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Lives of Doctor Wives: Who has it worse?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Who has it worse?

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend who is also a wife of a resident.  We were at an event where children were not allowed.  We began discussing who had our kids.  I told her my two girls were with a very kind friend.  She started telling me how her husband had theirs, but he had gotten home late today, late meaning 6:00 instead of 5:00.  She started saying to me, “I don’t know how you do it….”  Instantly my mind started silently running,  “5 o’clock? Late is 5 o’clock?  I am lucky if my husband gets home by 7 or 8.  We never get to eat dinner as a family on weekdays”….and so on.

As I have been reflecting about this, I hate that my initial reaction was to compare and judge.  It is too easy to feel bad for ourselves along this medical journey.  It is too easy to think we have it worse.  Ours is the hardest life.  Anything you have to do, I have to do too but with no shoes and in zero degree weather!

My husband and I have been married for 7 years.  In 2007 we moved to St Louis to start medical school.  We were young and naive; however, medical school wasn’t too hard for us.  We had no kids.  I started nursing school and worked part time so we were both too busy to miss each other.  When we had free time we could go to the gym for hours or watch complete TV series together.   All of our medical school friends had a different story.  They all had at least one child.  Their budgets were tighter.  Their time was spread more thin.  They had more responsibilities.  They must have it worse.  Then match day came. My husband decided to go into Urology so we were part of the early match.  I had just come home from a night shift and was 6 months pregnant.  We couldn’t wait to see where we were going to spend the next 5 years.  I turned the video camera on to capture this awesome moment and my husband clicked open the email.  Then our hearts dropped.  Tears came all too easily.  He hadn’t matched.  My extremely intelligent, talented husband with great board scores and plenty of interviews hadn’t matched.  At the time, it seemed we had it worse.

During our many years of school and residency, like most, we have been living on a tight budget.  We have not been given one penny of financial help.  On the other hand, we have friends who are given monthly allowances or other financial help from their parents.  Many are or have been on state assisted programs that pay/paid for health insurance and food.   However, one of these friends lost her mother to a very abrupt cancer during medical school.  Another of these friends struggled with depression and anxiety.  Who had it worse?

As for residency, we struggle with time quantity, not quality.  He works 12 14-16 hour days and then gets 2 days off.  I get lonely.  My girls go days without seeing their daddy.  BUT he loves us and he shows it.  He doesn’t waste a minute to start a tickle war with our two year old or cuddle with our baby.  Some have the opposite problem.  Their doctor is home much more often, but he doesn’t give them the quality that they deserve.  They might choose excessive exercise, sports, TV, or video games over them.  Who has it worse?

We live 14 hours away from all of our family.  We miss them like crazy because they are awesome,  incredible and supportive.  My girls get to see their grandparents about two times a year.  Others live right down the street from their family members, but have strained relationships with them.  Who has it worse?

My point? Even if you put your situation side by side with someone in the exact same point along this medical journey, it is impossible to compare.  There are just too many factors, too many differences. 
Perhaps instead of always thinking we have it worse, we should just try to be there for one another. 
After all, we have lots to be proud of.
We can be proud of our significant others for choosing such a noble profession.
Proud of ourselves for supporting them.
Proud of each other for helping to support one another when we need it the most.

Yes, instead of feeling lonely, and pessimistic, and down on ourselves, let’s be proud.

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Blogger Katie Van Brunt said...

This was a great post, thank you. I don't think I ever really compare myself to other resident wives, because I feel like we all take turns of having it the "toughest", but I've compared myself to my friends who's husbands have "normal" jobs. "Normal," meaning ~8am-5pm. I have a friend who is always complaining that her husband goes to the gym after work.... but he works from home! (lucky!) She talks about how he never helps out around the house, etc.... I've sat there and said back, well my husband has been at the hospital for 13 hours, and still isn't home yet. He left before our daughter was awake, and now I'm putting her to bed. Oh, and I'm 7 months pregnant. I feel like she shouldn't be complaining. But the truth is, life is your own perspective. What's hard for her may not be hard for me, but I shouldn't belittle her feelings because it's still real.

February 28, 2014 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Megan Walker said...

This is an incredible post, and so true. It's easy to throw endless pity parties on this journey. I did that myself for awhile. But then one day I realized how much joy I'm missing just by being sad. I don't WANT to be sad. I WANT my husband to be a doctor and achieve his dream. I LOVE him, and he is worth every sacrifice.

February 28, 2014 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger S said...

Probably one of the best posts I read on this blog. Thank you.

March 10, 2014 at 8:54 PM  

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