:: eye of the storm ::

About Me

A 27-year-old PA student who wants to visit all seven continents, write a book, work at a pediatric clinic in Africa, and basically meet as many of the world's challenges as possible.

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Life List

(already accomplished)

Become a PA

Visit all 7 continents

Take a SwimTrek trip

Bike through Western Europe

Raft the Grand Canyon

Improve my Spanish proficiency

Go on safari in Africa

Trace my roots at Ellis Island

Vacation in Hawaii

Work on a hospital ship in a Third World country

Celebrate New Year's in Times Square

Visit all 50 states (29 to go: AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY)

See the ruins at Pompeii

Swim in Capri's Blue Grotto

Tour Mt. Vesuvius

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Tour the Colosseum

Visit the D-Day beaches

See the Mona Lisa

Visit the palace at Versailles

See the Acropolis and Parthenon

See the Egyptian pyramids

Hike the Inca Trail

Walk El Camino Santiago

Take an Alaskan cruise

View the Taj Mahal at sunrise

Hike Table Mountain in South Africa

Climb through the Amazon canopy

Walk at least part of the Great Wall of China

Get laser hair removal

Learn to surf, ski, and snowboard

Learn to drive a stick-shift

Learn to play the piano

Go on a tropical cruise

Ride horseback on the beach

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get tickets to the Olympics

Go to adult Space Camp

Witness a shuttle launch from up close

Build a full-sized snowman

Sew a quilt out of my old race T-shirts

Update and continue my Life Scrapbook

Become the oldest person to ever do the River Run

Live to be a happy, healthy 100 years old - at least!

(unlikely dreams)

dinsdag 22 maart 2005

I am well and truly sick of hearing about Terri Schiavo. It seems like wherever I turn these days, someone else is throwing their opinion - often peppered with misinformation - out there. Know what? Ignoring all the political, religious, and moral crap for a second, let's look at the medical perspective. This woman suffered severe brain damage, and over the 15-some years that she's been living in 'suspended animation', her brain has deteriorated to the point where much, if not most, of her cerebral cortex is GONE, replaced by spinal fluid. Even those doctors the family has recruited do not dispute that - they claim she could 'improve', but there has been absolutely no mention by the medical community of recovery. These videos the media keeps inundating us with show movements which are the product of essentially only brain stem activity, where our basic bodily functions (but no thoughts or emotions) are controlled. (Don't even get me started on how the conservatives are in almost full control of the media, showing us only what they want us to see.) Anencephalic babies - children born with a fluid-filled sac in place of all or part of their upper brain - are in almost exactly the same position. No consciousness, and what's more, no capacity for consciousness.

B, a girl in several of my classes, is the president of the UF Pro-Life Association and is strongly in favor of everything conservative. No abortion, no sex before marriage, and certainly no death for Terri. She wears anti-abortion buttons on her backpack, a large cross around her neck, and a Gators for Terri shirt. She maintains that X-rays have shown lots of trauma, suggestive that Terri's husband beat her. Guess what, B? Terri was bulimic. Bulimia, like any eating disorder, wreaks havoc on your body - not only do you lose way too much fat, but you lose bone mass and lean muscle mass (which means your bones break a lot more easily when, just as an example, a medical team does aggressive CPR in an attempt to save your life!). Also, eating disorders in the extreme stages cause potassium imbalances, which can lead to - you guessed it - cardiac failure! Which is the reason we're all embroiled in this in the first place.

(And may I just say - I know eating disorders are very real diseases, but if someone is to the point where her heart is stopping, I doubt that the people close to her were all that in touch with her problems and best interests. Hmm, guilt complex, anyone?)

When I first heard about this case, my first opinion was, "Quit fighting over this poor sack of skin. There's nothing left in there, anyway. Since the parents are willing to take her, just let them take her, and stop saturating the entire world with this story." But when I talked to my parents about it, Dad explained, "If they do that, it sets a legal precedent. Her husband is first in line in the decision-making process. If they overrule him, it means that my letting my spouse know my wishes wouldn't necessarily be enough anymore. If someone else decided they wanted to keep me alive artificially, this case would give them the authority to fight your mom over that decision, and win. We could no longer be certain that our true wishes would be carried out."

The solution I thought of right then was to add a few questions to our driver's licenses. They always ask if you want to be an organ donor - why don't they go a step further and let our licenses also be living wills? I don't really know anything about living wills - how long they are, what-all they entail - but it seems to me that if they can ask about organ donation, they can just as easily also ask if we would want to be kept alive by artificial means, if we want to be buried or cremated, et cetera. It would be in writing and irrefutable, not only on the license, but in the DMV computer system. Sure, not everyone has a driver's license, but the vast majority do. Cases like this - deciding whether or not to take someone off life support - occur far more frequently than most people realize, and I think doing something like this would cut down on the problems by far.

Internet, hear me now - if doctors ever determine that I'm brain dead, for goodness sakes, take out any and all living bits of me that other people can use and then let me die! I find it hard to imagine that anyone would want to be kept alive like that - a sack of skin sucking up hospital money and resources while there's no hope in hell of recovery. Not to mention the toll it takes on the family involved - proper grieving and moving on after a death is impossible when the physical being is still 'here', lying in a hospital bed. The only thing I can fathom that would make someone choose option B is that people might be worried about the possibility of themselves still being 'in there somewhere'. Look, we are living in a miraculous age of technology, so let's trust it. It's simple to tell the difference between a vegetative state - from which you don't ever recover, like Terri - and a coma, from which various degrees of recovery are possible. Nobody's going to chuck you into the ground without being sure. And if it's the religion thing, well, read that essay I posted a link to last week. As that woman said: why are the religious folk, who claim to be at peace with the idea of death, the ones who insist that their souls will go on exactly as they are after they die? It seems to me that those who believe there's nothing afterwards have, in accepting that, made the bigger leap of faith.

In closing... a question for Bush and his Republican drones. It's all about the money for you guys, right? So how come you're so hell-bent on keeping Terri and others like her alive? The cost-effective thing to do would be to just let them go, wouldn't it? And you know what else? If you'd quit holding our country back and let us do stem cell research, we might be able to grow brain cells within just a few years. Heck, we might already have been able to. Cases like Terri's might already be a thing of the past. Think about that.

(Hey, Osama, buddy - since we so kindly ignored you in favor of a totally unrelated country, think your bomb squad could do the Democrats a favor in return? You know what I mean.)

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