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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 24, 2005 / 13 Adar II, 5765

Sandwiched between feeding tubes: The lessons

By Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Our daughter, Claire, has had a feeding tube for 10 years, and my mother is closing in on one year with hers. I am generationally sandwiched between feeding tube patients. Like Terri Schiavo, no one is really sure how much breaks through my daughter's or mother's neurological remnants. Also like Mrs. Schiavo, neither needs a respirator. To the clinical, the three are in a "vegetative state." The inexperienced callously refer to them as clumps of flesh that hover in a puzzling state for inexplicable reasons.

But those of us who live with and care for these magnificent souls question the analyses hurled about as cherished life hangs in the balance. I offer my lessons from a decade of exposure to the "vegetative state."

Doctors are almost always wrong. While I have the highest respect for the physicians who have treated our daughter and my mother and will be forever grateful for their selfless efforts and care, I know, and perhaps they do too, that these patients are unique. Doctors are inevitably taken aback at some point by Claire and patients like her who fight for their lives. If I had dug my daughter's grave each time a doctor told me she wouldn't live, I'd be in China by now. Their first death prediction was six months, then it was three years. When Claire turned 10, the good docs called her an outlier and threw in the towel on death predictions. Claire turned 18 two months ago. Doctors read CAT scans, MRIs, and EEGs, and conclude that, clinically, there ain't nothin' there. But doctors are not with these patients 24-7. Our Claire has a perfectly flat EEG. From what I can determine, Terri Schiavo is higher functioning than our Claire. Yet each morning when we touch the bottom of her shirt to prepare for her shower, she closes her eyes in anticipation of that shirt coming over her face. She clinches her teeth if you put a washcloth to her face because washcloths mean a good mouth cleaning and she, like all 3-6-month infants (Claire's developmental age) wants no part of that. She turns her head when you say her name. Claire's smiles come mostly in response to her mother's and her father's voices.

They feel, they flinch, they startle, they turn, they moan, they react, they have some memory, and no one truly knows how much gets through, what is serendipitous, and what is a real response. When in doubt, doubt the doctors.

Spirituality engulfs the vegetative. Be afraid. The life that exists in these struggling frames has had the judicial imprimatur of "So not worth it" placed upon it and the plug (tube) pulled. Yet the life that resides in these bodies so ravaged by immobility scares the livin' daylights out of me. If you already believe in a g-d, these souls will confirm your faith. If you don't believe, well, I have seen atheists and agnostics humbled, silenced, and in tears as they stumbled upon a spiritual experience that caught them unawares. These are the very elect of beings. Those who allow these lives to be taken, especially in reliance upon clinical reports, engage in the sentencing of innocents. Leo the Dog, hurled to his death in a California road rage case, engendered more outrage and due process.

These souls should have the rights and respect of cats, dogs, ANWR moose, and death row inmates. If I turned our cat loose on the streets and refused her daily Little Sheba rations, I'd be charged with misdemeanors galore and sentenced to community service at the pound. And our cat has no cognitive skills, save for the ability to sniff bumpers. Scott Peterson will enjoy hearings and representation over the next decade as he sits on death row, where he will die a natural death. Where is Terri Schiavo's lawyer? Who does indeed speak for her? When our Claire turned 18, my husband and I had to petition to become her guardians. We were investigated, went to court, and paid for a lawyer for Claire so that the state of Arizona could be assured that Claire was in the right home with decent folk. There was no clamoring at the court house for custody of Claire, and the hearing was mercifully short. Three months and $972 later, not including copying costs, we were appointed guardians of our own child. How do Florida courts get away with less, not for just guardianship, but for the life of the ward herself? If Congress can dictate disability benefits, medical privacy, and any number of long-term care issues, it should make public policy on euthanasia for the disabled who have no living will.

We are not here for them. They are here for us. I don't know why my mother has had to suffer physically at the end of her life.

I have never understood why our Claire has had a life filled with illness, epilepsy, and deformity, or why we have a child who will never utter her first words. But my family and I have learned more from these two non-speaking souls than in any of our many studies for degrees. We have had our priorities shaped and our characters molded through their stoic presence. Eliminating them would mean no more diaper changes, no more feeding bags, and no more "1 - 2 -3 lift!" as we struggle to rotate their positions. But if I lost my Claire or my mother, I would spend a lifetime longing to be of service again, to have just one more time to feel the warmth of those neurologically curled fingers.

I fear for the clinical callousness of this tube removal. We turn our backs on the closest thing this world has to offer when it comes to angels. This removal is a giant leap backwards as mankind denies its spirituality and harms the helpless. I worry about the precedent for our Claire and my mom, but I fear for us.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.

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© 2005, Marianne M. Jennings

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