Saturday, June 28, 2008

Being A Doctor's Wife

It is so not what it is cracked up to be.

First of all, I am NOT a doctor's life. I am an intern's life. That means I am the wife of a person who is essentially never ever ever home.

He was at home and awake for three hours yesterday. It's hard to get quality time with someone who comes home to a full e-mail box, something to study and worries from the hospital packed into the pockets of his scrubs and the crevasses of his memory.

I gave him the first hour, being as quiet as I could be because I knew he needed time to decompress. By hour two I couldn't stand it anymore and was also hungry, so we dined together on leftovers and conversation interrupted by shifting eyes and closing eyelids--his mind doesn't rest. Plus I had so much catching up to do with him that we kept subject jumping. Then he went back to his computer. When he finally conceded to closing up work and getting some rest our conversation was punctuated by glances and typing on his PDA and his pager. Augh!

I made him put those away, but our conversation turned to my website ("When will it be built?") and then our income (when will I have a steady income?). These are not restful topics. So a biting conversation ensued, with me convincing the poor boy that he wasn't under attack he was simply exhausted and not really paying attention, while I was bored and worried about money.

But I will get work. I will find a way. I will. I can do it. I can do it.

Doctor's wives don't worry about money like this.... I am an intern's wife.

Only three years to go.

Meanwhile, he is on call again tonight, so I am free to work this wedding as long as I can. I am going to be a photographer's assistant, which apparently means "being the eyes" of the photographer and being by his side. It might grow into a second shooter position, or even a first shooter, so we'll see. I'd better get going and work for the best with cheer and grace.

Friday, June 27, 2008

And He's Gone...

That was a nice day.

I got him board shorts, but he had to try them on, so he opened a box for the post-it note instead. :)

Yesterday evening we did our best to be in three places at once with relative success. The residents had a little gathering and in our desire to get to know people we were to stop by there briefly, but of course did not leave for an hour instead of just 30 minutes. Then we went to Naples Rib Company for a tri-birthday dinner with Brandon and Oakley and Eric, which has resulted in enough leftovers to sustain me for two days. Hurrah!

Eight days until his next day off, but he's so tired that the eighth day should be dedicated to sleep and sleep only.

Today I'll do laundry. That should kill some time. Maybe a yoga class or a jog. And then I'll meet a puppy for potential pet sitting.

It's almost like I have a real life.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Four Days

During the rotations each resident gets four days off.

Since Justin volunteered to be first intern on call, they let him pick the day after as a day off--especially since it's also the day after his birthday. It's really the day of rest. I have to remember that On Call nights really make the On Call Night and the day after a wash. What's more, on regular Q4s, today he would already have been gone for work two hours ago.

This schedule is truly crazy.

So today, I'm plugging along at my own work, but it is fine because he is sleeping in the other room and just having a living breathing person nearby keeps me motivated.

I'm applying for the local tutoring job even though the pay is low, just because it will give me something to do. I'm also starting to get dogs to walk, so God willing I can start making some money in this city.

I need at least $2000 a month.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

31 hours!

He's coming home.

"We started to round this morning and I thought, 'Oh, I forgot to eat breakfast. Oh well, too late now.' Some guy goes, 'I got gum?'"

Poor guy.

Here's pictures of the birthday cake from two days ago that the neighbors surprised him with:

I have a gift wrapped for him and a happy birthday banner up. His real gift is his very nicely framed medical school diploma, but it hasn't been delivered yet.

Yay! He's coming home to sleep! I'll be able to get stuff done just because there's someone breathing in this place besides me.

tick tock tick tock

It's 12:48 p.m. and he is not home yet

not home yet

not home yet

My comfort is in that as an ER doctor he will have actual shifts. It's just three years of odd hours, of stretched out torture, of lone time. I just hope they do not abuse their authority in the over ruling of the law that residents cannot work more than 30 hours in a shift.

It's his birthday!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Long Day


I got done with my work and bored by noon.

Justin hasn't had time to eat the cookies Shirley baked and bagged individually for the interns.

Nate had so little to do that he ate four times, watched a video and drank multiple sodas. Now, given the lack of wife and children, he's gone to the taco shop to eat more.

I might have some cookies.

And they're off.....

They all just left to be doctors for the first time in their lives.





And the 11 others who do not live in our apartment complex.

Justin used to get so nervous before swim meets that he'd throw up.

He's more nervous today.

Last night we had an impromptu BBQ for all of us since they got home around noon. They efficiently navigated the system to get blood drawn and TB tests done, all the other details to wrap up before starting work at County, and then left behind the interns from other departments--one woman had been their since 7 a.m. (they got there at 10).

If the surf had been good there would have been an outlet for Alisa and Justin, but it was choppy, so they came back and she napped while he and Nate went to the grocery store. Shirley and I baked--well, I watched the cookies cool and she baked--and were calm.

We started the grill, I marinated the fish.

Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!

"What is that?" I thought the smoke from the grill maybe set the fire alarm off, but it's a gas grill and there wasn't really any smoke.

Nate, Justin and I were looking around.

"Oh My God. It's your beeper."

Justin grabbed it and made it stop, meanwhile Shirley was on her way over because she thought the smoke alarm was beeping.

"I am officially a disgruntled doctor's wife," I complained to Nate. My heart was heavy and my stomach sunk. "I mean, I know I'll get used to this, but it's not supposed to start until tomorrow."

Then, Justin started asking around, "How do you return a page? What number do you call? What's the hospital number?" All you get is the last four; the first four are universal. Thank God we live in the virtual intern dorms.

It didn't work, and he got a longer one with a message about what time to get to the hospital tomorrow.

As we ate, the tension mounted; this normally jovial group of people sitting with glazed over looks and just commenting occasionally on the food. Afterward, we considered going into the ocean, it was only 6:30, but we were so heavy with the day that even going to look at the waves took cajoling on my part. (Justin was checking the swell on line. We live two blocks from the ocean and couldn't be bothered to walk there.)

When we finally did go, the surfers decided they were not motivated enough to surf since it was still pretty choppy--even though there were some good rights coming in!--and the rest of us were too lazy to take a walk. We sat on the curb like dejected teenagers on the last day of summer and then finally gave in to the chores we had to do before morning. Alisa returned to a voice mail detailing her five patients and we sat in the deepening reality of what was to come.

Reluctantly parting each other's company, Justin and Nate left the girls so they could study and get together all their little cheat sheets for procedures and medications. I said a prayer that no one in Los Angeles would get sick on their first day. I don't think that's going to work out. Around 9, we decided it was a relatively decent time for adults to go to sleep and Nate's family called to do their on the phone good nights. They'll be moving up here at the end of the month, but until then he's commuting and staying with us during the week. His daughter was crying, "I miss you Daddy!"

"That must be hard to hear."

"It is, but I'm so tired right now it isn't bothering me too much. I try just not to think about it for too long."

We finally went to sleep--Ambien for Justin and me--"I've got to take one of these or I won't sleep at all. I have a feeling this will be the last time I'll need one though."

In eight minutes he starts his first shift, on call until tomorrow--his birthday.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Church shopping at its web finest


Wanna pick a church for me to go to tomorrow? I'm thinking the Episcopalian one, based on hope alone. Both are walking distance. The Lutheran one is closer. Both raise red flags on their webpages in certain ways, but an LCMS church is just scary. [They’ve got this homophobic bent, not to mention a clamp down on women’s role in the church—like we can’t read from the pulpit, be deacons, serve communion….]

We'll see. A lot of the decision might have to do with my rising and shining. Justin has to be gone at 7:50 a.m. again tomorrow, which isn't bad.



Oh my.


Hi Olaina,

Just read your message. I'd go Episcopal. I read Fr.Bob's Blog. I'm familiar with the Girard person he quotes and am favorably inclined. Also, the LCMS church uses that code word inerrant about Scripture which would lead me to believe that it is not a deep thinking place. I do like, however, their social justice concerns. The Episcopalian parish would probably be more intellectually challenging and take the Scripture at a deeper level -- context and all of that stuff that fundamentalist find so inconvenient.

YAY! Thanks! I was leaning Episcopalian too. The LCMS church is LCMS and, though I know it's true and all, they have a bunch in their site about God dying for our sins and some mention of works. At the very idea of work I got tired. Especially working my way into heaven. Geez. I just ain't built for that kinda heavy lifting:

First, look at the brokeness that invades your life - those things that cause guilt, shame, and grief. They exist because of a condition called sin. Sin separates us from God and robs us of the peace, comfort and hope we desperately crave. And no matter how hard we try, there isn't anything we can do to make things right again on our own. That's where Jesus comes in! Jesus knows the misery we feel. Jesus makes the difference at that very point - when our pain leads us to cry for help. Jesus is God's answer to our cry. Jesus took the punishment we deserve. He died in your place so that you can be forgiven. Because you are forgiven, you can have comfort of knowing you are at peace with God. And because of what Jesus has done for you, your past is forgiven, your present can be lived with confidence, and your future is guaranteed. For all who believe in Jesus, an everlasting world - without suffering, sin and death - is assured. This glorious place called heaven is where you will see Jesus face to face!
(Immanuel Lutheran Church website)

I'm thinkin' that I agree with all of this, but it's so preachy and the description of my horrible sinfulness is so deeply dark whereas my forgiveness and "living my present with confidence" for a gauranteed future... *bleh!* If I had to sit through an hour of babbling on about that kind of thing and have a single modern day application mentioned I'd be struck down for my sinful thoughts right then and there.

The only real vote for the LCMS one was that their service is at 10 whereas the Episcopalian one is at 8.... so I'd better get going.

Thanks for the vote, brother!

Love ya,
Olaina (who is church shopping alone while the man goes to the test on Advanced Cardiac Life Support and BLS (Whatever that is). He's got the Cardiac Care Unit first, working the first day (voluntarily because the rest of them are wusses and not ER docs) on Tuesday from 6 a.m. to Wed. at noon. Yippee! (Wed. is his birthday, he's excited to have a half day off. I reminded him he'll be sleeping, but he said we could have lunch.) I'm lovin' that he's back at work though. It was two days of loitering around him while I didn't want to miss anything he did or any time possibly spent with him before he went off to the death zone. The past two days of him working I've been out and about getting stuff done. :)

OOPS! At the E. church the said service is at 8, but of course I want to go to the one with the choir... at 10. Also the E. offers communion every Sunday, whereas LCMS does only communion on the 1st and 3rd Sundays. I just told J. that and he looked at me perplexed.


"They only do communion on the 1st and 3rd Sundays."

"They don't have church the other days?"

"No, they have church, they just don't do communion."

His confusion deepens. "Why?"

"I don't know, I guess they don't think it's important enough to spend the time. That's all I can come up with."

Irate face: "But that's the most important part!"

"I know!"

"I mean the whole Jesus thing..."

"I know!"

"It's a social club!"

You've GOT to love this man. I love this man. :))))))

And 10 a.m. service. Yippee! Plus they have a cute little white building, where as the LCMS has property with a school and two pastors, which always freaks me out.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

This is India

"Justin, how much do you want to bet when my aunt gets here she tells me I've gained weight?"

It wasn't a bet he was willing to take.

The doorbell rang. We all rose to greet her and my uncle and nephew at the door. Hugs all around.

"Hi, Olaina!" She hugs me and pats me on the back as though she were burping Godzilla--her customary greeting. "You're looking better." Now she's holding my left arm in one hand and has her right hand around my chin as though she were checking to see if a little kid had washed carefully.

"What do you mean, 'better,'" I asked, probing for what I knew she wanted to say.

"You used to be so thin!"

I should have bet $100.

Later, she told me my "cousin" (anyone Indian and related to one of my relatives however tangentially is a cousin) is expecting. "First trimester!" she said.

Then later, unrelated to any part of the conversation she had to tell me that my cousin's best friend is also expecting.

"Wow. That's really amazing!"

I don't think she knows I had a miscarriage. Even if she did know, I don't think it would stop her. We're talking about the same woman who comes into my home and wipes her finger along the piano top, checking for dust.

Meanwhile, her son, who graduated from medical school in 1988 and now lives in a big house in San Mateo--the San Francisco bay area, mentions that I haven't sent a Christmas card in three years.

I haven't had a lot of news in the past three years. What was I supposed to write? I had a miscarriage. I became clinically depressed. I almost recovered from being clinically depressed but the anniversary of those events has brought me down. Merry Christmas!

I haven't had any alcohol today because I am trying to cut my empty calories, but man, they made me want to either drink heavily or take an anxiety pill.

I could run a mile right now and I don't know that I'd be calmed down.

Friday, June 13, 2008

"Because God was punishing them"?

Note: I know all boy scouts are not homophobic. I know that one of the tenets of Boy Scouts is homophobic (you're not "allowed" to be gay) and they discriminate as such. I know that God said, "Love one another," and His example in Jesus made no exceptions, in fact loving many people that the Church then did not even acknowledge or did scorn. I know that the Christian Right believes that bad things happen to people because God is punishing them (ie. Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans--a hotbed for sin in their opinion).

Following that twisted Christian Right logic, one is left to wonder about this incident:

Deafening Howl, Then Deadly Chaos for Scouts

Four died when a tornado hit a Boy Scout camp in Iowa, destroying the building around a troop and injuring 48.

Of course, I don't believe they were being punished--I don't believe God is in the business of punishing people. I am heavily into the New Testament and all that stuff about Grace and Faith--free love.

But I do love any opportunity to aruge with the Christian Right.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


They are so depressing.

I woke up with a headache and had to be reminded that I can also make other people's lives miserable because I have a chronic disorder.

Fuck that.

I'm sitting here putting my cocktail together for each morning of the week and I had to hear all the warnings.... such-and-such med might make me suicidal, and mixed with this and that each pill's side effects might be sickening.

Fuck that.

One of these pills is working. One of these pills is on a commercial. God. There's 1-2-3-4-5 different kinds. But together they make it so I don't fall apart. They're like glue for my life. If I were a Barbie doll (OK, minus the boobs), and somehow my head had been shattered and all the hair were cut off. (Let's say that a mysterious other child took a hammer to that shaggy blond head... just for imagery.) If that were my favorite doll, if I tried... I mean, if I loved that doll enough to want to put her back together, I'd try anything. It wouldn't just take one type of glue. Krazy-glue wouldn't make the hair soft again, it wouldn't make the eyes blue and the lashes brown and the lips rosy, it would just harden and hold the big pieces together. So I'd have to use glue for the basic repair, maybe some needle and thread for the hair repair, some product or another from a beauty supply store (how do those extensions work?) for more hair repair, maybe I'd even have to sculpt a little putty to get a new nose on there, and of course the finishing touches of paint for the eyes, the lips...

So one of those pills might just not be enough. Maybe there will be five. And maybe I'll have to take them for the rest of my life.

Fuck it.

Yeah, I hate it. I'd rather just feel wonderful all the time. I'd rather feel OK all the time. I'd rather not understand those commercials about depression. But I'd also rather not watch them and be reminded of how shitty it can be. I don't want to be reminded when I'm feeling good that it might be more transient than it should be and when I already feel bad I don't want to be reminded by the commercial that I could feel better or worse in my depression.... however those people on TV look.

I just have to put these pills together now and see how this day goes.

Monday, June 09, 2008

dust to dust

Justin and his step dad Mark are spending the week together to commemorate the one year anniversary of Toni's death.

They're doing all the things that Justin's mom loved--going hiking in the desert and then to Vegas for a couple of nights.

It's male-bonding time, so I'm calling a self-imposed moratorium on calling Justin, especially since I might interrupt an actual serious moment or make Mark feel lonely because he isn't getting phone calls from his wife.

Justin and I spent the actual anniversary, June 6, in Laughlin with Jason and Amanda and SecondMom Sandi and crew, so we toasted a few times to Toni--they all knew her. Come to think of it, anyone who met her before her brain cancer knew her better than I ever did, even if I did make a photo collage slide show for the wake.

Last night when we got hope from Laughlin after the 5ish hour drive, I was trying to get things organized for the wee, and he was just getting grouchy. We were both so tired after and I have been trying so hard to live in the moment that I forgot the emotional weight of his trip's purpose and was just plowing through trying to get to sleep sooner than later. Fortunately, we have both been working so hard to communicate well that he finally told me he was stressed over the anniversary, the residency, the paper getting published, the driving.... so instead of trying to get him to tell me more things to help with our planning I just tried to do things more immediately necessary for him--like help with packing. It worked pretty well.

My mother-in-law has been dead for a year.

I should be more sad about that, but it is hard to miss someone I never knew and it is impossible to wish that she were still here to suffer through more brain-cancer-surgery related side effects. I am just sad for Justin and Mark because they miss their Toni--but they've missed her the whole time I have known them as well. It's just a different sadness now. Maybe one that can be carried somehow more completely than the weighty and cumbersome grief over a life-still-living.

Maybe it really is like carrying an urn, with the dust of death easily shifting within a box, instead of a woman in a wheelchair, with the dust of life aimlessly shifting in a body whose weight awkwardly lurches against her purpose and desires.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Friends are forever... no matter where they live

Friends support political candidates together.

Friends dance together and support each others events.

Friends are family.

Friends sing and listen.

Friends love each other forever.

more to come.... friends go to Laughlin together!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hello? Am I home now?

Justin and I are finally done sleeping on the air mattress in our echoing apartment in San Diego. I'm sitting on our LA bed, plants blooming to my left, Dad's paintings hanging to my right, books, music, everything from home.

But I am so homesick.

How is it that I miss San Diego so much? I already gave up my teaching career there, my teaching co-workers, my teaching hours, my teaching acquaintances, my old life....

I guess that's what's making me sad.

I did not just give up that old life. I traded in a beautiful body with a bad engine for a new vehicle--a balanced one.

So I miss my friends from the neighborhood, I miss knowing I can call Jareb or Grace Ann or Pall or Tiffany or whoever and just get some coffee or take a walk or something. Even if in the last year we all got really busy with our jobs and significant others and saw each other less, there's something about knowing someone who really cares about me is just a few doors away. I miss Brian, who we have seen a lot less of in the last two years than in the year before that alone, but who I knew I could see and listen to in church any given Sunday and feel surrounded by His love through his genius. I miss knowing that in our apartment complex if I did laundry on Monday I'd be messing up the retired people's order of operations, so I waited until Tuesdays or the evening. I miss the apartment manager's pretty flowers blooming in the courtyard and knowing I'd have to prepare myself to greet any given neighbor if I so much as opened our front screen. Most especially I miss knowing that if I went to the L Bar on Saturday night Ben would make a lemon drop martini for me as soon as I walked into the room and Jareb would smile when he caught my eye and play any song I requested. I miss knowing where to get yummy food with Justin. I miss the puppies. I miss knowing who would be at our table if Justin had poker night at our house. I miss knowing that Tuesdays was therapy morning and art afternoon. I miss the Art Academy studio--the days when I felt well enough to go in there and take my class or spend extra time working on something.

I miss the good life that I made.

I know I can still have all of that here; I can keep the friends, it's just not the same long distance. I can discover new places to do the activities, it's just not the same as places I find by rote as soon as I leave the front door.

I am not homesick for San Diego so much as I am just sad. It's like Holden Caulfield said, "You shouldn't tell anyone about anyone because you start missing them" (paraphrased).

Friends keep friends company during all-day events at Qualcomm Stadium.

For reals, seriously!?!?!?!?

Barack Obama is running for President of the United States and I am married to a doctor.

Not white! Not white! Not white! Just like me!

I never thought it would happen.

OK. So I dreamed. But I also remember getting teased for my not whiteness.

And then there's this doctor. I never even thought I'd like a doctor, and here I am married to one. Of course, his redneck roots kinda level him into the normal person range, so that helps. :)


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Getting to be a good part of good history

Barack Obama is the assumed nominee for the Democratic Party for the President of the United States. He said:

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Being a doctor's wife

Is boring.

Nothing to do, I'm bored and I'm blue.


Monday, June 02, 2008

The First Morning

I woke up next to Justin and as usual cuddled until the need to pee overrode the desire to keep lying down.

Then I woke him up with a little kiss to tell him, "I slept until 8 o'clock! What a victory!" And I told him about a dream--a wonderful dream that didn't exhaust me the way dreams did two months ago, but felt more like I was watching a dramatic sit-com from the position of an actress who is aware that her own life is not exactly what she is doing.

The dream involved a few people I know and a few people I didn't even recognize and a house that was slightly altered from one in out neighborhood and a few more people I know from a different part of my life all in the same space. One friend was detoxing only because he didn't have the cash to buy more coke and the rest of us were participating in the circus of his furious crashing, which had us hating, yelling, loving and hugging each other in cycles. Then there was something about a movie and a homemade movie they had made, and the wrong one being returned to the library. It was a beautifully ridiculous dream and I loved it.

A few minutes after relaying the dream to Justin (who is still sleeping next to me, who responded to my story with, "hmm..." "humph..."), I remembered.

Yesterday people kept asking if it felt different, being a doctor's wife. Once I said, "Oh my God, it's such a pain! All this entertaining!" I waved my arm expansively over the spread and the guests at our Rubio's A-Go-Go picked-up-"catered" luncheon in the church hall. "Just kidding. It's the same."

Then I thought about it this morning. It was the same--I felt the same way I did before, just waking up next to my best friend and telling him my funky dream right away--but it was also different. So of course despite him still sleeping, I woke him up again with my words.

"Oh my God, I'm lying next to a doctor. At first it's just the same as anything. But then I remembered. I've never been with a doctor before. Of course, I'd never been with a security guard before either. I love you just the same." He gave another "hmmmm" response.

He's still still sleeping as I write. It is the same--very little expectation, sweet surprises, just a guy and a girl next to each other. The only difference I notice at the moment is that then he was a full time night security guard, a full time day college student and a rugby player and president of the college judicial board and volunteering in an Alzheimer's respite program and working in a lab. There was the pressure of the desire to become a doctor. The working toward that particular goal.

Becoming a doctor has been our life for seven years (on July 16, 2008, it will be the anniversary of the day we met).

Now he is one.

Our goal is for him to be a good doctor.

He will be.

First there's the three years of residency--this year he is called an intern. He has four days of orientation at UCLA-Harbor ER and then it's game time. He can write prescriptions, make life-or-death decisions and teach medical students. But he'll have the two years of residents ahead of him on his team, the attending, the "real real doctors" after that. All of them will be just "practicing" medicine as they call it, but some of them will have 2 days of experience, 2 years, 2 decades... When he gets nervous I just remind him of that.

Plus he's lucky. They've capped residency hours at 30 consecutive hours in a shift, a mandatory 10 hours between shifts and 60 or 80 hours per week. It's a law now. As an ER resident though, it's shift work, since no matter what the doctors have to be sharp and fresh to work in the high energy environment, so our life will be not much different than it is now. He's still going to be studying, preparing for step 3 of the Boards, preparing for the next day, the next rotation, the next patient.

I'll still be just Justin's wife.

I imagine, being the blue collar kinda guy that he is, we won't be going around telling people he's a doctor when we go to parties. We won't tell them I am a photographer or a business owner. We won't mention dog walking. After all, there's the surf, the Lakers, the Angels, the Padres, the weather.... politics and religion too... There are more interesting things to talk about than our work.

I am Justin's wife. He is my husband. It's not different today compared to yesterday, any different than any Monday is different than Sunday.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

HE did it! (we did it!)


Soon I will be a doctor's wife.

Soon I will not have any more money than I do now.

Soon I will write what I have not yet written.

Soon I will be surrounded by family and friends who will cheer on my husband for finishing medical school.

Soon I will sleep.

Soon I will wake up.

Soon my life will change.

Soon my life will be the same.

Soon I will be more or less what I am now.

But different.