I don't want to be kept alive by machines. I'm not saying that I wouldn't want to be helped by machines if they would be the means of restoring my life to full or partial normalcy but to be kept alive in a comatose condition for years is something I would not want. Terri probably didn't want that either but machines aren't keeping her alive. Machines aren't breath for her, medicines do not keep her heart beating, she simply lives and the fact that she still lives after nearly 14 days of being denied food and water simply because she is not able to feed herself or, supposedly, know that she is hungry is something that I consider a miracle.
The general process of death for patients whose food and hydration tubes are withdrawn:
# Day 1: The percutaneous endoscopic gastrotomy tube, which is placed through the skin and into the stomach, is removed in a simple surgical procedure. Patients who do not have mental cognition to have a sense of thirst or hunger will not be uncomfortable. [NOTE: Terri DOES have some mental cognition... she is NOT brain dead. Therefore, this process IS uncomfortable for her.]
# Days 3 to 4: Urine output decreases and patients begin to lose normal body secretions. The mouth begins to look dry and the eyes appear sunken. Patients will look thinner because the body tissues have lost fluid. Their heart rate gradually goes up and their blood pressure goes down. In some patients, dehydration releases endorphins in the brain that create a state of euphoria.
# Days 5 to 10: People who are alert have a marked decrease in their alertness. Respiration becomes irregular with periods of very fast and then very slow breathing. Some patients will become restless, while others will be less active. For patients in a persistent vegetative state, there may be no discernible change in their movements.
# Days 10 to Death: Patients do not appear to respond to their environment at all and may appear to be in a coma. Length of death process is determined by how well-nourished patient was and how much body fat and fluid they had when procedure began. May be outward signs of dehydration, such as extremely dry skin. Kidney function declines and toxins begin accumulating in the body. Toxins cause respiratory muscles to fail. Multiple organ systems begin to fail from lack of nutrition.
Not enough is known about the brain to understand just how much Terri knows or feels during this process. Her husband wants her to die, her parents want her to live and would provide for her care. I think they should be allowed to and I think the government, the courts, and the churches should stay out of it. Maybe the fact that she's still living after all this abuse is because it is not God's will that she die.
But that's just my opinion.
***David has just informed me in my comments that Terri's fight is over. I wonder if we've learned anything from this?