Monday, August 29, 2011

Count On One Hand

From time to time I get asked how much my husband works. A LOT, doesn't really convey the magnitude. Honestly, I don't keep track anymore. When it comes down to it, I could try to count how many hours he is gone, but that has little meaning. Instead, I count the number of hours he is home when the kids are awake. The difference is needing both my hands and feet to count the one, versus one hand to count the other.

This week I decided I would keep track:

Sunday 2.5 hours 
Monday 0 hours
Tuesday 2 hours 
Wednesday 1.5 hours 
Thursday 0 hours
Friday 0 hours
Saturday 2 hours 

This week, he saw his children for a total of 8 hours. That averages one hour and ten minutes a day, but three of the days he didn't see them at all. The longest stretch of time between seeing the kids was 70 hours. And the time given for each day isn't time he is engaged with them, that is time is he home. Sadly, the time he does get really isn't the time when they are at their best. It's usually after dinner and time to get ready for bed.... that's not a fun time. The kids have had a long day, I've had a long day, and he's had a really long day.

He averages 6 hours of sleep a night. He was on call for three of these nights, although I don't remember him leaving in the middle of night for call, so a total of 42 hours was spent sleeping.

On the nights he did get home before 10:00 we had 2 hours after the kids went to bed that we were alone and could talk. A total of 8 hours that were just "us", but don't confuse that with time we really spent together. He is answering pages, sending texts to the junior residents, looking at images, preparing presentations, reading up on the cases he is going to do tomorrow. We probably had a total of 1 hour that we spent together doing nothing else but being together and talking, not multi-tasking.

10 hours with church and related meetings.

3 hours commuting (thankfully, we live close to the hospital)

2 hours at the gym (he could only go two days this past week).

85 hours physically in the hospital.

I don't know how he survives, or how he has survived this long. He is going on 5 years (I don't count his intern year) of this crazy schedule. Some weeks are better than others, some are worse. A normal day is 12 hours, and the long ones are usually 16-18. Now that we are moving closer to the time of year when the days are shorter, he will leave the house before the sun comes up and be home after it has gone down.

So how do we survive? I've already told you I eat cookies for dinner, that dirty secret is out. How he does it I will never know. I keep waiting for him to crash, but he never does. Little sleep, he's fine. Long hours, he's good. No time off, he's still kicking. He's superman. 

I'm glad he works hard. He needs to. I want him to be an excellent surgeon, not average. Excellent surgeons get excellent jobs. Hopefully, that excellent job will be in an excellent location. An excellent surgeon is happier than a bad one (I would assume). What's the point of doing all of this if you aren't going to be your best?

I had two ladies from church coming over Thursday night at 8:00 to visit me. I felt a little sinister for wanting my husband to be late particularly on that day so they would come and I would be all alone. Why? I think I do want some sympathy. If not sympathy, maybe I want people to realize that I have my hands full and to cut me some slack if I'm not everything they think I should be, whatever that is. I have noticed that most people who work other types of jobs just assume that there is "comp-time" for these late nights and weekends. Nope. Some weeks he will work all 7 days. I am sure they assume that if he is working on the weekends, he must have some days off during the week. Nope.  We aren't part of that world that boasts work/life balance. Sometimes it feels like we do live on a different planet. 

I am happy to do my part here at home, although there are many times when I haven't spoken to an adult in days and when I do I feel as though I've suffered a small stroke. I feel awkward and startled. The words in my head somehow aren't the same words that come out of my mouth. I'm forgetting things left and right and really wonder how I am functioning at all. Thank heavens I'm not the one doing brain surgery! Every time I leave the house I have to turn around and make sure I closed the garage door. My neighbors must think I am crazy. Yet, somehow we are all clean, dressed and fed. Tonight dinner was really pathetic: corn on the cob, Bing cherries, pancakes and brownies. Want to come over for dinner?


  1. I wish I lived closer... I would TOTALLY come over and have dinner. Or just hang out!!
    I don't know how these doctors do it either - I really really don't know.
    They are supermen. They are my heroes! But more than that, YOU are the heroin!! WE are the heroines of this story!!

  2. I hear you loud and clear!! somehow - when school starts up is when I count the hours. The hours together, the hours apart, the hours with me, the hours I sit by my zombie because it is better than nothing, the hours I put in with the kids solo when everyone else is partnered.... I will count again in January - those dark days make me miss him more. He is superman - on a 12 hour night shift with a viral vertigo after staying up today to take the middle kid to the range to practice shooting before deer season starts. I keep believing that the hours will get better, but residency ended 7 years ago... but I would eat brownies with you anyday!! thanks for blogging - reading other's craziness makes me feel less surreal


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