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Important: Review Your Advance Directive

April 25, 2024

Jill usually writes in the third person in newsletters and blogs but this article needs to be in the first person.

It was a typical work day. Danielle told me I had a phone call from Kaiser. I’m a worrier so I immediately thought something happened to Bonnie. No, it was Kaiser in Vallejo. What could they want with me?

The woman on the phone said she was in the Palliative Care Department and I was a backup on the Advance Directive for Connie Foster (not her actual name). I said are you sure? She said yes. Well, they did have the office number. The name rang a bell and then I realized I had known a Connie Foster almost 20 years ago. Was she from Hercules? Yes, she responded.

I didn’t know what to do. How can I make decisions about potential life and death when I knew nothing about her circumstances? Where was her wife? I apologized and said I don’t feel that I can help as I know nothing about this and have no idea about her wishes.

After hanging up, I got in touch with the person who had introduced me. She had no idea Connie was in the hospital. Her last contact was 2019. Her wife apparently died in 2018.

The next day I was out of the office in the morning. Again, another call came in from Kaiser. This time the woman told Danielle I was the emergency contact for Connie Foster and wanted Danielle to provide my personal number. Danielle, correctly, said she was not at liberty to give out this information but would take her number and I could call back. Also, she told her what time I would return to the office.

No number was left and I never heard back.

I don’t know how to communicate what an upsetting experience this was. I could not get it off my mind. You want to help someone at the end of their life but if you don’t know anything about their wishes and beliefs, how can you morally do so? I figured out the last time I saw her was 2005.

MORAL TO THE STORY – please review your Advance Directive to make sure you have the people you want listed. And talk to them so they know they are listed and what your thoughts are about decisions they might need to make on your behalf.

Thanks for “listening.”

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