The following is a reader's response to this post:
My husband was in EXACTLY the same situation after suffering cardiac arrest while in the hospital and suffered anoxic encephalopathy, in fact, 3 separate times. First, they gave him 2 hours to live and told me to call our priest.
He was in a coma and continued to be so, but lived. The doctors said if he lived, he would likely be a "vegetable", the social worker called me into a meeting and told me to start looking at nursing homes. His family fought me tooth and nail to pull him off of the ventilator, he was also on a feeding tube- which I refused to do.
Somehow, deep in my heart, I just knew by intuition that he was going to be okay. When he began to come out of the coma, he would not respond to anyone but me. I made him respond to me by making him nod yes for things he wanted before I would do them, such as putting a cold rag on his forehead. We were alone each time & every time I ran out and told the nurse he responded, she'd go into the room, try the same thing & he laid there staring at the ceiling, blank, totally unresponsive.
They would keep saying "honey, I know you want to believe he's responding, but he's not, he is in a persistent vegetative state." I told him to squeeze my hand if he loved me - he squeezed my hand tightly but just to make sure I wasn't imagining it, I said "oh, that wasn't much of a squeeze, I don't think you really love me" and he squeezed my hand so hard it hurt. Again, ran & told the nurses, again they told me I was imagining things.
Finally one day I said "honey, you HAVE to respond to the nurses, okay? They're starting to think I'm insane & if they think you're not responding, they're going to put you in a nursing home. If you want to come home, you have to show them you understand." He nodded yes, I went and got a nurse who told him to squeeze his hand, he did, held up 3 fingers & asked how many he was holding up & my husband held up 3 fingers. This was after he was in a coma for more than 30 days. He was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital & had intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy for another 40 days & returned home.
That was 9 years ago & if you didn't know, you would never know anything happened to him. He lost a tiny bit of feeling in his left hand and a slight loss of peripheral vision in his left eye. He is mentally exactly like he was when he was admitted and he has had 9 very happy, very active, fulfilled, loving years. Just imagine if I had pulled him off life support when his family demanded it.
Your heart beats on its own, so does Terri's. You breathe on your own, so does Terri. You need basic nutrition & hydration to live, so does Terri. I have researched her case endlessly, seen her video and that woman is NOT in PVS. Where there is life, there is hope and I will continue to pray that her tube is re-inserted & that the torture, abuse & neglect she has suffered at Michael's hands all these years is brought to light and rectified. As I felt by intuition that my husband would be okay, I very seriously feel by intuition that Terri has big surprises in store for us all - and for Michael.
As a sidenote, the neurologists were so convinced & insistent that my husband was severely brain damaged from his anoxic episodes, they insisted on testing him in front of me. The neurologist said "Bob, do you recognize this woman standing here with me?" (me) "The woman here in the black shirt?" He nodded yes. She said "who is it, is it your sister?" He nodded "no." "Your aunt?" "No." so on until she said "your wife?" He nodded yes. She said "what is her name?" (all the nurses and doctors, everyone knew me only by Jan, my full name is Janice). He couldn't speak yet, but he mouthed "Janice." 2 syllables.
They only knew me by one syllable. The neurologist looked at me with pity, nodded her head & said "I'm sorry, honey, I know how much you wanted to believe it." I laughed out loud at her stupidity, I couldn't help it. He had been totally responding to me for days. I said "My name is Janice-2 syllables. He knows better than to EVER forget my name!" and he laughed, as best he could. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that narrow-minded doctors who don't know how to admit they're wrong will just flatly refuse to see what's right in front of their face. They WANT to believe Terri is not responsive. They WANT to believe her parents are imagining her responsiveness & I'm thoroughly one million percent convinced that they're not. No-one knows her better than her own mother. She may, like my husband, be much more responsive & communicative with her mother than she is with anyone else.
They also did EEGs which, at the time, showed only moderate brain waves - that's when they told me that if he survived, he would very likely be a "vegetable". (I hate that description). Once he started to respond, when he showed in front of that neurologist that he knew I was his wife & he knew my name, then they did an MRI - why they waited until then to do it, I don't know - and then they told me "well, it looks likely maybe we overestimated-he is going to have some brain damage, but not quite as severe as we initially thought. He will probably lose the use of his left arm and the vision in his left eye, he'll have only very short-term memory, he's not going to have any long-term memory or recollection of events in the past and he's going to have speech difficulties. He will definitely never be able to return to his previous employment as an electrician."
The first month or so, he did have speech difficulties, saying things like "crapper" instead of "cracker" which he actually laughed about and thought was pretty funny - he knew when he did it & would crack up and say "you know I meant cracker, right?" He couldn't use his left arm much or see well out of his left eye or have long-term memory. So, they were right on target in their post-MRI assessment. He couldn't walk, only because his muscles were somewhat atrophied from being down so long & he could only be off the ventilator for very short periods at a time. I used to work in a rehab facility and I know the endless possibilities of what can be done with brain damaged patients, so I had him transferred to rehab. He had very intensive rehab, all day every day. By the time his rehab stay was complete, he was walking as he always did before, off the trach that they had inserted once he was off the vent & breathing just great, eating on his own after removal of the feeding tube - he had to start very slowly, pudding, jello and then progressed to very small amounts of semi-solids & then solids. It took awhile to go all solid, but he did. By the time he came home from rehab, his speech was perfectly normal-the only residual he had was that his left hand goes a little numb from time to time and he lost a minor amount of peripheral vision in his left eye. Other than that, you would never even know on first meeting him that anything had ever happened to him at all.
My husband was much worse off than Teri - he had it ALL, ventilator, feeding tube, catheter, then trach. He couldn't breathe off the ventilator for more than 5 minutes at a time. When you would see him sitting up in his chair, he LOOKED so much worse off than her - he drooled, his tongue hung out, his head lolled to the side-he looked totally "not there" - you would never look at him & think there was a chance that he would be okay. And here he is. What I'm seeing them do to her makes me feel physically ill. It's so wrong and my prayer is that someday she gets up out of that bed and tells them all to go to hell in between bites of her prime rib. LOL It IS possible-it is very possible. Just from the little I've seen in the videos and things I've heard, just my own opinion, I think that woman is FAR from in PVS. She needs a lot of very, very intensive therapy & I truly believe she could speak and eat & I do believe that right now, she is totally aware of her surroundings and the people around her. I have heard "doctor" Cranford's excuse that her tracking the balloon and opening her eyes is only minutes out of hours upon hours of testing-I don't care if it was 30 seconds out of a month of testing-it proved that she is not PVS and is aware and can be helped.
I've gone on and on to where people are sick of listening to me, but I am so angry over what's been done to her and all legally approved. Michael Shiavo and Judge Greer should both be in jail. I'm praying that her tube is re-inserted tomorrow & then praying for many things after that - that all of the horrible injustices done to her these past years are paid for and that she at least gets the chance she deserves to see what can be done.
Also- if my husband HAD ended up a "vegetable" and if he had told me that he would never want to live that way, there is still no way on earth that I would ever, EVER let him die by starvation. I would say, even if he couldn't understand me, "honey, I'm sorry, but I just cannot honor your wish because I'm not going to let you die that way." I'm not quite sure what steps I would take, knowing he wouldn't want to live like that, but there is just no way I would let him die that way. Any way they want to try to dress it up, it's murder, plain and simple. "Just let me die if I'm in that condition" does not mean "Just kill me if I'm in that condition." If she did say she wouldn't want to live that way - which I'm also thoroughly convinced she never did - I'm sure she meant remove the life support-not withhold my nutrition and let me starve.