Dr. Jennifer Bremer's Blog

a psychiatrist mom rambles

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Jennifer Bremer

Jennifer Bremer

This blog is no substitute for treatment, and every recommendation is not right for everyone. We try to avoid errors, but blogs don't have editors, and inevitably will have inaccuracies. Do not change your treatment or medications in any way without first consulting your own therapist and physician!
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DRIFT

Most kids thrive despite (or because of) mental health or other challenges.  I'm shifting my professional course to write middle grade fiction about these kids -- who are much like most kids, I think.   My first book, DRIFT (A Gargoyle School Christmas Story) stars Red, a sixth grader with attention deficit disorder who tries to avoid a winter holiday with divorced parents behaving ridiculously, but things don't exactly go as planned.  The second in the series, SPIN (Gargoyle School on Summer Vacation) (to be published by the end of Nov) shares the travails of Maggie,...
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Suicide Witness

  As a psychiatrist, witnessing a stranger's suicide with my family shook me up, to say the least.  After seeing my family as well as emergency responders harshly impacted by this experience,  I wondered if psychiatrists underestimate the violent impact suicide can have on others -- even those who don't know the person who suicides?  The impact suicide must have on loved ones is unthinkable.  I also wondered whether there could be a  benefit in increasing discussion about the violence of suicide?  My article on the subject was published this week in American...
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NutritionFacts.org

Just discovered NutritionFacts.org, and I wish I'd found it long ago.  As a physician undereducated in nutrition and very suspicious that I'm not alone, I find Dr. Michael Greger's web resource invaluable.  The site also explains information clearly enough to share with patients, and well everyone.  Enjoy.
Tagged in: Nutrition
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vigilance not checklists

Just a quick note encouraging all doctors to look at Dr. Jha's wonderful article delineating the difference between encouraging checklist use and mandating compliance.  I think the implications are much larger than just a few checklists.  Doctors are inevitably increasingly distracted by the massive legal and beaurocratic requirements descending, and patient care is sometimes suffering. 
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tornado

How is a Mom to wake up to the news this morning and not go raving mad and quit her job and grab onto her children with both arms and hold them endlessly?  Those hapless tornado victims and families in Moore, Oklahoma and in the Plaza Towers Elementary School who took a dead-on direct hit.  How could this happen? By chance, this morning my 12 year old heads off on a school camping trip with an unacceptable 100% chance of thunderstorms in the forecast today which of course only decreases to 60% tomorrow and even the next day.   What are the chances of such a dismal outlook?  I obsessively scan...
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do no harm

Gosnell guilty.  Babies everywhere can take a deep breath, knowing their brethren won’t get scissors in the spine.   Three little preemies were born unwanted but born indisputably alive --  but not for long.  He made sure of that, putting scissors in their little necks. So called doctor Gosnell, the man with the $1.8 million dollar a year business was found guilty of multiple murders and will never harm another little neck.  Actually, some of those necks were not so little – one baby breathed for twenty minutes before being stabbed.  Another baby, Gosne...
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"yes parenting"

Any too-busy-studying-to-worry-but-have-never-have-held-a-baby-clueless new parents out there?  Like me on kid number one (despite being a freshly minted child psychiatrist)? My poor number one kid. When my husband wisely voiced concerns about fitting a baby into our lives, I happily showed him a corner of our one bedroom apartment where the baby would fit perfectly.  And, I meant it.  Fifteen years later, I look at my now six foot two tall number one and recall that he never actually did fit in that corner.  As a baby, the poor colicky baby never left my arms. However, by kid three I thankf...
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thanks

As I checked out from the dermatology clinic, I sputtered  to the secretary, trying to explain my falling tears. The poor secretary probably was discreetly checking the chart to see what in the world was going on.  It was a routine appointment.  I managed to blurt out that Dr. L was moving.  And, Dr. L had gotten me through cancer.   And, it wasn't even skin cancer. That's all I could manage to say as I recalled the memories of four years ago when my body began sprouting freckles and moles at an alarming rate.  Dr. L listened as I backed up her clinic time and time again, requesting the remov...
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no Catcher In The Rye

Nothing peeved me more during my training than being accused in my first year of having a "Rescue Fantasy."  Admittedly, the patient involved was a depressed chronic alcoholic with pancreatitis and a dismal liver who exuded sociopathy.  However, I thought "Sure I have a rescue fantasy!  We all should!  We want to save patients.  Otherwise, what are we doing?"   I have ruminated variations on that theme ever since. However, recently a patient loathed my work, and in so doing taught me the flaw in my thinking.  The patient  opposed me every step of our few meetings.   And, I bent myself into pr...
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ambivalence

This is a friendly reminder to give yourself the same good preventative care that you give to everyone else. Here's the Center for Disease Control's suggested screening test list .I know this sounds obvious, but come on, really, how many of you follow through with your own care? After all, how can someone juggling a zillion patients and parenting responsibilities possibly make time for a doctor's appointment?  And, of course, doctors well know the myriad of discomforts and indignation of a colonoscopy or mammogram.  However, so often these are just excuses -- actually our ambivalence simply i...
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Concerns about Komen

Despite all of the wonderful good the foundation has accomplished, I have a concern with Komen beyond the current brouhaha.    Consider Wikipedia's summary: "Since its inception in 1982, Komen has invested nearly $2 billion for breast cancer research, education, advocacy, health services and social support programs in the U.S., and through partnerships in more than 50 countries...Susan Goodman Komen, was born in 1943 in Peoria, IL.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33.  She died of the disease at age 36 in 1980.  Komen's younger sister, Nancy Goodman Brinker ... founded the S...
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Mothers with Cancer Help Page

Today Susan Niebur died from inflammatory breast cancer.  An astrophysicist and mother of a 4 and 6 year old, Niebur posted a link to  Mothers with Cancer Help Page in a final post on her blog "Toddler Planet." Blogs offer such an oddly intimate, novel way for those in medical fields to peek into what the  experience  of illness really is.   We see such a limited piece in  clinics and on hospital floors.  Here, in a final post, Niebur shows how to rise above terminal illness -- as her blog evidences she did right along.  She helped others even as her own situation was dire. Just a couple of w...
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question parenting

Parents have answers. Especially doctor moms. We have been studying for so many years.  We just need to impose our hard won answers on our kids.  We tell. Kids listen and do.  I use the term "Answer Parenting" to refer to such parenting via administering answers and agendas. Such "Answer Parenting" can be tempting but has short-comings. First, the approach generally peeves the child. Who likes to be told what to do? And, who likes to deal with a peeved child? Second, the approach doesn't allow the child to practice figuring out an answer or to practice using their own growing little seats of ...
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juice box days

Today just as I grew annoyed picking up the endless pile of juice boxes that seem to multiply in my car's depths, it dawned on me.  No more sippy cups.  I have long ago out-grown the days of sippy cups. I hated them.  Why could I never find the correct sippy cup valve anyway?  And, how many long lost sippy cups did I find over the years with a potently smelling mixture inside?  No matter how much I scrubbed those cups I could not get out the smell.    I am glad to be done with them.  But where did sippy cup days go? And, as I reflected further -- I realized more items have quietly slipped aw...
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over-scheduling our kids

As high achieving moms, many mom docs are prone to push their kids hard.  Daily I struggle to hold myself back from falling victim to this tendency.   Every time I schedule the kids' tennis lessons, I wonder if they shouldn't have just one more lesson?  Should they have a tutor to get ahead in math or Spanish or Something?  An extra class?  Singing lessons? How hard to push?  How much to schedule? David Brooks' NYTimes opinion piece reminds me to slow down and to let the poor tortured kids slow down too.  Brooks points out that college grads need to be able to explore and to find their own pa...
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feel less guilty when you travel

My six year old's newest obsession is FlightAware.com.   The website provides a little picture of the chosen specific airplane (you just plug in airlines & flight number) with its exact location shown on a map plus planned flight path plus flight time countdown.  What an amazing way for a child to feel a little more connected to you, even when you are in the sky and unreachable.  Plus, it can't hurt the geography education. My little one is utterly charmed by this one.  Enjoy.
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dear 16 year old me

This you tube spot to raise awareness for melanoma is fantastic.   Please re-post wherever you can.    I wonder if everyone who sees the video posts it, how many lives can be saved.   Admittedly, I feel strongly about this one.  My beautiful little girl when just 4 years old had two surgeries on her face for a lesion that many considered melanoma.  She is fine years later now, but the word melanoma still makes it hard to catch my breath.  Take a look.  Take care.
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doctors matter

So another April 30th is almost over.  One hour and thirty-seven minutes left.  I can almost breathe again. I find the emotional weight of anniversaries  -- both good and bad ones -- amazing.  April 30th is a bad one here.  Cancer.  I wonder if most doctors are aware of the emotional havoc medical illness plays with a life?  It might be hard to see as most patients do not wear fear or need on their faces.   I wonder how many doctors know what comfort they can offer beyond the technical medical care?  Or, how much this matters? Par for the course for April 30th, my father after days of excruc...
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is sugar toxic?

For the few mom docs out there who missed the NY Times magazine last week, Taubes' intriguing article on sugar is well worth a read.  Of course the article does include a big flaw.  Its timing is dreadful.   My kids will have a decided lack of jelly beans and chocolate bunnies on Sunday.
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robin mom

As I walk down the hall of my children's school and see the photos of distinguished alumni lining the walls with accomplishments listed under them, I fantasize. How would I like to be remembered?  Gradually it dawns on me that at this moment my dreamed of accomplishment is far less grand than those listed.   I imagine under my photo a term no one would understand.  I'd like the words "robin mom." There have been vigorous debates on the best parenting style lately amongst the mothers, stirred up by the "Why Chinese Mothers are Better" article by Amy Chua.  Ms. Chua recommends her brand of tige...

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