Friday, April 24, 2015

Finding Happiness After a Disappointing Match

Match Day was years ago, but I still remember feeling my stomach drop when my husband read that he matched to the second-to-last program he ranked. His rank list was so long, and he had received such encouraging feedback; it was unimaginable he would match at a program ranked down in the double-digits. I ducked out of the Match Day party to weep, overwhelmed by shock and disappointment, and even a little bit of shame.

The cry you hear repeatedly is "We got our number one pick!" People say it so often it seems like no one gets anything except their first, or possibly second, choice. The reality is the only people who say anything are the minority of lucky students who matched at their top choices. The rest of us are silenced by stigma. Admitting you matched to anything other than number one is admitting that programs didn’t want you. Programs’ decisions for who they want most are largely arbitrary; they’re picking from a pool of well-qualified candidates they just met. This perceived rejection can make you believe the lie that you’re not good enough.

It took time to pick up the pieces of my lost dreams, but I’m grateful we matched where we did. My husband’s training has been solid, and the culture of his residency has been a better fit than he would likely have found elsewhere. His career will be fine. We’ve met wonderful people and had great experiences. We would still rather have our number-one pick, but we are happy and life is good. Life works out, but it can be an emotionally draining journey to make that happen.

When dealing with disappointment from the match, here are my thoughts for survival and growth:
  • Don’t envy those who did better in the match. It accomplishes nothing and poisons you and your relationships with your friends who had better luck in this fickle process. So much of it is arbitrary, and chance has a huge role in it. Congratulate your friends for their good fortune, even if it takes time for you to genuinely feel happy for them.
  • Don’t resent your husband or blame him for the match results. Let go of the "if only he had . . . ." thoughts, unless there’s a real lesson to be learned that can be applied to future experiences. Everyone has shortcomings and no one knows his better than you, but let them go. Go ahead and hate the match itself if you need to channel the anger toward something.
  • "Comparison is the thief of joy." (Theodore Roosevelt) Don’t dwell on what might have been because distant grass always seems greener. We aren’t close enough to see other programs’ warts, so we assume they are better than the life we are living with all its bumps and imperfections. For example, one program we highly ranked seemed fantastic. I spent too much time thinking "If only we were there, then residency would be better, he’d be working less, and life would be wonderful." Several years post Match, my husband spoke at conferences with their residents. The program had education problems and a malignant culture. The wonderful promises they’d made during interviews hadn’t been kept. But because all I’d known was their excellent presentation during the interview process, they’d seemed ideal. No residency is perfect, and if you can’t see their flaws, you don’t really know them yet.
  • Don’t badmouth your destination. Whatever institution you’re headed to has people who love it and are proud of it. Disparaging the program or the town can only burn bridges. So sure, tell your mom you’re disappointed, but limit that information to your inner circle and never on social media.
  • Dive into your new city with gusto. Every city has something great to offer, whether it’s world class museums, a great park, or a fantastic neighbor. There’s a treasure there somewhere. You just have to find it.
  • Establish your new place as home, both physically and in your heart. Home is where you and your partner live. It’s not where your parents live, and it’s not where you used to live. Invest a part of yourself in your new community.
  • Build a tribe. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a tribe to survive residency. Reach out to your local medical alliance chapter, get to know your neighbors, join a club, and if applicable, jump into your faith community. You will need people whom you can call on during the many times disaster strikes and your resident spouse is not available. Start building those relationships from day one and residency will be far less lonely.
  • Build up and encourage your spouse. Being rejected by a long list of programs is likely just the first in a long series of residency experiences that will hurt his confidence and his feelings. Be sure to let him know that you are proud of the person he is and the doctor he is becoming.
  • Find things to love in your program. I’m not saying convince yourself this is a better outcome than your top choice, but find the things that can be appreciated about where you are. There’s something to love about his program, whether it’s great medical benefits and research opportunities or fresh cookies in the cafeteria. Find things to be grateful for, even if you have to dig deep. Gratitude seeds happiness and dispels resentments. Choose to be happy where you are.
We are now preparing ourselves for a competitive fellowship match. This time I have more realistic expectations and a better attitude. I understand that matching anywhere should not be taken for granted, and getting the last spot on the list is still an accomplishment we are going to celebrate. If there are any tears this time, they’ll be tears of happiness.


By Anon.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Survivor Stories: Keep Yourself Busy




Oh, the pre-medical days of my romance with my husband.  Hanging out downtown, backpacking in the summer, skiing all winter, carefree and full of aspirations.  Then, medical school began and I found myself alone (often) and bored (sometimes), trying to replace those events in my life…in a new town, living in a different state, where I had no family or friends.

What I have learned, 10 years later, is that to survive a medical marriage you need your own hobbies.  The best way to push through his absence is to keep yourself busy.  So I thought I would compile a list of some of my favorites ways to do that.

Learn Something New

The Library
It’s free and every community has one.  Isn’t it fun to walk the aisles and grab a random book on a topic you know nothing about?  Okay, maybe that’s just something dorks like me do.  But still, the library is a great place to learn something new, and you don’t have to invest anything for that knowledge.  Also, many libraries use Overdrive, or a comparable app, so you can enjoy digital downloads and save yourself a trip.  If you love to read in general, the LDW Book Club is the doctors’ wives book club on Facebook, with reading discussions and great recommendations.

Professor Internet
Yes, I am a true believer that you can learn about anything on the Internet and you can teach yourself.  The problem lies in trusting the information you are getting.  Did you know many top universities have OpenCourseWare programs (like Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Yale, etc.)?  Here is link to a great site with free, online places to learn.  If you’re able to spend a little money, we’ve enjoyed some of The Great Courses.  Each course is a collection of online videos (also available on an app) that teach a variety of subjects, all led by experts in the field.  My husband has enjoyed a photography class, while I’ve been doing a culinary one.

Go Back to School
This is a good option when knowing some base information isn’t enough, or you need an actual degree.  Is it stressful to be in a medical marriage when both of you are in school?  Absolutely, been there done that.  But it doesn’t get any easier.  If it’s your passion to go back to school, just do it.  The timing will never be perfect in a medical life (for pretty much anything you want to do) so just go for it.


Volunteer

Religious organizations
Charity is a strong emphasis for many religious establishments, and if you have a religious community there are bound to be on-going events you can be involved in.  Just ask what you can do to help, and you may be surprised how many opportunities exits.

Junior League
Major cities all across the US have local Junior League organizations.  The emphasis is community support through volunteer and fundraising activities, while also having a social aspect to it.   Having been a leaguer at two different Junior Leagues I can tell you that they all differ a bit in their expectations.  So consider some new member events to see if your local League is a good fit for you.


Get Fit

Join a Gym
If you have the time, money, and resources in your area joining a gym can be a great way to have more energy, be more relaxed, and find friends who share your interest.  And then there's that whole benefit of a healthier lifestyle thing.

Find an Online Fitness Community
If you don’t have the option to join a gym, or prefer home workouts, there are so many options for getting fit at home.  You could do an at-home workout program with online coaching (like a BeachBody program).  Or, you can find endless workout videos on YouTube for free.  The LDW Fitness Club is a great place for motivation and ideas.


Get Crafty

Ok.  So maybe it sounds a little cliché.  Settle down with a nice doctor, have a few kids, and start becoming a pro in all things domestic (cooking, crafting, sewing, knitting).  But it’s not just a 1950s stereotype.  It’s actually really relaxing to do those things, and fun to finally have the time/money/ability to be home to do them.  So where do you learn?  The Internet again to the rescue.  I just learned to sew in the last year – mostly through online video tutorials.  YouTube is great because it’s free.  But if you want something more elaborate consider a class from Craftsy.com .  Or, your local craft stores, like Joanns and Michaels, will do classes throughout the year and provide a great chance for hands-on learning.  Don't forget the talented doctors' wives.  Someone is bound to have good ideas on how to start and what resources to use.


Surround Yourself With Family

Change Your Perspective
Okay, I know what you’re thinking “we live 1,000 miles away from our family, I can’t be surrounded by them”.  Yep, I know what you mean.  But it’s a matter of perspective.  To survive the training, you want to have some non-related “family” in your life.  I know, it’s easier said than done.  But there may be a spouse organization at your school/residency program, or a local woman’s group, or a religious group that provides a good fit.  It may be situational and temporary, but there are people out there who will become your friends and function like family at times.

Build Your Immediate Family
If you still find yourself getting bored when your husband has a 30-hr weekend shift, or night call for the week, consider the ultimate option to eliminate your free time – children.  Nothing eats up your personal time like those adorable, bubbly little creatures.  It’s a good thing…..most of the time.  :-)

So hopefully the next time you are dreading his rotation in MICU, or that away rotation during 3rd year, look back at this list and see how the world is an amazing place and this is an opportunity to embrace it.


About the Author
Amber is married to an ER physician in Colorado and write about all things domestic on her blog Chief Household Officer

Friday, April 10, 2015

Choose Love

Just the mere thought of board exams still makes me shudder. I’m sure I am not alone. This is my story, I hope that it helps you get through this time when it is applicable or that you can relate because you have already been through it. As a spouse in this type of career lifestyle, I commend all of you for serving your families and enabling your spouses to complete a training path millions of people dream of. We are all strong, confident and independent individuals that are up for any challenge.

My husband started studying heavily for boards about six months prior to taking the exams. If I knew what I know now, I would have prepared myself better for it mentally. Our whole entire life changed the moment he committed to a study schedule. This meant that everything we used to do together, I had to do alone (e.g., food shopping, exercising, watching TV, cleaning the apartment, taking cars for maintenance, etc.). We do not have children, yet, so my home responsibilities were not terrible. What made it the most stressful was the emotional support I didn’t receive from my husband during that time. It was almost as though he had to become a robot to get through it all.

In his specialty, he had to prepare for two board exams that were very different from one another. He said that residency did not prepare him entirely for the tests, and it was up to him to read thousands of pages of information and well as review study materials in his spare time. His schedule was vigorous to say the least. For example, we were both up at 5:30 am; he was at work by 7:00 am for lecture prior to his residency assignment. He worked a full day and then would come home at around 5:00 pm. He would study until dinner was ready, have dinner and go back to studying until 9:30 pm. We would have about a half hour of wind down time before, going to bed to wake up and do it all over again. During this time, I had a busy career myself. I was an Office Administrator for a mid-size law firm. Often, my husband would leave later than me for work and come home before I did. As boards neared our schedule did not get any easier, it only got tighter. My husband battled a large bout of depression while trying to infiltrate the almost impossible job market. Someone said on the Doctor’s Wives’ Facebook group recently, "being married to a doctor is hard; but, being married to an unhappy doctor, is unbearable". I have to agree. It was extremely tough to see him that depressed. Especially, since I gave my all to help him with his job search. I contacted recruiters, filled out applications, created online profiles, filled out fellowship applications, etc.

My husband received his only job interview offer (after 9 months of looking for an attending job) in February and within one day we had a contract on a house and a contract for employment. All of the logistics for the move and purchasing our first home were my responsibility. The wind down time that we had in the evenings, turned into discussions about what paperwork was needed by the realtor, if we had enough money for the closing, etc. My nights were busy with cleaning our apartment and keeping our 70 pound golden retriever happy and quiet with frequent walks (we did not have a yard).

As Easter neared, I asked my husband if we could visit my family, and he said only if I drove 9 hours each way while he studied in the car. I did what he said and was extremely happy that I got to see my family. He had the same rule when we traveled to see his family. I had to drive both ways and he would study the entire time. We would travel often 3 hours each way in complete silence.

Just as soon as we got used to this schedule, I realized that when I would look in the mirror something didn’t quite look right on the lower part of my neck. I brought it up to my mother-in-law while she was visiting, and she said to show it to my husband. He looked at it and said "that looks large". I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I knew I needed to get it looked at. It turned out that my thyroid was encompassed by a very large tumor (non-cancerous) and I had to have immediate surgery because it was effecting my swallowing. When my surgery was scheduled my husband’s concern was not for my recovery, but for his board exam study schedule. He stated that I needed to figure out who could take care of the dog, because he could not with his schedule. I preface, by saying I was not able to walk the dog for two weeks following my surgery (I had 20+ stitches). The surgery was an overnight stay at the hospital and I was told by my husband that he would pick me up when I was released from the hospital. When he said those words, they cut right through me. I could not believe that he was the same person I had married three years prior. I didn’t yell at him, I didn’t give him an attitude; I didn’t have a reaction at all. I just stayed quiet and soldiered on. I contacted my parents and I asked if they could come and help while I recovered from surgery. They were more than willing to come. I was cautious about what I told them because I didn’t want them to hold a grudge against him; however, I made it known that my husband could not help due to his study schedule.

We closed remotely on our house on a Friday and I went in for a partial thyroidectomy two days later. In the end, my husband ended up going with me to the hospital; he studied in the waiting room and stayed with me that night in the hospital. When I returned home, he picked up my prescriptions and that was the last I saw of him. My parents helped prepare meals, take care of the dog and cat and clean our apartment. Once my family left, he called his mom and asked her to come and help. My mother-in-law had to wash my hair for me in the sink, because I could not get the front of my neck wet and make sure I didn’t lift anything heavy during my recovery. She was also there to walk the dog. As mentioned, my husband could not do it based on his study schedule. Three days after my surgery, I attended his residency graduation meeting proudly displaying my stitches; there was no way I would have missed that day.

One week after my surgery, I had my stitches removed and I was released to go back to work and accompany my husband on his out-of-town trip for his board exams. I was happy that I could fly with him and be there for him during his two day exam. I worked remotely for my job and was there for him after each long day of exams. He ended up passing both board exams and we moved at the end of June into our #itgetsbetter home.

The moral if this story is, choose love. Throughout all that we went through during board exam season, I made the conscious choice to choose love. I didn’t start blow out fights, I didn’t hold a grudge, I just kept moving forward. Prior to my surgery, I went to a Yoga class offered at my local gym, read a lot of books, walked and ran three days a week. Those activities helped keep my sanity. Make sure you have an outlet for your frustrations during board time. Do not expect emotional support from your spouse. You will have to find peace within yourself and support from your close network.

One last thing, prior to board season, I never knew what it felt like to be at home with my husband and still miss him! It was the weirdest feeling, because he was always behind the second bedroom door studying. Further, don’t expect your family members to understand what you are going through, just make sure they listen to your concerns and help where they can. In closing, the best thing my husband has ever "said" to me was written in my birthday card this past year. It said, "I would not be where I am in my life, if it were not for your help". That comment made everything we went through, worth it. Stay strong, you’ve got this!

- Anonymous

Monday, April 6, 2015

Freshman Wisdom, 16 Years Later...

April. A week into April, actually. Time certainly does fly.

I have been having a reoccurring dream for the past few months that it is Christmas again and my husband is asking why I haven’t decorated yet and I keep telling him it is because I JUST put them away and how did I have the whole year go by and not realize it. I always wake up very relieved that it isn’t true, but in so many ways, it isn’t that far from the truth.

I distinctly remember sitting in my living room my freshman year of high school with my friend Holly and talking about how quickly the first year went by and how we would graduate before we knew it since it was really just a couple volleyball seasons, a driver's license, homecomings, Christmases, proms and county fairs away.

I was a 4-H/FFA kid… years were marked by your fair animals.  1999 was Stanley, the steer.

We were so right about that.  What seemed like a week later, we were waving at each other from the distance at graduation, not as close of friends as we had been, but both knowing how quickly it all went by. 

Though nothing like the light speed of my twenties. Did that even happen?

Here we are now. Almost exactly halfway into my 32nd year on earth and a 2/3rds and one week into DH’s first year of medical school.

There have been times when it has felt like it will never end. Mind, Brain, and Behavior block specifically come to mind (which I am somewhat certain is actually an experiment in sanity using the students as unknowing subjects).  It gets frustrating to know his whole weekend will be shot cause a podcast didn’t get uploaded in a timely manner or never getting much help around the house no matter how sick you are cause med school doesn’t care about your sick wife (which is kinda funny).

I am an extrovert and my work often leaves me alone and then I will come home to an empty house and I will go a whole day or more without talking to a human (thankfully my dogs are very talkative). Though I live in my hometown still, but we are all married, working and some with kids, so I spend a lot of time alone, which drains me.

There are many parts of this journey that can wear you down, your your body out, and your patience thin.

However, I still find myself this spring, much like I did back in the spring of 1999 with Holly, thinking how quickly this has all gone by so far, and how, really, graduation is just a few Christmases, a Step 1, a couple of away rotations and, God willing, a few kids away.

Before we know it, we will be deciding where we want him to rotate, apply to residency, how to rank, and most of all wondering where the time went, so we try not to wish it away, as difficult as that can be. 

Enjoy the time you have and these years that you will never get back! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Premed Perspective: The Baby Debate

We’re not in med school yet and we have a 11 month old.

This means that Jake and I are awesome at compromising.
Or I won.
Squeaky wheel and all that.


Back story
Jake and I got married knowing that we wanted to be parents.
For me, it was a no brainer.
I wanted children as soon as we were hitched. The only thing holding me back was the impending deployment.
I was all about being a young mother, so I could pop out more kids.
I’m in no way career driven, so my dream job is staying home with my children.
Well, let me take that back.
The things that I am interested in doing as a career are impractical and not really applicable to family and adult life.
Staying home with my children seems to be awesome enough to dream about now too.
It''s more important now, and possibly a gateway to volunteering in the direction of my childhood dreams.

Jake had a little longer timeline in mind for us. He wanted to be settled and established.
This meant getting into Med school and possibly even into Residency before having children.

Did I mention that we got married in 2009?
.
.
.
.
Can you feel my deadpan stare?

After Jake got home from deployment in 2012, I was fairly hysterical for a shorter timeline for babies.
It did not help that my sister and all of my sisters-in-law were pregnant or had babies within a 9 month span.
Except me.

There were a few times when I flat out cried at him.
I’m not proud of that fact, because I tend to think of myself as a pretty emotionally stable person.

We did, finally, compromise.
We were blessed that Jaxon was on his way the very month we agreed to start trying for a baby.

Now we are more than over the moon in love and happy as a family of 3 starting this journey together.

Jake and I know that it will not always be easy, raising children while Jake is pursuing his dream.
There are many long years of school and hard work in Jake’s future.
Jaxon and I, along with any other future children, will be more than ready to be his completely adorable and awesome cheerleaders.


How many of you are entering this adventure with child?
How many are planning on having kids during the process of med school or residency?
Was it a big discussion with your spouse?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Survivor Stories: True Friends


Reading through the posts of the LDW Facebook group recently, I saw an especially strong theme of friendship.  Some were looking for extra support, some had received help and love and wanted to express gratitude, some were sharing good news.  I smile to think of the friends I have made through this group, even though I may never meet some of them in real life.  We share goals, struggles, and triumphs.  
Finding, making, and keeping friends is easier for some of us than others.  I am easy to talk to, but I do have an introverted personality, so certain venues (where I might meet new friends) are exciting, but overwhelming.  I'm realizing with each passing year, though, that each one of us needs friends!  
When my husband was in medical school, we were newlyweds and I had a part-time job.  We lived in the same city where we'd attended college, so we had some built-in friends.  Looking back, it seemed relatively easy to keep up with others and have a pretty good time.
Things began to change during my husband's residency.  It was a small, busy, intense program.  My husband got to know some of his co-residents pretty well, but there was hardly any time for them to get together for recreation.  We were brand new parents by this time, too.  I was overjoyed by being a mother, but my circle of friends started to shrink.  I didn't get out too much those first few years.  Once our son was a toddler, I sought out mommy groups and neighbors.  By the time residency was done five years later, I had a few close circles of friends, and it was wonderful.  However, I could count on a few fingers how many of those friends were from within the medical community.  
When we moved for V's first post-training job, our next door neighbors became the best friends we'd had in a long time.  Our kids (we had another baby during 4th year of residency) loved playing together, and the mom and I got to know each other quite well.  Her husband had a job that required shift work, so she understood a lot about crazy hours.  I was sad to move from that house, even though I knew the friendship would endure.
Here I am now, two years into my husband's second post-training job, and I am just starting to feel like I have good friends that go beyond acquaintances.  It's gotten harder to carve out the time for friends as I've aged.  However, now that both of my kids are in school, I have a bit more freedom for my own interests.  It takes time, and trust, and honesty, and patience, and kindness, and more time, to make true friends.
I know all of you realize the importance of friendship, but it seemed fitting for me to pay tribute to all the true friends out there today.  I'll wrap this up by sharing a poem I wrote a few years ago:
True friends
Listen as much as they speak
Encourage when we are weak
True friends
Laugh with us till we cry
Encourage when life is one long sigh
True friends
Pause their lives to lend an ear
When there are sobs and prayers to hear
True friends
Smile and share in delight
When there is only sunshine in sight
True friends
Can be incredibly hard to find
As our life’s path begins to wind
True friends
Around the world or around the bend
What a precious gift, to find a true friend!
Cheers, to all the good friends in our lives, near and far!  I am an on-the-go mom to two school-aged kids, and wife to a hard-working, super ENT husband.

Monday, March 16, 2015

You are more than your match.

My mother-in-law has this story she tells about when she was a young wife to a young army private, recently stationed abroad. All the homesick base wives banded together and had regular play dates and dinners and outings. One of these shindigs was hosted by the wife of an uppity-up on base. After everyone arrived, she gathered the girls together and said, "Now, everyone, let's get to know each other! Go ahead and line up by rank."

At one side of the room, women loudly compared how many years their husbands had dedicated to the military, the number of bars on their uniforms, the purple hearts and awards they had received and the famous hands they'd shaken. At the other side, my mother-in-law whispered with several other wives, "my husband's only been in four months." "He hasn't been promoted yet." "I don't even know what all these ranks mean."

Eventually, they all ended up in a meandering line around the room and the hostess stepped out from her place at the head of the line. "Ladies," she said, "You don't have a rank. Your husbands, they have a job title. But that doesn't make anyone better than anybody else."

It's a big week, girls. Some of you will find out that your husband matched at his dream program, his first choice. His last choice. The place you totally forgot he interviewed at. Some of you will find out that your husband, your best friend, the smartest and hardest working guy you know, didn't match. Anywhere.

And the moral of the story here is that it doesn't really matter where you match or whether you match, whether you train at Harvard or in Hicktown, at least in terms of your intrinsic worth. You and your husband  are good people, and the world is so lucky to have you.

Best of luck, everyone.








Sunday, March 15, 2015

It's that time again! Show-Off Sunday! Link up your blog posts, website, Etsy shop items, etc. This is your chance to SHOW OFF!  We can't wait to see what you have been working on!  Link up closes next Sunday.





Friday, March 13, 2015

Making friends: Where there is one, there are many

I’ve always been envious of natural networkers. Extroverts. People totally in their element walking up to strangers, shaking hands and striking up a conversation out of thin air.

Me? I’m an introvert and struggle with social anxiety, so making friends when residency brought us to a small town where everyone seemed to know each other was a challenge.

I was basically friendless for almost a year. When my husband was at work late on weekend nights, he would text me to ask what I was doing.

My responses didn’t vary much from week to week.

"Watching Netflix."

"Reading."

"Petting the cats."

He would encourage me to join some of the other residents who were off work that night and going out to dinner. As if I would ever do that.

Even though my job and a volunteer opportunity doing marketing for the local pet shelter took up most of my time, I still hadn’t met anyone I could call up to hang out with on the weekend when my husband was busy working.

That year was lonely, but eventually I made friends. How?

I made one friend at first. Just one.

My co-worker encouraged me to attend a networking event of local young professionals, which I did. I had a death grip on my water glass and made awkward conversation with the few people I had met in the nine months we’d been living in our new town.

Then one dear, sweet girl – one of those extroverts, and the wife of a resident in a different program – approached me. She started chatting away and even invited me to go out for drinks with a group of her friend. As nervous as that made me, I agreed to go.

This continued for a few months – she would invite me to another event or send me a Facebook message asking if I would like to come with her and her friends hiking, volunteering or to a concert. I went each time even though I was mentally coming up with excuses to say no.

To my surprise, her friends accepted me, and before I knew it, I had more than one friend.

I was going to book clubs, girls’ movie nights and concerts in the park. I was laughing and smiling more. Now, when my husband texts me asking what’s on Netflix when he’s at work late, I’m not always home. Sometimes I’m actually out having dinner with friends that I made myself.

We’re approaching the end of residency, and I’ll be sad to leave these friends. I don’t know if I’ve made lifelong friendships, but I’m grateful I met the people I did and for the girl who took me under her wing.

I hope I will have the opportunity to do that for someone else.

~ Marisa Z.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Survivor Stories: How Residency Interviews Became the Best Memory During the Training Years

It’s easy for a “survivor” to recall the tough times during medical school and residency.   The tough times are truly numerous.  But since I like to keep the survivor stories light, I recently asked my husband to recall the best memory of his training years.  Having been with him since graduate school (and before any of this medical journey) I had a feeling I knew the answer he would give.  “The trip with my dad.”  He said.  The same answer I expected he would give. Although I would have phrased it “Your residency interviews.”  It was the same trip, just a different perspective of the memory.
When we think about residency interviews as a medical student, our pulse quickens and palms get sweaty.  How many places do we have to apply to?  Did we choose the right away rotations?  Did we do enough away rotations?  How many interviews will be offered?  How many can I afford to attend?  What will my ranking list look like?
There are dozens of questions, and even more factors to complicate the matter.  We had the usual complicating factor – specific desired location.  At the time, we were in the Midwest for medical school, where my husband grew up.  But as a Colorado girl, I was used to warmer weather and much more sun.  I couldn’t handle another 3 years in the Midwest and desperately wanted to get closer to home.  
Here moves in the second complicating factor.  There are few programs in the Western states around Colorado (at least for ER – my husband’s specialty).  
And our last complicating factor is that my husband doesn’t fly.  As we neared the end of third year, we wondered how we would make this work.
Ultimately, my husband chose to do his fourth year elective months in Dec and Jan.  The electives he chose allowed schedule flexibility, so he was able to manage a 4 week break that placed Christmas through New Years near the end.  His Midwest interviews he scheduled around 3-day breaks in November and early December, and the Western states he planned during the 4-week trip.  His dad, a recently retired ER physician, joined my husband for the journey along with our 1-yr-old golden doodle. 
For the journey, I made my husband a binder with a map of the US on the front and individual pages for each of the locations.  I had areas for him to write down notes related to the program director/staff, hospital facilities, other residents, best areas to live, etc.  Each location had a two-page spread for him to capture thoughts.  I also included printed mapquests, hotel recommendations, things to see and do at their destinations and along the way.  I stayed back as I was working full-time and unable to take that much time off. Although a road trip this extensive is more suitable for the boys anyway.
On their way to interview destinations, they visited Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, the White Sands, the border to Mexico, and Saguro National Park – to name a few of the highlights.  We rendezvoused in Colorado at Christmas with both of our families.  
Overall, by driving to all of his interviews, my husband developed a great feel for each of the areas we considered.  He was able to see the surroundings and outdoor activities (just as important to him as the program).  And, it made for interesting conversation during his interviews.  People would ask about the adventures, what sights had he seen, how our puppy was holding up through the travel (very well, by the way).  I would like to think it helped him be more relaxed, allowed his personality to show through, and helped him stand out in the memory of the rank list panel when the time came.  His father’s wisdom, as a former academic ER physician, was hugely valuable in determining questions to ask and how to process all he had learned through the interviewee experience.  It was a powerful trip between a father and a son, and one they speak of often to this day.  He matched at his number one, and we enjoyed spending the next three years continuing to explore our surroundings – as much as a residency schedule allows.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Residency Roundup: The Good

Its easy to dwell on the negatives of residency. Many, many posts focus on the (understandably)hard and long parts of training. I thought it would be refreshing to share some positives I have found through the last 3.5 years.

My Five Favorite things about Residency.
1. No administrative stuff!- We are not responsible for any staffing, billing, RVUs, contract responsibilities, office maintenance, advertisement of practice...

2. Time off does not mean less pay- We just returned from a 5 day family trip and didn't have to think about making up the time or finding coverage over the practice.

3. Attitude toward our finances- I appreciate that during residency other people I meet don't have falsely high expectations of my lifestyle.  A huge home, a German made car, perfect skin care, kids in coordinated outfits, magazine worthy home decor and many other ideas I have overheard that a 'doctors family' is assumed to have.  While each of those items are a great/fun thing to have, I relish the time in residency where none of those expectations exist.  

4. Benefits- Our program has amazing Medical, Dental, and Vision coverage.  We paid nothing for our third child's birth!

5. Co-residents = instant friends- We feel extremely lucky to have matched with another family very similar to ours.  They know exactly what we are going through because they are the only ones in the same program!  Rarely in life are you 'matched' with someone so closely. 

We all have difficult times!  We survive.  We move on.  But, as we move on, we all need to remember that life currently has great stuff happening:) 

:)Cami

p.s. What are your favorite things about residency??

Monday, February 9, 2015

Before and After

I distinctly remember the first time my husband wasn't there for me.

I was sick. Sick to the point that I almost passed out in a shopping mall and my Dad had to haul my listless, sweaty self out to the car and drive me to an Urgent Care Clinic. My family sat there with me for hours. As we walked out to the parking lot after I was treated and released, my husband pulled up in his patrol car to check on me. Concern was etched into the lines on his face as he asked how I was feeling. I don't remember exactly how I responded (I have a feeling it was neither kind nor graceful), but I do remember exactly how I felt. I was hurt, frustrated by the demands of his job, and embarrassed that a married woman still needed her family to step in and save the day.

This story occurred BM- Before Medicine. It seems somehow appropriate to categorize our lives into BM- Before Medicine and AM- After Medicine.

Our journey started several years ago when we decided that B would leave his full-time job as a police officer in the pursuit of becoming a doctor. The next few years were spent doing the one thousand things required to turn the dream of medical school into a reality. And we did! My husband is a first year medical student. Overall, it is going really well. Between adjusting to life in a new city, a demanding school schedule, and a new job for me, the transition has felt a little drawn out. But with the new year and the second semester in full swing, I think we are finally finding our rhythm.

However, one thing that seems to have taken the longest for me is shifting my mindset. It's like all of my mental energy over the last couple of years was focused on getting him here. To this point. The first year of medical school. I just couldn't afford to look past it until that happened. But now that we are here, how am I supposed to feel? I feel grateful, of course. Excited, nervous, hopeful. But I also feel...abnormal.

Every time I stop and look ahead at the really. long. road. in front of us, all of a sudden everything about the medical life feels abnormal. The hours will always be long, the demands are high, and there is no end to it. This is forever. We have committed to a lifetime of medicine. I will admit, it felt a little heavy at first. Add in the fact that we are also non-traditional (a.k.a. "older" *ahem*), and that instantly compounds the abnormal-ness. But I figure even the 23-year-olds fresh out of undergrad are probably watching their non-medical friends get real jobs, make real money, and buy real things...all while putting their own plans on hold due to the decade of training in front of them. I am willing to bet that even those spry 23-year-olds don't feel very normal most of the time either.

I learned so many important things Before Medicine. Things that are serving me well at this very moment. Heck, I even learned about abnormal. One might even think I should have mastered abnormal by now. After all, I am the same girl who went to bed alone most nights just praying that her husband would find his way safely there before sunrise. Not necessarily a normal way to live. I definitely learned that important jobs require sacrifice. That in the future, if B can't show up for work, he puts those who serve alongside him and the community of people who rely on him at risk. And that sometimes I will need to sacrifice on my end too so that he can be there for people who need him more than I do. Looking back on that day at the Urgent Care Clinic, I feel glad to have learned that lesson early in my marriage and I am certainly glad to have learned it Before Medicine. And when I picture that sweet, concerned look on his face that day, I regret the harsh words I spoke to a noble man who was torn between duty and family. It wasn't the first time and it certainly won't be the last...even in a totally different career.

So for now, I am going to do my very best to stop looking out so far ahead and bring my mindset in close, to where we are in this very moment- the first year of medical school. And what I realize is...we got this. We are surviving medical school. We even try to go out on dates pretty often. I also find comfort in knowing that at some point, the hours and hours and hours (I think you get the point) and hours and hours of studying will translate into true survival. Real life application. Actual life and death decisions made on behalf of real people. That's a far cry from normal. That's extraordinary.

Turns out, normal isn't everything it's cracked up to be.

Natalie
come visit my personal blog, thehappyredhead.com, for more med school musings and general happiness.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pre-Med Intro: Erin

Good Morning, Lovlies!
My name is Erin, I’m new to the LoDW community. 
I’m really excited to have been added on as a Pre-Med Wife contributor! 



My husband, Jake, and I are from the central Columbus, Ohio area. (O-H!!)
 We met in high school, through marching band my senior year, and have been together ever since. 



We have a little boy, Jaxon, who is 10 months old this month. 
He is the love of our lives and such a happy baby. Right now he is working on big boy front teeth and cruising the furniture. 

Jake has always known that he wanted to be in medicine… Well there was a small stint where he wanted to be a grocery store clerk because his cute little 6 year old self thought that they got to take home all the money.

Anyway, medicine and the idea of being a doctor has always been Jake’s passion. Once college started, he felt called to serve our country and join the Army National Guard as a Radiology Technologist. Jake’s decision to serve in the National Guard took his 4 year undergrad to a 6 year process. This included a 6 month stint in San Antonio and another 6 months in Washington DC for Advanced Training as a Rad Tech and clinicals, which was amazing for his professional development, and a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. 

It’s been quite a journey to get us to this point in Jake’s schooling. Challenges have always been present, whether it was just working full time while doing school full time, or Jake’s training and deployment.

MCAT 

We began the MCAT process while I was pregnant and Jake was taking his final semester of classes. Jake decided, after trolling the boards, that he was going to take his first MCAT without taking a course. Since a majority of his schooling has been online, Jake wanted to see what his ‘Base line’ would be.  It was an interesting time, for sure.

The first MCAT didn’t go as Jake expected. Even though he felt prepared, and being/just finishing all his science undergrad course helped.
His total score was lower than he wanted. It was a decent score, weighing a little heavier in one category… But not good enough for his standards. The distraction of our newborn, me being home on maternity leave, and just having moved in with his mom and step-dad didn’t help, I’m sure.

So the process started again. We didn’t have enough time to enroll him in a course and have it completed before the new year, and new test. So, independent study it was, again. This time he knew what to expect and his studying was set up differently. 
His score only went up by one point, overall. Each of the categories evened out… But that means he lost points in one category, while gaining in the others.
He was so disappointed in that fact and it was a shadow that we dealt with for a few days, but he had applications to complete, so thankfully he didn’t have long to dwell on it.

Applications

The first round of school applications were due 2 weeks after the 2nd MCAT. My husband, the king of procrastination, who is amazing under pressure, has only preliminarily started his applications… It was a frantic 2 weeks, with a flurry of phone calls, emails and constant stress. We sent out the first applications the week before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately due to the lateness of his MCAT and the time crunch, we didn’t really know what we were doing and transcripts were returned to us.
We decided to rescind our applications and go forward only with our February applications.
I guess the doors closing on the empty applications is just pointing us in a more solid direction with Jacob's eventual school choice.

His applications for the February due date are now in. 
Praise the Lord!


I do believe that as his wife and the mother of our child that is my responsibility to make his experience with med school as easy and stress-free on the home front as possible. So, I try to make myself available for our family. 
Currently, until we get into med school, I work part time and send our little boy to my sister for babysitting during my working hours. This frees up time for my husband who is working second shift at the hospital. Our evenings together are few and far between. 

This set up, I believe, will prepare us for the years of irregularity that Med school and everything that comes with it. 

The life of a doctor and his family is very special one and, in the words of Dave Ramsey, you have to live like no one else, to live like no one else.

(If you are interested in learning more about me, I have a personal blog, Enamored & Elegant. Check it out!!!)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Husband Hobbies

My husband and I have had a huge, ongoing debate about what his hobbies should be when he isn't working. We are currently in the 'better' stage of life; he is six months into his first job after residency as a hospitalist. Why do his hobbies matter so much to me? Because when he isn't working or studying, he is attached to my hip. I can't complain and I should actually enjoy his constant enthusiasm to be around me, but sometimes a woman just needs her space! I am so used to doing everything on my own when he is at work (typically, seven 12-hour shifts on, then seven days off), that I get really thrown off when he is home for days and days at a time! Enter: husband hobbies.

After weeks and weeks of debate, my husband has decided that he wants to buy a gun. Now, a little background: I am a pretty liberal Midwesterner that is (or was) completely against gun ownership, I don't understand the need for men to shoot guns, I don't want one in my house, and I love Bambi... I don't want to eat her. My husband, on the other hand, has gone completely 'Texas' (where we are currently living) and decided he wants to learn how to hunt. Fine. I've held him off for a very long time... secretly hoping he would find a more suitable hobby, but alas, here we are.

I guess my biggest complaint is that he just spent an awful lot of money on a hobby that he doesn't even know he likes! That was my argument the whole entire time. 'Why spend money on something you've never done before?' to which he replied, 'Remember when you went Paleo without thinking twice about it and spent $300 at the grocery store? Remember when you then went vegetarian a few months later? Oh, and how about that time you thought it was vital to buy not one, but three different workbooks on anxiety because you thought you needed help?'. Oh, yeah... oops. So maybe I'm not the most qualified person to tell him to hold off on his new hobby and to wait a little while before deciding to spend money. I clearly don't take my own advice.

Lesson learned.

Do you ladies ever cringe at what your husbands do on their days off? Have any secret/crazy/funny hobbies yourself?