NC Right to Life Speaker Shares Incredible Testimony
She advocates for a living will and says only God should have the power of life and death.
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
RALEIGH – “Paralyzed but not Powerless” is not only the name of book written by brainstem stroke survivor and motivational speaker Kate Adamson, but also the way she views herself and many around her.
The keynote speaker at North Carolina Right to Life’s 10th Annual Prayer Breakfast Jan. 17, Adamson told the crowd at the Holiday Inn Brownstone Hotel and Conference Center how she lay for more than two months in 1995 – trapped in her body unable to speak, move or communicate – and listened to the doctors try to persuade her husband to let them “assist nature” in letting her die.
Disconnected from her feeding tube for eight days and feeling that she was already written off as a “vegetable,” the California mother of two said she underwent a crash course in changing focus – a concept she now uses to challenge individuals and organizations facing any kind of paralysis.
“When I went to bed I was a 33-year-old mother of two with everything to live for and the next day I was hanging on to life …. ” Adamson said. “Not only was I trapped in my body physically, but I was also trapped in my thoughts. I constantly kept thinking about the things I couldn’t do and the list was so long.”
She challenged her audience, when facing difficulties, to shift their focus and energy off of what they can’t do to what they can do.
“I had to think about what did I want. I wanted to be able to breathe and walk and talk and be a Mom to those two little girls, but what could I do? At first it seemed like nothing,” she said. But then she said she realized she had some “incredible resources.”
“First and foremost, I had God. I had a devoted husband and some amazing friends that sat by my bed 24/7.”
Once Adamson’s husband realized she was aware of what was going on, she put her energy into using her eyelids to communicate via a letter board.
“It took all of my strength just to blink my eyes,” she said.
Through a series of rehabilitative miracles Adamson has regained the use of her body, with the exception of her left arm. She wears a brace on one leg, struggles with bouts of dizziness and lacks stamina. But what she isn’t short of is passion and drive to speak out for those who can’t speak for themselves.
She has served as a national speaker for the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association and has been featured on national radio and television programs.
Taking her Raleigh listeners back to the intensive care unit in 1995, Adamson reminded them of her plight and that of others with Locked in Syndrome.
“I had to have artificial help or I would die. I needed the best medical science had to offer,” she said. “Now here is the scary thing – who decides about how much and what kind of care I should receive. Who gets to decide? And just as importantly, what standard is allowed to be used?”
She said from a financial standpoint it would have been considered best for her to die.
“Based on the convenience factor, I was going to be a huge inconvenience for society for a very long time. And based on a standard of normalcy, I was never likely to be normal again,” Adamson said as she pushed her audience to put a measuring stick to life.
“Should the hospital be allowed to use a disability scale: if you are X-degree disabled, you get to live and if you are Y-degree disabled you get a funeral?”
Reminding them of her disabilities, she offered the crowd a chance to suffocate her with a pillow on the spot.
“When I ask people to use the pillow, no one wants to volunteer, unless of course it’s my husband,” Adamson quipped, but then quickly prodded. “If you had seen me lying in that bed in 1995… unable to breathe on my own, couldn’t speak, unable to do anything… would your answer have been different?
“Did I deserve any less chance to live because I was horrendously sick? Can anyone be so sick that they don’t deserve a chance at life?”
Adamson said her doctors were not monsters, but sincerely believed she would be better off dying relatively quickly, since her odds for survival were a million to one. She said she is thankful that her husband “had this crazy notion that only God should play God, that only God should have the power over life and death.”
“I bet everyone here has an opinion about the sacredness of life. And I bet, for most of you, your opinion is theoretical,” Adamson said. “Not for me.”
North Carolina Right to Life used Adamson’s very concrete example to point the audience to The Will to Live Project, a pro-life living will available at the group’s Web site, www.ncrtl.org.
The Prayer Breakfast, which included special recognition of N.C. Right to Life supporters and leaders as well as student winners of the organization’s essay contests, preceded the 2009 Annual Rally and March for Life held that afternoon at Nash Square.
How to Order Kate Adamson’s Book
Order online, call Kate directly at 800-641-KATE (5283), or write:
409 North Pacific Coast Hwy. # 415
Redondo Beach, Ca, 90277