Residency Update

Paul had complete 2 months of his 5 year residency in ENT. Here’s how thats going so far.

The first year of residency, is general surgery training. He’ll have 3 months on ENT service, but he’ll also do pediatric general surgery, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, ER, surgical intensive care, and general surgery. His first month was tough, not too difficult. It was probably a good, realisitic orientation to what the next 5 years will hold.

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And this past month was been pretty nice! Paul has been on a light rotation so he’s been home a lot and he’s had 2 golden weekends (two day weekends). Can’t beat it.

But, I’m so glad that we had that first tough month so that I could adjust my expectations about residency. I was studying for the Texas Bar Exam and home with Finn all day. Paul was gone when we woke up in the morning (usually by 5:30, he was out the door) and he wasn’t home until 6:30 or 7:30 on good days. He was usually so exhausted that we didn’t have more than a couple of hours with him before he went to bed and most of that time was dinner and getting Finn to bed and then Paul reading for the next day. Those were long, hard days and I had to take a hard look at what I was trying to accomplish in a day and then scale that back. By midafternoon, Finn is ready to rough house. I tried, but that is really Paul’s department. He’s the loud, throw-you-on-the-bed, tickle-fest parent and I can’t be him.

That usually meant Finn was starting to get frustrated when I was trying to fix dinner and I was getting frustrated because I just didn’t have the study time that I needed. Thankfully, my parents only like a couple of hours away and my mom was able to keep Finn for a few days so that I could cram. But, omgsh omgsh omgsh, I thought I may lose all my hair in the meantime.

In those frustrating moments, it felt like I really needed to be angry, but there was no one to be angry with. Which made me more frustrated because anger is cyclical that way. Paul wasn’t doing more than he needed to, he wasn’t choosing work over us, he was just doing what needed to be done and what was required of him. Paul, obviously, was also struggling with the transition. On his one day off a week, I was begging him to keep Finn so I could study. But it was his only day off and he wanted to sleep in, mow the lawn, go for a run, and enjoy his family. And let me tell you, we were all sorts of enjoyable.

j to the k

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We learned we really needed to be patient with each other in the transition. And openly communicate what was bothering us to the extent that we even could.

This month has been better. Paul hours have been shorter and he’s been taking home call more often. But, let me tell you, home call is kind of a tease. I mean, he’s home, but he’s not really home. He can’t hang out with Finn while I make a Costco run because he may get a call. He can’t really go anywhere with us that requires leaving a 20 minute radius of the hospital. And if we do go to dinner, we have to drive separately so that he can leave at any given moment. BUT BUT BUT, I so prefer home call to him not being here at all. Really. Sometimes it means that we can meet him at the zoo because the zoo is just 5 minutes from the hospital. It means that we can often enjoy a whole meal together. It means that he can get some things done around the house on days when he’s home and gets no calls.

And that I love. LOVE.

The next few months look rough. I’m sure we will transition again as I’m starting to work again too (more on that in an upcoming post). But that first month allowed me to get real about the types of jobs I was looking at and what I could do while still being a wife and the mom I wanted to be. Man, that was/has been/is/may always be tough.

Reunited after Paul's 2 away rotation months last year
Reunited after Paul’s 2 away rotation months last year

I find solace in so many of the stories I find online about what its like to be married to a medical resident. This one is good. There is advice here. Grace has plenty of stories to tell from the trenches.

As they say, “the hours are long but the years are short.” Paul and I have to always remember that we’re on the same team! We’re in this together. We may not get some holidays together in the upcoming years and he may miss some big events. But as we adjust our expectation level to the lowest of lows, we know it will all be ok.

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