This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
Lives of Doctor Wives: March 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Turning the Page

We finally got the news we have been hoping for. My sweet, handsome, brilliant husband has been accepted to medical school!

Can you hear the resounding WOOHOO coming alllll the way from Texas?! Lots of shouting going on around here lately. The good kind though. And fist pumping. Oh, and some crying (for me anyways). I don't know what it is about mealtime, but every time I sit down to eat I just want to weep into my food. I'm just so grateful. And so happy. And so proud. And so relieved. I have so many emotions right now that I haven't quite sorted them all out yet. 

I have written about the difficulties of waiting before. The pre-med journey is full of waiting. It is brutal, but necessary. Gaining acceptance to medical school is a long process and there's no skipping steps. Pre-meds put in endless time, effort, energy and money for a goal dream that is not even guaranteed in the end.

Then it happens. Risk meets reward. For the first time in a long time, I feel like we can finally look forward.

Yet, I somehow find myself waiting again. BUT, this time it feels totally different. This wait is more like joyful anticipation. Excitement. I'm practically effervescent. Can August get here any sooner? 

And then...we attended the 'accepted students day' offered by the medical school. First of all, most of the students were accompanied by their parents, but my husband was there with his wife of almost 9 years. We had a good chuckle over that one. Secondly, we were given a campus tour by a MS2 who walked 90 miles an hour, talked even faster, and sucked down a monster energy drink like her life depended on it. Probably not even her first one of the day. We chuckled again. That does not bode well for my man. Lastly, during a student panel, a MS3 gave some sage advice to eager students. I'm paraphrasing of course, but she said something along the lines of, "If you're thinking about reading, studying, and getting ahead...DON'T. Spend the next few months with your family and friends. Travel. Sleep. Enjoy life while you can." We chuckled once again, but I sensed a nervous lilt in the laughter this time. 

So, as excited as we are to advance to the next stage of this journey, the next few months hold a unique opportunity. Over the last couple of years, I often found myself wishing the time away. That's easy to do when life is hard. But I don't want to do that now. Instead, we will do exactly what that wise MS3 suggested. We recently spent a fabulous week on the beach, we are looking forward to a fun weekend in Las Vegas soon, and some family time is in order. The next few months will entail lazy weekends, sleeping in, television and great books. Because we can. Because we are still blissfully unaware of how hard life is about to get. 

All along, our goal has been to write our own story. It just so happens that the most satisfying stories to read are the ones in which each chapter is packed with adventure, but manages to wrap up perfectly before moving on to the next one. Before the last few pages of our pre-med chapter go slipping through our fingers, I'm grabbing a pen and adding a few. 

visit my personal blog at thehappyredhead.com


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Yes, dear, it could be worse.....

Yes, dear, it could be worse.....

But at least it is almost over!

My DrH has had a very long residency and while I am happy to note that his training has made him into a fine surgeon, the program has many faults. Hence, my wanting to remain anonymous, to protect the innocent. Of course, the guilty just happen to get to be under the umbrella, too.

A lot of promises were made in this program. For starters, it was highly noted that a paternity leave was offered to residents. It was certainly never noted that NO ONE ever has taken it because they were told NOT to take advantage of this program. So, the paternity leave involved my DrH being allowed to drive us home and then going back to work immediately after dropping us off. Side note, this is obviously one of those things that we should have inquired into further from the get go. While, this is not a huge shock it is indicative of other aspects of this program.

The average work week hours rule is a joke here! Residents are told to make sure their reported hours average the correct amount which means no one is able to report the actual hours they work. It also means that residents doing Q2 for a week or more is not unheard of and schedules have not always “fair” amongst residents. Side note, a sort of hazing took place when my DrH wrote his practice boards- he was given Q2 for two weeks to see if he could cut it. He did but it really didn't matter because it was a practice test and I would argue that he was not better for the experience- we at home certainly were not!

This program also really challenges the skill set of the residents. They are often expected to do procedures with little or no guidance. On one hand it is good to be pushed to achieve these skills. On the other hand, would you want to be one of the patients? Again, I am sure this happens in other programs but it is a rather rough and stressful reality for many years here.

Interestingly enough, with all the garbage that has gone on in this program, the one thing that DrH is really upset about is the administration and their handling of our insurance. Upon signing it was made clear that any and all extra  expenses that were not covered in our insurance (for which we pay huge amounts) would be forgiven.  So we were both disgusted when our daughter needed treatment for her condition and when our insurance ran out the administration refused to even allow us to pay out of pocket on a schedule. I mean, seriously?! They cut out her treatment and told us we could bring her back when the next calendar session started! Needless to say, we took her to a private facility and continued her treatment and drained our savings account. Money well spent but had the hospital administration done what was promised it would have been appreciated!

My DrH constantly tells me that there are far worse programs. I am sure there are- perhaps, one that implements medieval torture devices?

On the plus side, this program has tested far more that DrH's skills. It has tested us as a family and we have persevered through out it all. We are a stronger family than when we started out in this program and have managed to keep our senses of humor- granted, some people may find our humor to be more twisted now! All in all though, I am very glad to be saying good-bye to this place and DrH will not be letting the door hit him on the way out!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Survivor Stories: Naked Eggs and Other Thoughts on Moving and Change

 I wrote this last summer, when our family of four was moving to a new city for the third time in eleven years, following the path of my husband's medical school training, residency, and first and second post-training jobs.  Moving and change happen frequently for those in the medical field.  Change is exciting, but it can also be disappointing and exhausting, and no matter our perspective, it's always challenging!

First of all, what is a naked egg?  According to a description I found in a science experiment, a naked egg is an egg without its shell.  That makes sense, but what does that have to do with moving or change?  Hold onto that thought...

This week has been a blur of boxes and packing paper.  Our family has gotten a lot of sweet help in many different ways, but our heads are still spinning a bit.  Maybe because today was the slowest we've gone in a while, that is why so many emotions went haywire.

The kids have handled our move quite well, but I knew there would be some bumps along the way.  For one, I've noticed a greater quickness for both of them to get upset over seemingly small things.  Today, L (8 years old), started getting teary over a perceived injustice with his 4 year old sister.  I sat and talked with him for a long time, and as he spoke, it came out that the greater issue was the move.  He doesn't disagree with our family's decision to move, he understands the reasons and benefits for all, but yes, there is grief.  There are friends, a school, a house, a neighborhood, to leave.  I encouraged him to let it out, to keep talking as much as he wanted to, and to think of things we can do to help him.

After he had calmed down, his mind was clearer and he could see how much this change was getting to him.  Then, right in the middle of this rather heavy conversation, he blurted out something about vinegar and eggshells.  I laughed, because I can't think of anyone else I know who would use such an example to describe stress!  I love the way he thinks.

I had to get him to explain.  Simply put, our move was having the effect on our mental and emotional stability that vinegar would have on an eggshell.  Vinegar is highly acidic, so it would break down that outer shell.  I couldn't believe my boy had come up with such an accurate illustration!

As I was reading over the science experiment to better understand L's example, I discovered something else interesting:  the shell might crack and come apart from the egg, but the egg's membrane would stay intact.  By the end of the day, I think my shell was gone, in a million pieces on the floor.  I was a naked egg, so to speak.  If I continued to think figuratively, though, surely my membrane was still protecting me:  my faith in God and his grace.

Because of that grace, when I turn with empty hands and a hungry heart, God will mend my "shell".  What is your vinegar today?  What is threatening to break you down, to make you vulnerable?  When you feel like your shell has cracked or even broken completely off, to what or whom do you turn?

My family sees our faith as our anchor.  When there is trouble, we pray.  When times are good, we give thanks.  We fill our hearts and minds with words and ideas that will quickly come to mind in all of life's circumstances.  Our shells still break, but our membranes stay strong.  There have been many trials as I've journeyed alongside V through his preparation to become a doctor.  We don't understand why everything has turned out the way it has--both good and bad, but we know we're on the right path, and we know we are on it together.

Here is a link to the science experiment if anyone would like to read over it or maybe try it at home:  http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/eggs/activity-naked.html

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

match process took me down a road I wouldn’t have chosen

Hello reader : )

I don’t presume to know where you are with your hopes and fears regarding finding out where you’ll be headed for residency...what I do know is that the match process took me down a road I wouldn’t have chosen, and it was one of the more difficult periods of time in my life. It’s not hard to share though, because on this side of it God has allowed me to see at least some His purposes, and now even if I could, I wouldn’t change a thing. I decided to write this all out, just in case God might use any of it to encourage people who are going through the match now. If you want to skip the story, there are some song lyrics at the end that were really meaningful to me as well :-) The story is written from my perspective as a Christian, which is honestly the only way I know to tell it. I’m not sure how it would’ve turned out if I had not had faith that there was a bigger plan that I couldn’t see...so I’m really thankful that I did and do. God is good.

I went into the residency application process with a firm belief in God’s sovereignty and control, and I’m thankful for that as it carried me through the months leading up to Match Day without an overwhelming amount of worry or anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, I did worry and have scary “what if” thoughts, but for the most part I trusted God with where we ended up (or at least I thought I did!). My husband and I made decisions on the order of his rank list together, and he considered me and my wishes a great deal, choosing not to even apply to many programs that would have been good for his career but hard for me. In his school’s very public Match Day ceremony where everyone stood on stage, opened their letters and announced where they were going, there were so many overjoyed people who were immediately in celebration mode upon seeing where they matched. I sat there in anticipation of it being my turn to be the excited, celebratory one. I had subconsciously convinced myself that our first choice must have been God’s plan, and I wasn’t spiritually or emotionally prepared for some of the other possible outcomes.

My husband went on stage and read aloud where he would be going, which was our second choice (but if I had had my own personal rank list, would’ve been further down the list). I still remember the look of surprise and quick flash of excitement on his face when he read it, and then the way his expression fell when he saw my reaction. I was devastated. That sounds dramatic, but it really is the word for how I felt. I was immensely disappointed and was almost immediately in a place of despair about what my life would be like in this place that I really didn’t want to go. For the rest of the match ceremony, I was holding back sobs and trying to act as happy for him as I could, and he was feeling so much sadness for how I felt and trying to suppress his own excitement in going to a program he had much respect for.

In retrospect, I tried to think back to our rank list conversations and remember how that program came to be our second choice. And I tried to figure out how on earth I went through the process not being more prepared for getting our second choice. I would’ve been fine with some of the programs further down the list, but for some reason, I was not prepared for this one. The only thing I can figure is that God used this to stretch my faith to places I didn’t think it could go, which was great preparation for the upcoming challenges of residency.I cried a lot for the first few days, less as the weeks went on, and by the time we actually moved, God had lovingly given me real peace with where we were headed and even a bit of excitement. I might have reached that point sooner if I had been more honest with God about my feelings after the match. I don’t remember feeling angry at God, but I did feel very forgotten by God. This program seemed good for my husband, but what about me? Did that not matter? It took me several weeks to finally break down and admit those feelings, but when I did it was significant. It opened me up to allow God to heal me and give me hope, and that’s what He did. Some people might say that we are ultimately subject to the residency matching algorithms and that God can work good from that no matter where we end up being matched. But I firmly believe that we are not ultimately subject to the residency match process any more than we are subject to the fate written on the piece of paper inside a fortune cookie. Yes, this process is big and intimidating, but God is bigger. The same thing we’re trying to teach our two year old is what God is constantly teaching me! Through all the moving parts of how you did on your boards, where you apply, where you are offered interviews, how charismatic you were during your interviews, and how you and the programs all rank each other...God is working to put us exactly where He wants us. We are not subject to the system, the system is subject to Him.

Sometime in the last couple of years, I was encouraged about God’s sovereignty by the story of Mordecai in the book of Esther. Mordecai overheard a scheme to kill the king and reported it to the officials, which in turned saved the king’s life (Esther 2:21-23). His act of reporting this scheme was recorded in the book of chronicles, but no other accolades are mentioned. Later, an official named Haman grew to hate Mordecai because he did not bow down to him. Among other events, Haman planned to have Mordecai hanged for this supposed disrespect, and intended to go to the king to have this plan authorized the next day. All in God’s plan to save Mordecai’s life--God caused the king to not be able to sleep that night, and in his sleeplessness he decided to read through the book of chronicles. In reading this book, he providentially came across Mordecai’s reporting of the plot to kill the king. In turn when Haman approached the king the next day to propose his plot to hang Mordecai, the king instead ordered Haman to give Mordecai high honors for his deed from the past that had saved the king’s life. All of that to say--if God wanted Mordecai to live, He could’ve accomplished it a thousand ways, including just striking Haman dead. But instead, He worked through the intricacies of the situation as it was...keeping the king awake all night, causing him to rummage through an old record book and find that particular record on that particular night. Things like this are all through scripture, and it encourages me to think of God working this way...entering into the way things work and directing the outcomes for His glory. No matter what happens, there is such security for me in that. For many weeks after the match, I daydreamed about if Match Day had gone differently and would’ve jumped at the chance to change programs if that had been an option. But within a few months, I stopped daydreaming and wishing things had gone differently. Even though I couldn’t yet see the reasons we were here, my faith had grown and helped me to not only trust God but also find real contentment in what He was doing with my life.

Now here I am, five years into this place that I never would’ve picked. And very honestly, if I could go back knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change anything. God taught me so much and brought me closer to Him through this, and that is worth all of it. I don’t even think about whether life would’ve been better at my first choice--I honestly don’t care. I can see now that God wanted us here, so this is where I want to be. I can see how He is using this program to prepare us for a future in medical missions that we have been hoping for, and we’ve experienced rich community here in great churches. I want this life where God took me (albeit kicking and screaming), not where I would’ve picked.

So if you get your first choice on Match Day, praise God! And if you don’t, be honest about how you feel to God but still praise Him. Either way, you will be where He wanted you all along, and He can see so much more of what we need than we can. Below are excerpts from songs that I absolutely wore out listening to leading up to and after the match. I just needed to remind myself of truth all the time, because I couldn’t keep that perspective on my own.

I do not ask to see the way my feet will have to tread;
 But only that my soul may feed upon the living Bread.
 'Tis better far that I should walk by faith close to His side;
 I may not know the way I go, but oh, I know my Guide.

 (His Love Can Never Fail)

 His call we obey, like Abram of old, not knowing our way, but faith makes us bold; 
 For though we are strangers we have a good Guide, and trust in all dangers, the Lord will provide When Satan appears to stop up our path, and fill us with fears, we triumph by faith; 
 He cannot take from us, though oft he has tried, this heart-cheering promise, the Lord will provide

 (The Lord Will Provide)

Whate'er Thy providence denies, I calmly would resign;
 For Thou art just, and good, and wise, O bend my will to Thine.
 Whate'er Thy sacred will ordains, O give me strength to bear;
 And let me know my Father reigns, and trust His tender care.

(My God, My Father, Blissful Name)

Well, that’s the end of my long-winded story--thanks for listening! God is good and faithful, praying that you can find hope in that no matter what Match Day

Labels: ,

Monday, March 17, 2014

Breaking the Silence of Postpartum

Friday, March 7, 2014

SOAP Process

A few months ago, I shared some advice on avoiding the SOAP.  Unfortunately, there will always be people who end up in the SOAP process.  So, I’m here to give some advice from a been there, done that perspective.

Match Week for us was supposed to be very different.  My husband was actually on an “off” rotation that week.  Thus, we were supposed to spend all of it celebrating.  Monday morning, I burned nervous energy getting ready to go out to lunch after we received the “You Matched!” email.  Since we did med school on the east coast, it was perfect to have the email arrive at noon.  My husband went to log in a few minutes early, thinking he’d just refresh it once noon hit, and I was with him.  However, the email came a couple minutes early, leaving him calling out that he hadn’t matched.  I told him he shouldn’t joke as I ran into the room.  Then, we began to deal with too many emotions to count.

A minute or two after noon, a list of all available positions in the SOAP was posted in the Registration, Ranking, and Results (R3) System.  We used those couple minutes to swallow our emotions because they weren’t helpful at that point.  There is literally a critical two hour window that requires many important decisions.  Once that list was posted, we selected 30 programs (the maximum) to apply to through SOAP.  Then, we grabbed our baby and headed in to talk with the dean over my husband’s class.  She gave us a little guidance and reassured us that we were on the right track with the programs we’d selected.  Just a couple minutes after 2 pm, we submitted those 30 applications through ERAS.

As I’d mentioned in my last post, we pursued Emergency and SOAPed into Family.  We had a few things going for us in the SOAP process that I’d mentioned in my earlier post—FM faculty letters, a good personal statement for FM, and good scores for being competitive in FM.  We wanted to SOAP into a family spot, so we applied to every opening within a few states in any direction (FM tends to prefer more local applicants), but we also applied for every open spot left at our home school.
Once the applications were  in, life became a waiting game.  Programs generally conduct phone interviews with their tops choice applicants.  With some programs, it was a somewhat casual process.  With others, a room full of people on speakerphone investigated my husband.  A couple students had residents call as well.  We kept a notebook ready, and my husband would repeat back pertinent details over the phone so that I could overhear and jot them down.  This process continued well into Monday evening and all day Tuesday.  In addition, my husband sat down with a program chair regarding a spot at our school and had to manage email correspondence.  Wednesday morning, there were a couple final calls trying to determine our interest level in particular programs.  We had 3 or 4 programs that we felt were serious about us as we waited for the first round of offers at noon.  No offers came.

At this point, the panic started to set in.  We were allowed to submit 10 more applications, so we did that immediately.  DON’T DO THAT!  You need to wait to see who still has openings at 2 pm before applying.  Half of our applications were wasted on programs with no spots left.  Once 2 pm hit, though, we noticed that 2 of the programs that expressed a sincere interest in my husband still had a spot left.  (This meant the program offered it to someone, but the student likely accepted a different offer.)  My husband immediately called the programs to let them know he was still interested.  Since that day, our program has let us know it was the best phone call my husband ever made.  It was that call that sealed the deal to offer the final spot to him.  Finally, at 3 pm, we had two offers in R3, and selected the one we wanted more.  Those were literally the roughest 51 hours of my life, but I am so grateful it didn’t last longer.  Had we not matched, there would have been three rounds of offers (9, noon, and 3) on Thursday and Friday to endure, with only 5 more applications being allowed on Thursday.

On Friday, we were still able to attend Match Day and received an envelope like everyone else.  However, we knew what was inside.  Also, the letter did not start with “You Matched!” like everyone else’s, but our gratitude at having a program was so high that we didn’t really care.  Friends struggled with being unhappy over where they matched; we were just grateful to be continuing on in our training.

Now, hopefully none of this information is necessary for anyone who reads this post.  However, you may know someone who does end up in the process.  What should you do or not do?  First and foremost, be a good friend.  This can be very traumatic.  Think about how you would respond to another crisis.  We forgot to eat most of those couple days.  My sister (who lived in another state) offered to order a pizza for us, and it was the most helpful and thoughtful thing anyone did.  Our family also learned that no news isn’t good news.  They didn’t hound us for updates, which we really, really appreciated.  We sent updates by mass text every few hours but didn’t really talk on the phone at all because we wanted the lines open for programs to call.

If it is you that is in the SOAP process, please take care of yourself.  I felt the need to be strong for my husband, so I didn’t let him see me cry.  However, it had to get out.  I took long, hot showers and just let my emotion melt away.  Tuesday night, my husband rushed out to Subway before they closed and came back with a redbox movie, too.  We needed that release to laugh and breathe.  Unfortunately, between the stress of the SOAP process, and our son having his first cold, we didn’t sleep more than a couple hours a night.  There were long, productive conversations in there, but we got so worn down that we both ended up sick by the end of the week.  

Perhaps most importantly, when you do get into a spot, celebrate!  Matching in the SOAP process didn’t feel as celebratory as if we’d matched to begin with, but we forced it.  We allowed my in-laws to treat us to our favorite restaurant the next time we saw them, and they insisted we really enjoy it.  I was very grateful for that.  

Looking back, I don’t know that I would change what happened.  We are in our ideal situation for residency and know that Family is a much better fit than Emergency for our long term goals.  My husband is happier with Family as well.  That week was horrible and still makes me queasy just to think about, but it got us to where we are now…and that makes me very grateful for the process.

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Build-Up

I have long said that Thursday is my favorite day of the week. It’s close enough to the weekend to be a beacon of light and hope at the end of a weary week. It still holds promise to be an epic experience of adventure, relaxation and fun. No one has bailed yet, and if they have, you still have time to make other plans. Besides, let’s face it, once it’s Friday, the weekend goes so fast, it practically skips the two days and goes straight to Monday.

That isn’t pessimistic, it’s realistic. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

We are planning one last big trip before med school starts. It will be our last hurrah, since once fall hits, we will have no money, and no time for the foreseeable future. I am so excited for this vacation, and think about it a lot, as we work and save and plan to make it as awesome as we possibly can. I can’t wait, yet hope it takes its time to get here, cause as soon as it is time, it will be over in the blink of an eye, not too mention the things that won't go according to plan.

In many ways, I view medical school similarly.

I am excited to see him officially choose which school to go to. I am excited to see him get his enrollment materials, and see him get nervous excitement to start. I am not looking forward to signing loan documents. I am excited to see him leave for orientation and to officially be able to say he is in med school without having to go into a long explanation of the entire process. I will be thrilled to watch him walk across the stage at the white coat ceremony.

… But I also hope it takes its time getting here.

I don’t know what med school will be like. I don’t know how much time it will really require of him, especially starting out. I don’t know what shape our family will take in the upcoming years. I don’t know, and the unknown is scary.

All I know right now is that it is Monday night, and he and I are going to watch The Bachelor (which he got me started watching, fyi) and How I Met Your Mother. We both got a workout in today in addition to work before coming home to eat leftover pizza with our two dogs passed out next to (or in Doc’s case on) us.

The build-up for the vacation continues to climb, and the excitement of him starting med school mounts, but they, and tonight, can all just take their time.  

Check my private blog out at notgoodanymore.wordpress.com