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The X Files
Xavier Hermosillo is the President of, a national Crisis Communications, Marketing, and Management firm he founded 23 years ago. He is a former political chief of staff, an award-winning reporter and photographer, and a former radio talk show host and TV commentator in Los Angeles. He has co-founded two publicly-traded companies where he served as a member of the Board of Directors and as the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications. He has also served as a Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission on police officer discipline cases, and holds degrees in Administration of Justice and Business and Communications. He can be reached at

The Terri Schiavo case hits too close too home for me and too many of us feel the media just played along with the politicians and parents and never asked the tough questions.

The circus surrounding the comatose Terri Schiavo has been a Barnum & Bailey-type classic. In Ring One we have the family battle, Terri’s husband against here parents. In Ring Two we have those willingly and reluctantly involved deciding Terri’s fate. And in Ring Three are the rest of us. We have the general public and the media, not sure whether we’re just spectators or have actually been dragged into the circus act and are trying to figure out our role, what we think or how we feel.

And it is because of this that I have a particularly difficult time dealing with the sad story of this once-attractive young women with a bright future whose days of life can now probably be counted on the fingers of my two hands.

It is one of the most complex stories to ever come across my desk for many, many reasons, including the fact that I can personally call on a comatose experience in my life and wonder out loud what my children and my enemies would have missed if someone had pulled the plug on me.

On the one hand, I am very upset at how political this case has become, yet I can understand that there are times when we expect those in government to stand up for life. But I am bothered at how it has been done. And I guess my concerns and those of many of you are validated by the fact that almost a dozen or so judges and courts have denied the demands of Terri Schiavo’s parents that her feeding tube be reinstalled.

I am also troubled, not only by my own survival experience in a coma, but also from the knowledge that there have been other cases where people miraculously and unexpectedly came out of comas after five, ten and twenty years.

The most notable case that comes to mind is Ryan Corbin, the grandson of crooner Pat Boone. The young man fell 40 feet through a skylight to a concrete floor below, denting two railings on the way down. This resulted in the need for multiple surgeries, including the removal of his spleen, and it left him in a deep coma, on maximum ventilator support, and unresponsive to outside stimulation for more than six months. His death was a forgone conclusion. Doctors said he would never survive. But the family never gave up. They stood by his side, united, and talked to him, sang to him, prayed for him, and never wavered from the belief that some day he would emerge from the coma.

One day, Ryan stunned his family and the medical community when he came to life and began talking.

He has been steadily recovering to what many believe will be complete normalcy. As a result, I can understand why the Boone family would be supportive of Terri Schiavo’s parents in working to keep her alive.

Yet, I am deeply troubled that one of the main issues here has become WHO has the ultimate say in Terri’s life and death. Should her parents really have the final word instead of Terri’s husband? Yes, I know he has another love in his life and apparently to some, the fact he stood by Terri’ side for years and went through his own living hell, doesn’t seem to matter much.

Still, I cannot accept the notion that her parents somehow are acting with totally clean hands and have no emotional conflicts of interests of their own in this debacle.

Please allow me to get personal about this issue for a moment and explain why I am so troubled by the actions of ALL members of the family, the politicians jumping in, the judges walking away from the issue, and the media acting like it didn’t really no what to cover and what questions to ask.

In late March, 28 years ago, I was involved in a freak accident in San Francisco during a Jaycee convention in which several other people were also hurt. After we were released from the hospital and I made my way south 450 miles to my home, I developed symptoms which my doctor misread as elements of a sore throat or the flu.

He instructed me to stay in bed and drink a lot of liquids. It wasn’t hard to follow his advice, in part, because I developed this incredible, almost insatiable thirst. I drank water, soda, juice, beer, ANYTHING that I could find in the house. To cut to the chase, let me tell you that I awoke the morning of March 31st, 1977 and found myself in my own personal “Twilight Zone.”

I could hear my six-month-old son cooing and my wife (at the time) beginning her morning. And although I could swear I was wide awake, I couldn’t see anything. And I couldn’t seem to find a way to get out of bed.

Within an hour, I had been rushed to the emergency room and I could hear the buzz of doctors and nurses and administrators around my bed and I was clearly the center of their discussion. As a relatively well-known print journalist at the time, people were shocked to hear that I was apparently blind and paralyzed.

I, too, was quite shocked at hearing the news second-hand. Somehow, they figured I was so out of it that it wasn’t really necessary to give ME the news about MY OWN STATE OF HEALTH. I could hear them just amazed that I had a blood sugar level of 926 (normal is 80 to 120) and I could hear comments that I should have been dead eight hours earlier.

The doctors and my wife (at the time) argued amongst themselves about what to do with me as if I was not a part of the discussions or decision-making. Just as I spoke up and demanded to know what my future held, a heavily-accented Serbo-Croatian doctor interjected himself into the conversation and suggested some experimental tests with mice and insulin at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center that MIGHT be worth considering.

Dr. Zeljko Zic (say that three times in a row) said my chances of survival were 50/50. I told all within my voice that I wanted to live and to try the experiment. I also recall saying to my wife (at the time) and anyone who would listen, that “if I end up a vegetable, pull the plug.” I guess that’s what you say, instinctively, when you find yourself on death’s doorstep.

I was then rushed to the Intensive Care Unit, had what I am told was near-death experience on the way there, and immediately went into a diabetic coma. The coma lasted a couple of weeks, and the entire experience was life-changing. Needless to say, the mice and insulin experiment worked on this old rat and I’m still around to tell this tale.

Today, I cannot see myself telling anyone to pull the plug. When I die, I expect to go kicking and screaming. And the ONLY person I would trust with making the ultimate decision on my ultimate demise is my wife. Not my Dad, not my sisters, nor my brothers. My wife not only knows me better than anyone else, but she is the only one who took a holy vow to be with me and care for me “till death do us part”.

I take those words and that vow VERY seriously and no one else in my family has the depth of love or interest or commitment in me like my wife does. And for me, that is the most powerful argument in allowing Terri Schiavo’s husband to be the court of last resort. And as we have seen, multiple judges and courts of appeal, and the Supreme Court, have agreed.

But I’m still miffed at the media because they didn’t do a good job of framing the issue as one that was spread out over the last 15 years of Terri’s life. Yeah, I know it was mentioned she had been in a coma for a decade-and-a-half, but there wasn’t any depth to reporting that fact.

I was shocked to find out during my own investigation that Michael Schiavo lived with Terri’s parents for the first eight of those 15 years. They generally agreed on all the treatment protocols and although there were some disagreements along the way, the efforts to treat Terri properly moved along with near-unanimous agreement among today’s combatants.

The media accounts of the so-called “experts” who made revealing decisions on Terri recently without even seeing her are at best, irresponsible. The politicians who were allowed to pontificate about her condition after not giving a damn for 15 years should be tarred and feathered.

In the end, Terri Schiavo is not the only person who has been abused, disrespected, and taken for granted. So has the rest of the American public because we never had a say in the matter. We could only watch and wonder why all of a sudden, her pain and suffering was being argued by some of the most insensitive and egocentric people on the face of the earth – those truly heartless scallywags in Washington who try to run roughshod over our lives, our finances, and our rights almost every day they are in session.

Our peers in the Fourth Estate could have, and should have, done a better job.

Let us hope Terri Schiavo and others like her rest in peace. And let’s hope Ryan Corbin’s days get brighter and brighter as he stands as a living testament to the power of life and the power of prayer. And may we demand as much attention as Terri has received, if heaven forbid, we ever find ourselves in her tragic predicament.