Monday, April 6, 2009

64 weeks 2 days

That is how long I have until I am finally done with my residency...not that I am counting. So much has changed in my life since I started medical school in 2002. It seems like there were definite moments when I stood at a crossroads...you know ...times when I had choices to make that really, really, really changed the direction of my life. It is funny, almost all of the big choices I have made in the last 7 years were made with my family in mind...even before I had any children.

1. To actually get off my butt and go to medical school. I was working as a table games supervisor at a big casino and in the process of getting my MBA. My husband at the time was mostly gone touring with his band all of the time, and I was just working to pay off our bills and try to save enough money to buy a house. I had wanted to adopt internationally and so I started looking up stuff on the internet - I was too young for China at the time and so I started looking into Kazakhstan. This was in 2000, so things didn't take quite so long there as they do now. I called and talked to some people and thought about it and decided I really wanted to adopt...so I called Catholic Charities about a homestudy and made an appointment to start a homestudy. like the next day, I woke up ...looked around by apartment. It was a super awesome apartment for a single 20-something in New Orleans...but not a place to raise a child. I started thinking about it and realized how completely dead end my job and life were. Yeah, I was making pretty good money and had health insurance, a good matching 401K. I wanted more for myself professionally and more for my kids. So, I cancelled the homestudy visit, signed up for the MCAT and started studying like a mad woman.

2. I chose my medical school because it was very, very family friendly and in a relatively affordable city. Durel was mad because he thought I should have chosen one in LA or San Francisco so he could live in a cool place where he had some rock and roll friends...regardless of the price or our ability to afford food after we paid rent. He also went immediately into denial that Iwas going to go to medical school and that I was leaving New Orleans - he refused to ever talk to me about it at all...so even though I tried to include him in the decisions he refused to be included.

3. After medical school you have to participate in "The Match". Where you send a standardized application to all of the residency programs you are interested in and if they are interested in you, they ask you to come interview. After you interview at all of your programs you make a list, all theprograms make a list and a computer matches your list and voila...you are contractually obligated to train at a residency program. I remember agonizing over my match list....first a new orleans program was number one, then UAB, then new orleans, then UAB. UAB is by far the superior program in terms of reputation, and training. Professionally it was the better program. I had spent several months in new orleans with Lilianna after Katrina and I can tell you that Birmingham was far superior for raising a family at that point...no question. I suspected it would be the complete end of my marriage if I chose UAB....I guess I kind of knew that it was over already. Perhaps my first clue was that after he went to an interview dinner with me in Tucson...on the way home he said "you can tell all those wives are totally psyched to be married to a doctor...I don't want to be married to a doctor".

4. After I matched to UAB, I didn't match to an intern year so I had to spend one day just frantically calling all the programs with a vacancy in an intern class..looking for a job. I got a couple of offers, but chose one in Tucson becuase i knew the only people who would actually help me with my daughter were my parents. Certainly not Durel or his mother - she always had an excuse of why she couldn't help. Of course, she was not obligated to help I don't believe that anyone is entitled to anything - including myself! If I wanted to make it through my intern year, I needed help and I knew Lilianna's dad wouldn't provide it. So I decided to stay in Tucson.

5. I had May and June off between medical school and residency. I had so much free time that I spent hours reading and looking random things up on the internet. This is when I started looking up international adoption stuff again. Myplan was to start information gathering and then when we moved to Birmingham start the process to adopt. The more i looked at my life, the more I realized that I could not bring another child into the dysfunctional and miserable marriage I was in. So I did what all good wives do in this situation...i issued an ultimatum. Move to Tucsan with your family and go to marriage counselling with me or I am divorcing you.....a divorce ensued.

6. More internet research, divorce finalized on Friday, October 13. Randomly in October I saw that Commonwealth was having an informational meeting about international adoption so I totally sprang it on my mom out of the blue and she came to meeting with me. I mulled it over for a couple of days and I remember when I made the decision to start the process. I was sitting in morning rounds in the surgical icu. I was exhausted and literally sitting on a swivelly bar stool thing outside one of the ICU rooms listening to someone present some patient and I just got this giddy feeling of super excitement and thought to myself "I am totally going to do this and maybe my new child is out there right now waiting for me". Boy there were a million reasons to talk myself down, but I just felt like it was right and I needed to do it and everything would work out OK.

7. Marrying Keith....Ok...that was all for me! I feel like Keith is some prize I got for making all of the hard decisions I made. Like all of those other decisions where I prioritized things I thought best for my family...got me to the finish line of a race and Keith was there with a trophy. Those decisions were hard, I agonized a long time about each of them and even though the choices I made were not immediately the apparent good choice - they turned out to be the best choices I ever made.

Change is good, hard decisions stink - but they can improve your life. I sometimes wonder what my life would look like if I had stayed at the Casino back in 2002 instead of starting medical school. I don't know what it would look like, but I am 100% sure it wouldn't be as awesome as it is right now. At least once a day I feel soooo gratefull for my life and I don't think I ever felt that way the entire time I lived in New Orleans. Well maybe once...I was at a crawfish boil at audobon park next to the Mississippi river, it wasn't too hot yet, there was nice breeze coming off the river and two barges sliding past each other on the river. The potatos were perfectly cooked and seasoned and I had no place to go or anything hanging over my head. I was just chilling out with some good food, my best friends and beautiful weather. Seriously, just that once.

The kids were playing rockband Saturday night, O playing drums, Lilianna singing, Zeb singing into his rattle microphone that we have to keep with the all of the playstation components so he can pretend he is playing and Benjamin combat crawling all over and happily squawking while Keith and I did the dishes and laundry, respectively. Somewhere, Bon Jovi's ears were burning as all of the kids sang "Wanted Dead or Alive".

"This is it, " I said to Keith"we are living the dream".

3 comments:

Rachel said...

Michelle, I so needed to read this today as I'm trying to figure out if medical school is really the route I want to take...I still don't know :) but I am so happy to read how it has worked out for you despite a meandering path. Thanks for sharing.

Shannon said...

What a great post and an excellent lesson to us all. You should be so proud of your strength and determination and of course....your family! :)

The Stevens said...

not long at all to go that's exactly how long i have until I am a MD........then off to residency.......great post.......and have to admit i really get sick of those catty women that feel they are so superior because they married a doctor....i see it all the time in my classmates spouses, actually its sad....

Karyn Purvis Insights and Gifts - sharing power