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MERI Center Blog

March 18, 2020

Just over a week into working from home due to the coronavirus, 4th day of the kids staying home from school, and I did not leave the house once yesterday.  Yesterday night was difficult as we mourn not only the loss of our spring break vacation plans but the loss of the back-up plan to cohabitate with our best friends in another state.  The internal struggle to stay hopeful while things seem to change daily.  The external struggle of getting the seniors in my life to stay home and keeping the kids sane.  I broke down in the shower this morning letting the stream of water wash away my tears of frustration, fear, & despair.   And this is only the beginning.  Now more than ever, we need to rely on and strengthen our resilience.  The MERI Center will continue to tweet out resilience tips and post poems and self-care links in our blog.  

Here's some recent tweets/retweets & Blog posts that I hope you'll find inspiring and brighten your day:

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March 16, 2020
Events

The UCSF MERI Center held a What Matters Most? A 2-part Advance Directive Workshop in the community on February 19 & March 4, 2020 at The Center for Creative Exploration, a non-profit arts education organization in Glen Park.  This was the first community session we held outside UCSF and it was organized by Suzanne Harris, a member of CCE and a UCSF employee.

The workshop took place at The Center for Creative Exploration, a wonderfully warm and inviting space and we sat in a circle while Redwing facilitated the workshop. In Session 1, we had 13 people in attendance & Redwing explained the importance of an advance directive, naming your agents, and clearly stating your wishes. She used Go Wish cards to help participants think about that is important to them if dealing with serious illness. In Session 2, we had 9 members join us in person and a couple more joining remotely via video. Participants had great questions as well as shared what they learned from their conversations with their prospective agents and in completing their advance directives. One person shared that she used very specific, medical language so her wishes would also be clear to medical providers after consulting with her agent, an acute care provider. Others shared their experiences with loved ones at the end of life and how that formed their own wishes. At the end, we notarized the advance...

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March 13, 2020

These are some surreal times while we’re living through a pandemic. For us in San Francisco, public school will be closed starting Monday, March 16 for three weeks, two weeks of instruction and one week of Spring Break. The City has cancelled the St. Paddy’s Day Parade, the 150th Anniversary of Golden Gate Park & the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival.  Pro sports teams are suspending play or delaying the start of the season.

Here at UCSF we are trying to limit traffic to our medical centers to only essential, in-person visits, converting as “non-essential” visits to video visits. Support groups and other small group meetings have been cancelled or “paused” while we all wait and see how widely affected our communities will be. The MERI Center has cancelled our in-person workshops for March and April.  There are many virtual townhall meetings about the policies and procedures our leadership is putting into place to treat cases of COVID-19, protect our staff and the greater community, and to “flatten the curve.”

Personally my lifestyle has changed in the past week.  Gone are the carefree days of just hopping on a bus or scheduling a Lyft to go where I want or need to go. How much social distancing do I need to practice?  Can the kids see their friends? How are we all going to survive 3 weeks all together. I think about my mother, who is in her 70+ and smoked 50+ years, and the likelihood she would get a severe case of COVID-19 if my family were to bring it home. She lives next door to us.  Is the risk of my mother catching COVID-19 worth going here or there? If we can’t go here or there, what are the consequences?  I’m trying to convince her to stop riding the bus,...

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March 12, 2020
SMS Meeting Poems
Love

Redwing Keyssar shared this poem via Commonweal Healing Circles:

Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love--
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

--Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

March 11, 2020
SMS Meeting Poems
Love

The Raincoat

When the doctor suggested surgery
and a brace for all my youngest years,
my parents scrambled to take me
to massage therapy, deep tissue work,
osteopathy, and soon my crooked spine
unspooled a bit, I could breathe again,
and move more in a body unclouded
by pain. My mom would tell me to sing
songs to her the whole forty-five minute
drive to Middle Two Rock Road and forty-
five minutes back from physical therapy.
She’d say, even my voice sounded unfettered
by my spine afterward. So I sang and sang,
because I thought she liked it. I never
asked her what she gave up to drive me,
or how her day was before this chore. Today,
at her age, I was driving myself home from yet
another spine appointment, singing along
to some maudlin but solid song on the radio,
and I saw a mom take her raincoat off
and give it to her young daughter when
a storm took over the afternoon. My god,
I thought, my whole life I’ve been under her
raincoat thinking it was somehow a marvel
that I never got wet.

~Ada Limon

March 5, 2020

 

As of March 1, the MERI Center (@UCSFMERI) has joined Twitter.

We will tweet about:

  • MERI Center workshops and events
  • Palliative facts & tips
  • Resilience tips
  • Pal Care articles & Podcasts
  • Highlight educational resources
  • Highlight other pal care events
March 4, 2020
SMS Meeting Poems

Remember

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star's stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother's, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.

~Joy Harjo

February 26, 2020
SMS Meeting Poems
Parenting

Sentimental Moment or Why Did the Baguette Cross the Road?

Don't fill up on bread

I say absent-mindedly

The servings here are huge

 

My son, whose hair may be

receding a bit, says

Did you really just

say that to me?

 

What he doesn't know

is that when we're walking

together, when we get

to the curb

I sometimes start to reach

for his hand

 

~Robert Hershon

 

February 25, 2020
Events
​On February 11, 2020, Anne Germanacos hosted the MERI Center’s 2nd Community Engagement meeting at the Firehouse.  In attendance were Katie Doyle, Richard Cunningham, Ashly Cooper, Catherine Dodd, and Anne Jaquiss, plus our MERI Center representatives: Anne, our host, Mike Rabow, MD & Director of the Center, Redwing Keyssar, RN, Director of Patient & Caregiver Education, and our newest member, Gayle Kojimoto, Program Manager. 
February 19, 2020
SMS Meeting Poems

We've decided to share the poems read at the UCSF Symptom Management Service Interdisciplinary team meetings on this blog, making them accessible to all of our supporters.

This week Judy Long shared a lovely poem by Miller Williams.  

Compassion

Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it.
What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism
is always a sign of things no ears have heard,
no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.

~Miller Williams

 

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