Via Media

Via Media


The Awakening

posted by awelborn

Over a week ago, the WaPo ran this lengthy piece on Sarah Scantlin, severely injured in an accident twenty years ago,

Sarah, lying in this bed nearly 20 years, brain-damaged, blank, speechless, immobile, staring out the same window. Couldn’t talk to the people who came to talk to her. Couldn’t say change the channel. Couldn’t say shut up. Couldn’t say scratch that itch . . .

Sarah, who 20 years ago was run down by a drunk driver, the impact throwing her into the path of a second car that slammed her forehead and left her so damaged nobody understood how her body survived, let alone her mind.

Sarah. They didn’t know that as she lay in that bed, with her mouth gaping, face wretched in a silent agony, body atrophying, feet gnarling, fists clenched across her chest, tight, as if she were afraid, big, blue eyes staring out like she was trapped . . . They didn’t know that as she lay there, something in her brain was mending.

People came and people went. Some grew up and some grew old. Some gave up and went away, guiltily diving into their own lives as Sarah Scantlin lay in that bed. Never believing she would do anything more than lie there and stare into oblivion, or wherever it is that brain-damaged people go, hovering between now and then, nowhere and somewhere, just out of reach.

Then six months ago, Sarah came back.

CBS Morning News is running an interview with Sarah today and tomorrow



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Mary Kay

posted August 4, 2005 at 9:52 am


I am thrilled for Sarah and her family.
The tragedy of Terri Schiavo will never go away.



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John P Sheridan

posted August 4, 2005 at 10:46 am


“The Scantlins were never interested in Sarah’s story getting entangled in Terri Schiavo’s.
‘They are not remotely connected,’ James Scantlin says. ‘We turned down Larry King. And Fox. The religious media said she woke from a coma after 20 years. She was in a coma one month. . . . The Schiavos called us. We didn’t return the calls.'”
This remark rubs me the wrong way.



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Touchy Tech

posted August 4, 2005 at 11:07 am


It does seem rather odd that the Scantlins, surrounded by neurologists telling that they didn’t know this and didn’t know that about their daughter’s condition would take at face value the “persistent vegetative state” pronouncement about a woman, whom if reports be true, acted remarkably like their own daughter. I think that perhaps there was a strong emotional component to this reaction against and rejection of Terri and her family.



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Jimmy Huck

posted August 4, 2005 at 11:13 am


“I think that perhaps there was a strong emotional component to this reaction against and rejection of Terri and her family.”
I think you are wrong and uncharitable to this long-suffering family. I don’t think the father’s comment had anything to do with his feelings for or about Terri Schiavo and her family personally. I think pure and simply that he didn’t want his daughter’s life to become a media circus and a tool of religious politics. His animosity, if you can say there is any animosity, was towards the media, not towards the Schiavos.



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Nancy

posted August 4, 2005 at 11:18 am


The Scantlins were under no obligation whatever to become involved in the media circus (or the bitter family feud) which surrounded the Schiavo case. It sounds like they didn’t want their daughter to be used as a weapon by either side.
I’d have to agree with them, I think, were I in their position.



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Ken

posted August 4, 2005 at 11:24 am


Nancy:
AT LAST! Somebody else who recognized the Schaivo case as showing all the signs of a family blood feud! (With Terri as both the Maguffin and a weapon for either side.)



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Jack

posted August 4, 2005 at 12:21 pm


“The Schiavos called us. We didn’t return the calls.'”
He probably meant the Schindlers. I doubt Michael Shiavo called anybody and he was the only “Shiavo family” member who had a connection to Teri. I wonder how many people who said they were supporting “the Schiavo family” to pollsters really meant the Schindlers?
The rest of the story though was inspiring.



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Touchy Tech

posted August 4, 2005 at 12:30 pm


Jim and Nancy,
You would be right *if* all the Scantlins did was say they didn’t want to get involved with all of that. But in the article, they went out of there way to say that their daughter’s case was nothing like Terri’s because she was in a “PVS.” It seems to me that they went out of their way to diss Terri’s parents.
And Ken, what does it matter if that whole mess became a “blood feud?” Does that make Terri’s court ordered death by dehydration any less appalling? If one of your loved ones or something you valued highly was threatened by another member of your family, the situation may very well become a feud, but would that make you wrong to try and defend that person or thing?



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Jimmy Huck

posted August 4, 2005 at 1:15 pm


Touchy Tech – A question: Why would the Schindlers/Schiavos, unsolicited, call this family during the midst of their own tragedy? To express sympathy for Sarah or to provide an unselfish gesture of support for the family? I doubt it. Doesn’t the fact that the Schindlers/Schiavos even called these people in the midst of their own media frenzy, people who they don’t even know and apparently never expressed any kind of solidarity with previously, strike you as a bit odd? I suspect that the answer lies in the politics of the Schiavo situation and the attempt by the Schindlers/Schiavos – whoever they be – to manipulate and use not only Terri Schiavo (bad enough as that was) as a religio-political football, but also Sarah Scantlin. Thanks, but no thanks. I’m with Sarah’s father on this one. And even if Sarah’s father had “diss-ed” the Schiavos/Schindlers, which I don’t think he did, he would have had every right to do so. From where I sit, the Schiavos/Schindlers had no business in placing the unsolicited call in the first place.



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Boniface McInnes

posted August 4, 2005 at 1:35 pm


“Why would the Schindlers/Schiavos, unsolicited, call this family during the midst of their own tragedy? To express sympathy for Sarah or to provide an unselfish gesture of support for the family? I doubt it.” Jimmy Huck
“I think you are wrong and uncharitable to this long-suffering family.” Jimmy Huck
Posterior Self-Correction, ain’t it grand?



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Touchy Tech

posted August 4, 2005 at 2:29 pm


Jim,
Well, since the phone call was never returned, we can only speculate about what the Schendlers wanted. I can’t say that I see very much charity in your attempt at mind reading their intentions. You’ll notice that it wasn’t claimed the the Schendlers called again, so what does that mean? You seem to know these things.



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Jimmy Huck

posted August 4, 2005 at 2:43 pm


“Posterior Self-Correction, ain’t it grand?”
Ditto, Boniface. I guess we’re all full of smug, self-righteous kindness towards one another.



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Boniface McInnes

posted August 4, 2005 at 3:07 pm


Jimmy Huck,
Ditto what? Words you previously posted were a fine corrective to words you more recently posted, hence posterior self-correction.
To properly use “ditto”, you’d need to be able to do the same; that is, correct a recent comment of mine with another previous (posterior) one.
Of course, I suppose one could take any use of “posterior” as some sort of name-calling because it is a common euphemism for a portion of anatomy. I wish I could take credit for such a clever pun, but sadly I cannot.
I have plenty of smug self-righteousness at times, this I do not deny. But it hasn’t exactly been on display here, has it?



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pacetua

posted August 4, 2005 at 3:18 pm


Isn’t it just remotely possible that the Schindlers, if they called, were hoping against hope that the Scantlins might be able to point to some clue in diagnosis or treatment protocols or therapy that would in some way help Terri? Why do so many assume that all the Schindlers wanted was to add Sarah’s experience to the “media circus?”



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Mike

posted August 4, 2005 at 3:40 pm


Of course we don’t know what the Schiavo’s/Schindler’s intentions were but to assume ill-intentions seems rather cynical.



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Jimmy Huck

posted August 4, 2005 at 3:45 pm


It’s not the “posterior self correction” that get’s the “ditto.” What get’s the “ditto” is the intent of your remarks, quite uncharitable mind you, to belittle me in some way by the smug and uncharitable “ain’t it grand” that follows. Wouldn’t it have been enough for you just to say “posterior self-correction” and left it at that? No, ineed. Then it wouldn’t have demonstrated your smug sense of moral self-righteousness.
You want to get all nitpicky about the meaning of words in their literal vs. contextual sentences. Well, then, Mr. Literalist, let me ask you specifically: What, specifically, is the posterior self-correction you’re trying to point out. Tell me how what I said in the first quote you referenced is somehow corrected by the second one. What, in other words, is so uncharitable about the first comment of mine? After all, it was mainly just two questions followed by a three word statement of doubt. Perhaps you take my “I doubt it” comment as the uncharitable part, and hence your “posterior self-correction” comment. Is that it?
Let me break it to you: Your snarky in-your-face comeuppance “ain’t it grand” comment is no more “charitable” than my “I doubt it” comment, if it could even be considered as such; and as it even remotely relates to some “posterior self-correction” regarding charitable comments (a correction, in fact, which you are making, not me), you’re right there with me, my friend; and ain’t it grand?



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Jimmy Huck

posted August 4, 2005 at 3:52 pm


Look, I’m afraid our little squabble, of which I assume a good bit of responsibilty, is really detracting from the real happy miracle of Sarah Scantlin’s recovery. I’m going to try to keep that in focus from now on. Sorry for getting carried away.



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Sonetka

posted August 4, 2005 at 4:57 pm


I can see where both families are coming from; the Scantlins understandably didn’t want their daughter to become a weapon in an enormous and ugly PR war (the defensive “She’s not like that AT ALL” reaction might have been as much to fend off the media as the Schindler family). The Schindlers – who can say what their motivations were. I imagine that any family in that particular situation has a tendency to get very lonely; who can really understand what they’re going through, on a visceral level, except for another family who’ve experienced essentially the same thing? They may have just wanted to talk to someone else who could speak their language, so to speak.
And even if they were calling to try and get the Scantlins to support them – can you really blame them? Their daughter was on the verge of a court-ordered death by starvation/dehydration. In that situation, I’d grasp at any straw I could find and to hell with what other people think. In a life and death situation, the twitterings of strangers about what Poor Taste I exhibited would not be a great concern. It’s like people who criticize the relatives of high-profile missing cases for constantly hogging the TV cameras – if it were your loved one who had disappeared God knows where, you’d be grabbing every second of air time you could, because the more people know about the situation, the more chance there is that you might eventually get an answer. Taste and etiquette don’t enter into it.



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Touchy Tech

posted August 4, 2005 at 5:26 pm


Sonetka,
Amen!



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Mark Groves

posted August 4, 2005 at 5:27 pm


This case isn’t about controversy, it’s about respect for life. Basic needs of nutrition, hydration, and cleansing are not optional.
The confusion starts when the patient doesn’t respond in ways sufficient to reward our attention. Then we look to impose a “persistent vegetative state” status and testify that she always said she didn’t want to live this way. Finally, we rationalize ourselves to withdrawing food and water.
Of course the other model is to send love to the patient in whatever ways one can. Talk, smile, sing, hold a hand, pray, reminisce — all from a posture of continuously doing what you can do, and not with a view to having the goodwill returned. Many of us fail to appreciate the grace available in these situations.
It sounds like the persons entrusted with Sarah’s care followed this better model. May God grant that the similarly vulnerable have similarly loving care givers.



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Nancy

posted August 4, 2005 at 6:11 pm


And even if they were calling to try and get the Scantlins to support them – can you really blame them? Their daughter was on the verge of a court-ordered death by starvation/dehydration. In that situation, I’d grasp at any straw I could find and to hell with what other people think. In a life and death situation, the twitterings of strangers about what Poor Taste I exhibited would not be a great concern.
Well, certainly. I might do the same.
But that doesn’t mean that Sarah’s family wanted to or had any obligation to get involved in an unseemly family feud which had nothing whatever to do with them. Apparently there was not, in Sarah’s family, any such division.
We don’t know much about Sarah’s case, because her family has – commendably – managed to get along internally and has not posted volumes of information and disinformation on the internet.
Theresa said ahead of time she didn’t want to be kept alive under the conditions in which she found herself. We don’t know what if anything Sarah said about this before her accident. It is possible that Theresa was wrong to make that judgment; it is also possible that she was right. It’s hard for me to know what “right” and “wrong” mean in this context.
In any case we need to rejoice with Sarah and her family. Apparently her father is attempting to distance this case from Theresa’s, and I’m with him.



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Touchy Tech

posted August 4, 2005 at 6:20 pm


“This case isn’t about controversy, it’s about respect for life. Basic needs of nutrition, hydration, and cleansing are not optional.”
Well said! This is the kind of thing that can happen when life is chosen. The hard road; the road unforeseen is often the road God chooses for us in the high adventure of fidelity.



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Radactrice

posted August 4, 2005 at 6:21 pm


Very charitable to think that the Schlinders contacted these people only to get some medical advice. The cynic in me says that one of their represetatives contacted them to get more publicity for Terri and to drag this poor family into the spotlight.



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Sonetka

posted August 4, 2005 at 6:43 pm


Nancy – I never said they had any such obligation, in fact, I was positing reasons earlier as to why they wouldn’t have wanted to get involved. But I really cannot blame the Schindlers much even if they *were* trying to use this get more publicity for their daughter. She was going to die, and they were desperate.



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Touchy Tech

posted August 4, 2005 at 6:48 pm


Radactrice,
I fail to grasp the fascination some on this thread have of piling completely speculative and therefore unsubstantiated dark theories about a phone call from the Schlinders that was never returned. I commend Jimmy for recognizing the uselessness and folly of such gossip. I think that Mark is right on in his celebration of a choice for life that Sarah’s loving parents made and stuck too over a long and painful twenty years.



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Nancy

posted August 4, 2005 at 6:54 pm


Well, as I tried to say, Sonetka, I can’t much blame Theresa’s parents. Then again, I can’t much blame Sarah’s parents either.
Both sets of parents behaved, so far as we can tell, in what they severally sincerely perceived to be the interests of their respective daughters.
No blame.



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TT

posted August 4, 2005 at 6:55 pm


…piling up…



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Radactrice

posted August 4, 2005 at 6:57 pm


If you’ve dealt with the public much, you begin to ascribe dark motives to most things. Not the most Christian thing to do, I’ll admit.



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Nancy

posted August 4, 2005 at 7:09 pm


Let’s deal with the perception that if only Theresa’s caregivers had been more patient, she, like Sarah, might have “come back.”
We haven’t seen any brain scans of Sarah, nor do we have much other hard information about the extent of the damage. We do know, now at autopsy, that Theresa’s “higher” brain was entirely destroyed.
All the reports I have seen about Sarah say that this is a very extraordinary event.
That fact does not bear directly upon Theresa’s situation. That she could not be counted upon to be the very unusual person is a given, especially considering the results at autopsy. The real issue legally in Theresa’s case was what she wanted. A court found that what she wanted was to be unplugged from that feeding tube.
Had Sarah expressed such a desire, and had her family followed out on that, she would not be with us today. That would speak to Sarah’s lack of foresight.
A very close high school friend of my son’s, a beautiful and fine 23 year old guy, collapsed suddenly a few months ago at a party. By the time the paramedics got his heart started again, his brain was irreparably damaged. After brain scans showed no activity, he was disconnected from life support.
Did Ben’s parents do the wrong thing? Had Ben expressed any ideas on this matter? Maybe we should be careful about barging into private family matters here.
The Schindler/Schiavo family got into a bitter blood feud on this topic, which the Schindlers spread all over the internet.
May the saints pray for us all.
Welcome back to us, Sarah!



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Touchy Tech

posted August 4, 2005 at 7:25 pm


Nancy,
Perhaps you need to believe what you write about Terri’s case because it makes you feel better, but don’t expect too many others who fallowed that sad case for all of those months to buy it. We really don’t know what Terri’s condition was, and all of your silly blabbering about “blood feuds” and such changes that not one iota. What is it with you? You act sane and reasonable one day and the next flying off the handle. Maybe you should take a break from lawyering and go on a cruse (I wish I could join you!)



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Nancy

posted August 4, 2005 at 7:34 pm


Mmm..Touchy Tech…maybe the Bahamas?
I’ve never met Theresa or her parents or her widower. All I know, like most of us, is what I read on the internet.
I’m basing my opinion on the court case reports and the report of the man who did the autopsy. I have no reason to think any of these people to be unreliable or biased.
A trial – that’s how we do it here – was held to determine Theresa’s stated wishes. An autopsy was held – again, that’s how we do it – to determine the state of her body at her death.
Am I a judge? Did I hear the facts? Did I make a determination? Am I a physician? Do I do autopsies? I’m relying on the experts who performed these functions. Are they all wrong? And your evidence for this contention would be what again?
But back to the cruise. You’re male, I hope. How cute are you?



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cmhl

posted August 4, 2005 at 9:59 pm


just wanted to let you know I enjoyed reading your blog. and no matter what, it is amazing this girl woke up after so long in a coma.



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Donald R. McClarey

posted August 5, 2005 at 6:10 am


“The cynic in me says that one of their represetatives contacted them to get more publicity for Terri and to drag this poor family into the spotlight.”
Good for them! To attempt to save my daughter from a death by dehydration I would do the same in a heartbeat.



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Ken

posted August 5, 2005 at 3:49 pm


If you’ve dealt with the public much, you begin to ascribe dark motives to most things.
Also if you’ve found yourself caught in the middle of a family blood feud.
The mindset of a family feud — growing to eclipse everything else — is Win At All Costs. You have to WIN!, you have to make the other side LOSE!, and there is no such thing as collateral damage or innocent bystanders. Others have value only as weapons to stick it to the other side.
And the blood feud in my family? It lasted almost thirty years, ending only when everybody on one side aged and died.



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Nancy

posted August 5, 2005 at 4:10 pm


Nice description, Ken. Fits the Schindler/Schiavo situation too.
You go out in public on the internet. You accuse your son-in-law of every vile crime you can think of. He beat your daughter senseless, that’s the real cause of her disability. He deliberately delayed calling 911. He’s after her money (of which there isn’t any anymore.) On and on. None of these charges has a scrap of evidence to support it.
How unseemly. Even if you sincerely believe these charges, the place to make them is not on a public website.
Of course Theresa’s parents were upset, and that forms some excuse. But still. If these charges could have been proven, they should have been proven in a court of law. (They couldn’t prove any of this.) If not, telling the world all this stuff is…unseemly.



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