MARCH 21, 2005

Dear Christie - as promised - here is my second report regarding Terri Schiavo

I met with Terri, at her bedside, near the break of dawn. Good morning Terry, it's nice to see you again. I have invited some friends to join us this morning, I said. I introduced her to two infamous professors that I had met just a few days earlier. My association with them was almost too good to be true. They had created a new miraculous device. It was truly a startling invention. They had created an apparatus, a contraption of shiny dials and wires and electrodes and what have you, and they were capable of attaching this apparatus to Terri's brain, in such and such a manner, which would allow us to have a candid conversation.

I asked Terri if she would be interested.

Trying not to sound unsympathetic but also knowing that, as a reporter, I had a duty, I then went on to explain that I would conduct the first interview and that it would be exclusive. During the course of events that were to take place over the next few days, she could speak to other reporters and her parents, but I wanted her to understand that I got first shot, and that I would own the interview should an ownership issue arise.

Well, she seemed more than delighted, and nodded repeatedly when I asked if she clearly understood the terms of our agreement.

Okay, I said to her, we’re glad to have you aboard. She smiled. You’re one brave little girl, I told her, and she smiled. And then I turned to the professors and nodded to them. Go ahead fellas, I said, start wiring, she’s game.

It took longer than I expected to get her wired and I began to get a little edgy. Listen I said, are you sure this will work? Absolutely, I was told, relax, go for a walk, grab a coffee or something.

So while the professors were twirling this dial and that dial and moving wires from one side of her head to the other I darted out into the hall and down to the cafeteria. I grabbed a coffee and a piece of chocolate mocha cake with rum filling. I thought it best to have my coffee in the cafeteria rather than return to the room so I looked for the smoking area. No smoking area in the cafeteria I was informed so I ate my rum cake and took my coffee outside, where I lit a cigarette and took a long hard drag. Leaning up against the cold hard bricks, I took a sip of coffee and thought to myself, I wonder what it’s going to feel like for her, and I wonder what words of wisdom will come out of her mouth. I leaned back, took another sip of coffee and wondered some more. Two cigarettes later and my coffee all gone, I decided to venture inside and see how the professors were coming along. But the cold hard bricks that I was leaning up against saw things a little different. It was as if they would not let me go. They seemed to press upon my back even harder the more I contemplated returning to Terri’s room. Maybe I should shy away from questions about her feelings, I thought.

The bricks seemed to be jabbing at my spine and controlling my thoughts. It was almost surreal I remember thinking, I’ve never felt bricks quite like that before and I’ve leaned up against my share of buildings. And then it hit me! I stepped away from the wall then turned and faced it. Thank you I said. I had come to a realization. I’ll just stay with the intellect, just ask for her opinion, I’ll shy away from the emotional aspects, the touchy how does it make you feel questions that Barbara is best at.

I returned to the room shortly after ten and the professors were all but done. They were running a few sound checks and rearranging some equipment when I walked in. Hey! Great timing! one of them shouted, and he startled me. Terri damn near jumped out of the chair! Whoa, bring it down a notch, I said, waving my hand in a downward motion.

I should explain here that while these two professors are recognized as best in class, they are not wizards. The equipment that they were credited with inventing does not permit a person in Terri’s condition to actually talk out loud. Their equipment, as magical as it is, does not move her mouth. She will not be able to speak as clearly as Stephen Hawking, who also has a machine that assists him, in fact she won’t even be talking aloud.

The conversation that I was about to conduct would be taking place inside her head. I will ask the questions out loud because that’s the way I conduct interviews, but I must speak into the apparatus that is wired to her head. The apparatus then sends the message to her brain cells for processing.

Her response takes place solely inside her head and the clever apparatus is able to decipher what is going on and then form the words and amplify them and play them through a set of speakers. It was absolutely amazing. There is no other way to describe it.

And so I began, This has happened to you a number of times, I said, what do you have to say this time that you were not able to express the last two times they pulled your feeding tube?

She looked at me and smiled but she did not respond.

Don’t speak directly to her, I was told, speak to the apparatus. Speak slowly and pronounce the words carefully, as careful as you would if you were the anchor of a major news outlet. Try again.

This has happened to you a number of times, I said slowly while speaking directly to the apparatus. What do you have to say this time that you were not able to express the last two times they pulled your feeding tube?

She looked at me with those big brown eyes and I could see the words were now twirling in her head. I don't feel like rehashing it again, she said. Oh come on, I said, don’t be like that, there a lot of people depending on you. She snapped her head to attention and her eyes seemed to well up with tears as she gathered her strength and she blurted inside her own head, The whole thing is like so fucking nuts! It really is!

Now, now, I said, calm down, I’m here beside you and your mom and dad are just down the hall. Tell me, I said, this time around are you more disgusted than you were during the other two failed attempts to starve you into submission?

Well fuck yeah, I think I am, she said. To think that I wasted my afternoon…she continued on, and here the voice seemed to trail off. I signaled frantically to one of the professors and he rushed over and cranked one of the dials. Jesus Christ, I whispered to him, that may have been a gem and we missed it. Then suddenly out of nowhere, Mano-Womano! she shouted and shook the room. I covered my ears and the professor furiously adjusted the dial. Oh how dumb, Terri said, and the volume of her voice was just perfect. I gave the professor a hug, good going, I said. I’ll be all right, but listen I said while rubbing my ear. That was some blast and I think it may have done some damage to my ear, do you think we could take a short break and have one of the doctors take a look at it. Maybe apply a little ointment or something? Everyone thought it was a good idea what with workman’s compensation being what it is. I’ll be right back, darling, I said, hang in there I’ll be back in a jiffy.

She smiled and seemed to move her hand as if telling me to run along and hurry back. Just to be on the safe side I saw four specialists who took up the rest of the morning and three more doctors in the afternoon. By the time they were finished examining me I realized that it was approaching 5 o’clock and I was just ravished.

I thanked the doctors for their kindness then tore down to the cafeteria. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go Italian with a cool glass of red wine or Mexican with a cold beer. I settled for a burger, fries and a cola, because that was the recommendation from the kitchen and I always side with the cook.

Next thing you know I looked at my watch and it was damn near 5:30. I shook my head in disbelief, how time flies I thought. Just then one of the nurses that I’d seen in the hall came running into the cafeteria and marched adamantly towards me. Come quickly she said, Terri is calling for you.

Without the slightest hesitation I grabbed the last French fry on my plate and marched through the cafeteria with her. I matched her stride for stride as we walked briskly toward Terri’s room. Is she okay? I asked. The nurse looked at me with a strange look in her eye and her fast walk broke into a trot. Before I could say Bo Diddly she had turned the corner and was half way up the next corridor. I ran and caught up with her and trotted along side. Say no more she said, as we approached Terri’s room, we must be quiet when we step inside. No sooner did I step inside the room when I heard this loud wail! I felt that I had arrived just in time.

I rushed to Terri’s side and placed my hand on her forehead, hush little darling, I said into the apparatus, I have not forsaken you. These words and nothing more seemed to do the trick and Terri settled back, content to hear my voice, and I saw that she was smiling once again.

I’m sorry I was gone so long, I explained, could we carry on where we left off? I asked. She acted as if she didn’t hear me, which led me to believe that her smile was a bit of a ruse, I could sense that she was still a little miffed and upset with me. It’s 5:53 Terri and the sun is beginning to go down, I said.

5:53 - 5:54 - 5:55 - and I don't give a fuck! She shouted. Where have you been?

I didn’t want to tell her about the dreadful examinations I had to endure and the length of time in between and I certainly didn’t want to mention my stop at the cafeteria, I felt it would diminish the trust we had established. So I said nothing. I hung my head in shame for all to see and I think she sympathized with me. But then she seemed to turn a little bitter again.

This is the most sickening thing I’ve ever had to do, she said. Expressing myself under these conditions. It's as if the whole world has frowned on me. No one wants to side with me. I will have to go it alone! But before we get into it I want you to know it's 5:56 - 5:57 - 5:58 - and I don't give a fuck about it. You all carry on and kill me with your logic, cause all I have to say is I think you're all fucked!

There was little more I could say at this point. I could see that she was in no mood to carry on a civil conversation and there was not much sense asking her the next question on my list. You get some rest now, I said, it’s been a long tiring day and with all this apparatus around I can see where it’s best if we come back in the morning after you’ve had a good nights rest. Good night Terri, I said. I’ll see you first thing in the morning when were both feeling refreshed. And then I exclaimed to her, if you promise to be good I might bring a special guest for you to meet. A celebrity! I said. How would you like that?

She smiled and gave me a little wave and I thought oh how wonderful. It was reminiscent of the pope.

I find that the mere mention of a celebrity often gets a positive response and I wanted to leave on a positive note. I knew she would be disappointed the following morning if I showed up by myself and I didn’t really have any connections that could deliver a celebrity but I wanted her to have a fanciful rest. And besides, I didn’t think she would know one celebrity from another. I’m sure one of the young staff members wouldn’t mind dressing up and carrying a guitar. It’s not every day that you get to be introduced as the newest rock and roll star. As for Terri, if we ham it up just right, I think she’ll be thrilled.


Dear Christie: I whipped up that Terri Schiavo note really fast and furiously as you could probably tell. Not a lot of time for punctuation, so I took some liberty there – but I think it’s readable. If I were to take some time and work with it I'm sure it could be improved immensely, but I'm not really all that interested.

But it did get me to thinking so I whipped this up quickly as well. I also have no intention to follow it up and try to improve upon it. I see no cause, it's just for fun. You see, I have a problem that I don't like to discuss and doing what I do – think and think and try to get involved - helps to alleviate my condition.

If I am deeply involved in thought, whether reading something of interest, or trying to create something interesting, I have no time for the inner sounds that try to dominate me. This constant fucking noise in my head seems to subside somewhat. When I am bored or inattentive, a-chorus-of-whining-children try to take over, and I wish they would all drop dead or join some other glee-club!

Alpha & The Omega

If smoking were eliminated would health care costs go up or down? This is a difficult question and requires some in-depth thought. I believe costs would plummet if the following became the average scene, but we know that it will not: People, men and women alike, live to be 97 years old in perfect health. But when they awaken on the first day of their 98th year they notice sudden changes have taken place when they look in the mirror. They discover their faces have become dismal and have collapsed like a dried-out prune. That healthy plum that went to bed the night before has aged instantly and will be dead before noon.

Let's take the case of Mr. Hyde, formerly Dr. Jeckyl

At 7:30 soon after he rises he notices that both of his knees seem to be shot and will need replacement. They are replaced at 9:00 AM. Shortly after 10:00 one hip appears to be dislocated and the other has a hairline fracture. Both hips are replaced before 11:00.

It is now 11 o'clock and everything seems to be in perfect working order, but suddenly both eyes cloud over. New retinas are installed just in time for Oprah. But before the first guest is introduced a sharp pain is felt in the lower back area and by the time this guest spews everything to Oprah an ambulance siren is wailing.

Spinal surgery is suggested and a wheelchair is purchased, just in case. The surgery does not go as expected and the purchased chair is a blessing. It's now 11:30, approaching 12 o'clock, and a dinner bell can be heard in the distance.

11:35 - an unexpected bowel movement announces that the end is drawing near.

11:38 - all cleaned-up and raring to go, but go where? Mr. Hyde cannot seem to remember anyone in the room.

11:43 - a few skin abrasions are observed.

11:48 - something seems to be hemorrhaging...

11:50 - both hips have slipped and need to be replaced again.

11:55 - Hyde's hearing begins to fade and polyps begin to appear.

11:57 - Mr. Hyde hangs his head in shame and begins to cry.

11:59 - He is pronounced dead.

Terri Schiavo

Coming SOON – “My First Report”