11.04.2011

A Taste of Residency...

I believe I have had a fairly accurate preview of what a little thing called "residency" will be like for the past several days.  I know, I know, several days is nothing compared to the reality of residency.  Regardless of that, I have sufficiently been able to say "Hubby, who?" lately.  

Granted, it's just been the combination of school/studying/shadowing that have lead to multiple nights in a row of going to bed without the Hubby home, being vaguely aware that he comes in at some wee hour of the morning, having the alarm go off a short time later, and then actually waking up for the day, with the Hubby gone again (memo to the creepers of the world who know that medical wives often spend nights alone at home: there's a security door to our apartment building that you'd have to get through.  Or you'd have to put a ladder on top of a tree to get in our windows.  By the way, our neighbor was a Detroit cop.  Oh, and my father calls me Annie Oakley.  Still interested??).  Where was I?  Oh, yes. Regardless of the short time frame, it has been a taste of what residency might be like.

I've mentioned before that the Hubby is part of his school's Emergency Medicine Interest Group (is that what he's thinking he'd like to specialize in?  Meh...your guess is as good as ours!).  The EMIG leadership team has been working with the local medical helicopter transport to set up a shadowing experience for the students in the group.  The four students on leadership have been doing a "trial run" of the shadowing program, each scheduling two or three shifts over a three week span at the helicopter hangar.

My poor, dear, sweet Hubby...after his initial shifts, all he had seen was the inside of the hangar, so he scheduled another time to shadow.  Then he got rained out (who knew medical helicopters don't fly during inclement weather?).  He rescheduled, and again, just studied at the hangar.  After all, there is no rhyme or reason to when air transport will be needed.  It came down to the last few days that the students had to get their experience in, so he quickly scheduled two crazy days: a day with both a morning and a night shift, and then the following day was a night and morning shift. This is where my residency preview came into play.

First crazy day:  Hubby wakes up at 5.45am to leave at 6.15am to shadow again.  He gets home around 3pm.  Having not seen any action, he ate a quick meal and returned to shadow at 6pm, and then returns home in the 1am range (I don't really know what time - I was long asleep).  Out of 24 hours, the Hubby spends 15 at the hangar.  Frustration is mounting at this point, with only two more possible times to shadow.

Second crazy day: (Hubby 'schools' all day which is not included in this 24 hours).  The Hubby boogies home between classes and a meeting and grabs his necessary garb before heading to the hangar for the night shift.  Upon arriving, the flight crew that was at the hangar told him that they'd decided he was bad luck.  They told him not to put on his flight suit when he got there - perhaps then they'd get a flight.  When that didn't work, they had him call me down to the hangar - surely if I drove out there to see him, they would get a call.  Alas...no.  But I did get to see the Hubby, meet the flight crew, and see the helicopters.  They were much bigger than I was anticipating! 

They let me sit in one...I was scared to touch anything!  It was strange to wonder how many lives had slipped away in that very cabin (one of a thousand reasons I could never be a doctor).

Here's one of their two helicopters...Doesn't it look massive in the hangar?  Compare it to the back end of that truck on the right.  It boggled my mind that these things lift off the ground!

After I left, the Hubby studied more in the hangar...no flight.  He got home around late o'clock again - I'm super grateful that I'm a champion sleeper and don't have problems falling asleep without him here.

He left again Tuesday morning by 6.15am after about four hours of sleep for his last possible shift and last chance for a flight.  And glory be - around 8.30am, the Hubby texts me to say they were confirmed for a transfer!   Wahooooooo!!  Long at last, a FLIGHT!  As soon as they were wheels down again, they got called for another flight...followed by another...AND another!  FOUR flights in ONE day (thank goodness he spent those other five shifts and 40-ish hours waiting patiently in the hangar, right?).  Hubby comes home, ecstatic, elated, exhausted and starving (I didn't realize I needed to pack three square meals for his supposed eight hour shift!) around 7.30pm.  This crazy day equals 20 hours "on the job" out of 24 hours, but since the time was spent both in the hangar and in the air, it was well worth it!

I made him promise left and right that he would take photos during his flights (with their permission of course), and he came through nicely.  

Out the window of the chopper.  I'm not entirely sure where this is.  The Hubby literally traveled the entire state via helicopter!

The closest you've ever come to seeing the Hubby on the blog ;)  You'll just have to trust me that he's a stud. 


This is the campus of Ferris State University from above...for you, Kate! (both of you, actually, ha!)

Sunset when landing at a hospital.

One for a postcard ;)

So what are my thoughts, after my little preview of residency?  It's a little more daunting now.  I won't kid around and say that the fear of the unknown doesn't get to me every now and then - residency can be a very scary thought.  Having little-to-no time with the Hubby is not appealing, but I just know we'll have to take it one day at a time, and seize any opportunity we get for quality time together.  This is all striving towards that one big goal, and seeing how unbelievably excited the Hubby gets every time he has an experience like this reminds me that some day (many, many moons from now), it will all be worth it.  Just don't remind me how many days away that is exactly  ;) 

6 comments:

  1. Your poor husband! I'm glad that he finally got on a flight. But wow!

    And for the record, there are definitely bad moments in residency, but I can honestly say it hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be. I was expecting to never, never see my husband. Even though he worked a lot the first year, I've still seen him. He is home for some holidays, he is home on some weekends, he is around a lot of nights. Some rotations are busier than others (aka: I see him less), but they only last a few months at a time. There is always a less-busy rotation to look forward to. Somehow residency has just worked for us. Dare I say it... we've actually enjoyed the last few years (although I know that my husband is ready to be done).

    My point is that, what you said about taking advantage of opportunities to be together is absolutely correct. But I promise it is better than you think it will be :)

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  2. Glad he got to fly! How cool! :) Exciting! This is why I say "WE are graduating soon" because it really feels like that! Yes, he is the one studying and rocking his tests, but I am here supporting him and like you said, "alone" a lot! Yes, it's a team effort in a marriage to attempt med school and you are doing great!

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  3. Good story and great photos! Thanks for sharing!

    Also a good story about residency, my husband's cousin is a physician and she had a child her first year of residency. Her son is amazing, her marriage is strong and she is an excellent MD. Be encouraged!

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  4. Andy will be home a LOT during residency, and it will be FUN! At least that's what I keep telling myself. Seriously, though, from what I hear, he'll usually be home more than 4 hours out of 24. Even though your hubs had to be away a lot recently, it's great that his school organization works to put together stuff like that. {Andy's school DEFINITELY isn't that organized. Or cool.} I'm glad he was able to go up on his last day. That made it all worth it!

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  5. I remember first year of residency thinking that my husband was a ghost. I would go to bed alone and wake up with the sheets on his side of the bed messed up, wondering if he had been there (or if I was just a really restless sleeper). Each year got progressively better, and now fellowship year we actually get to have a semi-regular date night! It pays better, too :) He has missed every Christmas and our kids' birthday parties, but after the first few I learned to adjust my expectations. I always say "we" are almost done, too. Residency was a learning experience for me, too, and had unexpected benefits. I can now do plumbing, basic electrical work (not having a husband or dad around to ask brought out my inner handyman!) and I feel way more confident about doing things on my own, like going to church or community events alone. Its not all bad :)

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  6. Whew! But if it makes you feel any better: I went to bed alone WAY more during medical school (since Peter stayed at school studying till the wee hours - in residency it's waking up in the wee hours to go to work, so early to bed!).

    Fear of the unknown is no fun, but for us, at least, every year's schedule really does get a little better. And for you, there are new rules for residents' hours that will help - I think no more than 16 in a row allowed now, as opposed to the 28-30 that would usually happen when one is on call! You are clearly good at making the best of the time you have and enjoying the good things along the way, and that will serve you well in residency (and life, I'd say!). These really are great years, even if a little overwhelming at times...

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[Super-sweet reminder to family and friends: please refrain from mentioning the Hubby's name, school or our city. Thanks ;)]