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Lives of Doctor Wives: It could always be worse.

Friday, May 15, 2015

It could always be worse.

In May of 2013, my second-born was three weeks old and our house was annihilated by a hailstorm. We huddled in the basement as huge hail and glass-shattering winds swept through our home, tore shingles from our roof and shredded our exterior paint. We were ten months into residency, and still struggling to transition from the abundant loans of medical school to a tight PGY-1 paycheck. We went to bed after the storm had passed feeling like the unluckiest family in the world.

I still panic during storms. The months of dealing with contractors as a new home owner, the stress of paying out the deductible on our homeowner's insurance when we were also paying hospital bills for our new baby, the nap times disturbed as our whole neighborhood reroofed, the whole process. It was awful. And here's what's worse: the day after our hailstorm, an F5 tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma, and twenty-four people died. The panic I feel now is less about the stress that we went through, and more about the fear of what could have happened.
Our anniversary was this week. Eight years, almost every bit of them wonderful and all but our first dominated by medical school or residency. The sitter was booked and our reservations were scheduled, and thank goodness we hadn't bought the movie tickets in advance because (of course), the day ran long with a trauma case added on, and my apologetic husband called to tell me we'd need to reschedule. 

Our poor kids, they couldn't figure out why I was crying. And you know, I got mad. I got so mad at that inconsiderate patient who just HAD to have something awful happen on our special day and just HAD to go into surgery to make my husband late. 

I'm embarrassed to say how long it took me to regroup sympathetic feelings. This poor patient, having surgery on a Friday night. And my frustration transitioned into something else. I'm still disappointed we missed our date. But it could have been so much worse. It could have been my husband needing surgery, or me, or our precious kids. I sat up waiting for my husband to come home. In the hospital, there was a wife wondering whether her husband would come home. 

It could be worse. 

A hailstorm is nothing next to a tornado, and missing an anniversary date can't possibly be compared to missing a spouse because you're in the waiting room and he's on the table.

But. They're both bad, right? It's important that we allow ourselves those moments of frustration and grieving when our plans get canceled and our schedules are flipped on their heads and our kids are begging to see their daddy, since it's been three days. I am still so grateful that our hailstorm didn't spin into a tornado and that we were all safe, but while gratitude made the next six months of repairs easier to bear, it didn't make them fun. Residency is so hard on families, and just because there are paths that are harder (military spouses, I salute you!), it doesn't take away from the difficulties that we face.

So dig into that container of phish food if your date gets canceled, sister, you've earned it. Allow yourselves a Netflix marathon instead of scrubbing your floors. And hey, if you're feeling really gutsy, don't cancel the sitter. Take yourself out to a movie instead. And allow yourself to feel disappointed. It could be worse. It's still not fun.

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