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Monica Swanson

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Five Myths About Being a Doctor's Wife

Posted: 12/13/2013 4:23 pm

I am a doctor's wife. I don't know if I'll ever get used to saying that, but I admit, I like it.

First, for some background: When I met and fell in love with my husband, Dave, he was not a doctor. He was considering medical school, but had not applied or been accepted, and he wasn't even sure it was what he really wanted to do.

MY point: I didn't fall in love with a doctor, nor was I looking to.

I fell in love with Dave's quiet strength, I was drawn to his spiritual convictions, and I was enamored of his breadth of gifts and talents (it didn't hurt that he was really good looking). We met and married fairly quickly, then not long after we got married, he was accepted into medical school. Then, he (we) survived four years of medical school in Oregon, and then three years of residency here in Hawaii. After residency, Dave was offered a job here on Oahu as a Hospitalist almost ten years ago.

Now I am proud of what my husband does. As a physician, Dave's greatest qualities are put to use: his intelligence, his compassion and his ability to stay cool under pressure.

Dave is also very humble. He will know someone for years, and avoid bringing up the topic of his profession. He doesn't want people to assume things, or be awkward in any way. He just thinks of himself as a normal guy.

But over time, I have been surprised, and slightly entertained, as people have admitted to me their assumptions about doctors, or what it is like to be married to one. There are a few consistent questions people ask me about, and I thought it would be fun to address those!

Side note: Obviously, I can't speak for everyone. Some doctor's wives may have very different experiences, so I can only speak for myself.

The five most common assumptions about being a doctor's wife:

1. We never have to go to a doctor's office, because we have our own doctor at home.

Not true. We see doctors, just like everyone else. For one, my kids and I see doctors because my husband does not specialize in everything, and does not want to misdiagnose something that I specialist should see. Secondly, we see doctors because my husband tends to not be home at the times when we most need a doctor! It never fails, if a kid is going to break an arm, cut open his face or come down with a weird rash -- their dad will be (you guessed it) working at the hospital. So I usually call him, and sometimes send him iPhone photos, and it never fails, he says to go to the doctor.

Truth.

It is true that there are times that Dave is home at just the right time, and we have skipped many a trip to the ER because he could rule out infection, cancer (that's me -- everything is cancer) and so on. He has superglued a few cuts, and he even (warning -- this one is "personal") performed O.B. checks on me to see how far dilated my cervix was while I was laboring with one of my four kids, because it was middle of the night, and he did NOT want to go to the hospital and miss his sleep if he didn't have to (T.M.I.?).

2. He can prescribe us medicine anytime we want/need it.

I wish!

The law says no, and Dave obeys the law. If I need a prescription -- even for the little stuff, I do like everyone else and call my doctor. Sorry if that is so disappointing.

It is true that Dave often has a good idea what we need, and can make educated recommendations to our individual doctors, which is nice. Knowing that a husband/father can do their own medical research and be involved in our medical treatment offers peace of mind.

It just doesn't always save me at least a phone call to the doctor's office. Hmph!

3. I go shopping all of the time, and we hang out at country clubs.

In other words -- we're all rich.

Um, no. Once again, sorry if this ruins any fantasies, but nope nope nope. Some medical specialists do make great money, and others make okay money. But the fact is, if you are like most of us, you come out of medical school and residency with enough student loans to last a lifetime. Literally. Most women I know married to family doctors have to work outside the home as well to make ends meet (at least here in Hawaii, where the cost of living is insanely high).

I do wish I could go shopping all of the time. But no. And Country Clubs? Dave would rather do just about anything else.

It is true that a good doctor does have job security. Meaning, this world will always need doctors. In fact, I encourage any young person who is interested in the medical/health care field to go for it. Just don't do it to get rich. I'm pretty sure that there are easier ways to get rich --like blogging! Haha, joke.

4. Because I am married to a doctor, you can ask me just about any medical question, and I should be able to help you.

Ha! This is funny, but it really does happen all the time. I actually kind of enjoy it -- and I love to pretend I know what the heck I'm talking about! But truth is -- we wives don't learn medicine by osmosis, and I don't have five percent of my husband's brains. Do yourself a favor and call a real doctor.

It is true that I studied Sports Medicine in College, and that I helped Dave study in medical school by reading his medical textbooks out loud while he drove us all over the state of Oregon (which put me to sleep every single time) so I might have picked up a thing or two. But probably just enough to be wickedly dangerous.

5. I never see my husband because he is working constantly, and just doesn't have time for the family.

I'm so thankful that this is another no -- it's not true at all! Once again, this is a serious issue with many medical specialties (thinking surgeons especially) but not for us. Dave considered many factors (family, sleep, surfing) when he choose his specialty, and I am forever grateful. His particular schedule provides him a lot of family time actually.

It is true that Dave works many holidays, and does have at least one all-night shift a month. But in light of all of his time off, I cannot complain (well, sometimes I still complain, but I shouldn't).

It is also true that residency sucked. And medical school too. I was alone a lot. We were poor. I raised my first three kids for a few years mostly as a single mom. I thought I might die, but we survived, and -- thank God! -- those years are over.

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There is plenty more I could say, but I leave it at five for now. A follow-up post may be needed. IF I did not address any of your thoughts/questions, feel free to throw those out there as well!

 

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