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Children's Health

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Q&A With Royal Pains' Mark Feuerstein

The actor talks about his TV doctor role, the real doctors who saved his daughter's life, and his parenting philosophy.

You solve medical mysteries on your show. In your personal life, your youngest daughter, Addie, has a rare heart condition. Did your TV character help you when you were working with her doctors?

Playing a doctor on television did not help me at all when I was working with doctors to figure out what was happening with her; it simply made me realize how far I am from an actual doctor. Addie recently underwent two open-heart surgeries, and it was the nurses and doctors of the CT-ICU at Children's Hospital LA who knew exactly what to do in all situations -- who knew how to adjust her meds and put in PICC lines and her NG tube, and it was Dr. Vaughn Starnes who knew how to navigate and rearrange the intricate highways of the human heart in order to save her life. She's doing great today. She's off all her meds, she's gaining weight, and learning how to walk -- it's a miracle. All those surgeons, doctors, and nurses who helped her remind me what an honor and privilege it is to get to pretend to be one of them.

How do you stay healthy while on set?

Luckily we shoot on the pristine beaches of Long Island, so every once in awhile I'm able to squeeze in a jog. I try to avoid the crafts services table, but sometimes that dried fruit just beckons.

You're a dad of three kids. What's the best parenting advice you ever got?

We've done RIE (Resources for Infant Educaring) with all of our 3 kids. It's a way of respecting your child from day one and listening more to who they are than to who you want them to be. Our incredibly wise RIE teacher, Liz Memel, once said, "It's never a bad idea to slow down." I believe in this wholeheartedly with parenting.

What's the most challenging part of being a working parent?

It's just hard to leave the kids at all. And they're going through so many changes without my leaving that I try to stay in their lives as much as I can. We Skype, and I fly back on weekends, but it's still not the same. Before I left to start work on season three of Royal Pains, I made a "Daddy's Leaving for NY" book with the kids, with pictures of the things we love to do together, descriptions of where I'll be and what I'll be doing, things they can do to make themselves feel better, ask for extra hugs, hold their babies, ask to call Daddy. It was great and they read it every day.

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