The world of medicine is like a bubble. A lot of people THINK they know what goes on there, but unless you're down in the trenches it's unlikely you do. So here is my semi-anonymous blog, here to tell you what really goes on in the life of a medical resident.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

In Praise of the Medical Spouse

Someone once told me that the purpose of dating in medical school is to find someone who likes you enough to commit to you before they find out what they're getting into. At the time, I thought that was a bit cynical. Now, I'm thanking God that I managed to find just such a person.

As those of you who know me in person are aware, I'm engaged to be married. He and I had known each other as 'friends of friends' for a few years, and started dating at the end of my third year. Well, it wasn't that abrupt. He gradually looked away from my breasts, and I gradually looked away from his ass. Then we realized that we actually liked each other. He passed my five rules of dating.
  1. No guys who smoke
  2. No guys who live with their parents
  3. No guys who wear electronic equipment in holsters on their belts
  4. No guys who wear jeans that I can't fit into
  5. No guys in medicine

Some of these may sound odd, but they're all grounded in solid fact and past experience. Trust me on this one.

Now although not being medical himself, he was not a stranger to the medical profession. His family was full of nurses, and his ex was an aspiring medical student with a physican for a mother. That being said, when we moved in together about six months later I don't think he was entirely prepared for the life of a medical spouse.

At any get together where there is more than one medical student or doctor, the conversation invariably turns to medicine. It doesn't matter how much we try to stop it. It's the thread that binds us together, and even when we see ourselves falling into that trap it's nearly impossible to avoid. That often leaves various spouses milling around trying to find things in common with other medical spouses other than the fact that they have the misfortune of being committed to someone in medicine. It leads to a lot of awkward silences and some embarassing social situations. Like the one when one medical spouse (possibly mine, but I'm not telling) who was obviously dreading another evening of stilted conversation with complete strangers, managed to down half a bottle of Absolute by himself before the evening even started and proceded to spend the night wrapped around the toilet of a lovely spanish restaurant.

But at the risk of gushing, I have to give credit where credit is due. I could not have asked for a better partner when it comes to surviving residency. This boy has the patience of a saint. He does almost all of the cleaning around the house, including almost daily vacuuming thanks to our dog, the shedding machine. He does the dishes, since our current place doesn't have a dishwasher. He does the laundry, which thankfully isn't much of an issue since I rarely wear anything but hospital greens. Although I usually do the cooking, since starting surgery I'm rarely home early enough to consider doing that either. He's no chef, but he manages to pull together something edible more often than not. He walks the dog everyday, and on the days when I'm home and awake enough do it he comes along.

He never complains, either. Not about the hours, the amount of work I don't do around the house, or the fact that when I am home I'm often too tired to be any fun at all. He's recently gone back to school to become a paramedic. Even with a full courseload and studying to do at home, he still manages to keep my life going. My bills would never get paid if he didn't open my mail. He didn't start to do that until recently, when he got tired to looking at the ever-expanding pile of unopened mail on the table next to the front door.

I don't know what the heck I did in a past life to deserve such an amazing, supportive guy. But I'm very glad I did. And yes, I tell him how much I appreciate him on a daily basis.

So here's a word of advice to any medical students out there. Find a really good partner while you still have the time to show them what a friendly, fun, interesting person you are. Because once you start residency, it's a lot easier when you've got someone along for the ride.

Now if only I could find the time to plan my own damn wedding.

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Blogger Carina said...

I just have to say, "Thanks." It's nice to be appreciated once in awhile. :D

My hubby and I met in college and got married after his first year of med school. We've been through it all. I'm his home manager (aka SAHM), so I do all the mail, home appointments, med journal reading and pitching (so many free things he'd never read, but I check for articles he'd like), and dealing with the kids and all. It's hard, but for him, it's worth it.

May you both be truly blessed and have a low-stress wedding.

5:58 PM

Blogger Nikki said...

I hear ya. My partner deserves a medal for his patience, and he's well aware that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm still not sure why all these partners stick it out sometimes, but I'm glad they do!

9:23 PM

Anonymous ron said...

i hope you'll get a place with a dishwasher as soon as you can afford dont want to wear out the one you have now. and you will, we dont last forever doing that.

7:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it when *I* make Penne with Black Beans and Squash, it doesn't taste anywhere near as good as when you make it?

I miss you. I, like the fans, love your blog. You are hot shit.

My dog misses your dog, just as my heart yearns to be near yours.



5:18 PM

Blogger Couz said...

That's just cause I overcooked the squash. Heh.

I miss you back, seester. See you in a week!

6:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey - i totally hear you. it's the exact same for pilots! lucky for me, i found my hubby before i started working!


6:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am amazed at people who openly and almost proudly, admit to how selfish their job makes them. i always wonder what makes medical students and doctors feel like it is rewarding and acceptable to spend all of their time and energy "helping" others (if helping means getting in and out of as many patient rooms as possible in one day), while neglecting all the important people in their lives. anyone who spends any portion of their life with anyone like this gets exactly what they deserve. the majority of people that i see dating doctors are either golddiggers or other doctors who want to live in their selfish egotistical bubble as well with no one to make them feel guilty about it.

3:11 AM

Anonymous Amy said...

I am a third year medical student with strong spiritual values. My religion, spouse and family come before my career. Yet there is a great deal of sacrifice expected from anyone who wants to become a doctor at all and someone has to pick up the loose ends, which is what medical spouses generally do. What's interesting in my case is that I am engaged to a man who was (culturally) raised to believe that picking up the loose ends is the woman's job.
I have often looked at my attendings and wondered whether strong narcissistic traits are necessary to survive training. Anonymous- would you really suggest that displaying such survival skills is a reflection of a doctor's personality and values as a whole?

10:45 AM

Anonymous cdgirl said...

My bf is in his last year of residency and the relationship is very new. I knew it would be tough but I had know idea it would be this tough. For the BOTH of us. But we love eachother and we want to be together so we're getting a lot of practice with the part of the marriage vows that says "through thick and thin".lol He's worth it though. He's my prince charming who just happens to wear scrubs instead of shining

9:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the discussion here. I am the spouse of a non-traditional medical school student. The hard part is trying to figure out how to help and support her in a positive way. I have a steady job and on a rising career path. I am very proud of my wife's hard work and determination to be a physician. I know we can make it work, but I guess reading comments on this page provides a level of positive reinforcement that I often find myself craving, especially as I try to find the balance between my demanding job and my wife's medical school pursuits.

11:37 AM


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