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MERI Center Blog

June 3, 2020
Personal Reflections

Since June 1, I’ve been trying to write about the uprisings/protests/riots happening right now in a clear and thoughtful way.  With anger and sadness, between meetings and work, the words jumbled together in a near stream of consciousness, fragmented and all over the place.   Reading and rereading my written thoughts, I struggle to find the balance between professionalism and honesty, between honesty and unintended (?) consequences.  And yet, it feels profoundly important to write something for this blog during this time.

I am an Asian American woman, daughter of Asian American activists. My father was a part of the Third World Strike at UC Berkeley in 1968/9, when Black, Latinx, and Asian American students came together to demand Ethnic Studies.  My mother, a bit older than my father, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. My paternal grandparents were incarcerated during WWII at Topaz, Utah.  My paternal grandfather fought in WWII with the 44nd Regimental Battalion made up of Japanese American men.  I am also the wife of a Caucasian man and the mother of two incredible Hapa children. I am a Person of Color.  These uprisings have affected me deeply. 

Monday was a struggle, trying to find the words to adequately describe my feelings while going from meeting to meeting, where the uprisings became the main topic of discussion. I ping ponged between anger and intense grief.  I cried about 3, maybe 4 times.  Cried at the injustice, cried for the strides we haven’t made, cried in anger, cried in sadness.  There was also frustration as colleagues reminded our workgroups to make talking about racism a normal part of our conversations.  Such privilege to have to be reminded to make this a normal...

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May 20, 2020
SMS Meeting Poems
Resilience/Wellbeing

Today's poem was written & read by Dr. Tom McNalley and was one of the award winning poems from the UCSF Department of Medicine Shelter-in-Poetry contest.

The Things We Bear Alone

Some things were not made to be borne alone:
the impossible dance of Anna’s hummingbird
returned to the nectar of the crimson snapdragon,
the surprise of the first scent of night jasmine,
the circle dance of the bluebird pair, side-looking,
honeybees chanting over new lavender,
sounding their Om resonant into the garden.

These things we were made to bear together:
to hold our gaze to the beauty that breaks our hearts
for even as it enters into us,
we cannot embrace it all. 

May 14, 2020
SMS Meeting Poems

Yesterday, Dr. Paul Lindenfeld read "Manzanita Before Winter" written by Pos Moua, and available in his collection of poems, Karst Mountains Will Bloom.

May 6, 2020
SMS Meeting Poems
Mystery

Today's poem, read by David Bullard, PhD
Singularity (after Stephen Hawking) by Marie Howe

May 2, 2020
Personal Reflections
photography by Hitomi Silver

Au revoir April

By Gayle Kojimoto
May 1, 2020

 

For a minute, the corona cloud splits open
The sun shines through
I see a familiar face
A friend in the fog
Whose voice is beauty wrapped in love

 
By Susan J. Cohen,
Food for Thought participant

 
In San Francisco, more special events, such as the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, were cancelled, professional sports are still on hold, and schools are now providing distance learning.  Shelter in Place (SIP) orders have been extended and now we must wear masks while shopping, waiting in lines, riding public transportation, or unable to physically distance ourselves. 
 
Some days it’s hard to tune out the uncertainty, chaos, fear, and sadness, to not focus on the losses we’re experiencing.  The loss of touch, the loss of normalcy, the loss of life.  Days blend together and it’s hard to distinguish one from another.  It’s hard to find motivation and to see the light.  I’m calling it Coronavirus Fatigue and I’m sure others are feeling it too.  Dr. Mike Rabow, our director, sent me a post for our blog, co-written by Dr. David Bullard, entitled “Invisible Losses: Secondary Trauma, Survivor’s Guilt and Moving Through the COVID-19 Crisis” and it...

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April 27, 2020

Our colleagues at GeriPal gathered together some of the UCSF geriatrics and palliative care providers to make a video, sending thanks, support, gratitude, & love to the healthcare workers at Mount Sinai.  Guests included Division of Palliative Medicine Chief, Dr. Steve Pantilat, Dr. Rebecca Sudore, and the UCSF Symptom Management Service & UCSF Care from Home's Dr. Natalie Young.  In addition to the words of support & gratitude, the GeriPal team also sang "Don't Stop Believing."  Touching & humorous, this was a great way to start my day.

April 15, 2020
SMS Meeting Poems

Today, Dr. Paul Lindenfeld read the English translation of Hanohano Hanalei, The Glory of Hanalei, at the UCSF Symptom Management Service Meeting.  

Hanohano Hanalei/The Glory of Hanalei

Hanohano Hanalei i ka ua nui,          The glory of Hanalei is its heavy rain,

E pakika kahi limu o Manu'akepa.    Slippery seaweed of Manu'akepa.

I laila ho'i au i 'ike iho ai                    There I felt

I ka hana hu'i konikoni i ka 'ili.          Tingling cool sensation of the skin.

Aloha kahi one o pua rose                Greetings, O sand and rose flowers

I ka ho'opē 'ia e ka hunakai.             Drenched by sea spray.

'Akahi ho'i au a 'ike i ka nani.           Never have I seen such splendor.

Hanohano Hanalei i ka ua nui.          The glory of Hanalei is its heavy rain.

Kilakila kahi wai nā Molokama          Majestic streams of Molokama

I ke kau 'ia mai ho'i e ka 'ohu.          Mist-covered.

He 'ohu ho'i 'oe nō ka 'āina              You...

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April 9, 2020

Covia is a non-profit that builds senior living communities as well as offers services to seniors.  They have two programs continuing during the pandemic:

Well Connected and Well Connected Español 

Well Connected and Well Connected Español continue to offer phone- and online-based groups, programs, and activities for free to seniors throughout the United States. We are also available to work with senior communities, senior centers, and other programs to support distance programming for your constituents. To register or for more information, please contact us at 877-797-7299 or [email protected].

Social Call

Social Call, our one-on-one visiting program, is still offering phone-based visits. New participants and volunteers are welcome to join. In addition, we are seeking volunteers to send cards and letters to seniors. If you are searching for a way to help people stay connected during this time of isolation, we invite you to participate! Please contact us at 877-797-7299, [email protected], or visit our volunteer...

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March 30, 2020
Personal Reflections

On Friday, I learned that a friend of the family died of COVID-19.  She (with her husband) was a pillar of the community and my mom volunteered in her business.  She always gave my kids cookies when they would visit and would always buy her small staff, mostly volunteers, lunch when they worked. 

While my feelings of sadness remain the same, her death feels different.  She is the first person I knew personally that has died from COVID-19.  Her death has brought the pandemic home, made it tangible, personal.  And I know this is just the beginning… I wish that knowing this made things less terrifying, but it doesn’t.

We’re trying to do everything “right”: social/physical distancing, hand washing, keeping the kids engaged and on track, trying to encourage others to do the same.  I’ve tweeted/retweeted/posted COVID articles and #stayhome ad nauseum as if somehow it would prevent or delay the inevitable.  But sadly the inevitable has arrived.  And I knew that it would, while hoping against all odds that it wouldn’t. 

Her death won’t change my day to day, but it has hammered home a few things:

  1. The importance of taking all the precautions we can to flatten the curve.
  2.  We need to do whatever we can to support & protect our healthcare workers. Their health will be a major factor in how many will people die during the pandemic – and not just from COVID-19.
  3. That we need to find ways to be resilient and sit with grief & loss. Need to make sure those on the frontlines are taking care of themselves mentally, emotionally, & physically. 
  4. We need to have frank discussions with our loved ones about our wishes for care if we are unable to make...
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March 24, 2020
Resilience Tips

At today's UCSF Symptom Management Service Interdisciplinary Team meeting, Judy Long, Chaplain extraordinare, led us in a short resilience exercise.  We hope to record them in the future, but alas, did not record today's session.  

Judy started with a grounding exercise, asking us to breathe in and out. Then she prompted us to ask ourselves:

Why:  Why am I here? Why am I doing this work? Why do I care (about my work, my family, etc.)?  

What: What is going on in my body right now? Do I have a headache, stomachache? Notice in your heart anything that dominates. What emotions are on the surface?

Next, think about the person you are meeting with next. What are the stories I have about this person? What are my preconceptions? What is the narrative I have about this person.  Recognize that they are preconceptions and narratives.

Now imagine what they may be going through, what they may be feeling.  Are they in pain? Nauseous? Are they scared? Angry? Worried?

What narratives may they have about you?  Be mindful of how all of this affects your interaction.

Bonus tip:

Think about someone you’d like to connect with and how you could connect with them.  Phone, text, video.  

 

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