Book Excerpt: 'A Life That Matters'

"So I wasn't really concerned. I thought she had just passed out. But when the paramedics got there-as soon as they went down and assessed her condition . . . I mean, I knew it was serious. That's when I became frantic.

"They didn't say much. The only thing I remember, they wanted to know if there were drugs. They were really hitting us hard about drugs. 'Does your wife do drugs? ' 'Does your sister do drugs? 'In fact, one of the paramedics got in my face and said, 'Look, if you don't tell us that she was doing drugs, you know we're going to hold you responsible.' I think they even threatened criminal charges against me. And I knew my sister. I never knew Terri ever doing drugs. I mean, she would drink-socially drink when we went out. But never drugs. And I was adamant. 'No. She doesn't do drugs.'

"I remember the paramedics being young. I remember them hitting Terri with the defibrillators a number of times. I remember I called my dad. I went into the living room and called my dad. And didn't know what to tell him, except that she would be taken to Humana Northside Hospital. I said it was serious, but they didn't know what was wrong with her. My dad kept asking me over and over again, 'What do you think is wrong?' And I didn't know. I didn't know what was wrong. And we just waited. And they were working on her for upwards of a half hour.

"In that time frame, the police arrived, and firemen, and more paramedics. They finally got Terri stabilized enough to put her on a bed, one of those rolling beds. I remember them taking Terri out, and I remember looking at the floor. I couldn't believe all the stuff that was on the floor-trash that they were using. You know, something they injected her with, stuff they were using on her. There was just trash everywhere. Needles everywhere. So I knew there was something seriously wrong, terribly wrong, because they were injecting her with things, I guess to try to get her heart started.

"I walked downstairs. Someone was left behind-I don't know if it was a paramedic or policeman or firefighter. I said to him, 'What's going on? What's wrong with my sister?' And I remember him saying, 'If she makes it to the hospital alive, it'll be a miracle.'

"Michael got in the ambulance with Terri. I said, 'Michael, I'll be there shortly.'

"I was hysterical. I drove home, hands shaking. I called my girlfriend at the time, Julie White, to come and get me -

I could barely drive, I told her. I walked in the door of my apartment and I fell to my knees and I just started crying. I woke Craig up. He was half asleep, didn't know what was going on. I told him what had happened, and Julie got there a short time after, and then we drove to the hospital."

Copyright © 2006 Mary and Robert Schindler, Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo, Bobby Schindler

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