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Lives of Doctor Wives: July 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Any comments on last week's poll about how this year is going so far. We are nearing the end of the first month, want to change your vote? ;o)

I picked that it is going great because, hey, I'm living with my hubby again! LOL!

Sorry to bring up sore subjects Stacie, but I'm curious how many others are in the same boat. From the comments, it seems you are not alone in the 'wrong specialty' situation.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Personal Statement

My husband is starting to write his personal statement. I've heard a few things about it as far as applying to residency (scroll down to the second paragraph).
For those of you past this phase what was your experience? Any advice? Thanks!

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Survivor Saturday--When A Patient Dies

Last week, I received a text from my husband during his call shift that essentially read, "Can you come to the hospital for a visit? And bring food?". I'm used to these types of communications from him, especially when his calls keep him at the hospital and he's too busy to grab dinner from the cafeteria. My son and I put together some leftovers, hopped in the car, and trekked on over to Daddy's work. When we got there, I could tell he was very happy to see us, and I wondered why. We made our way to the call room, and as soon as the door was closed, he related the story of his first case that morning. He had received a text from the doctor on the previous shift asking if he could come in early to help her. She was swamped. When he got there, he immediately started watching a woman who had been progressing very slowly with her labor. He decided to do a Cesarean section when the baby's heart rate dropped a couple of times. Although everything looked routine and the baby came out crying and appeared healthy, it almost immediately "crumped", as the OBs put it, meaning it had coded. The on-call pediatrician and another who happened to be the hospital worked on the baby for an hour, but could not revive it. My husband was devastated. In his eight years of medical training, he's seen many types of deaths, including many fetal demises. However, there was always some reason why the baby died in the womb or soon after birth. This was, quite possibly, the first time he'd ever witnessed the death of a child who appeared to be completely healthy on delivery. There had been no indications up to that point that anything was wrong with it, and although he thought he had done everything possible to deliver the baby successfully, he could not figure out why it had died. As he told me the story, I could see the heartache in his eyes. It really hurt him, partly because a child he had delivered died, but I think also because he didn't have a solution to the problem. When our spouses train to become doctors, they learn how to look at their patients closely, diagnose their illnesses, and fix them as best they can. Unfortunately, not everyone can be fixed, and sometimes, the totally unexpected happens. I don't know how physicians are trained to deal with such situations, but my husband did what he thought best for his own mental state. He assisted the other doctor from his practice who was still there during another Cesarean and delivered a healthy baby with her. She told him that he didn't have to help her, but he said he really needed to be there when a healthy baby came into the world, and he had something to do with it. It was his way of coping. He ended up delivering several other babies that day, and even though each of those cases helped him feel better about his abilities and about the world, it helped him even more when my son and I showed up to give him a little support that evening. I really didn't know what to say to him, so I just gave him a sympathetic hug and patted him on the shoulder. I think just being able to talk about the situation helped him immensely, and I came to realize how important my role as his spouse was to him that day. No matter how much I might feel resentful about his call hours and how often he's away from me and my son, I have to remember that we're still a very important part of his life and that he needs us for encouragement and support when his job gets rough and he's exhausted. I'm sure there will be more instances in the future when he won't be able to fix a situation, and I hope that he turns to me in his time of need like he did last week.
On a side note, my husband did find out later through autopsy that the baby had a heart defect. I think he felt better knowing there was a reason for its death, but he was very stressed about the situation until he had an answer.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I put up a new poll for us to discuss next week.

So, any comments on the old poll about going into medicine yourself?

I chose the 'I can't stand the sight of blood', but that isn't entirely true. It isn't blood that bothers me, it is seeing people screaming and in pain. Ahhh! I seriously CANNOT watch ER, or Grey's (for many reasons LOL!), or pretty much any medical drama with people screaming while their arm is dangling off. Give me a nice surgery channel with people knocked out cold, and I'll be fine.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Residency Switcheroo

So Dr. C comes home after his first day in his radiology residency and says "couldn't decide which to do: a) hit car into tree and die, b) tell you that I made a huge mistake and do not want to be a radiologist.

So, now what? We bought a house, moved the family across the country - Melisa, any of this sounding familiar?

Wouldn't it be nice if he could just switch into a program here? We'll just have to see I guess...

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What You Wish You Knew...

I'm hoping to speak at some medical gatherings in the future, addressing topics physician spouses would find useful. I would love to know what topics you would find helpful. Do you worry about infidelity in the workplace? Do you wonder how common drug abuse is among doctors? Do you just want to know which fork to use at the Medical Alliance dinner party? Would love to have your input (and some suggestions may also result in blog posts here).

You can email me your thoughts/concerns at kathi@wingspouse.com or list your ideas as a comment here.


Friday, July 17, 2009

I dont mean to whine but....

I am really not liking fellowship, so far its a lot worse that residency was, plus he is now commuting for an hour each way (for residency it was a 10 minute drive). It is driving me crazy I need to find more things to do, any ideas on how to add things to my days and weekends?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sorry for the interruption

For some reason, Blogger flagged us as SPAM. Rude! If you got emails about it, sorry! We are in the process of fixing it. Just ignore the email. Hopefully we'll be back to normal very soon!


Having kids...

In previous posts, we've talked about the timing of our marriages relative to med school. Now I'm curious about your experiences with having/raising kids while your husband was in med school/residency.

*When did you have your kids or when do you hope to have them?
*Did you have a support network of family and friends nearby or were you in a city far from your families?
*Any great stories? advice?

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Two things to be thankful for

Yesterday I got to experience two things that made my heart sing:

1. Seeing my husband in his long white coat for the first time (granted, they misspelled his name in the embroidery, but still!)

2. Hearing him talk about how much he's enjoying his month of Radiology, and how much he's looking forward to doing it full time. I really hope that we can both hold on to this precious glimpse of what he's working toward throughout the long surgical intern year.

Have you had any moments lately that made you feel proud or warm inside?


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Applying to residency

Perhaps these are questions for survivor Saturdays but now that we are beginning the application process I have a few more specific questions...
  • How many programs did your husband/significant other apply to?
  • Of those programs how many interviews did he take?
  • Did you apply all over the country?
  • Roughly how much did you spend?
  • Any advice on personal statements - from what I hear these don't generally help you and are viewed as only having the ability to hurt you?
  • Any other advice?

I know some of those may be personal questions- but if any of you care to share it would be much appreciated! I will be documenting the whole application process on my personal blog, and am also planning on keeping track of every cent it costs.

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Here's another website to check out potential physician job postings throughout the country...:) They are always interesting to check out...


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Sorry that I haven't been able to update the status of everyone on the blog yet or update some other things, but I am sitting in the Subway parking lot with my screaming baby.....who has been crying for 4 weeks, trying to get caught up on bills and other important things in my emails! The Internet people are finally coming this Thursday to install Internet so I will actually be able to catch up on what everyone has been up to. We have been trying to desperately find necessities for Tom to get to the hospital everyday (since we didn't get into our house until a few days before he actually started work), so blogging has not been a priority! Hope everyone is doing well and I will get things updated ASAP and get things hopping again! Take care!

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Teens - Children Trapped in Big Bodies

This past Survivor Saturdays post was about how our children suffer quietly through residency. Someone commented that it would be nice for me to share more specifics about what I learned as I raised my children. Since I was already working on an article for my own website, I thought I would include a jump to it in case any of you are interested.

My children are all teenagers, but my recent trials taught me that had I done things differently, I may have avoided some of the trouble that came to be.

original URL Teens Are Children Trapped in Big Bodies


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I added a new poll. Just for kicks. And because I'm a curious person. :o)

Are there any comments or thoughts on the old poll about what you say when people ask what your hubby does? If it is someone I will have future interactions with, I usually say that Brad is a resident. If it is someone I don't know and probably won't see again, I end up saying he is in school. Residency is school, right? haha!


Call and Family Time

The summer is in full swing around here and although Erik's program has "home call" for all 4 ortho years, during the busy seasons, like summer, there is no such thing as home call. The residents are required to live within 30 minutes of the hospital because of this. Last Sunday, he was actually able to come home while on call [ a first in over 3 months]. He ate dinner with us, played catch with the kids, and watched some tv with me after the kids had gone to bed. Erik is convinced that "the powers that be" know the exact moment that he has decided he wants to go to bed, because his pager seems to go crazy around that time. He ended up driving in at 1am [I hate it when he has to drive in like that] for an ER consult and ended staying there. Oh well, it was nice that he was actually able to come home for a bit. It had been a LONG time since he actually had "home call" and the kids were more than pleased that dad got to spend some time with them even though he was on call.

He was on call this Friday and Sunday and boy were they slammed. Friday they were in the OR all night long. He didn't get to sleep at all and then he didn't finish rounding until after 2pm. Needless to say he way beyond zonked and he had to be back at the hospital at 7am the next morning. Yesterday [Sunday] was another busy call day. I didn't hear from him until 5pm, they had been in and out of the OR all day and now that it was after 5 everything was closed and he and the MSIV on call with him hadn't eaten anything all day. He tells me that they have another case but it should be short and could I bring them some food when they're done. Ugh, this can be such a pain for me. I have three kids, ages 8, 4, and 1 that I have to drag with me. We live about 15 minutes from the medical center, which isn't bad, but if I pick something up over here, it will be gross by the time I get there and the options by the hospital aren't in the "safest" area during the day, let alone the evening. But, he hadn't really seen the kids ALL WEEKEND, and I was pretty sure that both he and the MSIV were EXHAUSTED and STARVING so I geared up to make the trek out there. The drive itself isn't the painful part. It's the getting the kids unbuckled and out of the car to pick up the food, lugging the food and the kids back into the car and buckling back up just to drive down the street to park in the hospital parking lot and get them unbuckled and out of the car. Then I have to make my way to the hospital and then through the corridors and mazes of secret hallways and elevators all the way up to the ortho resident's lounge. All the while keeping track of the kids, trying to keep them "quiet" [it's a hospital, not a playground], and not getting lost along the way. We make it there with my picnic basket of Vietnamese food and drinks. We sit down to eat and of course Erik gets paged. They have a case that has to go to the OR. They inhale their food and take off. It's just me and the kids in the lounge. We eat up then head home. It ended up being another LONG night in the OR and he still hasn't made his way home yet.

We've done this before and I'll do it again. Although, our children seem to handle his absence pretty well, the kids really LOVE bringing dad food and hanging out in the [dirty] lounge. We've always openly talked about how people, all people, have to work so that they can take care of themselves and their families. And often times having to work means that you have to miss out on a lot of things, things that you wish you could do and greatly miss doing, but that's just a part of life. Both Erik and I were raised by single mothers who worked a TON but neither of us ever felt deprived or resentful. We had J when we were still in undergrad, trying to finish school and work. So, I think it's just part of family package. The kids know how lucky they are to have at least one parent who can consistently be there for them. There are plenty of children who don't even have that.

On weekends like these [which happen WAY too often especially considering that the residents are only suppose to have one or two weekend call days a month, he got 4], it's the only way they get to see their dad. Hopefully, they'll remember the happy times that we got to bring him dinner rather than all the times he had to miss.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Years and links

So, our fearless leader, Lex, just had a baby and just moved to start intern year. YEAH LEX!

I went ahead and changed everyone's year in the links section. Please tell me if I did yours wrong. There are some of you that I thought should be done, but I wasn't sure so I just added a year. Let me know if you are done completely, or in Fellowship or what and I can change it. Also, if you want your personal blog linked let me know that too. And if you are new to the blog and want to be added to the link list, get me the name you want to list, the year and specialty and the blog you want listed. I think if you click on my name under 'admins' you can find my email. THANKS!

Hope everyone is having a great new year!


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Survivor Saturdays: Children Suffer Too

Recent Survivor Saturday posts have addressed how residency impacts you (the spouse), but I thought it important to mention that children are also impacted.

You may not notice the effect residency has right away, but from my experience children never come out untouched. They are often removed from their friends due to relocation, teased for being the rich kid, and given way too much at an early age. They are also often overlooked as mom tries to do everything, be everywhere, and forget nothing. Children compare themselves to other children and will certainly recognize that their daddy is not around like some other daddies are.

Be sure to talk to your child regularly about daddy's job. A child needs to know that when daddy is gone, daddy is missing the family. Sometimes, creating a "superman" image serves as a way for the child to understand why daddy would choose to be gone from the home and family. Make sure they understand that moving is not a choice, but a necessity, and only in preparation for good things that will benefit them later. This message is important to repeat often.

As children grow older, they may begin to voice their displeasure in the fact that dad is gone. Let them vent, and have monthly family meetings to discuss everyone's priorities. Communication can go a long way in helping your child to understand why dad is always busy. If possible, talk about family priorities and goals and do regular touch-base family meetings to see if everyone is still on the same page. If dad says he's working hard now because he's earning money for a fun family vacation, then that vacation better take place no matter what! If everyone agrees that Friday night pizza is good bonding time, then your daughter shouldn't be allowed to miss it for a new boyfriend. If the family decides to move so dad can have more time at home, he better be there more.

Family meetings may seem like a silly way to keep a family healthy, but it works. These discussions show your child that the family unit is important and that you and your spouse are willing to listen and change when called for. I wish I could tell you that this advice would eliminate all future parenting difficulties, but I'd be lying. Maybe someday I'll have some good advice on what to do when the children begin to rebel. For now, I'm googling the topic in hopes of finding some good advice.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Housing for Away Rotations

I posted this on my personal blog, but thought it might prove helpful on this one as well!

So Justin and I have an upcoming trip to Utah. I have posted about it before. Anyway, I post this not for the pity but for the awareness and warning to be shared.

We arranged housing. We found it on CraigsList under Sublet/Temporary Housing. The rentors name was Donald Spencer (Alberto Arias). He agreed to rent us his high end condo in SLC for a great price of $650 for the entire month of August. He rented the unit as a vacation rental for $45 a night. So the $650 was a great deal. We shared a bunch of emails back and forth. At one point he called us and spoke with Justin for a few minutes. We made all the arrangements. Donald Spencer was really nice and really easy to work with. Justin and I both felt really good about the arrangement. We felt like we were doing the right thing. We signed a contract and agreed to his conditions for the money. He asked that we send him a money order for $250 for the rental deposit which would go towards the $650 rent. He also asked that we send a post dated check for $300 to him. This was for the security deposit and would be returned once he verified that the apartment was left in proper order. Donald claimed that he was on a research sabatical in Dallas and would send us the keys. One June 21, he told us the keys had been mailed the day before. The keys never arrived. We repeatedly sent emails asking about the status of the keys and for a contact number for him. He never responded. Looking back now there are many things to question that we should have looked into further. But we were trusting and I guess pretty stupid. As we have looked into Donald Spencer we have found out that he does not own any property.

So if you are looking for temporary housing...Here are my 2 cents...
1> Be wary of CraigsList.
Clearly we were to trusting. I know they warn you, but you really need to be wary and look into everything you can!
2> Do your research on the rental/owner. Ask the renter for some sort of proof that he has rights to rent this property, or the name of someone who can verify that they live there. Maybe a copy of a statement with his name sent to that address, I don't know, but find some proof that they have the right to rent you the property.
3> Make sure that you have full contact info before agreeing to a contract.
4> Be wary if they ask you to send the money to a different address. Donald Spencer said he was living in Dallas, but was going with Alberto Arias (who was listed as a co-owner and whom I assumed was his boyfriend) to visit his sick aunt in Massachusetts.
5> Make sure when renting in a temporary housing situation that you keep good records of everything that took place, every phone call, email, exchange, check numbers, money order receipts and so forth. We were lucky that we had all this.

I am assuming that we have lost the $250, which is awful, but we are fortunate that is all. As I said, I don't post his blog for any pity for our situation. We have been lucky enough to be able to work everything out despite it. I post it so that everyone will be aware. And I hope that when people do searches on Donald Spencers name they find this blog post and do not rent a vacation rental from him. Obviously that is probably not his real name...If it is, I pity him when the FBI gets a hold of him. He cashed the Money order which was made out to Donald Spencer and or Alberto Arias, so I am hoping maybe one of those is his real name...but lets not be ridiculous.

Just be aware when you are renting for away rotations. Luckily we have been fortunate to have some friends in SLC who are letting us stay at their house while we are there, Even the kids and I while we are in town. So thanks to them! It means I can actually see Justin for a minute or two while in town! :) Good luck to anyone reading this looking for housing!

And just for some further info: Here are the pictures he sent of the unit and the original posting on CraigsList (Now removed...wonder why)

Reply to: hous-nqqeg-1202055119@craigslist.org
Date: 2009-06-02, 2:47PM

45 per night
Fully Furnished One Bedroom Apartment, Discounts on Extended Stays
Bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, living room and den
45 per night and discounts on extended stays!
Living arrangements are really nice!
Located in the heart of Salt Lake City!
Major discounts for extended stays!
Looking for renters for now!

  • Location: Salt Lake City
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Original URL:http://saltlakecity.craigslist.org/sub/1202055119.html

The email we communicated with him on was dspencerinc@gmail.com

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Greetings from a new contributor

Hi everyone! I am brand new to this website, but already I feel so thankful to have stumbled across this wonderful resource for connecting, sharing, commiserating and getting some much-needed feedback on the issues that unite us.

By way of introduction, I'm married to a PGY1 who has just begun a surgical intern year before going into Radiology. We're staying in the same city where he went to med school, but we'll be moving two states away next year. We don't have any kids yet, and I've been supporting us for the past few years as a floral designer and then as an editor of local history books. No cable at my house, that's for sure! (though I frequently long for an episode of Top Chef when I'm all alone).

Throughout med school, my husband didn't really make that many close relationships. We had good acquaintances, folks to share drinks with at class parties and the like, but I never really got chummy enough with his classmates' spouses to talk about the challenges of being married to a med student. I'm a pretty independent sort, and to be honest, I guess I've been in denial about needing somewhere to turn, other people to talk to who are facing similar hurdles. The first few weeks of residency have found me alternately confused, depressed, angry and sensitive. As soon as I started reading posts from this site, I encountered experiences and emotions that immediately struck a chord. Thank you to everyone who cares enough to share with the rest of us! I'm still nervous about the coming years, but for the first time I'm beginning to feel like part of a community--a thought that brings a smile to my face.


My hubby just started his MSIII surgery rotation and the standing all day is new and tough to him. What do you or your husbands recommend for footwear? (Note: most days he's required to dress up and they don't provide him with a locker to keep alternate clothes/shoes--are there any comfortable dress shoes?) Did your hubbys ever do compression socks? Any suggestions would be helpful!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bye bye daddy.

So all of you moms out there that have been through this, any advice on when daddy leaves for multiple weeks at a time on away rotations. Of course we'll try to talk daily- might actually work out well for the kids' bedtime with the time change- and we're thinking of getting a video camera for the computer and downloading Skype to have some video chats. Any other great ideas or just advice on how to survive as a temporary single mom?

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Monday, July 6, 2009

New beginnings

So... How is everyone doing? Damian just started fellowship last week and so far "so good" .