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Lives of Doctor Wives

Monday, April 21, 2014

Survivor Story:  Med School, Residency, Job, and Beyond!

V and I got married in July of 2001, and he began medical school that August.  Going back further, I was in the room when he opened the acceptance letter, I was waiting for him after he finished the MCAT, I prayed with him about whether or not he would pursue medicine at all, I studied with him for college finals, I was friend to this goofy guy who played fun music in his Isuzu Rodeo and frequented coffee shops.  When we met in 1997, I had no idea we would ever be more than friends, and I certainly had no clue what our lives would look like as we stepped into his medical training as newlyweds.  

I don't believe anyone can adequately prepare another person for any experience by trying to explain her own experience.  It is helpful, to be sure, but it is when we face things on our own that we truly learn.  With that disclaimer, I've tried to pull up some memories of distinct periods of time to share.

A special note to wives of medical students:  let your husband study as much as he needs to.  Know that "your turn" for his undivided attention will come.  He loves you, he wants to do well so he can provide for you.  He feels a tremendous pressure to succeed, and to make each test, each course, count.  Support him in prayer, in word, and in deed.  It is hard to put oneself last.  It goes against our nature.  

We lived in a poorly insulated, old house in New Orleans during V's med school years.  We had one cat, and we all spent a lot of time in the room we designated "the office".  I sat with the cat on my lap, and read, wrote, sketched, and tried to stay awake in support of my husband.  He didn't have to study hard in college to do well, but the increase in information going into med school was exponential.  He would even study in bed, when I couldn't stay awake, using a headlamp to light his books.  Post-exam days I would find him catching up on sleep.  I was so anxious to be with him again, to have his attention, but there was more opportunity to practice patience.  I did a lot of praying for patience and contentedness during those four years.  

A special note to wives of residents:  this is a particularly rough part of the journey.  This is where my husband became something of a lost sheep for a time.  God nudged me constantly to pray for him, and now that we're on the other side, V has said how truly priceless my prayers were.  Residency for him meant nearly no time to nourish his body, spirit, or mind.  Running on empty for that long is almost impossible.  

V's residency was a very busy ENT program in a fairly large city.  We saw a lot of big, life-changing personal struggles around us, and went through some ourselves during those five years.  V became a skilled surgeon and a very thorough and caring physician, but at great cost to himself, and our family.  We had become parents at the end of his 4th year of med school, and I found myself doing so many things on my own.  It was harder emotionally and mentally than physically, to me.  I knew that this stage of training was pivotal to V's career, but my heart seemed to always long for more.  I did even more praying for patience, endurance, contentedness, peace, and the ability to give when I just wanted to have more of my husband.  

A special note to wives of physicians who have recently finished residency:  rejoice, be thankful together.  Keep your eyes on things that are true, lasting, and good.  The world has much to offer, but its riches fade and do not fulfill.  Remember the days of little when there is abundance.  If you are a people of faith as my husband and I are, keep asking God how He wants your husband to use his gifts and calling to medicine.  And keep praying.  Bloom where you have been planted, even if you are not where you'd hoped or expected to be!

By the end of residency, we had endured a miscarriage but also welcomed the blessing of our second child, a daughter.  Our family of four moved two hours south for V to join a seven-physician private practice.  At first it seemed ideal, but after three years we had to re-evaluate.  After weighing everything, we decided to pursue a different opportunity in a different city, an hour back north.  We learned so much about what makes a good physician, about marketing and business, and about what we wanted in V's career.  It's about so much more than tangible earnings.  

This June will mark four years after the completion of V's residency.  We feel settled; we are having a home built, our son has enjoyed his 4th grade year in this new school, our daughter is happy at home with me and will start pre-K in the fall.  We are close to both sides of our family, which is something we had always wanted.  We hope that this place will be "it".  We are still learning, too!

This is far longer than I'd planned.  I suppose I could write a book on our experiences as a couple as we've journeyed through applying to med schools all the way to being in private practice.  At least, I could write enough quantity to fill a book; as for the quality, I'll keep looking to God to give me the words.  Blessings to all.

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Blogger S.Ong said...

I just wanted to say thank you for this post. It couldn't have been better timed - like you DrH and I got married right before the start of med school - we dated all through college, and the transition from having all the time in the world for each other to having what sometimes feels like an absentee spouse has been hard. My heart is so demanding, and I miss DrH! That said, we have become so much stronger through these trials, and I pray every day for patience and peace.

My husband is currently in residency, and we are feeling the "no time to nourish his body, spirit, or mind" portion of things for sure. Again, I pray daily to be a support for him, even when I feel unsupported myself - I know he is having to give all that he has to his career at the moment, and I have faith it will get better - this post only serves as an example of that!

Again, thank you so much for this post - I cannot tell you how it refreshed my spirit!

April 24, 2014 at 10:39 PM  

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