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Lives of Doctor Wives: Survivor Stories: #itgetsbetter

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Survivor Stories: #itgetsbetter

We use the hashtag #itgetsbetter often in our circle of friends, mainly to provide a light at the end of the tunnel for those struggling through med school, residency and fellowship.  But the reality is, there’s a lot about the post-training life that will always remain difficult.  And instead of painting a picture that it’s all rainbows and butterflies when training is over, I’d rather give you some realistic expectations about what #itgetsbetter really means.

Many of our posts would have those families in the training phase think that #itgetsbetter is just about money.  I’m not gonna lie – after scraping the house for change to buy groceries, it’s nice to finally walk into Whole Foods and buy all you need for the week.   But what I have actually learned, in our third year out of training, is that #itgetsbetter is truly a mindset.  And something you have more control over than you might think.

Understand your definition for #itgetsbetter
What does your “better” look like?  Is it more time with your husband at home?  Is it finally affording that dream home?  Is it having a chance to pursue your career, after supporting his for many years?
Whatever the case is, be sure you understand your goals in the “better phase” – and discuss this with your husband.
Life is a balanced scale.  But instead of the two arms of the scale, which teeter to either side, our lives are a multi-armed scale.  Some of the things our husbands balance include marriage, kids, faith, exercise/personal health, patients, career growth, financial goals, sleep/rest, hobbies, friends/social, and the list continues.  The main point is that each of these things takes time and effort – and they can’t all function at 100%.  If a dream house with a big price tag is important to you, then having a husband who is home more than he is at work is likely not a reality.  We have to be honest with ourselves, and our spouse, about what our goals are for the post-training life.  Which leads me to my next step.

Communicate with your husband about your goals for the #itgetsbetter
Are you hoping he is home more?  Than perhaps that medical director position isn’t a good idea.  Are you hoping to pay off your loans quickly, than maybe living near family in a more desirable area is not as cost-effective as the huge bonus package from that rural hospital.  Many factors can go into a future “better” but they can’t all be achieved simultaneously.  If your goals are aligned with your spouse, or at least a compromise can be achieved, then you will be able to share in the same dream that will keep you pushing through.

Remind yourself of the #itgetsbetter goals on those difficult days
There are days when you’ll hate the call schedule, or you’ll wish he was around for a particular holiday, or you’ll cry as the credit card reaches it limit.  But remember that if you can be flexible to some constraints, your #itgetsbetter is within reach.  And sometimes smaller #itgetsbetter victories occur.  I can’t even count how many times, when things felt like they couldn’t get any worse, that an opportunity, or some other angel, helped us through a situation.  Sometimes it’s a matter of perspective and remembering that “this too shall pass”.

Celebrate when #itgetsbetter along the way
If we had to wait for the end of fellowship to finally reap any of the rewards of medicine, we would never get through it.  The reality is, that we have little moments of #itgetsbetter throughout the process.

Intern year is difficult, but by that second year they feel more comfortable as a physician = #itgetsbetter. 

He may never have off Christmas day as a resident, but by the third or fourth year your family will finally understand that reality and stop giving you guilt trips = #itgetsbetter.

It’s a financial and emotional strain, but sometimes an angel – be it an in-law, an LDW sister, or an attending – can help out in ways you didn’t expect.  And the gratitude will be so appreciated it will make you cry. = #itgetsbetter

Ultimately, you will be a stronger person and more appreciative of your #itgetsbetter when the time finally comes.  My holiday wish is that you all get to experience an #itgetsbetter moment this season.  Look around and you’ll find it – ‘cause they might already be around you.

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Blogger Mai said...

Omg, I needed to read this. Thank yoj very much for your insight. My husband and I have always been waiting for the next thing to finish (1st residency, 1st fellowship, 2nd
residency AND fwllowship). Now that we're almost done (he will graduate summer of 2016) I feel such anxiety to think how much our life will change. The plan is to have our 1st baby, move to wherever city he finds a Job at, and (if it weren't enough) I plan to quit my job and finally, begin my undergrad in full throttle. Thanks for giving me some perspective, and for reminding me that life after graduation is not all rainbows. Do you have instagram? I'd love to follow you and connect! ;) my id is msgarciamayorca

Thanks again!

February 18, 2015 at 12:48 AM  
Blogger Mountain Mom said...

Mai, Just sent you an IG request. I'm on IG a lot. Don't post much about our medical lifestyle, but you may want to follow anyway.

February 23, 2015 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger BLau11 said...

Things have been so tough recently that I am past my breaking point. I really needed to read this right now, so thank you for posting. Keeping my eyes open for the small #itgetsbetter victories around me :)

July 23, 2015 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger Chief Household Officer said...

You are welcome BLau11. I know it seems like this period of time takes forever, but you'll hit a point when you have to really think about how much you got through. Trust me. I rely on the stories of medical students and residents to keep me humble and remind me of our pre-medicine roots.

July 24, 2015 at 10:43 AM  

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