Neurosurgeon Dr. Ramin Javahery on Humility in Medicine

Be inspired by my interview with Dr. Ramin Javahery and our shared views about the importance of compassion, humility and the doctor-patient relationship.

Dr. Ramin Javahery is a board certified neurosurgeon. His education began at UCLA where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in English Literature. During his undergraduate years, Dr. Javahery also engaged in research in the field of molecular biology, publishing and presenting on theories in gene transcription. He then went on to medical school at USC and became editor in chief of the USC Journal of Medicine. He continued to engage in research activities, with a focus on glutathione transport mechanisms. Beyond Dr. Javahery’s academic pursuits, he was also interested in humanitarian activities and organized the USC-Rwanda Relief Fund to send money to the victims of Rwandan genocide.

After graduating from medical school, Dr. Javahery remained at USC for his Internship in General Surgery. From there, he spent 6 years at the University of Miami, completing both a Neurosurgery residency and a fellowship in Spine Surgery. He then began to focus his research activities on neurosurgery & published papers on Chiari Malformations and wrote chapters in textbooks on Spine Surgery. After completing his final year in Miami as Chief Resident, he returned to Los Angeles to do a second fellowship in Pediatric Neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Today he is the Chief of Adult and Pediatric Neurosurgery at Miller Children’s Hospital, where he practices both adult and pediatric neurosurgery, as well as spine Surgery.

Dr. Javahery’s interest in patients extends beyond curing their diseases. He is passionate about caring for patients and is a member of the ethics committee at Long Beach Memorial. This committee is responsible for evaluating ethically complicated situations in the hospital. Dr. Javahery is also a member of American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and the Children’s Oncology Group.

Dr. Ramin Javahery, is married to Dr. Jill Javahery, who also practices medicine in Long Beach. Together, they have three sons and enjoy being a part of the Long Beach medical community.

Thank you Dr. Javahery for a great interview!

Dr. Denise

Instrumental Music from the song JUST SIMPLIFY
Sung by Michel Pascal
Composed by Paul Pesco
Lyrics Michel Pascal and His Holiness Dalai-Lama, from the book “Instants Sacres”
© 2016

Dr. Denise on the “ADHD Golf” podcast

What a fun interview on Jose Kuhn’s podcast ADHD GIG Episode 28: Rock em Sock em Goalkeepers- ADHD Golf!

Fun fact: Jose and I both played as goalies growing up! I played varsity goalie all four years in high school. I passed up college opportunities to hit the books hard to pursue medicine. I learned discipline, tenacity and life long habits that I use to this day.

On Jose’s show we discussed my favorite topics: mindfulness, adhd, parenting, and more!

Thank you Jose for a great interview and hearing what an amazing journey you have been on with your son, Ben!

With gratitude-

Dr. Denise

Professional Basketball Star Jarnell Stokes on Mindset, Nutrition, and Paying It Forward

It is an honor to interview professional basketball star Jarnell Stokes about the importance of healthy mindset, nutrition and paying it forward!

His most recent tour in the NBA includes playing for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Denver Nuggets. Jarnell learned a lot from his late 2016 ankle injury and shares with us how it contributed to his successful summer league performance with the Portland Trail Blazers.

His natural athletic ability, practice of yoga, clean nutrition and focused mindset led him to being in “the zone” this summer and playing his “A” game. He is excited to be heading to China to join the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association with the goal of a championship season!

I am impressed with his on court and off court intentions. Jarnell shares his experience about his summer 2017 youth basketball camp and the values his grandmother instilled in him about the importance of giving back!

We both agree that youth sports contribute to establishing great lifestyle habits and a healthy mindset for life.

Thank you Jarnell for a great interview! Safe travels to China.

Dr. Denise

Instrumental Music from the song JUST SIMPLIFY
Sung by Michel Pascal
Composed by Paul Pesco
Lyrics Michel Pascal and His Holiness Dalai-Lama, from the book “Instants Sacres”
© 2016

Youth Athletics as Mind Medicine for Life

As an adult and child psychiatrist and as a mom, I believe by encouraging our children to engage in sports we can help set the foundation for overall health, wellbeing and lifelong wellness habits. There is no health without mental health. Regular exercise, good nutrition, and a practice of mindfulness create strong physical and mental wellbeing for all of us and for our children. Let’s think of participating in youth athletics as “mind medicine” and lifestyle wellbeing.

We need to pay attention to each child’s unique neurostyle (the way they perceive and process the world) and natural athletic inclination to help decide what sport or physical activity matches each individual. One size does not fit all. It is important at a young age that you expose your son or daughter to many different choices: swimming, t-ball, basketball, golf, cheerleading, skating, bowling and more. Try individual and team sports and see what sport activity is the best match for your child. Your child might have sensory challenges, behavioral issues, or physical impairments that warrant patience by you as a parent in helping them to find a realistic athletic activity that they enjoy so they can thrive physically and mentally.

Remember it is not about us living vicariously through our children, we need to respect their growth and development as individuals.

I grew up in the mid-west playing sports all year round. My parents encouraged me to sign up for all types of sports starting at age four. I excelled at some and others were not my forte. Swimming and soccer were my favorites. My love of the outdoors and swimming landed me a position as a lifeguard and then pool manager. I learned responsibility, discipline, and stayed active at a young age. I also played starting varsity goalie all four years in high school soccer and was asked to play in college. I was fearless as a goalie but after getting kicked in the mouth I realized the importance of protecting my brain. I knew that I wanted to go into medicine and decided that college soccer did not make sense with my professional goals and politely declined an offer to play.

I am sharing this as I think we need to raise our children to be aware of protecting their brain in any contact sport and to teach safe sport practices when encouraging team and individual sports. It is also important for our developing teens entering adulthood to set their own personal athletic, academic and professional goals for their best life.

It is common for parents, young children, and teens to set high expectations and to dream of playing sports in college and beyond.

According to “of the nearly 8 million students currently participating in high school athletics in the United States, only 480,000 of them will compete at NCAA schools. And of that group, only a fraction with realize their goal of becoming a professional or Olympic athlete. For the rest, the experiences of college athletics and the life lessons they learn along the way will help them as they pursue careers in other fields. Education is a vital part of the college athletics experience, and student-athletes graduate at higher rates than their peers in the student body.”

With this NCAA data in mind, set realistic expectations with your young athlete. A holistic health attitude can be taught at a young age and can last a lifetime. Encourage physical fitness, perseverance, discipline, teamwork, a flexible mindset, good nutrition, sleep habits, and academic excellence. Remind your child that in order to play high school sports, a student athlete has to maintain a certain grade point average (GPA), this is a fantastic way to link good study habits with ability to earn and play sports at a young age. A dream of playing professional sports should not be discouraged, yet realistically discussing all of the benefits of playing sports with our children sets a foundation for success in all areas of their life. Participating in individual or team sports should be fun and set an attitude for life success!
Tips to remember:

  1. One size does not fit all. Let your child try different sports that are “a match” for their individual needs, skillsets and likes.
  2. Remember it is not about us living vicariously through our children, we need to respect their growth and development as individuals.
  3. As a parent you are helping your child to create their “Life Mindset” by encouraging perseverance, discipline, teamwork, a flexible mindset, good nutrition, sleep habits, and academic excellence.
  4. Staying active, eating healthy and practicing mindfulness are lifelong “holistic health” attitudes and habits to teach our youth athletes.

Cheers to lifelong health and wellbeing!

Dr. Denise

The College Send-Off

Summer is going by fast – too fast. I wanted to take a moment to reach out to college freshman and their parents and give some tips before the new school year starts.

First of all, congratulations on graduating high school! You worked hard as a family to get here, whether you were the student performing academically and athletically or the parent providing the nurturing home environment. Well done! I am sure by now you have a list of all the classes that you or your child wants to take and most of you have your college roommates matched up. This is also the time to meet with your primary care doctor and your mental health provider for a wellness check. I have patients that I have known since elementary school that are thriving now from a mental health standpoint and who are arranging their follow-up care at their respective universities or with me in October.

Did you know that 70% of all life long mental health challenges start before age 24?

I get calls from many parents after the school year starts with many concerns, such as “My kid is homesick, depressed, anxious, or not focused.” It is important to know that most college campuses have student health centers and even provide a certain amount of no charge counseling. I suggest that you or your parents find out what your university has to offer. Usually the counseling provided is for normal adjustment to college as most colleges are not staffed to deal with higher acuity mental health challenges. Plan ahead for what you or your child needs and research medical referrals ahead of time. Make academic accommodations for your student if they have been receiving an individual education plan in high school before school starts or at freshman orientation week. Be proactive, not reactive for academic support and physical and mental health care.

What should I be aware of when going off to college?

First of all, there is a normal adjustment period that can include feeling lonely, anxious, or disorganized. It is important that you have regular contact with your loved ones and your new college friends. Don’t isolate yourself. It is also important to remember that college is academically more challenging and that the first round of tests might not go as well as you hoped. Learn from this, and consider meeting with your teachers, forming a study group, getting a tutor, or meeting with a counselor.

There are many mind-medicine tools. Nutrition is important for physical and mental health. Follow good common-sense rules for eating. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Take a probiotic daily. And remember that sugar does not promote physical and mental wellbeing, so avoid it whenever possible. Get exercise and make sure to have fun, as laughter is the best medicine! Finding your mindfulness activity to keep you in the now reduces stress and improves your mental health. Sleep is crucial, have a regular waking and bed time. It is also a time when use of alcohol, marijuana and other substances happens and can result in abuse and addiction. Be safe, be legal and be aware of the physical and mental health issues that can develop.

If you or your child has a marked change in their personality, is isolating from others, academically failing, or abusing substances, those are signs that a mental health intervention is needed. One of the biggest challenges of getting someone to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist is the self-imposed and societal stigma of getting help.

“This can’t happen to me.” After Columbia University experienced seven suicide completions in a single school year, student mental-health advocate Jacqueline Basulto shared her strategies for coping with her subtle depression with me on my June podcast (transcription). She shared how her depression led to a lack of joy and excitement, even in activities she had previously enjoyed. Support from her parents and her private psychiatrist were instrumental in saving her life.

If you or your child is at an out-of-state university, I recommend use your parental intuition, do not hesitate to check in with them, and visit them right away if you feel that they may need your help and guidance. And ongoing dialogue about their mental, physical, social, and academic lives is crucial for overall well-being.

Tips to remember

  • Don’t isolate yourself when you are feeling sad or anxious. Reach out to friends or loved ones. Seek professional help if needed.
  • Ask for academic accommodations if you qualify or consider dropping a class if you are too stressed.
  • Plan family and friend visits to have something to look forward to.
  • Avoid use of alcohol and other non-prescribed drugs.
  • Think of your nutrition as “mind medicine”. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Flaxseed is excellent for mental health.
  • Take a probiotic daily.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Sleep is vital for mental health. Have a regular wake up time and bed time.
  • Take breaks from screen time and self regulate your exposure to negative news.
  • Practice gratitude and find your mindfulness style.
  • Have a mental wellness plan in place before you go to college and reevaluate regularly.

You are ready to go to college with these tips, tools and wellness strategies! I wish the class of 2021 love, prosperity, and good health.

Dr. Denise

Emmy Award Winning T.V. News Reporter Cathleen O’Toole Interviews Dr. Denise

It’s a take-over of the Dr. Denise Show – Emmy award winning news reporter Cathleen O’Toole is interviewing Dr. Denise today.

Cathleen O’Toole (@CathleenOToole) is an award-winning television news reporter who has worked at stations all over Florida. She got her start in Miami where she rose through the ranks to become the investigative producer of WPLG’s lauded Eye Team. It was Cathleen’s crew who first reported on the hazardous cargo that brought down ValuJet Flight 592. In that post she won an Emmy and a Society of Professional Journalist’s Community Service Award for a report she produced on life-threatening mistakes at local pharmacies.

Cathleen’s on-camera reporting career included stops in Tallahassee, Jacksonville and West Palm Beach. In the state capital, she got a front-row seat on an event that captured the nation’s attention in the fall of 2000 — the presidential election recount. There she also covered scores of political stories of statewide significance, including Governor Jeb Bush’s dismantling of civil service in Florida.

In Jacksonville, she got an unusual vantage point for North Florida’s first chance at hosting a Super Bowl. It was from inside the stadium’s tunnels that Cathleen was the only local reporter to snag interviews with President George H. W. Bush and President Bill Clinton.

An eight-year reporting position in West Palm Beach had Cathleen reporting on everything from priests on trial for graft to the boom and bust of the South Florida real estate market. She won an Associated Press Best Continuing Coverage Award for her serial investigation into a sexual offender who despite proper permitting evacuated downtown with an unorthodox effort to prove his innocence.

Cathleen graduated from the University of Miami’s Honors Program. She received a double major in Broadcast Journalism and Politics and Public Affairs.

Instrumental Music from the song JUST SIMPLIFY
Sung by Michel Pascal
Composed by Paul Pesco
Lyrics Michel Pascal and His Holiness Dalai-Lama, from the book “Instants Sacres”
© 2016

It’s Your Health, with Lisa Davis

It was an honor to be interviewed by Lisa Davis, MPH today. I am still smiling! We discussed practical parenting tips and strategies for when children “get stuck” or “frustrated.”

Thank you Lisa for ALL that you do for raising awareness about mental health and collective wellbeing.

~ xo

Dr. Denise