TEDxMeritAcademy Video: Nicole D'Arcy & Anna Krawisc's "Ode to Advanced Directives"

To offer both comic relief and valuable medical advice, Nicole D’Arcy and Anna Krawisc – along with the Stanford Video Department – perform a music video. 

Come see this today, Monday, August 14th at 7:00 pm at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz.  Get your tickets at or at the door. 

What's the Attraction to Eating Hot Peppers?

When Nicole, my eldest daughter, told me that she won a jalapeno-eating contest when she was an undergraduate at Stanford, I seriously wondered if she lost her mind.  Both of my girls love their food hot and spicy, and they must have gotten that taste for the torturous pain from Rob – certainly not from me.

Rob loves to cook with all kinds of spicy peppers, and our friend Mario keeps Rob in good supply with the variety of peppers he grows in his garden.  Last week, Rob “accidentally” forgot to take out the peppers before serving dinner, and when I took my first bite, I thought I was going to have a heart attack!  I ran to the sink and sprayed cold water on my tongue but it only relieved the pain for about 3 seconds.  Apparently, whole milk is the best remedy for the burn.

I was intrigued by this article “Feel the Burn! Why do we love chilli?Apparently for men, eating super hot chillis is a form of machismo; but for women, it’s a form of excitement.  Back in 1912, Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist and pharmaceutical researcher, discovered a method for measuring a pepper’s hotness.  Before tasting hot peppers, I highly recommend that you understand the heat in the peppers you eat.

500 Scovilles       = Anaheims

1,000 Scovilles   = Poblanos

5,000 Scovilles   = Jalapenos

15,000 Scovilles = Serranos

40,000 Scovilles = Cayennes

100,000 Scovilles = Thai Bird’s Eye

300,000 Scovilles = Habaneros

2.2 million Scovilles = Carolina Reaper

I’m still not sure why anyone would eat anything hotter than a jalapeno.  So I guess I’m neither macho nor exciting because I like “mild” peppers.  Pain is usually something I don’t inflict upon myself.  But to each their own!


Celebrating Nicole's EM Graduation

Supported by a loving family, we continued to celebrate Nicole’s EM Residency graduation at my cousin’s gorgeous home in Palos Verdes Estates. 

Over 25 family members joined us for a slideshow, Nicole Trivia (of course!), and a Nicole Roast!  So proud that Nicole has achieved her childhood dream of becoming an emergency doctor.  Big dreams, and a little hard work, do pay off!

She starts her UCSF EMS Fellowship in 2 weeks.  So happy she’s moving back to the Bay Area!

First Merit Academy Graduate Is Now An Emergency Medicine Doctor!

After 24 years of school (Merit Academy, Stanford Undergrad, Stanford Medical School, and Harbor-UCLA EM Residency), I’m proud to say that Nicole is officially an Emergency Medicine Doctor!

We watched her graduate with her 15 co-residents on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA.  She starts her EMS Fellowship at UCSF in 2 weeks where she plans to develop efficient systems for pre-hospital care and disaster preparedness protocols.  Nicole D’Arcy was in the first graduating class at Merit Academy, and she has set the bar and serves as a role model to so many Merit students. 

Congratulations Nicole!

Liberty Lost; Lessons in Loyalty; Re-enactment of Japanese-American Internment During WWII

15 years ago, Nicole, Jaclyn and I worked with the JACL (Japanese American Citizen’s League) to re-enact the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. 

Back in 2002, it was the 60th anniversary (now it’s been 75 years) since the American government made our families leave our homes, businesses, belongings, and friends to live behind barbed wire at one of 10 internment camps in the US. 

We worked with Mas and Marcia Hashimoto (presidents of JACL Watsonville-Santa Cruz), Sandy Lydon (local historian), and Don Williams (UCSC theater director) to re-enact an event that would remind the world of one of America’s biggest mistakes.  Mas rented a 1942 bus and Don coached the actors as they walked to the Vet’s Memorial and waited in line to get on the bus to start their 3-year stay in relocation centers.  Sandy was our emcee and shared stories about the evacuation.

Nicole told news reporters about how she was worried about her family’s farm and who would maintain it while they were gone.  Jaclyn held tight to her beloved dog before the MPs took him away from her before she climbed up the steps of the bus.  Dozens of families participated in the re-enactment, and we filled the theater with guest speakers who shared their memories and stories.

I invited over 40 newspapers, magazines and TV stations to cover the story, and our re-enactment was aired across the nation and all the way to Japanese news outlets in Japan.  Watch our video: Liberty Lost; Lessons in Loyalty.

Not Feeling Well? Don't Be Afraid To Go To The ER!

Did you know that heart attacks kill 5 times more women than breast cancer

That’s a sobering stat. My daughter Nicole just sent me this article to help me understand that heart attacks in women are very different from heart attacks in men. While I knew this in theory, I was surprised that just feeling clammy and nauseous could be signs of a heart attack. This 46-year-old woman thought she had the flu and would have gone to bed to sleep it off had her husband not intervene by taking her to the emergency room.  Read this fascinating article in the Washington Post: “She thought it was only a 24-hour bug.  What she really had almost killed her.”

After reading about this woman’s symptoms and her reaction to them, I feel a little bit more convinced to head to the ER to get checked out instead of being optimistic and hope it goes away.  The difference could be life or death.  As ridiculous as this sounds, my biggest obstacle to going to the ER is my fear that the doctors would think I was a nuisance or a hypochondriac.  But after Nicole (an ER doc) told me that she’d rather see me in the ER and tell me that I should go home because I have the flu or indigestion than to have me stay home and die from a heart attack, I’m going to play it safe.  And by the way, that’s advice for all patients, not just for her mom.



Just before I went into labor with my eldest daughter in 1985 (sounds like so long ago!), I decided to SPRING CLEAN my entire house. Yup! I organized every drawer and closet, and tossed out things I didn’t need. Then I made to-do lists!

Later I learned that this need to clean is called “nesting” and it’s common for mothers-to-be to nest before having a baby. I wanted to get everything in my life organized and in control as I awaited a huge change in my life. Over the weekend, I got that same nesting feeling. No – I’m obviously not pregnant – but living amidst uncertainty, chaos, and disbelief in a country I used to be proud of has been stressful. I organized a spring cleaning schedule for myself and I spent 11 hours cleaning my kitchen on Sunday.

Cleaning and organizing my stuff gives me power over my life. I can understand it. I can control it. I can make it exactly the way I want it. It’s mindless work but it made me happy. I tossed out all kinds of junk that I’ve held on to for years. I cleared out my closet of clothes I’ll never wear again (probably because I’ll never fit in them!). I found quilts and baby blankets.

The whole process was healing. When I woke up this morning I felt accomplished and appreciated how my hard manual labor produced these results. I knew where I placed everything. I felt empowered – like I could take on the world. So listening to my body about nesting for my baby’s arrival 30 years ago AND spring cleaning to prepare for whatever this new administration throws before me is my way of hunkering down for the unknown. 

Rain on a ski trip!

What do you do when it RAINS on your ski trip?

Make rain gear out of kitchen supplies!

How would MacGyver stay dry while skiing in the rain?

It was pouring RAIN when we arrived in Tahoe for Nicole’s annual birthday ski trip.  Really? For 5 days prior to our arrival it dumped over 5 feet of fresh powder. We were so excited to hit the slopes and ski the powder. Our ski gear and powder pants are water RESISTANT, which is not the same as waterproof.  We could ski in any conditions (subzero temps in Spain, blizzards at Northstar), but NOT RAIN.  So what do you do when you’re in your condo and the roads are closed due to FLOODING? Ask MacGyver… Plastic and duct tape!

First I grabbed some oversized kitchen dishwashing gloves and placed elastic on the wrists to keep the rain out.  I placed duct tape over the seams to seal the elastic in place.  Then I placed my ski gloves inside the large dishwashing gloves so they would keep my hands dry and warm.  When Nicole woke up, she liked my design so I made her a pair too.  I thought she would think they were too embarrassing to wear, but she was intent on staying dry, too.

Then I took Nicole’s pair of plastic pants to use as a pattern to make plastic pants for me.  I wasn’t about to wear my ski pants and get soaked.  I grabbed 2 trash bags and duct taped them together.  I cut out the pant legs with a scissor and then duct taped them together.  I even put elastic to create a waistband!  They certainly weren’t a fashion statement, but I stayed dry all day! 

While indulging on overpriced burgers and fries at the lodge, Nicole commented on how everyone was soaking wet and wringing out their gloves and parkas. Then some young guys gave Nicole a thumbs up and said, “Those are great pants!  We thought our stuff was waterproof, but they’re not!”.  Everyone loved our solution to skiing in the rain!


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