I decided to take a break from the running related posts today and bring you a new topic for my “Five” Things Friday post.
As our medical school journey comes to an end I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing about what I have learned throughout this process. It has taught us so much, both good and bad.
So here are a few things I have learned from being the wife of a medical student: (these can be applied to any hard section of life).
Shit happens….learn to roll with it.
I wish I could make a list of all the “shit that has happened” since we moved here to start this journey. The thing about being married to someone in medical school is you really can’t let it get to you.
I have never had to learn to roll with the punches as much as I have during the last 4 years. I am not a “go with the flow” type of person so this took A LOT of getting used to.
You have to be able to except the best but plan for the worst in pretty much every situation. I never thought I could live like that but as the years have gone on I have found it really helped me get through it.
Sometimes you take the back seat.
I think when the medical school process started I really didn’t understand the full extent of how often you have to take a back seat. I don’t mean that he didn’t pay attention to me or neglected me but there were many times throughout the process that I had to step back and let other things come first.
Medical school can suck the life out of you and if you don’t have a good support system behind you it is even worse. Sometimes the best way that I could support him through the process was by stepping back and letting him focus on what he needed to.
The biggest time I remember doing this was when he first started studying for his board exams. Between classes and normal tests in medical school, board studying and trying to get some running in to stay sane there were days where I would see him and hour or less a day. Often times the first time I would see him was when he would get home and come to bed. It was hard. It sucked. I had to realize and remember the importance of what he was studying for and remind myself that right now he has to come first.
Thankfully my husband has always been great about making time for me, and once his board exam was over he found ways to make me feel appreciated and thank me for hanging in there with him.
Don’t do it for the money.
If I would have heard one more person tell me while I was working: “Oh don’t worry your husband will be a doctor and you won’t ever have to work again” I would have screamed.
Never ever say that to someone who is married or with something during medical school.
1. For the first 4 years he makes no money and we are making it through by the skin of our teeth.
2. He will make money in residency but he also will start to pay back the close to $200,000 debt we have accrued.
3. Who says I don’t WANT to work!? I don’t have any plans on staying home and not working no matter how much money my husband makes or when he makes it.
The bottom line is it’s not as glamorous as it sounds to some and the comments can be frustrating.
Your friends and family won’t understand.
This was one of the biggest shocks to me. I had friends and family who even though they tried to help and understand they just didn’t.
They could never understand why our schedule was so up in the air, why sometimes I just didn’t want to talk about it, or why I could never commit to us being anywhere.
People think that medical school is very regimented but often times (or at least in the school that my husband attends) we wouldn’t find out his schedule until a week or two before and I know this was frustrating for our family and friends when planning holidays or trips to visit.
I remember having family visit us and even though they tried to be understand I knew it was hard to grasp why Wes could never really be there to visit – he was always in the library having to study.
Agree even when he’s wrong (within reason).
OK before I get hate comments let me explain what I mean.
There are times in medical school when my husband would be studying for a big test, have a big practical exam or have too much on him at one time and I knew he was struggling. Sometimes he would snap at me, pick fights that really weren’t there, or say things that bothered me without thinking.
I had to learn to let it go. I often would agree with him EVEN when I knew he was wrong.
It didn’t mean that I let him say whatever he wanted, but you have to pick your battles and realize that an argument ends up getting you both distracted, takes up valuable time and really puts a wrench in an already very busy and tiring schedule.
He will hate his life at times, but he won’t hate YOU.
This probably sounds crazy but it took me a while to get it.
There were days where Wes would get home from school or studying for hours on end and he was in a bad mood. He would truly seem like he hated everything in the world and that nothing made him happy.
It took me several times to realize that he would have moments that he did seem to hate his life but it didn’t mean he hated me.
As the spouse of anyone we often have things taken out on us that aren’t our fault. You are the one who is always there when they get home and when the day ends. Good and bad you are going to hear it all. It doesn’t mean it’s your fault it just means you are the only one they can really “vent” too.
In summary, don’t take things too personally.
It doesn’t last forever.
This is my favorite.
It doesn’t last forever. It does end.
As this first part of our journey comes to an end I can think back and remember times I never thought it would. I remember moments breaking down and crying and hating medical school. I hated that he was doing it and I wanted for us to just pack up and leave.
It’s hard and it’s frustrating and it takes one heck of a toll on a relationship, but if you can stay strong and come out on the other side you will be a better couple because of it.
The funny thing is we are about to start it all again. Some say residency is a lot like medical school for the first couple years, and some days that scares me. I just keep reminding myself we did it once and we can do it again. It doesn’t last forever.
I really love when other people beginning this journey reach out to me. I love being able to tell them the good and the bad of what to expect. I don’t want anyone going into it thinking it is going to be so awesome.
One final thing I will warn others about saying to someone going or getting ready to go through medical school:
“I’ve heard of so many people getting divorced in medical school” (or now I’m hearing it about residency).
“Medical school (residency) is so brutal on a marriage.”
Why do people say these things!? Guess what: of course it’s hard, it sucks, it can be brutal, but we got through it and so can you! Don’t let others bring you down before you start.
We came, we saw, we conquered… now we start planning for the next phase. Life is one crazy ride!