Is This A Description Of A Woman Who Is A Vegetable?
From The Corner, comments by William Cheshire, a neurologist:
“There is a remarkable moment in the videotape of the September 3, 2002 examination by Dr. Hannesfahr that seemed to go unnoticed at the time. At 2:44 p.m., Dr. Hammesfahr had just turned Terri onto her right side to examine her back with a painful sharp stimulus (a sharp piece of wood), to which Terri had responded with signs of discomfort. Well after he ceased applying the stimulus and had returned Terri to a comfortable position, he says to her parents, “So we are going to have to roll her over….” Immediately Terri cries. She vocalizes a crying sound, “Ugh, ha, ha, ha,” presses her eyebrows together, and sadly grimaces. It is important to note that, at that moment, no on is touching Terri or causing actual pain. Rather, she appears to comprehend the meaning of Dr. Hammesfahr’s comment and signals her anticipation of pain. This response suggests some degree of language processing and interpretation at the level of the cerebral cortex. It also suggests that she may be aware of pain beyond what could be explained by simple reflex withdrawal.”
“He states that “There remain, in fact, huge uncertainties in regard to Terri’s true neurological status.” She hasn’t been fully evaluated by a neurologist for three years, he says, has not had an MRI or a PET. And some of the technology to determine if a patient is in a minimally conscious state has only emerged in the last few years. “New facts have come to light in the last few years that should be weighed in the neurological assessment of Terri Schiavo.”
He writes that Terri Schiavo “demonstrates a number of behaviors that I believe cast a reasonable doubt on the prior diagnosis of PVS.” Among these observations, he pinpoints: “Her behavior is frequently context-specific. For example, her facial expression brightens and she smiles in response to the voice of familiar persons such as her parents or her nurses…Several times I witness Terri briefly, albeit inconsistently, laugh in response to a humoroius comment someone in the room had made. I did not see her laugh in the absence of someone else’s laughter.”