Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Whose husband is officially a 2nd year resident!

B and I celebrating our 1st Anniversary
This blog is focused on living a healthy and happy life!
A huge part of finding my happy life is my hubby! (I want to do multiple posts on our relationship and wedding at a later date).

But I cannot mention B without discussing orthopedic residency! Also, I think residency and being a resident wife is such an interesting topic - so I know it will pop up a lot on the blog.

I should have posted this last Tuesday (July 1st), because that is when it became official - but B is officially a 2nd year resident! He survived intern year! Only 4 more years of residency left! Break out the champagne!

For those not familiar with the medical world, in a nutshell - B went to 4 years of medical school in Indiana, and in his last year of medical school he went through a "match process" and matched into orthopedic surgery at University of Michigan. After graduating medical school he is officially a doctor, he just cannot do much yet - so on July 1st last year Brandon started a 5 year residency, and at the end he will be an official orthopedic surgeon! (There will probably be a one year fellowship to specialize - but that is getting into the nitty gritty).

Residency is tough and intense, especially surgical residencies! We knew it would be a bumpy road, but even with all of the long days, (I am typing this at 8:30pm on Monday and B is not home yet )... B is doing what he loves and knows he is in the right spot and I am trying to support him along the way! I hear through the grapevine that 2nd year is the toughest ... so wish us luck and give both of us patience and give him some sleep!

Since we survived year one, I wanted to reflect back by answering 4 questions I found on a blog called The Mitten Wife. Meredith is the author of The Mitten Wife and she is a fellow resident wife (just finished year 2!). She has been amazingly helpful to me since I moved to Ann Arbor and started this journey! Hopefully these questions will give you a peek into the medical training world, and I can look back and remember these years and how we made it through together.

What were some of your expectations before residency? 

I knew residency was going to be tough, so I expected long nights and working a lot of weekends. I also expected a bit of exhaustion for B. It has lived up to its expectations in all of those regards and more! Especially at the beginning, because B had a lot of tough rotations right off the bat, so during those months, I could call a week successful if I managed to get B fed and do a load of laundry.
I also did not think it would consume our lives this much. I knew it would take up a lot of time, but our lives revolve around his residency. It has become part of our identity.
B and I adopting our new team! Go Blue!

What has been the biggest challenge?

I would say there have been 2 big challenges for me and they go hand in hand.  First, B and I moved here last July and I knew absolutely no one. Making friends and finding a community is a lot harder as an adult! B had an instant group of friends with his fellow residents (and he has no real time for fun anyways ...), but I felt like I had to work to make connections. I went on a few friend "dates" which just felt funny and forced. 
I will say that the running community has been a blessing. I found a running group that welcomed me with open arms and many amazing running partners that have become good friends! I am also excited to get more involved in our church and deepen some relationships there too. I am still finding my groove and I still want to find more couple friends - so if there are any takers who want to be our friends ... please reach out =)

A second challenge is figuring out a balance of my time. When we first moved here, I felt like I was just sitting at home waiting for B to come home and I hated (with a capital H) that feeling. I wanted to find my own hobbies, so I dove into the community head first and filled up my plate with becoming a group exercise teacher, Junior League, friend dates, and more. Then, I felt almost too busy because there were times when B was home and I was off doing my own thing. I felt guilty that I was not spending time with B when he had the cherished time off. I still struggle with this, and I get tempted to cancel commitments when I get the chance to see B. I can't complain because wanting to spend more time with my loving husband does not really seem like a problem ... but it is hard to find a balance with finding my own community and path, while also wanting to be there for my husband at the drop of a hat.

What is the best advice you would give someone whose spouse or significant other is just beginning?

A message B left me when he was on nights 
One huge, important word - expectations! Have realistic expectations and make sure your spouse or significant other who is in residency is communicating and setting realistic expectations. 

I bet every significant other of a resident has a similar story - B just started residency and mentioned that he thought he would be home around 6pm. I wanted to be an amazing wife (we are still newlyweds ...), and I made an awesome dinner that included all of his favorite things! I had it all set and ready to go by 6pm.... and no B? And then 7pm rolls around and B is still not home and I have not heard from him ... and then finally 8pm rolls around and he said he will be home in 30 minutes. 
By that point, I am furious at him and all the food is put away (or I ate it all myself ...). He comes home completely exhausted to a mean wife and no dinner.

This scenario can be avoided if realistic expectations are set! It is not B's fault that he got home late, and I have no reason to actually be mad at him ... but since he told me 6pm, I expected him then and was extremely disappointed when things fell through. Avoiding disappointment is the key to residency, so set realistic (or even low) expectations. 
She is always there for me!
B and I try to have a little system. He tries to text me around 5pm or 6pm with a very rough estimation of when he might be home. I take that time with a grain of salt, but it helps with planning, and then he does not text me again until he is walking out of the hospital - that way there is no one that can grab him for "one last thing." Also, I have found that dinners that can be made in 20 minutes are perfect, because then things do not get cold =) 

Also, get a dog or a pet! Yosey has been such a great companion for me and I know B looks forward to her enthusiastic greetings when he gets home from a long work day too!

How do you continue to support your spouse/SO?

I think just keeping an upbeat attitude and being a good listener are the best ways to support your significant other! Residency can beat anyone down, so I try to always have an upbeat attitude when B walks in the door and a listening ear. Even though I usually do not understand everything he says about his day, I want him to feel like he can vent to me or brag about himself to me! 
Also, I always make sure he is fed! He lost some weight when he first started residency, and I try to avoid that by packing his lunches and cooking nutritious dinners. 

The biggest point I want you to leave with is that I am incredibly proud of my husband for finding what he loves to do and for helping people (and as corny as it sounds - saving lives!).  Sometimes this residency thing sucks and sometimes I struggle with my own path and identity - but it is a journey and we are together! 

 Anyone out there have any experience or comments about residency or the medical community? 


  1. Even though Greg's schedule is surely not quite as rigorous as B's, I can VERY MUCH relate to this post! Even though we are onto 2nd year, I am starting all over following our move and we are both working hard at developing connections and community. It's a hard road but I just have to remind myself that we've done it successfully before and we can do it again! Good for you for finding so many of your own interests and a group of friends :-)

    1. Hilary, LOVE this comment! Made me smile! I am sure you can completely relate because you have had to move somewhere new twice now! How is Winston Churchill =) Salem? I read your blog post and the outdoor activities seem endless! And I loved the counter tops!



I am not a registered dietitian (yet). My blog is simply a snapshot of my everyday life. The views I express are mine alone, based on my own experiences, and should not be taken as medical advice. Though I am a certified fitness instructor, the workouts I post may not be right for you. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.