I try to ask most of my patients about their health-care proxy, just in case it gets to a point when they can't make decisions about their own health. Sometimes the conversations don't go very well.
"It used to be my sister, but we had a falling out."
"No, it's okay, she's a bad person. She wants me dead."
"Oh. So is there someone else you'd like to name? I saw your brother visiting you earlier."
"No, he's an idiot."
"Okay... do you have any other family?"
"I have a nephew."
"And could he be your health-care proxy?"
"Is there anyone else?"
"I don't want a health-care whatever it is, I want to make my own decisions."
"Of course, but I'm talking about if you become unable to make decisions."
"Why would I be unable to make decisions?"
"In case something happens-- if your health takes an unfortunate turn..."
"Are you trying to tell me something?"
"No, but the course of any illness can be unpredictable."
"Yeah. Well. So it can't be me?"
"Well, then I guess I'll say my sister."