|Yep those are spines on my kitchen table|
The only exposure many have to neurosurgery is what they see on Grey’s Anatomy and the infamous Dr. McDreamy. But I am here to tell you it is so far off from what Meredith Grey would like you to believe.
If real life was anything like that show then I am apparently missing out on a whole lot of drama. Residency, private practice and overall stressful lifestyles are commonplace for any specialty, and my hat is off to every single medical professional and spouse who dedicate their lives to medicine. We are blessed to have you. However, surgery is another beast in it of itself.
One of the most difficult aspects of being married to a surgeon is simply the strict time demands it commands. My husband regularly puts in 80-100 hour workweeks and even when he is home or not on call will be found on the phone. Calls from residents and families following up on a patient flow in 24/7 even if that call comes right in the middle of date night or heck even in the middle of the night at 3am.
Another difficult aspect is the nature of the beast with neuro patients. They are usually very sick and near death by the time they need my husband. Brain bleeds, spinal fractures, babies with brain tumors are all something he can see in a single day. My husband is human and no one can possibly see that day in and day out without taking some of it home. I try to make sure that our home life is as calm and relaxing as possible so it is an escape from work for him.
It blows my mind that my husband even has enough energy to hold a conversation with me at the end of a week. Many times he doesn’t. We try to maximize the most of our days off together by doing something relaxing, energizing and as far away from the hospital physically and mentally we can get.
But despite the challenges I am in awe and so proud of the work he can do. A patient can take steps again after fracturing their spine, a girl can stand up straight after scoliosis had her hunched over for years. A grandmother can live longer after a brain tumor resection and see more grandchildren born.
Life as a doctor’s wife can be stressful, lonely and leave you questioning why you ever got yourself into this in the first place. But I step back and look at how far my husband has come and, likewise, his patients and it all becomes clear.