My good friend Kerri Laman passed away day before yesterday. She was only 40 years old. She used study Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University, with degrees for the Deaf and Blind to help them. I feel like I've lost too many friends over the year.
This is going to be long but a mutual friend wrote this and I thought it summed up how I feel:
"She didn't have to die yet, the state of medical care in this country killed her. Kerri and I originally met on a service dog forum many years ago. She was an amazingly talented person as well as selfless and with a childlike innocence and sincerity. She trained her own seeing eye dog! Those in the SD community understand how difficult and special that is. When she needed more mobility assistance she was unable to get another guide from an organization.
Kerri's medical care was complex due to the multiple disorders she had and especially by her blindness. She was dependent upon a form of IV nutrition called tpn to live and many IV medications. Being blind obviously complicated this and she relied on a home health nurse to come daily and set things up for her to be able to use safely and continue to live independently. She struggled with frequent hospitalizations due to life threatening infections. At her last one it was determined she was no longer able to live at home alone. She would need to find a skilled nursing home to be discharged from the hospital. That discharge never happened, after being turned away from 51 different skilled nursing homes. They refused to take her in due to her tpn requirements. Insurance didn't allow for any further assistance in her home than she was already receiving. Kerri had many friends both online and in her assisted living apartment complex. She continued to work from home for jamberry until not too long ago. In her younger years she was a competitive ice skater despite the blindness. Had also recently been correctly dx with conditions that explained symptoms and complications she'd experienced for MANY years and started treatment. (it takes way too long to receive correct dx). Now we will never know how much function she could have gained back. Especially improvement of the immune system to prevent the frequent life threatening infections.
Due to the inability to find medical care in the form of a safe place to live, she made the only choice she had which was to die. It didn't have to be this way. She decided upon the next infection she would not treat it. That was taking too long, and she began to discontinue treatments that sustain life such as the tpn and iv hydration (she was completely unable to use her gastrointestinal tract.) She has now passed on.
We need to improve the medical options available for complex patients. We need to improve insurance so people can receive the care they need. We need to stop the incentives for Dr's to refuse care (for fear of litigation and punishment from the government. Today in medicine it's safer for Dr's to walk away from complex patients than open themselves up to the risk, something I've experienced myself as well.) We need to incentivise medical professionals to provide the best treatment they're able.
We need to improve. We need to change. We need to save the Kerri's of the world, allow them to live as long as possible to contribute to the world. No one should die simply because people weren't willing to TRY. She didn't die because her condition got worse. Not because there were no treatments available. She didn't die waiting for a medical breakthrough. (though one that could have cured some of her conditions instead of maintaining them is a future goal!) She died simply because no one was willing to provide what she needed and was available. She had so much more to give the world. She is survived by family- including her amazing Labrador guide and mobility assistance service dog Sophie as well as her daschund Mandy."