Surgeon’s wife. Sounds so glamorous. But for those that live this- particularly with little ones at home, you know that sometimes it feels more like residency widow (Sean HATES when I say that. Sorry babe.). But yesterday, yesterday as I sat at work waiting for a phone call from Sean to hear where he matched for fellowship, I realized this was it – this was why it’s worth it. It is these moments of tangible success, tangible celebration (for me). Because I don’t understand the successes in the OR (whipple what?). I don’t understand the celebrations of a seamless list run-through (is that even what they call it in the morning when they do rounds?). But this, this fellowship match. This, I understand.
Sean and I married almost 10 years ago. TEN. We married the summer before he started med school and I was starting my masters of social work program. I finished that same school year. He finished 4 years later and now is entering his seventh and last year of general surgery residency. Yesterday, he matched at Stanford for his cardiothoracic surgery fellowship – which is another 2 years. So basically, all of our married life, he’s been in training.
I say this all the time. It’s because I MEAN IT. I don’t know how anyone does this. I don’t understand what is in each of these doctors that pushes them to do this day in and day out. Year after year. After year. I have to believe that this is their calling – they were put on this earth to do this incredibly intelligent, beautiful, life giving, hard work. Because I see Sean. I see him work harder than anyone I know. I saw him go to school, I saw him study HOURS on end – I still see him study for cases. I see him get up at 4am. I see him get home sometimes past 11pm. I see him switch days and nights for different services. I see him lose weight on busy services. I see him come home after 7pm, give all of his attention to his girls, and then work on presentations or write book chapters/articles after everyone is in bed. I see him not get to eat or drink during the work day because there are patients to be seen and cared for. I see his hurting eyes when a patient isn’t doing well. I see his eyes light up when the girls want nothing more than to be held by their daddy. I see him.
You know, I take doctors for granted. I have sat in quite a few offices these last several months. I get annoyed if they’re late. I get irritated if I can’t schedule something during my window of free time. But then I remind myself that these doctors, they are someone’s family. Duh. Because Sean has a family. He has 3 girls. And we miss him. All. The. Time. But as his life partner and mother to his children, I would not change his job, his career, his path, his calling. For anything.
A couple weeks ago, I was irritated that it was 9pm and Sean wasn’t home yet – he was on a service where he was typically home by 7pm the latest. So, of course this night, I made plans for us to go do something. (NEVER MAKE PLANS because those are the days that end up with emergency cases.) I don’t even remember what time Sean got home that night – but he so kindly told me that a patient came in with a major issue and it was the right thing to do to stay and assist this patient. (Have I told you how ethical this man is?) That’s the kind of doctor I want. That’s the kind of doctor/person/dad/husband Sean is.
Let’s be honest though, this isn’t easy. I sincerely hope no one thinks being a doctor or marrying a doctor makes life easier (financially or otherwise. He’s a resident, people. And we have a MOUNTAIN of debt.). Adding our precious little people into the mix makes it all the more hard (much more enjoyable too). O says things like, “where is daddy”, “is he working? again?”, “i miss my daddy”. These are hard sentences to swallow. But then there are moments of, “daddy’s a doctor. And when I grow up up up, I’m going to be a doctor”, “daddy is a doctor and he fixes people”, “I’m getting bigger so I can fix people too”. Bless that little GIANT heart. Because that’s exactly right. Daddy is a doctor and he fixes people. Literally, cuts them open and works some magic with those hands and brain and breathes new life. I don’t question for a second – I absolutely know that this is what God intended for him. And I could not be more proud, more in love, more grateful for him.