Thursday, December 26, 2013

Opinionations - There Once Was A Girl named Jahi...

"Religion, science, common sense and logic do not mix."
Somewhere in an Oakland hospital lies a 13 year old girl, and she is not being kept alive by the grace of God; her body is breathing merely because a machine forces it to do so. "Chief of child neurology and director of the Center for Brain and Behavior at Stanford, Dr. Paul Graham Fisher, was appointed to examine the extent of Jahi's brain damage. In his test results taken Monday night, he says she has no response to facial pain, no gag reflexes, no reflexes in her arms or legs, and a complete absence of brain stem and cerebral function."
"What part of dead are they not understanding?"  
The reactions to the case of Jahi McMath have been swift and passionate, far and wide on both sides. I've seen them as close as my own social media circle (see quotes above and below) and far as the other side of the world. I've heard from the logical and emotional both;
"Wow, some of you are cold as ice. As a mother, I can only imagine the trauma involved in having to say such an unexpected goodbye to a child. The family is coming to terms with this in their own way. Leave them be."
I am not a parent. That doesn't immediately discount my own capability to feel both logical and emotional on this issue. In fact, there aren't enough words in the dictionary to get into all of the issues surrounding this case. We can begin with separating God and science.
Chief of Pediatrics David Durand, MD: "As medical professionals, it is our responsibility to ensure that we don't create hope where there is none. When one's brain ceases to function, it never restarts."
Pastor Cheryl Ward - "we believe that God is the one who has the final answer, plug pulled and all, that God is the one who gives the final 'yes' and the final 'no' to what happens in Jahi's life."
It takes a miracle not only for a brain to come back from death, but also for a body to die when hooked to a machine designed to keep it alive. A judge has ruled that the hospital keep the girl alive through the Christmas holiday, but that as of December 30th, they are within rights to disconnect her, or the family may move her to another facility.
"Attorney Christopher Dolan said the family has identified one Bay Area facility that appears willing to provide long-term care for McMath, who was declared brain-dead after complications from tonsil surgery. Dolan declined to name the facility. 'They told us there is a bed, they care for children like her all the time," Dolan said. "They believe they can provide her with care and support and treat her as if she's a living person.' "
Except... she's not.
Following Ward's logic, if it were to be in God's hands, she should never have been put on the machines to begin with. If we're to bring God into the equation, His decision was made and actions were incited to fight against that. If it is going to be left to a higher entity, remove the machines and let it be as they declare - let God give the final 'yes' or the final 'no.'
I have yet to see any fault being assigned, but no doubt there will be a lawsuit pending against the hospital. I'm not certain why the doctors felt it was a good idea for a young girl to undergo surgery when there seem to have been multiple issues to overcome and an obvious weight issue. I'm also unsure why the family demands media coverage but ties the hands of the professionals from addressing to the public certain medical information that could provide a rounder picture.
I like how the mom compared her daughter to being on death row, and how her mom complained that the doctor told her so bluntly that she is D-E-A-D - says one on my Facebook.
Human nature (especially via media outlets, particularly social media) is to consistently attack and mock the weakest among us. I have yet to see one article mocking (or even naming) the doctor who fucked up this surgery, and none of the articles are taking the hospital to task either. Exposing and suing the hospital won't bring the child back, but rolling over afterwards is impossible for mothers. It is just freaking impossible. Do not go quietly. - argues another. 
No matter my love for my wife or my mother, if their brain died then so have they and the machines go off. People only keep them on to make themselves not have to grieve and it pisses me off - a statement from a child psychologist.
I am not in this situation, I am like most simply an outsider looking in. I only know that there is a little girl somewhere who is, by all definitions, gone. Not sure if I believe in purgatory, but if I were a parent I believe I'd need a definitive line of faith. I couldn't imagine keeping my child alive for my own sake. I asked my husband a few days ago, as we've never filled out our directives, if he would want to be kept in this situation. I knew the answer before he said it, and my heart wrenched at the thought of having to say "let him go." but Jahi doesn't get that option.
It isn't ever easy to let go, but there's a fine line of the needs of others and those of ourselves. The hardest thing to do is figuring out on which side of it to be.
  •  Click here to read an open letter from Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield


Monday, September 9, 2013

Mountain Afire

Of all of the elements, Fire is the most dangerous.  She is an angry mistress who will rage with no warning whatsoever, and right now she is claiming our beloved mountain. 

Last night my husband wanted to get in the car and drive around the corner to see the blaze on Mt Diablo, but I declined, as I have already distant memories of seeing the monstrous flames eat away at the wildlife and environment.  I was six years old in 1977 when Dad piled us in the car to see the sight up close and personal. 

Of course, as with all tragedy, a community will come together to remind us that we are all woven together as many do what they can to aid in the efforts of the hundreds of firefighters who have come to the rescue. 

Photo credit:  Penny Sims

According to popular blog site, the Clayton firehouse was deluged with supplies to keep the rescuers going.  Sites have gone up offering shelter and assistance to people and animals alike.  If you have any information to share where people can help, please post in the
comment box below. 

I have friends up on the mountain and even at the base where they've been rained with ash, soot and smoke.  Having had to worry about serious fire in our own neighborhood, I can empathize with what these people are facing.  Please keep residents and rescue workers in your thoughts tonight as you fall asleep safe in your beds. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Eyes Without A Face

Finally, there is a face. 

She caught my attention at the restaurant's bar with her funny comments that echoed my own.  Her name was Trudy, I think.  Or Judy.  A retired bookseller who overheard my chatter regarding my nerves in being ill-prepared to teach a class that night.  She encouraged me and we shared a few off-color jokes before she told me she was there alone because her 68 year old husband was in Boston preparing to run the marathon for the first time ever.  She didn't look old enough to be married to someone that age!  "Honey, I'm a walking Beatles song.  Lord, you probably have no idea what that means!"  Laughing, I gave her my card, asking her to stay in touch.  Her excitement at finding out I was a writer was contagious for that brief moment.  "I envy you so much, a teacher and a writer!  What amazing gifts you have to offer!"
I'm of the mind that every little dot in the universe is pre-connected before we ever came along.
This afternoon I was startled to hear a friend say "Such a shame about the bombings in Boston."  Then in skimming my Facebook posts, bits and pieces began to paint a tragic picture.  On this Patriots' Day, April 15th, the rockets' red glare came from the blood-spattered bombs bursting in air.  As the horror sank in of yet another terroristic tragedy thrust upon us, my thoughts drifted to the woman from the bar, and I thought of her husband. 

Finally, there is a face.

It was after the Arizona shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and many others that I spoke up on Facebook about the ignored problem behind these incidents.  We see the deaths of the innocent, but stare blankly at the face of the mentally ill who are behind the acts of violence that are coming more and more frequently.  The eyes of Jared Lee Laughner burrow into me still.  An acquaintance, Steve, messaged me privately in agreement with my observations and revealed his secret; his son had come home from war with PTSD, displaying such violent tendencies that they live in fear of someday turning on the news and finding it will be their son's face in the headlines. 
The Aurora Massacre touched close to me, as my beautiful cousin Emily lives in the area, as does my longtime friend Angie.  I stayed up all night waiting for them to check in on the site to know that they were not at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie.  As the news unfolded over the days to follow, I was deeply disturbed by the images of James Holmes.  It was after this that I messaged Steve back with how I thought of him and his son every time some new calamity exploded upon us, and that I wished I could find the words to put forth that would raise our tolerance, promote forgiveness, and stop the wildfire of hate that runs rampant among us. 

Do I cheer on those behind the killings?  No.  I cry a little inside every time I think of Brenda Ann Spencer, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Seung-HuiCho, Laughner, Holmes, Adam Lanza, and all of those lost to us at their hopeless, mind-bent hands.  Senseless?  No, I don't believe that.  Everything is with reason - how can we learn otherwise?  How do we learn forgiveness, redemption, even joy without despair? 
And when will we begin to see the faces?

My friend Kevin said to me today, as speculation seeped into the media, "Whoever they are, they are Evil with a capital E."  My answer:  "What defines the line between evil and mentally fucked up?"
We don't yet know if this was an act of terrorism or another somebody clawing their way into their 15 minutes, but as a society we are breeding these people, in our nation and in our world with our hate upon hate.  Self-righteousness that we could not commit such acts will only get us as far as a blood-stained bible left on an empty pew.  When was the last time you saw the face of someone reaching out to you for help?  Or did you turn a blind eye to the freak with the orange hair or the deranged guy sitting in the back of the room?   

The names come and go briefly in our minds, but I keep a photo of Jared Lee Laughner on my hard drive, because I never want to forget the gravity of what the human mind is capable of in times of darkness.  I forced myself to watch the footage of the man with two severed legs being tended to today by emergency workers, because I need to keep within me the suffering of people outside of me. 
I am desperately hoping that the funny Beatlesque woman who championed what I do will see this, and that her husband comes home to her safely.  Finally, I found the words.

Because finally, there is a face. 



(c) Kymberlie Ingalls, April 16th, 2013