Today marks four years of marriage for John & me! I’m so grateful for John – he’s an incredible person and I could sit here all day long and type all of his wonderful attributes and characteristics but I think he’d be embarrassed as he is one of the most humble people I have ever met. Anyway, I think the Lord daily for giving me John – and for creating John to be patient enough to deal with me! 🙂
If you are ‘new’ here or not familiar, I started this blog during John’s second year of medical school. It was meant to be a ‘journal’-like space of our time living in Virginia and powering through the medical school days (which we don’t miss at all). By the end of medical school, our little online journal had evolved into what it is now. It was not something we planned but we have loved every minute of it & are so grateful to have you all following along. John is behind the scenes big time despite what can be a grueling residency schedule. He does all of the photography here (i.e. he moonlights as a photographer) & he also helps arrange all of my travel as well as a few other tasks. Really & truly, I don’t think I could do it without him as blogging requires me to wear SO many hats (literally and figuratively, haha.)
Anyway, I get asked about residency a lot by you all – I actually decided not to do a post on residency because I didn’t think many would relate but over time I’ve had more requests so voila, here I am! I thought I’d share 8 ways to make medical school / residency a little better! Keep in mind, every program is different…. very, very different. We have surgery resident friends and it is SO much more intense than internal medicine. But overall, residency is definitely not an easy time and it’s really hard to understand what it’s like unless you are actually going through it or you are married to someone going through it. This is random, but when John and I were dating and getting more serious, I actually googled “is it smart to date a medical student?” haha. I remember thinking wondering if he would have time for me, if he would be annoyed that I don’t like science or blood, etc. I was skeptical of getting too serious because I didn’t know what to expect! Luckily, I quickly realized my concerns were silly! Anyway, that’s part of the reason I wanted to write this post in case any of you don’t know what to expect w/residency and/or medical school.
1. Flexibility: I think being flexible during residency has made it so much better for us. Obviously, his schedule is not flexible but mine is… I.e. If John is on nights, I typically will change my schedule up to align with his. I’ll stay up 2-3 hours later than normal doing work so that I can sleep later & have lunch with him the same time the next day. Or, if he has a Wednesday off, I’ll coordinate my whole week so that on Wednesday I’ll be able to spend some time with him.
2. Making the most of time off: I’m not going to say we are the best at this – when John is off work, he is usually working with me on a project. It’s not the best habit but I would advise to making the most of time off and having fun or just getting quality time together. For us, we love to travel and see new places. Every quarter or so, John will come home from work on a.. say… Monday and be like “hey guess what, I have a 3 day weekend next weekend” and we will literally will try to find a place to go that weekend, right away. That’s how we were able to go to the Bahamas in February actually. It is always so last minute, but it’s a fun way for John to see some new scenery and get a break from Tulsa. And I still work on these trips so I just need a good wifi connection!
3. Expectations: I sound so negative saying this, but set your expectations low. Personally, before intern year began, I’d heard enough (horror stories) that I didn’t expect to see John much or to get holidays with him… so when I did get to see him for a full weekend or have him home for Thanksgiving, I was over the top excited. Also, I remember him coming home at 5pm every now & then and it being like a huge treat to see him that early in the day. After intern year, things got better, however! We shall see how this last year is… 🙂
4. Independence: As busy as blogging keeps me, I am grateful for it because it keeps me from being too lonely when John is on a tough rotation. I’ve learned to be independent and stay busy on my own. I recommend finding things to do to keep yourself busy whether it be working out, picking up a hobby, getting involved in church, cleaning your house, DIY projects, etc. Also, we got Fitz during the first year of residency which made our lives SO much happier!
5. Support: I’m so fortunate to have friends and family who are aware of my situation and support us so much. Really, we are so blessed to have these people in our lives. An example, last Thanksgiving John was on a demanding rotation and was not getting any time off during the holiday. My family all drove to Tulsa and did Thanksgiving at our house so that when John got off work that night he’d be able to have dinner with us! I didn’t want to leave John alone on Thanksgiving, but I also didn’t want to be without my family so it all worked out! Another example, when John is on nights – life can be pretty lonely. Sometimes his night schedule is 6pm-6am, for 5 consecutive days which is so tough on him but also takes a toll on me. This past weekend, my friend Elle came to stay for two nights which meant the world to me because being home alone all weekend would have been my alternative.
6. Comparison is the thief of joy: Ya… this one is tough. I have been guilty of this over the years, especially during the medical school years. I remember being 25 or 26 y/o and John being a medical student (aka no income + medical school debt) & us having to move monthly for his rotations so I couldn’t have a permanent job (I had just finished my Masters in Business and always loved working and having a job so this was tough on me mentally). We had to live in friends’ basements, spare rooms, my parents home, etc. I would get on my personal Facebook page and see my friends from college who were living really beautiful lives.. they were buying homes, having children, going on vacations… you get where I am going w/this right?! I would compare our lives to theirs and it wasn’t pretty. Luckily, I would tell my mom these thoughts and she’d quickly say “oh! Emily, that is silly, you will be so happy you went through all of this in just a few years!” And she was right.. everything worked out for us, but better than I could have planned for myself. I just share all of this because no matter what you are doing in life – don’t compare! Or! If you have to compare, make it healthy and let it be motivation. If you find yourself comparing, forward that energy into something better. E.g., I was always disheartened that I’d finished my MBA and couldn’t pursue a ‘dream job’ w/my degree, instead I used my energy on my blog and turned it into my very own business that could withstand the demands of medical school and residency. *see full post on how we moved monthly here.
7. Plan Ahead: By nature, I am *kind of* a planner. I say kind of because I have a ‘life plan’ but when it comes to the trip I am going on next week – I probably don’t even have a flight booked yet, haha. (really though!) John and I are an interesting mix because we both are super career oriented. We are both very driven people, but we are also both family people. We love kids and can’t wait to have our own. However, residency pays very little and parenting is demanding/expensive so we made the decision to both work though residency so we could both pursue careers and save money to have children / pay off medical school loans. Anyway, this is what works for us. There’s no ‘right’ way, per se, but I believe planning ahead & being practical is important. Also, with me working through all of this, John only had to take loans out for tuition for medical school which makes a huge difference in the long run. Again, there’s no ‘right’ way – you do what’s best for your family & situation.
8. Be A Cheerleader: My friends tease me because to this day I still know every cheer, chant and dance from high school! But, it’s vital to be a cheerleader for your spouse/significant other going through all of this. John will spend 80 hours some weeks dealing with very ill, dying patients and he’s drained and exhausted. I consider it my job to cheer him on & remind him that he’s making a huge difference in people’s lives. Let’s get real, I could never do his job or even power through the years of education (and science!!) he’s gone through.
Overall, it’s really all about making it a new normal, if you will. And making the most out of little victories. 🙂
Full blog post on this look here.
Christmas Card 2014 – My dress is here. (in ‘lead’)
Full blog post on this look here.