Living life on her own terms

When Beatrice Bullock was first admitted to Grey Nuns Community Hospital, her advance care plan wish was to undergo whatever treatment she needed to stay alive. Having been diagnosed with kidney disease many years ago, she had now been admitted to the hospital's critical care unit with a heart condition that worsened her kidney function to the point that she required dialysis treatment.

"Advance Care Planning is a way to help you think about, talk about and document wishes for health care in the event that you become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care." —Alberta Health Services

However, dialysis was much harder on her body than she had anticipated. After six gruelling rounds, she decided she no longer wanted to receive treatment.

“After the sixth time, I knew for sure that I couldn't go through it again. It's for young people, not for us old girls,” says Beatrice. “It's too hard on your body and mine couldn't bounce back in 24 hours to go another lot.”

Beatrice talked to her children about her decision and what kind of impact it would eventually have on her health.

“Half of my battle was that I was terrified that my kids wouldn't agree with my decision, but they did,” says Beatrice. 

Beatrice Quote

With her kids on her side, Beatrice then talked to her team of doctors and nurses about her choice.

“As soon as I made my decision, nurses from critical care came in and talked to me, and they didn't try to sway me one way or the other. They just said let's talk and let's see what your decision is and why. That was the answer—why,” says Beatrice. “They explained to me what the end is and I am satisfied with it. You don't want to be suffering."

This decision gave Beatrice and her family the opportunity to work with her doctors and nurses to create an advance care plan that fits her new wishes.

“It's easy now,” says Beatrice. “The decisions have been made and it's a lot easier. I can just spend the time with my family and be happy.”

"When a patient can express their wishes, values and beliefs to their family members and complete a personal directive, this helps to ensure that the person is receiving the care they wished for, and that family members will have minimal conflict and experience a less complicated grief," says Lorelei Sawchuk, Nurse Practitioner and Education Lead for the Palliative Institute. "It isn’t just about caring for our patient; it’s about caring for those important to them as well. This is why advance care planning is so important."

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