Thursday, March 08, 2007

Christa Lilly has Relapsed Into Seeming Unconsciousness

Christa Lilly, the Colorado woman diagnosed with persistent vegetative state who woke up and began talking, has relapsed into an unresponsive state. Her mother promises to care for her no matter what. Good. Lilly's moral worth and intrinsic value as a human being--a sister of all humanity--does not depend on her ability to interact. Would that more of us could find it within ourselves to love the most helpless among us unconditionally rather than set marginalizing parameters which, in effect, throw them out of the moral community.

The brain is a fascinating organ, which we don't understand. Add the UK case in which a purportedly unconscious woman has been found through brain scans to be interactive, and it becomes clear that we should treat the seemingly unconscious as we would conscious people. Whatever we do, when visiting an unconscious person, assume they can hear every word we say.

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10 Comments:

At March 08, 2007 , Blogger Deep Toad said...

They need to bring on the Ambien.

 
At March 08, 2007 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

I thought the same thing, although it doesn't always work.

 
At March 08, 2007 , Blogger Deep Toad said...

Wesley J. Smith said...

I thought the same thing, although it doesn't always work.


True.

It would be cool if they tried. Even cooler if this woman beat the odds. I get sick and tired of hearing people like her called hopeless.

 
At March 08, 2007 , Blogger Chana Meira said...

This is amazing. When I hear of these stories, and particularly this situation of multiple relapse, I have a question based on a humble observation:

To my admittedly limited knowledge, patients who come out of these coma/p"v"s situations do not usually indicate they would have preferred their own demise when faced with the condition. For sure, Ms. Lilly has had ample opportunity to come to a conclusion and say "enough".

Mr. Smith, have you seen indication that these situations cause any in the euthanasia movement to rethink their assumption as to what the patient would want? Or is there a continued assertion that these cases ought not be considered, because all other patients who are unable to register an opinion likely still want to die? (A viewpoint held by a nurse I know, whom I directly confronted).

When a patient regains the ability to communicate and does not express a death wish, it should be among the reasons the "death with dignity" folks reconsider. ~cm

 
At March 09, 2007 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

Chana: Thanks for stopping by.

I don't think the death with dignity folk will ever reconsider, since I believe the real belief is that these lives are not worth living. It is a kind of projection, e.g., if that were me, I'd rather be dead. For some, it is also a way of dehumanizing some so that they can be used instrumentally.

 
At March 10, 2007 , Blogger Chana Meira said...

That is the predominate view, but I thought perhaps there was a ray of hope out there.

Projection and other motives are certainly problems. When I volunteered in a hospital, I witnessed it often. The patient wanted to be treated and comforted until recovery, while others in the room talked about what they would or would not want. It was harder for elderly patients, who at times expressed guilt that they not be a burden to others.

The fears of healthy persons, not concern for the actual patient, molded opinion about treatment or life and death decisions. I am continually amazed that so many do not recognize this problem when these issues arise.

 
At March 10, 2007 , Blogger T E Fine said...

Wesley:

"I don't think the death with dignity folk will ever reconsider, since I believe the real belief is that these lives are not worth living. It is a kind of projection, e.g., if that were me, I'd rather be dead. For some, it is also a way of dehumanizing some so that they can be used instrumentally."

Ever seen the movie "Logan's Run?" Logan lived in a society where at age 31 (21 in the book version, which was cooler) you were required to go on what was called "Carousel" to be "reborn" as a new person, or that's what their computer nanny had them all believing. The computer nanny told Logan (who was in his 20's) that it wanted him to go figure out what happened to all the people who ran away from their society, as their numbers were never accounted for. Logan asked the compy, "Well, wouldn't they just have been reborn like the people on Carousel were, and we'd get occasioanl population booms?" Then when the compy didn't answer him he asked it, "*DO* the people on Carousle get reborn?"
No answer.

So the point of that was that when suddenly faced with the realization that he was lied to about being "reborn," that there was no certainty that he was going to make it out alive, and when he was pegged as being too old because the computer changed his age, instead of just getting up on ol' Carousel, he bolted. He ran, really fast.

'Cause it was suddenly his life that was at stake. It was suddenly him that was being targeted and he was going to die, and he didn't want to.

The Death with Dignity whatevers are all saying, "death is better than X" for someone else, but how do they know? If we all found out tomorrow and *KNEW* that there's no afterlife and everyone who died would do so without leaving anything behind that mattered, many folks who are believers in an afterlife who feel that going to heaven is better than being tied to a broken body would suddenly be faced with their own impending death... might make them reconsider the whole "death is better" thing. And for those who are atehists saying that "purpose is found here on earth in our earthly lives" and "death is peaceful," if they found out tomorrow that there is a heaven and hell and *KNEW* they were all slated for the pit, suddenly the whole "death is peaceful" thing becomes a sham, and living with a disabled body doesn't seem as bad as facing eternal damnation.

The problem is that we don't know that death is better than life, and the burden of proof is on the guys saying so. We have no proof that things wouldn't be better if people had lived instead of died, and without that proof we cannot actually say that yes, it's better to pull the plug than live in an unresponsive body.

'Cause we still don't know what happens when you get on Carousel.

 
At March 10, 2007 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

Tabs: I'm so old I saw Logan's Run when it first came out.

 
At March 11, 2007 , Blogger moira said...

"I don't think the death with dignity folk will ever reconsider[...]"

What a very sad and pessimistic generalization: the same sweeping condemnation that you are arguing against when it comes to these patients. I see this happening everywhere, in many beliefs and opinions. It seems to me to be exactly the way to shut off all communication. It takes away the possibility of common ground. How can you breach a wall you've helped to build?

 
At March 11, 2007 , Blogger T E Fine said...

Wesley:

"Tabs: I'm so old I saw Logan's Run when it first came out."

I was just starting to feel kinda down 'cause my birthday is next month. Rest assured you've made me feel much, much better.

 

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