It’s 9pm on a Sunday night and I haven’t uttered a word in two hours. This is pretty run of the mill. My baby is fast asleep in her crib and the dogs aren’t much for conversation. My husband is at work and has been since 7 am this morning and will be until 9 am tomorrow morning at which point he’ll pass me on the stairs barely conscious and fall into bed where he’ll be for at least the next 6 hours. So in total, I’ll have been without adult conversation for 30+ hours. This, my friends, is the glamorous life of a doctor’s wife.
To be fair, I don’t know anything else. Our first year of marriage was Brian’s first year of medical school. Even in those early days I spent a great deal of time alone. Okay, so he was there but he certainly wasn’t “present”. I’d go to sleep most nights with the glow of the lamp light and the sound of pages turning and the shriek of a highlighter across a page of notes. It was during this time that I had to get used to attending social gatherings and family functions all by my lonesome. After a while, people would beat me to explaining his absence with, “He’s studying again, right?” Today isn’t much different at all, but the rhetorical question now is, “He’s working again, right?” Yep, sure is.
This is Brian with just one of his MANY 6 inch binders full of notes.
I also should add that I know entirely too much about medicine to have never even taken an anatomy course. For example, when Brian comes home from a night in the OB ward and tells me that he had a mother present with preterm contractions at 32 weeks, I always ask, “Was she dehydrated or was it a urinary tract infection? Did you have to ‘terb’ her?” Terbutaline is a medicine to stop contractions. I shouldn’t really know this, but I do. When he’s with his doctor buddies and they’re discussing cases, only on a rare occasion do I have to interrupt to ask for further clarification. I usually can follow the conversation quite well.
There is a common misconception that doctors’ wives are gold diggers and are living the easy life. Maybe that’s true for doctors’ wives who are nearing retirement, but it’s far from true for this lowly resident’s wife. In fact, our student loan debt would bring most people to tears. Residents barely make enough money to even cover the bills. The price of a medical education compared to the pay of a doctor the first few years out of medical school is astounding. Unlike what most would assume, we do not live on easy street. Brian’s truck is 16 years old and our other vehicle was a gift from his parents. I haven’t pampered myself and had anything extra like a manicure or pedicure in years. Don’t get me wrong, we are not starving. We do just fine, but there’s no room for savings. That’s for sure. So few things annoy me so much as when someone says, “You’re a doctor’s wife? That must be nice!” I always reply with something like, “It is, because my husband is wonderful!”
There are many perks to being married to a physician, though. The number one perk thus far is that my husband got to deliver our daughter into this world! How many fathers can say that?! It was extremely convenient during my pregnancy to have someone assure me that all of those scary new happenings were normal. In my last few weeks of pregnancy, he was able to determine when it was actually necessary for me to go to the hospital, thus saving us many of the trips to the hospital that first time parents usually make. Also, when our little one gets sick, we always have a doctor on call!
There is nothing I love more than the days when Brian comes home exhausted, but happy. That’s when I know he has chosen the perfect life path for himself. He’ll come home and tell me all about a specific patient whose life he was able to save with his quick thinking or about an elderly woman who thanked him over and over for helping her feel well again. More than a time or two he’s come home with a craft a patient has made for him or a bag of walnuts an old man picked and shelled for him. This is why he can work a 30 hour shift without breaking down and it’s why he is so determined to be an excellent physician; because the work he is doing really matters!
I am his right hand woman. If he were a performer, I’d be his publicist. I’m his behind the scenes girl; his loudest cheerleader and his biggest fan. I work hard to ensure that his primary responsibility is being a top notch physician by making sure that things are taken care of here at home. I cook. I clean. I pay the bills. I stay home to care for our baby. This is just the way I want our life to be. We are a team. He leaves our home to do his job and my job is to keep things under control in our personal life. Call me old fashioned if you will, but this is what works for us and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m here each day when he gets home to listen to how his day went. When he gets tired and discouraged, I remind him of how hard he’s worked to get where he is and how fantastic he is at what he does. I truly believe he was meant to help people and as such I truly believe I was meant to help him do it. And that, my friends, is the glamorous life of a doctor’s wife.
Us just before his graduation from Medical School and my graduation from Undergrad. Yes, they were on the same day!
His first day of Family Practice residency.