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.



  1. Doc H won't take any food from home for lunch either. Luckily, the hospital he works at has a gourmet cafeteria where he is able to buy a salad.
    Welcome to life with an attending... this is the never ending merry-go-round we're on. Take care of yourselves. Take time to yourself, but make time as a couple (with and without kids). You'll find a better balance! :)

  2. I wish you the best through this time of transition. You will find your groove and make sure to make time for the 2 of you. You are both more than deserving of time away.
    Chey xo

  3. I'm so sorry this transition has been a rough one! My husband lost so much weight when he started residency because of the not eating lunch thing. Now in fellowship he has access to lots of free, good quality food in the Dr's lounge. Hopefully wherever we end up will have the same thing. My husband also always feels like he needs to go to the gym when he gets home from work, but I wish he would just relax sometimes! I don't think they know how to do that- they are so used to being busy, busy, busy! Can you book a babysitter the next weekend he has off and do something nice for just the two of you? Maybe a couples massage?

  4. Thank you for this post. You have validated my worst nightmare and I'll just go ahead and get started on it NOW...been thinking about hiring an au pair for first year out. Crazy you say? I.don't.think.so! Hauling kids to school, classes, dr appts etc with a very absent, tired, stressed out husband sounds like a nightmare. Definitely DO take care of yourself. I'm so grateful for the internet and the medical community. Always good to learn from others who are farther down the road than us about what to expect. Doesn't mean we can avoid all pitfalls but always good to have candid vision of the future. I hope he starts eating and you get some time to yourself. The only thing worst than a crazy doc is a crazy momma right?! =)


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