Being able to think things through, and being able to articulate those thoughts to others, are easy to take for granted. However, this is the gift for which I am most grateful.
As a person with a disability, it is easy to get so bogged down in the circumstances which make my life difficult (and, as a result, lead me to ask the inevitable question– “Why me?”), that gratitude for life’s seemingly little blessings can be easily forgotten. Yes, I use a wheelchair, and yes, some of the simplest tasks, which others do as naturally as breathing, are challenges for me.
Those facts cannot be disputed, nor should they be minimized.
But that is far from the entire picture.
In October, the world became aware of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman whom doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for the past thirteen years, and who is literally caught in a tug-of-war for her life. Schiavo’s husband, Michael, won a battle in court to have his wife’s feeding tube removed, after lawyers convinced the court that she would not want to live if she were unable to respond or care for herself. As a result, Terri’s feeding tube was removed. Without it, doctors said Terri would die within ten days.
Other relatives disagreed with the court’s decision. They said that Terri is responsive to stimuli, and given proper rehab, she may have the ability to make a partial recovery. So, they lobbied Governor Jeb Bush to intercede. He did, and Terri’s feeding tube was reinserted. Michael Schiavo has vowed to continue to fight to honor his wife’s wishes, and have her die in the manner she would have wanted.
Caught in the middle of this is a woman who is unable to verbalize her feelings about what her fate should be. The final chapter in the case has yet to be written.
Terri Schiavo’s plight re-emphasizes the importance of being able to communicate rational thought with others and its link to being truly free. Most people that have the ability to tell people how and what they feel, barely give that right a second thought. As a person who lives with CP (cerebral palsy), who is blessed to be able to share my thoughts with others while so many others with varying disabilities can’t, I am truly grateful.
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