Connie Dullard of Morton has long been a champion of advance care planning, and her children have long known her wishes about what life-sustaining treatments she does and doesn’t want.
So she was shocked when a staff member at Illinois Lung & Critical Care Institute mentioned she had no advance directives in her electronic medical record.
Within days, Connie was sitting down with an OSF Care Decisions facilitator. Through that conversation, Connie realized her “living will” was outdated, even if her wishes were very clear in her mind and in her documents. But Connie was delighted to find out the new documents she was creating through the advance care planning process wouldn’t just record her wishes. They would be binding medical directives.
“These were not new decisions for me or my children,” she said. “The only thing it did was take the children out of the equation. They don’t have to worry about it.”
“… an Extremely Emotional Decision for Me.”
Making sure her children never have to interpret and implement her wishes is of the utmost importance to Connie. She is retired now, but she spent her career in nursing. She’s seen families struggle under the burden of trying to discern wishes, particularly when loved ones disagree about what those wishes are. She’s also seen the benefit planning brings to families, the burden it eases for them when it is done right.
But Connie has also been the caregiver. She’s been the one speaking for the patient who can no longer voice their own wishes.
“Having been through the decision making process with my mother, being her power of attorney over health care, and even though I was a nurse and agreed with her, it was still an extremely emotional decision for me,” she said. “To have to say the final ‘no – no more.’”
Connie went home from that advance care planning discussion and called her children to fill them in. She provided them with copies of her documents, which she also keeps on her refrigerator and takes with her on vacation.
“It’s given me a lot of peace of mind. My family, too. Now they’re out of being in that emotional corner that I’ve walked,” she said. “I love that part of it.”
Join Us for a Special NHDD Twitter Chat
Tonight from 6 to 7 p.m. CST, Dr. Robert Sawicki, Senior Vice President of OSF Supportive Care will be hosting a special Twitter chat in honor of today as National Healthcare Decisions Day.