Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Day In The Life Returns

It is the last week in August and I have two things on my mind. One, it is time for another installment of A Day In The Life where I chronicle what the doctors schedule looks like. Two, it's the end of August which means that Medical Mondays is on our doorstep as I write. It's the Happy Labor Day edition coming September 2, 2013.

Back to business. A few things have changed since moving out of the training phase and into the real world. Most notably is that the doctor doesn't have to be at the hospital so early. Most mornings he is home when we wake up. That hasn't happened in a long time. There is no one to report his cases to before the day starts. He doesn't have to round on all the patients before an attending comes in. He can round when his schedule allows it.

During training the hours were consistently bad. Now they are just extreme. Either extremely long, or extremely short, with an occasional "just right" thrown in for fun. I know that on his clinic days, if he isn't on call, he is done early. Like today. He left at 7:00 am and we have a meeting at 4:00 pm that he will be home for. Not so bad. It is making planning life when he isn't on call much easier than before. The flip side is that call is still call, and there is plenty of it.

He now bears the full responsibility for his patients. He sees the patients before, during, and after surgery. They are his.  In training he would see them in the operating room but rarely in clinic, before or after. Whatever goes wrong is his problem, too. With this also comes stress that I wrote about here. It's intense. There is no one to blame, there is no one to soften the blow, there is no one checking in during your case to see how it is going and if you need some help. There aren't any excuses. It is a one-man show and he is it. His name is all over it.

And then there is the paycheck, day and night! That deserves it's own post, which I promise will be coming soon. Because he doesn't seem to be at the hospital as long, when you compare it to the last 7 years, I almost feel like we are getting paid too much. But then I remember they aren't paying him solely for the hours he works now, they are paying him for those last 16 years that he has been gathering knowledge and practicing. At this point I almost wish they just would have paid him then instead of now:-)

To read previous posts about a day in the life visit the page, and come back Monday for Medical Mondays.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Buried Alive

I am coming up from air after spending the last week going through paperwork. My unofficial and unpaid title is now administrative assistant to Associate Professor of Neurosurgery DrH.

The good doctor was under that impression that once he got the job he was finished completing paperwork and used our home address for all his professional and personal correspondence. Most of this paperwork comes with URGENT or TIME SENSITIVE stamped on the front envelopes and little yellow tabs with instructions to SIGN HERE. Lots and lots of yellow tabs. I have signed my name more times this past week than I ever did as a dreamy high school student doodling my name beside my boyfriends with little hearts. We are talking hand-cramp inducing paperwork. Eye ball bulging paperwork. Bloody finger paperwork.

There are forms to fill out when you move. There are forms to submit when you start a new job. There are forms to fill out when you want to protect your investments. Forms for getting paid correctly. Forms for taxes, benefits, 401(k), beneficiaries, etc. Forms for everything, and then another form for good measure. I wish I would have taken a picture. Our personal insurance documents alone was a stack of paper 3 inches high. It was heavy!

Because I like having things done and in order I have taken the job upon myself. My husband has good intentions and he wants to help, but he is trying to stay afloat in his new world. Reading through documents is not something he makes time for after work, and I can't blame him for that. Most nights he sits on the couch, turns on a movie and falls asleep in the first 5 minutes. I wake him up when I go to bed so he can move somewhere more comfortable.

So many things I couldn't anticipate about the transition from resident/fellow to full fledged attending. It is a different ball game. Between trying to make a good impression on the people you work with, not killing anyone, adjusting to new techs/reps/nurses, learning how to maneuver within the system (who to stay away from who to make friends with) and adjusting to new hours under intense pressure, he is buried alive in his own way, too.

It's been rough watching confidence teeter as others outside of his service second guess his decisions, or would have done things differently. It's been difficult to see how the daily pace and call schedule has run him into the ground. Two surgeons cover the entire service for the hospital. He doesn't sleep well when he is on call (never has) in anticipation of a call that may or may not come, and he is on call frequently.  He has dropped a few pounds, which he isn't complaining about, but I worry that it is from stress and not exercise. With his schedule exercise has been hit or miss but stress has been his constant companion. These first two weeks have been brutal on all of us.

He just wants to sleep in past 7:00 one day. Either it's early to the hospital or early to the gym every day. I know that he isn't eating well because he isn't taking anything from the house, and he comes home famished. If I were a good administrative assistant I might call his wife and suggest that she prepare something for him to take to work. I save left-overs for him but can't make him take them.

We try to talk about things, but in all honesty when he gets home the first thing I want to do is get out of the house alone. I joined a gym and if he is home before 8 pm I go. If he comes home later I go to my room and read a book. I need downtime in order to function and with a full house and everyone on top of each other all day it is hard to come by. Not really the recipe for a healthy marriage. Hopefully, one day we will figure out how to make sense of our new reality. We are going to schedule a vacation soon and regularly. He needs them and I won't attempt to dissuade him.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

All The Good News!

We have a winner!

Thanks for making our one year anniversary of Medical Mondays a roaring success. We had 800 entries and one winner. Drum roll please...... Mary who blogs at This Is How My Garden Grows is the recipient of $100 in gift certificates to Amazon!

Who knows what next year will bring? Want to find out? Remember to link up with us the first Monday of every month (or at least that week). It's easy, it's free, it's fun.

I'll save you from running to the calendar and tell you that in September the hop is on the 2nd. It also happens to be Labor Day but our hardworking folks in medicine don't take holidays and either do we! Now you can run to the calendar:-)

Again, congratulations to Mary and we look forward to seeing all of you next month (in a few short weeks) at Medical Mondays!


Monday, August 12, 2013


I knew this day would be coming.  I always suspected it would be when we moved into our golden palace and started throwing hundred dollars bills into the air just to see what it would look like. I never once thought that we would start getting assaulted so soon, especially while living in a shoe box and starring at debt beyond most people's wildest dreams. But it happened. And it only took a week.

Today is the beginning of my husbands third week as an official attending with complete responsibility for everything that happens to his patients in clinic and on the operating table. He is a newbie. He isn't responsible for the way the health care system is set up. He isn't responsible for the health care plan you do or don't have. He has no control over what your health requires from a doctor. He can't do anything about your complaint, but he does wield a scalpel and may have to use it to defend himself!

So if he isn't responsible what makes people think they can attack him and his profession? Sure, they use the phrase "nothing against you", but YES it is. Just because you might say "just kidding" after an offensive joke, or "no offense" when you obviously meant to offend someone doesn't make it appropriate to say. I still can't believe it happened.

The worst part is that the two incidents I am referring to came from family members. All of a sudden it seems as if we have crossed into enemy lines. We have joined ranks with the greedy, good-for-nothing-but-take-your-money system of health care. At least that is the way they perceive it.

The first incident happened while hosting my husbands step-brother and his wife at our humble abode. We haven't seen them in years and wanted to catch up. They travel much lighter, so we agreed to have them in our home versus taking our four children to their home.

Conversation was going well until it went to medicine. They are going on a cruise in a few weeks and he was trying to get a special medication to help with any motion sickness he might have. Six weeks earlier he had been into the doctor for all his labs and picked up another prescription. Now the prescription he wants is in a special class that requires a doctors visit. He feels abused and squeezed because he doesn't want to pay for another visit just to get a prescription. He will already have to pay for the Rx, and doesn't want to pay the doctor because he feels that he is being used to pad the doctors pocket.  He is uninsured and pays cash for his visits. He knows how much things costs and tries to keep his costs down. I can appreciate that in a health care consumer.

Things were getting a little heated as my husband tried to defend a doctor he has never met and explain how the system is currently set up, etc. I dismissed myself to the kitchen (around a corner) and upon returning gave him the signal to cool things down and change subject.

The second time I was on my own and froze. Granted, it was on the phone and it was my sister and I am used to her going off and usually can't get a word in anyway. She and her family are also uninsured going on a year now and up to this point they have enjoyed absolutely free health care in the form of 100% employer paid premiums, no deductibles, and low co-payments. They have lived under that system for 15 years and have thoroughly enjoyed having someone else pay all their bills. And they used plenty of health care during that time.

They have a daughter who has a birth defect that requires some follow up. Now that they are responsible for their own health care they see the system as a racket. She was upset because they drove two hours to visit a specialist who did absolutely nothing. His advice was "try harder" and charged them $150 for the visit. She feels the doctor wasted their time and money.

Both of these situations share a common theme.  They had previously enjoyed free health care and now that they are paying for it as they use it, they have problems. I don't see how that is the doctors fault, yet he is the one that is taking the fall. His fees for service haven't changed, their insurance changed.

Actually, the doctor isn't taking the fall because they aren't complaining to their doctor - they are complaining to us!

Obviously, I am not their doctors nor is my husband. So why should I feel so offended when other people have issues with their own doctors? Because they all get lumped together by affiliation. Worse than that, they have placed upon them the faults of the entire health care system. It's not fair. I take it personally. Especially because I see what my own husband has had to do to get where he is and where he is going. I know the sacrifices, financial sacrifices that have been made. I know what his time is worth and can see the value in paying for a professional that has invested so much. They don't see it, and they never will.

A line has been drawn, and now we find ourselves on the other side - an easy target for anyone who has ever had a bad experience or felt they paid too much for the advice they were given. It hurts to know they look at us and think what we have IS or WILL be unfairly gained.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Medical Mondays Celebrates One Year Anniversary!

 Today my illustrious co-host, Emma at Your Doctor's Wife, and I are celebrating ONE YEAR of Medical Mondays! Somedays it seems like we just started and at the same time feels like we have been doing this for longer than I can remember. 

I am so thankful for people like Emma who have great ideas and let me tag along with them. She could have asked anyone and I am honored that she let me partner with her in launching this blog hop.  I don't know how she does it, but she makes everything seem effortless and exciting. Remember her post where she changed her own flat tire and didn't even chip a nail? There are pictures to prove it. She is a rock star in my book!

And yet, where would Medical Mondays be without YOU?? Our friends, our participants, our bloggers-- you all bring us the warm fuzzies each and every time you link up with us.  We love seeing you on the grid. We love reading what you've decided to share with us. Sometimes it's a DIY, sometimes it's a rant about a bad day/patient/attending, sometimes it's a reminder to be healthy, sometimes it's a lesson learned, sometimes it's family photos, and sometimes it is all about the pager. It's always something different and fun to read about. And I especially delight in the number of friendships which blossom from this link up. It is working! 

So, this month, to celebrate Medical Monday's one year anniversary, we celebrate our Medical Monday participants by having a bit of fun in the form of a $100 Amazon Gift Card GIVEAWAY!

Entries are open only to MM participants, both past and present. 

If you are new to party, WELCOME! Please be sure to read below to make sure you qualify for the link up. Your affiliation to the medical world must be easy to identify on your blog in either your "about me" section, profile, or blog name. 

Are you confused if you qualify for the party?

If you have a pager interrupting your life... you DEFINITELY qualify!
Do you work in healthcare?
Doctor? Nurse? EMT? Chiropractor? Vet? Dentist? Therapist?
Are you the spouse or SO of a healthcare worker/student?
Are you a nursing student? Medical student?
Intern? Resident? Fellow?

You get the picture, right? Come on, now... don't be shy! Let's keep growing and meeting new bloggers, so we can build a community of support and friendship, learn from one another, and share our stories.


Here are the rules:
  1. Follow your co-hosts via Bloglovin, GFC (if you are Blogger), FB, email or Twitter.
  2. Link up you medical/med life blog. If your blog name does not clearly state how you fit in to the med/med life world, please write a little intro or link up a specific post which clearly demonstrates your connection.
  3. Visit at least 3 other link ups, comment, introduce yourself, and tell the your stopping by or following from MM!
  4. Help spread the word by using our button on your post or sidebar, tweet about Medical Monday, or spread the word on Facebook! The more the merrier for all of us.
Complete step one by following your co-hosts:
Want to be awesome?
Post our button on you post or sidebar and help spread the word:

Want to co-host next month? Shoot Emma an email at and be sure to write "Medical Monday Co-host Request" in the subject field.

Now, link up below and have fun! The link up is open through Friday, so be sure to come back during the week to check some great reads!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, August 2, 2013

Happy Annivesary

Medical Monday's is celebrating it's one year anniversary this coming Monday, August 5th!

Seems like just yesterday it was only a thought, and now a year later I can identify several blogs that I read on a regular basis that I never would have stumbled upon had they not linked up with Medical Mondays. I hope the same is true for you.

If you have linked up in the past, thank you for joining with us! It has been remarkable.

If you have thought about linking up but haven't, why not make Monday the day you do it? It's easy and this month we have a giveaway. Who doesn't love a giveaway? You'll have to come back on Monday for the details.

Special thanks to Emma at Your Doctor's Wife for her vision and leadership in getting the project up and running. It has been a pleasure to work with you. And thanks to all our previous co-hosts who have helped spread the word and brought new participants and friends to the link up. What a fun year it has been!

Happy Anniversary!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

I don't know what I was expecting when we finally moved out of the training phase and into the real world, but I know it wasn't this.

When he started residency 7 years ago I dreamed of this day nearly every day of the 3,955 that followed. Truthfully, longer. I forget about medical school.

I always assumed he would finish training, we would move into a beautiful house in a picture book neighborhood, our children would be clean and well dressed, and life would be bliss. The truth is he did graduate but everything else has stayed the same. You know the old adage "the more things change the more they stay the same"... I guess it is true, and that is why we remember it.

Our house is cozy (code word tiny). My kids still fight as much (or more) than they did before. I look exactly the same. My husband looks the same. Everything is the same. The only different is we moved. Oh, and because we moved back to where we are from it is like we never left. Seriously, like we never left - we are sleeping in the same bedroom we did when we got married. Cooking in the same kitchen. Same neighbors. Same, same, everything.

Somehow it feels like the last seven years didn't even happen. It was all kind some of weird dream or an episode of the Twilight Zone. None of this can be real.

I guess I was expecting some magical moment. It didn't happen. Everything feels exactly as it did before. Even the worrying about money. You never realize how expensive life is until you go for 6 weeks without a paycheck and watch your checking account get smaller and smaller every day. Just like before.

It's just not what I was expecting. Thankfully, for the most part, I liked things they way they were. Anything better would have just been icing. I had and have a pretty great life.

I suppose that is the catch with day dreaming in general. Considering all the time we had to day dream we had some pretty elaborate details in our dreams. Nothing that reality could actually live up to.  I know it's fun to dream, and that dreams are an important part of goals - but they can also be dangerous if you don't allow for some flexibility in the scope and timing. Good thing I am learning how to be flexible.

For some people I know it works out exactly as they imagined, and they get their magical moment. I always figured we would part of that group, not this other group. Did you know there were groups? Perhaps I just made them up. Oh no, I just had a terrible thought - maybe there isn't actually a group, it's just me!

I am fine, really I am (unless it really is just me that didn't get a magical moment). This must mean that I still have something to look forward too, once again.

Speaking of things to look forward too.... if I haven't totally depressed you, come back on Monday for the 1st Anniversary of Medical Mondays hosted by Emma and myself and featuring an awesome giveaway. I promise it is something you can use!