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Lives of Doctor Wives: January 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

Husband Hobbies

My husband and I have had a huge, ongoing debate about what his hobbies should be when he isn't working. We are currently in the 'better' stage of life; he is six months into his first job after residency as a hospitalist. Why do his hobbies matter so much to me? Because when he isn't working or studying, he is attached to my hip. I can't complain and I should actually enjoy his constant enthusiasm to be around me, but sometimes a woman just needs her space! I am so used to doing everything on my own when he is at work (typically, seven 12-hour shifts on, then seven days off), that I get really thrown off when he is home for days and days at a time! Enter: husband hobbies.

After weeks and weeks of debate, my husband has decided that he wants to buy a gun. Now, a little background: I am a pretty liberal Midwesterner that is (or was) completely against gun ownership, I don't understand the need for men to shoot guns, I don't want one in my house, and I love Bambi... I don't want to eat her. My husband, on the other hand, has gone completely 'Texas' (where we are currently living) and decided he wants to learn how to hunt. Fine. I've held him off for a very long time... secretly hoping he would find a more suitable hobby, but alas, here we are.

I guess my biggest complaint is that he just spent an awful lot of money on a hobby that he doesn't even know he likes! That was my argument the whole entire time. 'Why spend money on something you've never done before?' to which he replied, 'Remember when you went Paleo without thinking twice about it and spent $300 at the grocery store? Remember when you then went vegetarian a few months later? Oh, and how about that time you thought it was vital to buy not one, but three different workbooks on anxiety because you thought you needed help?'. Oh, yeah... oops. So maybe I'm not the most qualified person to tell him to hold off on his new hobby and to wait a little while before deciding to spend money. I clearly don't take my own advice.

Lesson learned.

Do you ladies ever cringe at what your husbands do on their days off? Have any secret/crazy/funny hobbies yourself?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Survivor Stories: The Waiting Game

My husband and I started dating even before he was certain he was going into medicine–almost 16 years ago.  To say there have been rich life experiences, periods of growth, great heartache, toil, tears, and triumph, would be the tip of the iceberg.  I’m not sure how much of our experience I’ll be able to put down in writing.  Some is too private, some is too complicated.  But as I was thinking about how to begin sharing what this life is like, the word “wait” sounded in my mind.
Wait…for the acceptance letter to medical school.  Wait…to get married.  Wait…for him to be done studying for the night so we can go to sleep or maybe have a conversation.  Wait…for those weeks of exams to be over so we can relax and have fun together.  Wait…for God’s leading into a specific field of medicine.  Wait…for him to come home from residency interviews.  Wait…for “Match Day”, to find out where we will spend the next five years.  Wait…for our first child to arrive.  Wait…anxiously every night for him to come home during those grueling years of training, even if that waiting extended into the next day.  Wait…for him to have enough energy to talk about anything of substance.  Wait…for those precious days off as a family.  Wait…to show him each milestone of our baby’s tender life.  Wait…to get really plugged in to a church as a couple until after residency, when things settle a bit.  Wait…for wisdom about what life should look like after residency.  Wait…to heal from a miscarriage.  Wait…for interview offers from practices.  Wait…for the right offer.  Wait…for our second child to arrive.  Wait…to get settled into a new home and new practice.  Wait…to build that practice and gain rapport with new patients.  Wait…to see if the other docs in the group will support him in opening a new office.  Wait…for the new office to open.  Wait…for those first patients to start coming in.  Wait…to decide whether to stay or go.  Wait...to find a different place to settle.  Wait...for the second try to succeed.  Wait...wait.  WAIT.
I’m realizing that for the first time in our life as a couple, we aren’t really waiting for anything.  This is it.  This is what all the toil, tears, prayers, and life have been aiming towards for the past 16 years.  That’s kind of a big deal!  If we didn’t start out as goal-oriented people, I’d say we certainly are now.  Not having life broken up into units, rotations, years, levels, hospitals, or programs is liberating to be sure, but I think it’s a little unsettling, too.  Now that we’re here, what?  Is this what we expected?  What do we do if it’s not what we expected?
There is just too much to pick apart in our lives to delve into our expectations and realizations here and now.  What I will say is that our paradigm of living is beginning to shift out of necessity.  Our daily existence is less like running mile repeats and more like running a marathon or ultra-distance race.  There are fewer checkpoints and less feedback.  My husband can not measure his success in grades, or new rotations completed.  Things are far more subjective.  Of course one can look at numbers–how many patients, how many procedures, how many consults while on call–but it has to be about more than the numbers.
What is our goal, then, now that the smaller and more quantifiable goals have been met?  Life now is more about keeping going, “running the race”, if you will, and running it well.  We still believe that this is the course we are to be on together.  We heard a message recently about the aftermath of any much-anticipated, major life event.  We were challenged to think of where we are, not as the final destination, but as a milestone.  Yes, celebrate, give thanks, and breathe a sigh of relief, but know that this isn't where it stops.  In fact, when we achieve these goals and reach these important mile-markers, we are exactly where we need to be for what's yet to come!  My husband and I are quite content.  We have immeasurably more going well in our lives than we'd ever hoped or imagined.  But, we also know that this isn't "it".  There's more, though yet unknown, and that excites us greatly.  In a sense, we never stop waiting when we are constantly looking ahead and dreaming new dreams!

My husband is in private practice as an ENT physician, and I am a hardly-stay-at-home mom.  We live in Florida and have two children, ages 9 and 5.  We have been married for nearly 14 years!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Clean house, clean life.

Our first apartment together was a shoebox, a little afterthought built on top of a two-car garage with a hidden staircase around the back of the main house that snaked up to our studio. As newlyweds, we could fit our non-furniture belongings in our '93 Geo, which was good, given that our futon took up most of our floor space.

From the shoebox we moved cross-country to medical school, where we started out in an orange-tiled one bedroom: our square footage doubled! And our belongings grew with our space, as medical texts, professional clothes for me, and short white coats for him filled up our shelves and closets.

Our next move was to a townhouse with the same orange tile, and man, does a seven-pound baby come with baggage. After two years in our townhouse we moved again for residency, to a house! 1800 square feet to fill, and attic space to boot. Our old Geo (may she rest in peace) would be rolling in her junkyard if she saw all the stuff that eight years of marriage and two small children accumulates.

We have a few years yet before our next move, but we know it'll be back to an apartment, and probably a small one. And so I've begun the purge. 

I started with the medical books. My favorite place to sell books is Amazon buyback--Amazon will directly buy books for a set fee, and they cover shipping. Your only responsibility is to print a label, stick it on a box, and drop it off at your local post office. Hasta la vida, libros. If Amazon isn't currently buying your books, try a local used bookstore, especially if you have a medical school in town. The closest ones to campus are generally more willing to accept textbooks. If nobody bites, donate them to Goodwill, or to a local medical student. He or she will be more than happy to take them off your hands.

I'm a total e-reader convert, so I also sold some of my hardcovers that were taking up space. Buy the digital copies with the money you make if you miss them!

Clothes were next. I am a packrat, and I've hardly gotten rid of any clothes over the past . . . since high school. I had a very full closet plus several large totes in the garage, and let's be honest, my body's changed since having babies and the only time this full-time momma wears professional gear is when I'm curious if it still fits. (You guys! it does! mostly.) I was ruthless going through my closet. Haven't worn it in a year? Gone. Fits but will look better if I lose a few pounds? Gone. 

I separated the clothes into a few piles. I ordered bags from ThredUp.com and LikeTwice.com; both are companies that buy old clothes. Pay attention to the brands they accept--ThredUp takes more brands, but pays less upfront. They also take more expensive items on consignment, which pays out well. LikeTwice is more particular about its brands, but their customer service is a lot nicer and they pay more per item. They also have an easier return policy if you want to get your items back for any reason. Between the two companies, I got rid of all my garage clothes and made a nice chunk of change in return. (And hey, if you want a hookup, I can email you codes to get $10 off an order at either place!)  Anything else, I donated to Goodwill.  

My last attack was on my kids' toys. After sorting out anything that was incomplete, broken, or unloved, about half their toys were left. I'm in the middle of organizing their remaining toys into bins and boxes for easier cleanup. 

It's a good feeling, having less stuff. Getting dressed each morning is easier, since all my clothes live in my closet and I love all of them. My kids have an easier time finding toys they actually want to play with, since all the distracting and broken toys (and...pretty much any toy that makes noise. Sorry, boys) are gone. And my husband is refilling his empty shelves with books that actually apply to his specialty. 

We still can't fit our belongings in a car, and our lives will never again fit in that adorable studio where we began our marriage. But we have less stuff than house, and I feel like my life is in order. 

Until the next box of toys from Grandma comes, I guess.