can "appear" to be aware of her surroundings. I also believe that it must be much harder to remove a feeding tube than to turn off a ventilator.

At first, after seeing a few clips of the video where she seemed to be aware that her family was there I thought it was a horrible idea to remove a feeding tube. Now, after hearing that the doctors have said that she actually is not aware and that the part of the brain that controls pain no longer works I don't think it's horrible.

I think that it is cruel to keep her in this state. But on the other hand, if the family wants to keep her alive and the husband has moved on and started a new family, why doesn't he just sign his rights over to her family?

I just don't think anyone should suffer. I hope this is resolved soon. I know that I wouldn't want to be Terri. I hope that my husband wouldn't shut it off immediately but I know I don't want to hang around for 15 years in that state.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
A member who can't post here PM'd me that Terri was not a nurse, I don't know what to believe in this case anymore. I've also seen conflicting reports that she was bulimic..who knows anymore? I spoke with a group at my workshop tonight (with homeless women) and we disussed this case for over an hour. I'm going to bring in a copy of the film "Whose Life is it Anyway"...haven't seen it myself in awhile, but I remember it packs quite a punch, and makes for very stimulating conversation.
post #8 of 20
I'm not a nurse, nor am I married, but my best friend and I have talked many times about our wishes. I think that a lot of people do.
post #9 of 20
Earl and I have had this conversation many times, more such conversations recently because of this case being splashed everywhere. We plan to make living wills, but haven't done it yet. I don't think I've had this conversation with my father about my own wishes, although I know that he does have a living will after what my mother went through. So who is more likely to know what my wishes are if that scenario ever presents itself? Without a doubt, the man I live with and share my life with...and not the people who I left their home essentially when I started college. No matter how close I am to my father, I simply don't have the same kind of day to day conversations with him as I do with my husband.
post #10 of 20
Me and my bf have only been together a little over a year and we had that talk already.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by eburgess
Even if you tattoo DNR on your chest, would it be counted as a living will??? My parents went throught that whole thing a few years ago. Instead of giving that responcibility to my brother sister and I (we were 20 at the time) they gave it to my Dad's older sister and my Mom's older sister. I was disapointed that they didn't feel we could be trusted.
I've been through this when my father passed away.

Both my parents have Living Wills and have for many years (since I was a teenager). They have extremely good friends designated as the executors.

When my father was diagnosed with end-stage liver cirrhosis his girlfriend called me up to tell me, and to go to the hospital. When I got there, I was the only legal next-of-kin so the doctor immediately sat down and told me the prognosis. Not good -- he would die, period, and it would probably happen within days to at most a month.

I told my father GF the news and stated that we needed to call my father's good friend John and she needed to go home and find my father's living will.

John came to the hospital every day. He allowed me to make all the decisions, but was very clear to say (and I knew it) that if I wavered from my father's wishes he'd step in. We tried to include my father's GF in all the decisions and she went along with most of what we were saying, though it was VERY hard for her.

She later admitted that if she had KNOWN what his living was all about she would have pretended not to be able to find it.

It is HARD to let go... it is hard to face reality when you want your loved-ones to live one with you. But their wishes needed to be respected... they have that right! Spouses and good friends OFTEN know more about these wishes more than parents do... as the opportunity to discuss it with your parents comes up less often or is too hard to think about.

I do believe Terry's husband and good friend who say she didn't want to be kept alive this way. Knowing she was a nurse probably contributes to me believing it just a little tiny bit more, but honestly I would believe it even if she wasn't a nurse. It's not far fetched to think her husband and friend knew this about her but her parents didn't (and to me, it seems her parents are having a hard time facing reality). It's also completely appropriate for her spouse to make this decision.
post #12 of 20
I'm not a nurse but I always wanted to be and I knew I wouldn't want to extreme measures. It's something I've discussed with my fiance, since my parents don't want to hear that.
post #13 of 20
Am I wrong in saying that I heard that an eating disorder is what put her in this position to begin with. I've heard so much stuff that it's making my head spin.
post #14 of 20
I didn't know that about her...that does make it more possible for me to believe. I have to admit, I was wishing for answers...one hears bit and pieces, and without 'being there', it's hard to tell the truth. I'd love to know if the stories are true that she has eaten jello, does respond to her parents, enjoys sucking juice from a washcloth - if therapy options have been denied her, that further scans could be done.

But, that is not the question you posed As a retired RN, it's reminded me to get my butt in gear and do my living will. DH and I have talked about this, I'm urging him to get his put together as well. I would want dh to simply make the decision based on brain activity and the level of support I'd need, the prognosis...I would not want to spend years curled up in the fetal position, unable to communicate with him, or to understand him. I would go for full measures if there is a decent chance I can come out of it.

My father had a serious brain injury in his early 20's - he was taught how to walk, talk, write - the full gamut - again, by his dad. This was back in the 1940's. He went on to earn college degrees, including doing the work for his Master's, and to have a very successful career. I am sure there were those who would have given up back then, though he was *not* on life support, which I know is the thrust of this question. Sorry if I digress a bit...

good topic for discussion.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by dicknleah
Am I wrong in saying that I heard that an eating disorder is what put her in this position to begin with. I've heard so much stuff that it's making my head spin.
I heard she lost nearly 100 lbs in a short amount of time, and is supected of having an eating disorder. I don't think doctors really took that into account 15 years ago. Her doctor should have seen the warning signs and asked her about it. If she did have an eating disorder she should have been seeking treatment for that. It's easy to see the signs after the fact. At the time it may have been hard to piece together everything. Can't do much about it now, but hopfully this whole things is resolved soon.
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom of Franz
A member who can't post here PM'd me that Terri was not a nurse, I don't know what to believe in this case anymore. I've also seen conflicting reports that she was bulimic..who knows anymore? I spoke with a group at my workshop tonight (with homeless women) and we disussed this case for over an hour. I'm going to bring in a copy of the film "Whose Life is it Anyway"...haven't seen it myself in awhile, but I remember it packs quite a punch, and makes for very stimulating conversation.
German newspapers, among others "Die Welt", which is usually pretty reliable, have reported that she was a nurse. I have no idea what the source was. Her parents' Web site says she worked as an administrative assistant at an insurance company after moving to Florida some time in the 80s.
Most media sources say she was bulimic, according to her husband, and that a potassium deficiency caused her heart to stop. I know that's possible - a friend (anorexic) suffered a heart attack at 31 for just that reason - he survived, and managed to recover from anorexia after quite a bit of therapy, only to die of cancer 4 years later.
post #17 of 20
Personally, if it were me, after 15 years living as a vegetable I would just like to go peacefully - hell after 1 year livign as a vegetable I would want to go! That's no quality of life!
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite
Personally, if it were me, after 15 years living as a vegetable I would just like to go peacefully - hell after 1 year livign as a vegetable I would want to go! That's no quality of life!
post #19 of 20
There is an RN, Carla Iyer, who will be interviewed on Hannity & Colmes tonight at 9pm Eastern time. She cared for Terri Schiavo for 1 1/2 years.
post #20 of 20
My sister (nurse in Omaha) and a friend (IT specialist in Philadelphia) have both read media reports that Terri Schiavo was a nurse. Her guardian ad litem, Wolfson, gives the following summary of her life: "Historical Facts in Theresa Marie Schiavo's Case":

Theresa Marie Schiavo was born in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area on 3 December 1963 to Robert and Mary Schindler. She has two, younger siblings, Robert Jr., and Susan. Through the age of 18, Theresa was, according to her parents, very overweight, until she chose to lose weight with the guidance of a physician. She dropped from 250 pounds to around 150 pounds, at which time she met Michael Schiavo. They dated for many months and married in November of 1984. The Schiavo and Schindler families were close and friendly.

Theresa and Michael moved to Florida in 1986 and were followed shortly thereafter by Theresa's parents and siblings. Theresa worked for the Prudential Life Insurance Company and Michael was a restaurant manager.

About three years later, without the apparent knowledge of her parents, Theresa and Michael sought assistance in becoming pregnant through an obstetrician who specialized in fertility services. For over a year, Theresa and Michael received fertility services and counseling in order to enhance their strongly held desire to have a child. By this time, Theresa's weight had dropped even further, to 110 pounds. She was very proud of her fabulous figure and her stunning appearance, wearing bikini bathing suits for the first time and taking great pride in her improved good looks. Testimony and photographs bare witness to these facts.

On the tragic early morning of 25 February 1990, Theresa collapsed in the hallway of her apartment, waking Michael, who called Theresa's family and 911. The lives of Theresa, Michael and the Schindlers were to change forever.

Theresa suffered a cardiac arrest. During the several minutes it took for paramedics to arrive, Theresa experienced loss of oxygen to the brain, or anoxia, for a period sufficiently long to cause permanent loss of brain function. Despite heroic efforts to resuscitate, Theresa remained unconscious and slipped into a coma. She was intubated, ventilated and trached, meaning that she was given life saving medical technological interventions, without which she surely would have died that day.

The cause of the cardiac arrest was adduced to a dramatically reduced potassium level in Theresa's body."

So perhaps she wasn't a nurse? The problem is that this legal struggle is so partisan that it's difficult to separate fact from fiction.
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