Tags: Terri | Needed | Support | While | She | Was | Alive

Terri Needed Support While She Was Alive

Tuesday, 29 March 2005 12:00 AM

In high school, she weighed 200 pounds. When she collapsed, she weighed 110. Like so many of us women, she was tormented by her weight and her appearance. In her case, it killed her. If there is any good to come of this case, and at this point I tend to doubt it, maybe it will be for the millions of young girls who are following in her footsteps, on their way to their own private hell.

Go into any department store today and try to buy anything to wear if you are an overweight teenager, as Terri Schindler was. You can't. Girls between the ages of 10 and 100 in our society are all supposed to dress like aerobics instructors between classes, like models on break – short skirts, stretch jeans or tight capris, preferably slung below your belly button, a camisole with cleavage, a push-up bra showing through.

Mothers dress the same as their daughters. Thongs for lunch. The head of my son's elementary school has to send letters home about how the mothers dress for pick-up, let alone how they let their sixth-grade daughters go to school.

Is it any wonder that the Terri Schiavos of the world don't worry about their potassium balances when they go to the bathroom to throw up after every meal ... or that women's schools and colleges have to worry about their pipes rotting from the acid, because so many girls are doing the same thing?

What do these women need from the men in their life? Help. Loving support. Acceptance. A helping hand to take them to a doctor or a therapist. No rocket science there.

After her collapse, her husband brought suit against the fertility doctor who had failed to diagnose her potassium imbalance. One of the first things doctors are supposed to test for, or tell bulimics to do, is take potassium – bulimia depletes the supply.

Until the million-dollar judgment, Michael Schiavo and his father-in-law got along just fine. There were no differences of opinion about therapy. No claims that he had beaten his wife, or that they were on the verge of divorce. Indeed, they were all living together – the sick woman, her husband and the in-laws.

But money changes everything. The father-in-law wanted a share; the husband wanted to keep it – so they fought until it was all used up, with her almost-dead body becoming the only thing left to fight over. Her mother, by all reports, would have made peace at any time. Mothers are like that.

Why didn't Michael just let his in-laws have the corpse? Stubborn and angry, probably. Why didn't the parents just let the husband have the money back then, if that's all he really wanted? Stubborn and angry, probably. Why did they do this, to each other, and to her? Stupid male pride seems to have played a big part of it.

And once the conflict was set, there was something in it for everyone.

For Tom DeLay, there was the opportunity to change the subject from his own ethical troubles.

For George W. Bush, there was the chance to score points with religious conservatives, his base constituency.

For Randall Terry, the former head of Operation Rescue, who became the spokesman for Terri's parents, there was the opportunity for personal rehabilitation after a scandalous divorce and remarriage (to his secretary, 16 years his junior), and his public rebuke of his gay son.

For the media, there was the ratings bonanza of a made-for-television story, a woman who is still dying in real time, with the relatives fighting on live television, the lives of judges being threatened in the name of protecting life and the fight about how to bury her, and where, yet to come.

It's just poor Terri Schiavo who gets lost in the circus, that horrible video of that beautiful woman burned in our memories. What about the poor woman behind the closed door?

Where were all these men when she needed them? Where were her husband and her father when what she needed was acceptance and support for the woman she was, which might have prevented this ugly fight over the dying body she has become.

COPYRIGHT 2005 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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In high school, she weighed 200 pounds. When she collapsed, she weighed 110. Like so many of us women, she was tormented by her weight and her appearance. In her case, it killed her. If there is any good to come of this case, and at this point I tend to doubt it, maybe it...
Terri,Needed,Support,While,She,Was,Alive
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2005-00-29
Tuesday, 29 March 2005 12:00 AM
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