Monday, March 07, 2005

Doris and friends

It is some deep quality of humans that we keep at life; we keep coming back, even when hope is barely remembered. Like the jungle villagers of the South Pacific who, after the Second World War, built bamboo airplaines along the abandoned runways, hoping to lure back the big birds that had brought them such wonders. So, while the memory of a better nation lingers, we do our citizen rituals and we hope that some majik may intervene to make the rituals effective. Keeping on is what we are doing now. If there is hope, and there always is, perhaps it is the Far Right's overreach in key areas, most especially Social Security, that may yet wake our neighbors to the takeover afoot. It is up to us to reelectrify the third rail with our own energy.

Speaking of energy, Doris "Granny D" Haddock, one of our inspirations, is resting at home (actually next door at her son's home) in Dublin, New Hampshire. She still has a plastic tube in her neck, but she can speak without too much difficulty and is expecting to have some further repairs made that will get he back on Democracy Road. She may take some time to get around to all the thanks for cards and flowers. Her hospital room was a clearing house for bouquets. After she admired each new arrival, she had the nurses find someone in the hospital who had not received any. The entire wing was soon bursting in bloom. She extends her thanks for the love and encouragement. She received a nice bouquet from her Senate competitor, Sen. Judd Gregg, and another from Governor Lynch. She sent that one home to sit beside her daughter's ashes.

Her friends in her town, and the towns around--many of whom were active in her Senate campaign--quickly organized a visiting nurse committee to make it possible for Doris to spring from the hospital and recover at home.


At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Ed Marshall said...

Don't know what just happened to my comment of well wishng I had posted here that seems to have disappeared within half an hour. Is it going the way of the last five or six issues of Democracy Week? Has it been cancelled? I haven't even found a notice of that, or has the Bush/Cheney dictatorship closed that down too in the name of "homeland security."

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Eileen Keim said...

I'm delighted to learn that Granny D is recuperating amid an ocean of flowers and good wishes - but saddened to learn of her daughter's death. Since the latest post on her health was March 7, and today is March 18, I guess we can assume that every day, in every way, she's getting better and better. God bless you, Granny D, and your doctors too!

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doris, You truly are a "hero" in every sense of the word. You are like the knight in shining armor that I (as a middle aged woman) have looked for my entire life. I am so sorry by he loss of your daughter, having had you for a mother she must have been an amazing person. You never cease to amaze me, your courage and determination are an inspriation. Thank you for all you have done to open the eyes of this somewhat naive' and previously passive woman. I pray that you will continue to heal and take the time you need to nurture yourself. Thank yo for restoring my faith in the "American Dream".

At 11:18 AM, Anonymous ed marshall said...

First an apology for the subject matter. I in no way want to suggest that Granny D consider that her useful life is over. But the issue of the right to death and to protecting people from those who want to help others on their way are in the popular press and needs to be addressed by progressives. This is a copy of my response to an email from Move on urging me to lend my name to a petition that attacks those sup[porting Terri Shiavo's right to life. I just don't think that there was anything but conflicting hearsay evidence on which a judge based a decision tantamount to a death sentence. I believe citizens rights to life and death need to be protected equally.

"I'M A THOROUGH CONSTITUTIONAL PROGRESSIVE who believes in the right to die. But I fear that Tom Delay is right that, because of the way the Progressives are responding to this issue, it is becomming "heaven sent" cannon foder against those of us who believe in the right to death.

The best ammunition that those bigots who would like to deny the right to death is the fear of dominos. That is, there is a fear in many people that if we start allowing people to take their own lives, people with less that pure motives will usurp and warp that right to choose to die into a right to let, and then to require, to die those who are too expensive to keep alive or who are too much of a nuisance. Unfortunately, this is the poster child case for possible carelessness.

If Terri had a Living Will specifically requesting the stopping of nourishment, it would be another matter. But everything that is coming to light about the case is raising proper suspicions. I can not here go into all the details about very suspect medical care from the git go, and a very cavilier attitude of medical and legal professionals to Terri's right to life, liberty and the right to happiness.

Before the removal of the feeding tube, there was no MRI done to verify exactly what level of brain activity she had reached in recovery. Her semi-comatose state from the first, as a Dr. said on television this evening, would not have legally allowed her organs to be "harvested" because she would not count as brain dead. Only some of the higher cerebral cortex functions seem to be dysfunctional.

She can not speak, but she does appear to have some responses to variations in her environment. I have seen her eyes and head movements following a hand going up over her head, and her obvious reaction to her hair being touched by that hand. That is just one of a multitude of facts that make the ex-husband's suggestions about the nature of Terri's consciousness questionable.

It is understandable that he would like to get on with his life, and one should not begrudge his remarryiong. The dedication of "'til death do us part' without the attempt to make that ASAP has largely benn forsaken.

And if it were not for the fact that simply by relinquishing his guardianship to Terri's parents, they would be free to begin to help Terri with the training she will need to eat and drink again. Those are functions that would probably be possible with patient training according to a number of doctors.

Yet Mr. Shiavo supposedly asked that she not be taught to eat jello as a first step toward learning to eat and live without the tubes on the grounds that he thought it might be too dangerous--she might choke! As if removing the feeding tube is not too dangerous: it will kill her unless she relearns to eat.

Those are the kinds of disconnects with the reality of caring for the severe brain damaged that have to be guarded against, as is the reported case that Mr. Shiavo would have reportedly had a large inheritance if he had been allowed to do away with Terri when he first tried to. Now much of that has been spent, and if Mr. Shiavo doesn't get rid of Terri soon there will be nothing of it left for him to start out.

The fact is that Terri is being punished by our courts without having committed any crime. If we are to get the right to death, we must have absolute confidence that the courts will stick up for the rights of those who might not have agreed to be sacrified. While Mr. Shiavo claims that his ex-wife, over whom he should have had no more guardianship once he had took another woman whether by common law or bigamists' marriage, wanted to be left to die with no extraordinary care, it was never even clear from his testimopny that that was spoken of in the kind of detail that would answer the problems in this case--even if we were to take the word of a man who has a vested interest in doing away with a very inconvenient fact of his life.

On the other hand, the right of Terri's parents to look after and care for her until death do them part is being ignored by the courts. There is equally good evidence from Terri's family and friend that she did not have the horror of being bed ridden that others say she did. And if there was clear evidence that Terri was in pain from her ordeal (the current abuses excepted), perhaps there would be good reason not to humor their desires.

However, parents do have a right to do all they can to save their child's life. There are many natural rights that people retain under Articles 9 and 10 of the Bill of Rights beyond those specifically itemized in all the other articles. The right to die is among those, as is the freedomn from someone else trying to hurry that along.

Now, not only are progressives appearing to be hard hearted to the needs of Terri's parents in lieu of clear evidence as to Terri's wishes and in the context of really flimsy medical reasons and careful medical attempts at rehabilitation, they seem to be embracing the bureaucratic power of big government to interfere in the life of the loving members of Terri's family. We can not say that her ex-husband should have sacrified the rest of his life for Terri. But we should not be supporting his desire to sacrifice her when her parents are willing to try to give her a now chance at life.

One good thing this situation has crated is the input from many of the best cutting edge neurologists, and a willingness to help her if she can be rescued from the legal bureaucracies. For instance, there is good reason to think that injections of stem cells in the brain near the lessions that interfere with the higher brain functions might regrow sufficient brain tissue to improve her to full consciousness. Then maybe we could let her choose what she wants.

But if we are ever going to get the right to act on our natural rights to death with dignity, we have to remove all suspicion that euthanasia will be waqrped into ways to get rid of inconvenient lives. So I must protest your falling into the wishes of the right wing bigots by becoming fascists yourselves.

At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Marian Cruz said...

I just listened to an interview with Granny D on KPFA Pacifica Radio out of Berkeley, CA. I read her book about 6 months ago and am pleased to hear she is home near her son and wish her the very best. We will be in New Hampshire the 1st week of October and will continue to check to see if she will be speaking in the area.

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