The Differences Between Terri Schiavo and Kate Adamson
On FOX, she made an impassioned plea for sparring Terri Schiavo's life stating that during her own ordeal, she had been much worse off than Schiavo. The text flashing on the bottom of the screen stated that she had recovered from being in a persistent vegetative state (PVS).
However, Adamson described herself as having been completely paralyzed and ventilator-dependent yet entirely aware of her environment. As anyone who has read my article on the definition of PVS would know, she most assuredly did not meet the criteria for this condition. That being the case, her prognosis was far different than Schiavo's.
Adamson's condition appears to be what physicians refer to as a "locked-in" state. The precipitating event was probably a pontine stroke. This is a stroke effecting a primitive but vital area of the brain that transmits impulses from the cerebral cortex to the rest of the body to initiate movement.
Such patients often have an utter lack of any volitional movement (muscle reflexes are generally possible). Ponder that. No speech, no writing, no gesturing...no communication. Yet they can see, hear, feel, taste, smell and most notably think. Hence the term locked-in. (Occasionally, they can move their eyelids and thereby communicate. In those situations, they are not completely locked in.)
These patients are literally prisoners within their own bodies.
Adamson relates her experience to that of Schiavo's. At one point, her tube feedings were apparently stopped and she discussed how torturous her impending starvation and dehydration was. She stated unequivocally that Schiavo is now experiencing the same thing since her tube feedings were stopped.
Emotional yes, but not comparable...and not true. Adamson's experience is very different. If Schiavo's diagnosis is correct, and there is extraordinary evidence to suggest that it is, then she is not a sentient being. She has no sense of awareness, no consciousness. She may undergo sleep-wake cycles yet rather than rule out PVS, this is actually a criteria for PVS. She may occasionally display outward signs of emotionality and smile, frown, grimace, etc. She may be able to inconsistently track objects with her eyes. However, as my article states, all evidence suggests that she does these things randomly and inconsistently. Unfortunately, such behavior does not imply cognitive function i.e. awareness and is fully compatible with the diagnosis of PVS.
In short, there is no comparison between Schiavo's condition and that of Adamson's. On the surface, Adamson's prognosis might have appeared far worse in that Schiavo is not ventilator dependent and has rudimentary motor functioning. The reality is, however, that Adamson had a functioning cerebral cortex. Schiavo does not. This makes all the difference. Adamson's condition was reversible. Schiavo's is not. Recovery in adults with nontraumatic causes of PVS is infinitesimally rare after one year let alone fifteen.
I find it disappointing that in reporting this story, FOX failed to inform its viewers of this critical distinction. This is typical of the stunning misinformation about this case now propagating throughout the media.
Again, I would urge anyone truly interested in understanding the nature of PVS and the gravity of Schiavo's state to read my article.