Gray Hairs

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Here it goes: my first blog at the age of nearly 58.

Yes that’s right, kids, if you are reading this, you now know how old your doctor is.

See those gray hairs? Cleverly disguised with color, they are the result of suffering, arguing, laughing and crying along with our patients and their families. They are the result of being called to the hospital because a new child’s heart has stopped, or called to argue with parents who want to leave “against medical advice” because the “rules are too strict” despite their child’s obvious weakened condition. They are the result of worrying about our iop graduates who return to college far away and try to be “lost to follow-up”. They are the result of arguing with outside therapists who have tried to tell me that Parents DO cause eating disorders or that they are a “life-style choice”. They are the result of arguing with other doctors who tell me our patients are “just spoiled” and should “just eat” and shouldn’t take up a bed in the hospital reserved for kids who are “really sick”. And most of all they are from my own inability to always convince parents that the food plan—annoying though it is—really is their crutch, their support and their tool and as such should not be filled out in the car or waiting room, but should be respected as much as a bank balance sheet or driving directions.

It is my hope that in starting this blog I can:

  1. become more human to my patients and families and share the challenges from my end
  2. spread general information about childhood and young adult eating disorders to any and all readers
  3. talk about what works at kartini clinic….and what doesn’t
  4. share links to information and science as it becomes available to us, especially research with children and adolescents

to that end you might want to know how and why I got started treating pediatric eating disorders. This is certainly a most frequently asked question of me.

I never had an eating disorder, I hope to never acquire one. I was a typical pediatrician who went on to specialize in adolescent medicine. Most doctors (especially women) who practice adolescent medicine wind up with a lot of eating disordered patients being referred to them by other, frustrated doctors. This happened to me. I did the best I could, but it slowly became clear that I was going to need a whole team in order to really help these patients and that I simply could not afford to have my time together with them interrupted by being called to the delivery room! So in 1998– with the encouragement of steve nemirow– shanna greene, office manager (yes, the one with the long curly blonde hair) and I left our pediatric practice to found the kartini clinic. And here we are.

The first Therapist to join us was leslie weisner LMFT, who is now an old kartini hand. We still see a very few patients from those early days, now grown-up, including patient “number 9″—you know who you are–, whom we love dearly.

Kartini clinic was founded to treat pediatric patients in the belief that parents do not cause eating disorders and children do not choose to have them. It was, and remains, my conviction that anorexia nervosa is a brain disorder with a strong genetic predisposition. Research, as we shall cover in future blogs, is beginning to bear this out.