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Lives of Doctor Wives: Survivor Stories: The Next Chapter in A Different Kind of Survivor Story

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Survivor Stories: The Next Chapter in A Different Kind of Survivor Story

Last month, I wrote about my husband's background, and how that began his journey towards a career in medicine.  He and his parents, along with some of his mom's siblings and their families, were refugees from Laos in the early 1980's.  It was a risky choice, to say the least, crossing a river at night with toddlers aboard, hoping to reach Thailand safely.  They spent 18 months in a refugee camp in Thailand before American missionaries helped them settle and start anew in Massachusetts.

When I've asked V about how early he knew he wanted to go into medicine, he tells me it was in his teen years.  Although stereotypical Asians excel in school and pursue professional careers after attending college, the numbers are somewhat different within his culture.  Many teens from his country, from his generation, got into gang culture and never went too far from home--geographically or ideologically.  V embraced Western culture, and his parents always had extremely high expectations for him.  It was understood that he should do well in school and live up to his potential.   I think they always knew he was capable of great things.

V did excel in school, enough so to have his choice of universities and scholarships.  Here is where he and his family took another huge leap of faith:  V decided to attend a private university three states away from his family.  Within their social circles, made up primarily of family and friends from their homeland, V and his parents found themselves to be rather odd.  First, V was going out of state, for college.  Second, he seemed to have no intention of working in his dad's small business and/or taking on ownership of it someday.  Third, his parents did not expect him to hold a job during college; they wanted him to focus on his pre-med studies.  Fourth, they assisted him financially because they could and they wanted to.

His parents continued to believe in him and support him after college, when he wanted to work in a biology lab on campus until he was absolutely certain that medicine was what he wanted to pursue.  Around the same time, he asked a fellow alumnus, also working on campus, on a date.  Within the next two years, he knew that he wanted to apply to medical school, and he also knew he wanted to marry that young lady...me.

I was on a walk through campus, passing the building in which V took his MCAT.  I was in his living room when he opened his acceptance letter to his top choice of med school.  That was around the time he told his parents he wanted to marry me.  His family hasn't had the best experiences with their men marrying American women, so although they were thoroughly cordial to me, they were open with him about their concerns.  "She'll be a distraction...she'll get pregnant and you'll drop out of school..."  I have to applaud my husband for his defense of me and our relationship.  We got married amongst great joy and hope, and both sides of the family, a month before med school started.  That was 13 years ago.

Even as I write this, I'm realizing how many risks V and his family have taken to get to where they are now.  There is more to his story, which I can add to if there continues to be interest.

My husband's story captivates me because of the fascinating results that have come from his family's decisions to take risks.  His story encourages me because lately he has been saying that he feels like there is more to his calling, yet to be seen...

I am married to an ENT physician, and together we have two children, ages 9 and 5.  We live in Florida and enjoy playing outside together, and gathering both sides of our family in our home for good food and fun.  

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Blogger Mai said...

Wow! This is a great story! I would love to read more. Last night I posted a comment to your other post but It sid not dave because I wasn't logged in. Anyways, thanks for sharing. I have stumbled upon this website for the past couple of years a few times, whenever I have googled silly questions like "does life change after residency?" or "are doctors' wives' lives as hard as mine?". I finly decided to post something.

I believe you when you day your husband and his family are where they are today thanks to their great efforts and sacrifices along the way. It's almost the same story of most of our physician friends and their families. It's something only we understand. People are quick to say "oh but you're husband's a doctor, you're fixed for life!" They don't stop and think about the real novelty behind the scrubs, the risks doctors face everyday when treating or operating, or just the simple teuth behind that "so-envied-gold-bucket" as they see the carreer of medicine: years of struggle and study; years of research and time away from family and friends; endless hours of exhausting and overwhelming work at a hospital; calls in the middle of the night; missing family trips, weddings, friends anniversaries and births; and endless hours of study to prepare for the boards and research and pressure to publish papers. Those just to name a few. My husband about to graduate from anesthesiology and will start his fellowship right afterwards. I can relate to everysingle one of the posts on this website, except I don't have kids yet. I have read things that reminded me of familiar, past experiences, as well as insight from wives that have gone through it all (medschool, residency and fellowship). Those last posts are the ones I was looking for today as We're so close to the "end" of this phase. We've been thinking about this last year of his career that I don't know what to expect after graduation. Anyways, thanks for sharing! msgarciamayorca@gmail.com

February 18, 2015 at 2:12 PM  

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