Skip to comments.Disabled Lawyer Offers Compelling Memoir Of Survival. Terri Dailies June 5
Posted on 06/05/2005 11:45:26 AM PDT by 8mmMauser
"Too Late To Die Young: Nearly True Tales From a Life," by Harriet McBryde Johnson.
About two years ago, Harriet Johnson appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. If you saw her portrait, you probably haven't forgotten it.
A thin woman in a wheelchair leans forward, a purple shawl draping one shoulder. Johnson describes it this way in her new memoir: "The portrait has been described as beautifully disturbing, and most nondisabled people seem to see it that way. I'd prefer to call it disturbingly beautiful, but I'll take it the other way around if I must."
Johnson has an unnamed muscle-wasting disease, but don't dare say she "suffers" from it. She insists on being her own complicated person, a Southern lady, for instance, as well as a socialist, an atheist, a lawyer and a born storyteller with a wicked sense of humor.
She eschews pity and sentimentality. She supports the work of Not Dead Yet, a group of anti-euthanasia activists who demonstrated outside Terri Schiavo's Pinellas Park hospice earlier this year, dramatically sliding out of their wheelchairs and lying on the ground.
And though Johnson hates the hackneyed trope of triumph in the face of disability, she nevertheless has a string of interesting adventures. She runs for elected office. She travels to Cuba to discuss disability rights. She protests the Jerry Lewis telethon annually in her hometown of Charleston, S.C., and she bribes her friends to join her with promises of free food.
Her gripe with the telethon is its grim prognostications. When she was 30, her mother became ill, and Johnson had to accept for the first time that, contrary to all expectations, she might indeed outlive her parents. "While anyone may die young, it's not something you can count on," she writes. "You have to be prepared to survive." It's that angry, proud but utterly normal brand of survival that is at the heart of Johnson's memoir.
The most fascinating chapter is her encounter with the philosopher and animal rights activist Peter Singer. (It was this encounter that rated The New York Times Magazine cover.) Singer believes that in some cases it is morally acceptable for parents to kill severely disabled infants. Johnson disagrees, so much so that she fears even debating him would dignify his ideas as socially acceptable. Nevertheless, she meets him, travels to Princeton University to debate him and ends up with a great story about it.
The best memoirs don't necessarily tell every event in a person's life, but they do capture the voice and the emotional feel of the author. Yes, it's impossible for a nondisabled person to fully know what Johnson's life is like. But her writing is so vibrant, so interesting and so funny that you can't help but feel as if you're in her world, sitting beside her and hearing her story for yourself.
When signing his autograph, my friend offered him his pen - which was red - and Jerry said - 'it won't work, has to be black.' For some reason my friend insisted, and when Jerry attempted to use it, and of course it did NOT work , he said " See, next time you'll listen to me and do what I tell you to do". Amazing.
For this reason, I have no desire to meet famous people whom I have long admired for the fear of their 'infamous' personalities emerging.
As far as the work he does in raising money and awareness...at least he makes an effort. JK
You might notice in my own and posts of others that a certain kinship developed among the many diverse people who came to stand for Terri at Pinellas Park. I am sure many who went with faint faith were touched and went away stronger.
I cannot overstate the effect that atmosphere had on all, even the news people and those who came to protest us. It is quite a sight to see tears welling in one of the tough cops on the scene.
Her family exhibited great faith as well, inspired us lesser souls by their demeanor.
Legal boilerplate. Shirtsleeve translation: OK to snuff your mark, but make it look good to fool the rubes.
With the autopsy threads grabbing attention, plights similar to Terri's continue. Just so that we do not get detracted, it is ongoing. Please also note the info following this post as well. A lot is happening, and that is why the more frequent pings.
I've been contacted by a local women in Denver whose
mom is struggling post surgery. The Mom recently married
and the husband doesn't want her to be treated because
she may be paralyzed. She has been severely overmedicated,
so that she was unable to speak.
Fortunately the heart surgeon was in favor of bringing her
out of the heavy meds so that she can be awake before
any decisions are made.
Mom has a living will, wouldn't you know. Current diagnosis
says she will need dialysis 3 times a week and may be
paralyzed - that apparently meets the "terms" of the living
will, according to Jean. Her Mother, foolishly, signed
everything over to this new spouse, including antique dolls
she and Jean had collected for years.
They meet with the ethics committee this am and he wants
all life support removed.
I wish I had some great advice for her.
As of last night, the sedation had been lowered and she was
speaking. Please join me in praying for Jean's Mom, that
her spirit will prevail and that she will repudiate her living
Update from Cheryl Ford
RN Ford Comments: Rightfully so, I would not be swayed by the autopsy if I were them as well. The autopsy gave a clear revelation to the fact that Michael Schiavo's claims that Terri's trauma was a result of bulimia, low potassium and/or heart attack were all bogus! Now the evidence is clear and right from the medical examiner that the manner of her death was certified as undetermined.
As the loving parents who the Schindlers are; the family who fought long and hard to keep their daughter alive and tried to place her back in the safety of their home, there is not a doubt in my mind they will not rest until they find out what caused their daughter's collapse in February of 1990.
Remember, the most critical piece of information in that autopsy report is the information that said she did NOT collapse from low potassium and that her heart and body were healthy at the time of her collapse.
The results then leave clear and convincing evidence that Terri's trauma did not occur from a sudden bolt of lightening out of the clear blue sky, what Terri's parents have been questioning all along! Do we leave her collapse and the 15 years of misery she was forced to endure, ending in Schiavo's success at torturing Terri to her death via dehydration a mystery? I think not!
Ignorance remains when Felos claims Schiavo is "pleased" at the results.
Any news agencies that leads this story about the autopsy showing no evidence of abuse is a lie. For example, the autopsy clearly showed the abuse of her dental health and hygiene. Secondly, neither of the medical examiners were qualified to do the specialized type of autopsy that can and should have been done in order to determine any history of strangulation. This type of autopsy can and should have been done by the appropriate experts in that field who offered their services even prior to Terri's death, but were declined.
If you would like an electronic copy of the report, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The soon to be released book "Our Fight4Terri" will reveal the past and present medical information that was ignored by the Florida courts. Request your copy at:
Trafford Publishing: Our Fight4Terri
Schiavo's Parents Not Swayed by Autopsy
By MITCH STACY
The Associated Press
Thursday, June 16, 2005; 4:47 AM
LARGO, Fla. -- An autopsy that found Terri Schiavo suffered from severe and irreversible brain-damage has done nothing to sway her parents' position that she deserved to live and may have gotten better with therapy.
The long-awaited report Wednesday found Schiavo's brain had shrunk to about half the normal size for a woman her age when she died March 31 after her feeding tube was disconnected. The autopsy also determined she was blind.
Dr. Jon Thogmartin, District 6 Medical Examiner, right, and Dr. Stephen Nelson, District 10 Medical Examiner, release Terri Schiavo's autopsy results during a news conference Wednesday morning June 15, 2005 in Clearwater, Fla. Schiavo's autopsy backed her husband's contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state, finding that she had massive and irreversible brain damage and was blind, the medical examiner's office said Wednesday .(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Dr. Jon Thogmartin, District 6 Medical Examiner, right, and Dr. Stephen Nelson, District 10 Medical Examiner, release Terri Schiavo's autopsy results during a news conference Wednesday morning June 15, 2005 in Clearwater, Fla. Schiavo's autopsy backed her husband's contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state, finding that she had massive and irreversible brain damage and was blind, the medical examiner's office said Wednesday .(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) (Chris O'meara - AP)
Free E-mail Newsletters
* Today's Headlines & Columnists
See a Sample | Sign Up Now
* Daily Politics News & Analysis
See a Sample | Sign Up Now
* Federal Insider
See a Sample | Sign Up Now
* Breaking News Alerts
See a Sample | Sign Up Now
Bob and Mary Schindler disputed the results, insisting their daughter interacted with them and tried to speak. Their attorney said the family plans to discuss the autopsy with other medical experts and may take some unspecified legal action.
"We knew all along that Terri was profoundly brain damaged," said Schiavo's brother, Bobby Schindler. "We simply wanted to bring her home and care for her. It all goes back to this quality of life."
The findings vindicated Schiavo's husband in his long and vitriolic battle with his in-laws that engulfed the courts, Congress and the White House and divided the country. Michael Schiavo and court-appointed doctors have said she had no hope of recovery. She died at age 41.
The autopsy also found no evidence that Terri Schiavo was strangled or otherwise abused before her sudden 1990 collapse _ countering allegations by the Schindlers that she was abused by her husband.
Yet medical examiners could not say for certain what caused the collapse, long thought to have been brought on by an eating disorder.
George Felos, attorney for Michael Schiavo, said the findings back up their contentions made "for years and years" that Terri Schiavo had no hope of recovery. He said Michael Schiavo plans to release autopsy photographs of her shrunken brain.
"Mr. Schiavo has received so much criticism throughout this case that I'm certain there's a part of him that was pleased to hear these results and the hard science behind them," Felos said.
The Schindlers fought their son-in-law in court over their daughter's fate for nearly seven years, battling to the end with conservatives at their side.
The autopsy counters a widely seen videotape the Schindlers released of Schiavo in her hospice bed. The video showed Schiavo appearing to turn toward her mother's voice and smile. She moaned and laughed. Her head moved up and down and she seemed to follow the progress of a brightly colored Mickey Mouse balloon.
Schiavo's parents said that showed she was aware of her surroundings, but doctors said her reactions were automatic responses and not evidence of thought or consciousness.
Theresa Marie Schindler
December 3, 1963 ~ March 31, 2005
Light a candle For Terri at her online Memorial Website
Memory-of.com - Memorial website in memory of Theresa Schindler (1963-2005)
Visit Terri's site: www.terrisfight.org
Cheryl Ford, RN (Fight4Terri@aol.com) is not affiliated with any other group and works to protect the rights of the disabled community.
Further update from Cheryl Ford
Many thanks to LAScan for forwarding this email!
Dr. Frank brings up some good points.
From tutstar, a link:
This from Frist:
Killing Terri all over again:
Atlanta-Journal Constitution: No surprise of the day.
I hope what happend to Michael Skakel happens to Michael Schiavo! Mark Fuhrman is just the man to bring him down!
Nothing makes people of all walks of life stand together stronger than when you cut through all the junk and get down to what matters most - life.
So proud you were able to be there, and believe me - I cried right here in my own home - after every interview, news report, and as the threads of the denied appeals appeared. My heart was breaking for Terri, her family, and for all of you so dedicated to her life.
That had to have been one of the proudest moments I have experienced as a FReeper so far.
Thank YOU, for all you did, and for keeping her memory alive. I may be stuck in Kentucky, and unable to protest in person - but rest assured, I can fly emails off at the drop of a hat, and will do so anytime a FReeper friend is standing up for Justice.
Thanks again. JK
Hi, 8mm & Les. Thanks for posting that info. Pls keep updated as you receive more info ... adding my prayers to all others.
Thanks for your post, JK. As I was considering everything during my walk this morning, how things have played out, I was reassured that God is over all, and that His blessings continue for all who love Him and can see His hand, His Providence. I just want to be on His side, at His side, faithful to do what He gives me to do!
Thanks for the ping. My prayers are going up for Jean's Mom. Please keep us updated.
Hi B B, Will do.
Ex-Sheriff Gets Probation in Schiavo Case
Fuhrman: Schiavo's Collapse Still a Mystery
The trick is remaining Faithful, not becoming bitter, and walking in His Will.
I am with ya - I absolutely want to be counted as one of His, and not of this world. Take care, JK
THURSDAY AFTERNOON - BREAKING NEWS: I think the Republican Party is trying to do something proper (too bad they waited until Terri was gone) but nonetheless, Governor Jeb Bush today held a press conference wherein he announced that he is asking State Attorney Bernie McCabe to investigate why it took so long for Michael Schiavo to get help for Terri while she was lying on the floor in the collapse. It was on local television.
Accept my apologies if I've already pinged you.
Is Jeb trying to save the Fla Republican Party? Further, PVS is misdiagnosed over 43% of the time. That part of the autopsy is in dispute because there's evidence of Terri interacting with her nurses, with Monsignor Malonowski, responding to Atty Gibbs, interacting with her mom, dad, Suzanne and Bobby. I believe she could have been rehabilitated...
I am mad at the members of the GOP who are left wingers, beyond liberal. I wish Judge Greer would get tossed overboard.
Remember Greer said that he didn't want to revisit Terri's initial collapse. Well, hello. We are going to revisit it now if SA Bernie McCabe doesn't stonewall.
Maybe it's working that we are pointing out the corrupt Pinellas County. Something is causing Jeb to ask for an investigation.
There are okay GOP and really bad ones. Will you accept that premise? We are talking about the ones who let Terri and her family down.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.