This Might Get A Little Heavy....

When I told Zach that I was in the midst of writing this post he looked at me and said, "um ok...I'm scared." Funny guy, no need to be scared :)
If you want to commit to reading this(I know you are hemming and hawing Marcy...it's a lot of words) I suggest you get a cup of coffee and bare with me ;)
Moving right along.....
So Zach's a doctor. Yup, a doctor. As in, girls always "dream" about marrying a doctor.
The movies always make it seem so desirable, that having "all that money" is all it takes to be happy with your man. They never get into the nitty-gritty. 
Being a doctor's wife is not the fairytale everyone thinks it is....
not to be confused with my marriage to Zach not being a fairytale...that is! The two are kinda separate... (ok, now I'm getting confused...I'm just going to keep writing and hope you stay with me on this!) 
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to sound ungrateful, bitter or scary, but I wanna inject a little reality into peoples perception of the whole thing. 

Here's a little "Keepin' It Real" timeline for y'all...

First--four years of undergrad(usually there's some nice debt that comes with this)

Second--the MCAT...a big standardized test to see if you even qualify for Med School.

Third--the whole business of applying to Med School. 
This in and of itself is a stupidly hard process...coming from Canada, it was even harder(there is only one Med School in our Province and out-of-province schools are even harder to get into)

Fourth--comes med school (assuming you get in....factor in some possible rejections and waiting another year to apply again, it's what Zach went through)...it's a crazy time filled with classes, cadavers, sleepless nights, and long hours in the hospital(in the 3rd and 4th years) and ALL that is accompanied by some nice accumulating debt....oh and a butt-load of tests!
Zach attended an out of country Med School in the Caribbean, so that added a nice flare of you-have-to-leave-your-family-and-go-somewhere-in-which-you-know-no-one-and-it's-going-to-be-super-hard-and-expensive-to-travel-home-and-see-family-and-friends to the already crazy pressures.
He(I was there with him) did the first 2 years in Grenada and the second 2 in the USA.
Living in Grenada, was (If I'm being honest) one of the hardest things I've ever done...we've ever done.  If you go back to the early days of this blog, you can read all about our crazy adventures there. 
I truly believe it made us who we are and it was an essential part of gearing up for what was to come.
I DID meet amazing life-long friends and some of the first(and only) people who "get it"--as in the whole situation surrounding the married-to-a-doctor life, plus the lived-in-a-foreign-country AND the knew-them-"before"-it-all thing.

Fifth--The USMLE....I'm sure I missed two of these tests in the debacle above because Zach was onto writing his third by this point, ooops. The first two USMLE's (United States Medical Licensing Exams)  are 8 hours each....that's 8 straight hours of standardized test taking people. And the third one?? Well, that one was a whopping 16 hour test split into two consecutive days!
Stress much??
It has to be said (and I must brag on my husband a bit) he NAILED these tests. I mean KILLED them, as in he wowed people during the whole residency interview process with his fabulous scores! Made the whole months and months(and months and months....) of studying worth while!
And with Zach being a foreign grad, these test scores are an even bigger deal. 
He's a fish going against the current while trying to get a residency position (k, I made that sound really dramatic...but it kinda is.) 

Sixth-- The whole applying for a residency position. This was intermingled with step 6. So every place you actually get an interview at, you have to travel to. As in, fly, drive, etc. 
This part sucks the mulah right out of you. We drove to all the places with in a 8 hour radius, and Zach flew alone to the others. So there is the whole hotel fee, car rental if said hotel did not have a shuttle to the hospital and food, etc while gone. 
Thank the Lord, Zach didn't have to fly to too many places. 
You apply to these positions in September and the whole interview process can span into February. Then there's the "Match"....I'm not even going to try and explain, give the details to the process of how they end up placing you in your Residency position...because quite frankly, I'm still a bit lost by the whole process!
The "Match" happens in January for Urology, and all other Medicine/Surgery/etc have the "Match" in March. 
You basically get an email at 9am on the day of and it tells you where to go....and then you cry A LOT and thank the Lord that you matched and have a placement...and a job for the next 5 plus years.
Zach matched in Urology (his DREAM job!!) and he didn't have the agonizing wait until March.

Seventh--there's residency(which is what Zach's in now)....when said debt cripples you and you have to live on minimal amounts of money and time with said doctor. 
The lack of money is one thing, at times it sucks, but we're so used to it now that it's not that big a deal most of the time.
It's the TIME people, the lack of time with a loved one because they work 90+ hours A WEEK and the rest is spent sleeping or reading papers/research/etc to keep up with their particular specialty(in Zach's case, Urology). It gets old, really old...and we're not even 6 months into residency. Awesome.
And don't get me started on a month straight of night shifts....

It's a long road before any real money is made and you feel as though you are swimming in a sea of debt.
Basically, it's a lot of long hours, missing big "moments" in life, an always exhausted husband, crazy debt....the list goes on. Essentially, this makes me kind of a single parent for a good portion of the time.
All that being said(did I sound like a Debbie Downer or what?!?) it's Zach's passion and he LOVES it!

I can't even begin to say that his excitement for his job everyday (even through all the grogginess) is infectious! God has SO placed him in the right spot and placed me to take this journey right along side him....we started dating his first year of undergrad, I was still in the 12th grade...scandalous ;)
We know this is where he is...WE are... supposed to be, but that doesn't stop it from being hard... A LOT of the time.
I look back on all he's gone through, we've gone through, and I'm so grateful because like I said before, it's ALL shaped us into the people we are today. 
We trust God so much more than ever before, it's what happens when your life takes a "Where Are We Off To Next" turn every few years. God's just keeping us on our toes ;)
Zach's job comes with crazy responsibilities, dealing with death often and here in the States, there's the lovely possibility of being sued, good times. 

You have to understand, I grew up in a smallish town in Western Canada (both Zach and I did, he lived in the town next to mine) and I never in my WILDEST dreams ever thought that I'd live anywhere else....ever. I thought I'd marry a farmer (seriously) and live out my days in Abbotsford.  
To think that one day I'd be married to a man who was a doctor and living in Georgia, let alone New Jersey and Grenada before that??? Unfathomable. 
God knows so much better than we do what we need. 
The life experience we've gained from living in these places, the friends we've made...I can't imagine that not having happened!
We had a chip on our shoulders when Zach didn't get into Med School in Canada, I'm not going to lie. He had all the right stuff and for some reason didn't get in...
But now we GET it, this way was SO much better, harder, but better! 
God knew the reason and boy was he right.


Amy said...

Wow, Jen, that was emotionally inspiring. Your journey has been amazing. It is so wondefull to look back and see God's hand in our lives. I am sorry that it is so hard right now for you and Aubrey. You have incrediable strength and faith. It is a blessing to call you my friend and sister in Christ!

Sean and Kristin said...

Blogger just erased my comment! Grr. I love this post, everything you said is how I feel and what I think all the time. Single mom, never seeing your husband, debt, all the hours studying and working...every piece of it is so true. I love that you get it and having you through the journey has been wonderful. The last few years we've been too far apart but we had the beginning :)

Ashley Klaassen said...

so, that's you're whole heart hey? unreal. I guess people don't understand, what each of us goes through because it's not like we walk around with signs plastered to our chests (although that would be helpful sometimes). Zach's accomplishments are nothing short of admirable, but your accomplishments are too. I understand that it's probably incredibly hard on you and Aubrey to be without Zach for so much time (and on foriegn soil) but it speaks highly to your character that you are able to keep it all together. When you were home for the wedding I felt like we bonded, we were actua1ly able to spend some time together and I am thankful that God brought you all into my life - I couldn't of asked for better 'in laws'. I was a basket case with wedding stuff and you helped keep me sane and on an even keel, which was an impressive undertaking. I look forward to years together as family and want you to know that I am here for you, Aubrey, Zach and baby. One day we'll be sipping on fine wine in your living room (you know, the good living room, the one where the kids aren't allowed to EVER go into) looking back on all we have accomplished as the wives of two of the most amazing human beings on the planet and take stock of all that has been achieved. xo.

Marcy said...

I did it! Last night before bed Tom told me you had a really good blog post but not to bother reading it then cuz I wouldn't make it through so I decided to wait til this morning instead! And yes, it was a gooder! Thanks for "keepin it real" and sharing the Lor' with your peeps! Wow, I sound like a teener so anyway, you're being an awesome witness on this blog and that's so great! Keep it up Jen!!

Emily said...

I found your blog through Southern Lovely's link party and have really enjoyed looking around. Your projects are so cute. My husband is in his third year of residency so I can relate to your post.

Jen said...

Thanks for all your comments! Emily, it's always cool to "meet" someone else who has gone before in the whole residency thing!