A 14-year-old Wisconsin girl with a fatal spinal disorder has chosen to end her life after one last epic summer. Jerika Bolen of Appleton, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as a baby and has been suffering through immense pain throughout her life.
The incurable disease, weakens the muscles and takes away the ability to walk and breath. Jerika is currently wheelchair bound and using a ventilator.
After a surgery last year, she couldn’t take it anymore.
She plans to end her life at the end of August. “When I decided, I felt extremely happy and sad at the same time,” she told the Post-Crescent newspaper. “There were a lot of tears, but then I realized I’m going to be in a better place, and I’m not going to be in this terrible pain. I’ve been working on it and thinking about it for way longer than anyone else has.”
Jerika and her mother, Jen Bolen, have already made hospice arrangements. The teen will pass away by going without the ventilator she uses to breath 12 hours a day.
While there’s no telling how long it will take to pass, Jerika’s hoping that it’s “not more than a few days.”
Her plan for the summer includes sleepovers with friends and a community prom on July 22, at The Grand Meridian in Appleton. “I’m supper happy she said of planning the prom. “And I don’t have to think about anything bad a the moment.”
No matter how heartbreaking the decision may be, Jen — who is a single mother and works as a nurse — supports her daughter’s choice. “People don’t realize what it takes to keep her alive. I know she’s only 14, but she’s old enough to decide. It’s her body and it’s her pain.”
Much of the pain Jerika experiences is in her hips and back, and she says medication is ruing her body.
Though she admits to being scared, she has faith in her doctors ability to take care of her, and maintains an optimistic outlook.
“I try to be as happy as possible,” said Jerika. “I know I can’t always be happy every day. I still wonder why God picked me to have this disease and I know I can never know the reason. Maybe because I’m strong, I guess.”