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Lives of Doctor Wives: Before and After

Monday, February 9, 2015

Before and After

I distinctly remember the first time my husband wasn't there for me.

I was sick. Sick to the point that I almost passed out in a shopping mall and my Dad had to haul my listless, sweaty self out to the car and drive me to an Urgent Care Clinic. My family sat there with me for hours. As we walked out to the parking lot after I was treated and released, my husband pulled up in his patrol car to check on me. Concern was etched into the lines on his face as he asked how I was feeling. I don't remember exactly how I responded (I have a feeling it was neither kind nor graceful), but I do remember exactly how I felt. I was hurt, frustrated by the demands of his job, and embarrassed that a married woman still needed her family to step in and save the day.

This story occurred BM- Before Medicine. It seems somehow appropriate to categorize our lives into BM- Before Medicine and AM- After Medicine.

Our journey started several years ago when we decided that B would leave his full-time job as a police officer in the pursuit of becoming a doctor. The next few years were spent doing the one thousand things required to turn the dream of medical school into a reality. And we did! My husband is a first year medical student. Overall, it is going really well. Between adjusting to life in a new city, a demanding school schedule, and a new job for me, the transition has felt a little drawn out. But with the new year and the second semester in full swing, I think we are finally finding our rhythm.

However, one thing that seems to have taken the longest for me is shifting my mindset. It's like all of my mental energy over the last couple of years was focused on getting him here. To this point. The first year of medical school. I just couldn't afford to look past it until that happened. But now that we are here, how am I supposed to feel? I feel grateful, of course. Excited, nervous, hopeful. But I also feel...abnormal.

Every time I stop and look ahead at the really. long. road. in front of us, all of a sudden everything about the medical life feels abnormal. The hours will always be long, the demands are high, and there is no end to it. This is forever. We have committed to a lifetime of medicine. I will admit, it felt a little heavy at first. Add in the fact that we are also non-traditional (a.k.a. "older" *ahem*), and that instantly compounds the abnormal-ness. But I figure even the 23-year-olds fresh out of undergrad are probably watching their non-medical friends get real jobs, make real money, and buy real things...all while putting their own plans on hold due to the decade of training in front of them. I am willing to bet that even those spry 23-year-olds don't feel very normal most of the time either.

I learned so many important things Before Medicine. Things that are serving me well at this very moment. Heck, I even learned about abnormal. One might even think I should have mastered abnormal by now. After all, I am the same girl who went to bed alone most nights just praying that her husband would find his way safely there before sunrise. Not necessarily a normal way to live. I definitely learned that important jobs require sacrifice. That in the future, if B can't show up for work, he puts those who serve alongside him and the community of people who rely on him at risk. And that sometimes I will need to sacrifice on my end too so that he can be there for people who need him more than I do. Looking back on that day at the Urgent Care Clinic, I feel glad to have learned that lesson early in my marriage and I am certainly glad to have learned it Before Medicine. And when I picture that sweet, concerned look on his face that day, I regret the harsh words I spoke to a noble man who was torn between duty and family. It wasn't the first time and it certainly won't be the last...even in a totally different career.

So for now, I am going to do my very best to stop looking out so far ahead and bring my mindset in close, to where we are in this very moment- the first year of medical school. And what I realize is...we got this. We are surviving medical school. We even try to go out on dates pretty often. I also find comfort in knowing that at some point, the hours and hours and hours (I think you get the point) and hours and hours of studying will translate into true survival. Real life application. Actual life and death decisions made on behalf of real people. That's a far cry from normal. That's extraordinary.

Turns out, normal isn't everything it's cracked up to be.

Natalie
come visit my personal blog, thehappyredhead.com, for more med school musings and general happiness.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Ash said...

i just wanted to offer you an internet hug. the transition from prep for med school to actual med student is a huge one. know that you establish a new "normal" and while there are times it is demanding, we took vacations, had date nights, and were there for each other in crisis moments. you will continue to get in a groove. we just made the transition from med student to resident (and are about to become parents for the first time) and are constantly evolving our new normal. there are great things and rough things and crazy things about it all. just know that your med school journey will go quickly and will be worth your hard work (both of you). seeing my husband go to work at a job he loves after so much hard work is the best thing ever. good luck finishing up first year! <3

February 16, 2015 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger thehappyredhead said...

I will gladly accept your internet hug, Ash! You're right, it has been a huge transition! But I'm glad to hear that you have been able to find a new 'normal' throughout the process. I think we will get there too. Thank you so much for the kind and encouraging comment. Good Luck to you as well. Sounds like exciting things are on the horizon!

February 19, 2015 at 7:06 PM  

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