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March 05, 2005

A plea for Terri

Received via email from Cheryl Ford, RN:

My name is Tom Brodersen. I am attorney Pat Anderson's office manager, formerly her fiance, and more recently, her husband. I have personal knowledge about Terri Schiavo's actual neurological condition and responsiveness which we could not use before because of Pat's role as attorney for the Schindler family. That is now changed, and I cannot sit quietly by and passively observe a miscarriage of justice.

During the period of September to November of 2002 (from just before to shortly after the medical evidentiary hearing featuring five doctors as witnesses), I spent time with Terri Schiavo, as a person (briefly) on her visitors list.

During that time I gently spoke to her, built rapport and trust, sang to her, played music for her, and encouraged her to vocalize. Over the twenty days or so that I visited with Terri, I observed that, while Terri is distrustful of strangers, she gradually warmed up to me (and not so gradually after Bob, Mary and I sang "Those Were the Days" to her as a trio!). Terri responds to a variety of stimulii, including responding to both her mother's and my voices, both in person and over the phone, by fixing her attention and frequently by laughing. When I sang to her, she often VOCALIZED, in her best effort to sing along with me. She recognizes and takes great pleasure in certain singers and songs which ARE her favorites (most especially John Denver singing "Country Roads"). She learned to love several songs I sang to her with which she didn't seem to be familiar with, but others she never learned to appreciate (just not her cup of tea, obviously). She responded to gentle requests if given time and patience, such as lifting her right leg (three times out of four requests, the other time she lifted her left leg instead). While she does not have consistent control over her eyes to blink or look this way or that, she has excellent control over her breathing, diaphram and voice, and will vocalize in various patterns if asked. While trying to work out a yes/no system with sounds, Terri initially answered the question "Terri, are you ten feet tall" by moaning twice, which is the response for "No," then she spontaneously whispered the word "No" in response to the question "Terry, are you purple?". At that point I abandoned the sounding system and started trying to teach her to say "Yeah" as best as she could. Bob Schindler has several recordings of her sort of saying the word "Yeah" shortly after that.

Unfortunately, I was then taken off Terri's visitors list, but on successive occasions (as recently as last October, approximately two years since I last saw her in person), when her father placed a phone to Terri's ear so I could talk to her, she laughed as soon as she heard my voice, and tried to sing along with me when I sang to her over the phone.

Terri is not just "in there," she is very responsive, she loves music, and she is my friend. Please don't kill her.

Tom Brodersen

Posted by Jack Lewis at March 5, 2005 06:20 PM

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