Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Loan Repayment (during residency)

Please know I could be WAY off with my thoughts/ideas/conclusions - I tend to rant and expect the worst - I also gathered some of my information from message boards which are in no way a reliable or accurate source!
Okay I think I may, (and I emphasize may) have figured it out... This has seriously been so frustrating. I know I posted before that I you could forbear your loans for the entirety of residency but since then I have heard a number of conflicting things. On various boards (namely iMSN) they keep talking about this new 15% rule. Various MS4s (fourth year medical students) who have been through their loan exit interviews have been saying that there is no more deferment/forbearance and that it has been replaced by this new 15% rule. Well after a few weeks of various inquiries and searches I have found this article.
To my now limited understanding the government has eliminated economic hardship forbearance. The economic hardship forbearance was nice because all residents qualified due to their modest incomes and it allowed residents to make NO payments their first three years of residency; also during this time interest did not acquire (or if it did I think the government paid it). After these three years of economic hardship forbearance were up residents could simply defer their payments if they wished and interest would continue to acquire on their loans.
Now this new plan does not allow residents to forbear at all and they can either defer and interest acquires (which I guess can be dangerous because interest continues to acquire and can capitalize and whatnot) or enter repayment. (This is the part where the information is even more sketchy are less reliable)
So if you ask me these new plan stinks! Consider that a $200,000 loan debt is quite normal for the average medical student. A 10-year repayment plan at the 6.8% interest rate amounts to.....
$2,300 a month
The average residency salary is around $42,000 - this leaves a resident with approximately $500 a month to live.... (I'm not sure if you can put medical school loans on longer terms).... so obviously if a resident doesn't want to defer and have interest accrue and capitalize their only option (unless they have a sugar-daddy/momma or another massive source of income) is Income Based Repayment (IBR/the 15% rule). So this 15% rule looks pretty good... for a minute.... and if your not married to someone with student loan debts...
If your married (I was told that) your spouse has to sign onto this agreement and the problem can be that you are stuck paying 30% of your income (15% of both of your incomes towards each loan). While I am not sure if this is accurate - I was also told that an option to avoid this is to file separate taxes. (Which then causes you to lose out on several tax benefits - resulting in a different cost). But with the separate taxes then you would only each pay 15% of your own loans? I dunno this is all confusing stuff. While I would have no problem paying 15% of Drew's residency salary during his residency, I don't like the idea of having to pay 30% of both of our salaries, especially if we live in an expensive city. Based on my unscientific, uneducated, calculations, even if I was hypothetically making a meager $40,000 salary we could still be responsible for $2,000 a month payments ($80,000 * 15% then divided by 12 months). Then again I would hope the 15% rule is only based on take home pay, rather than before taxes salary.
Perhaps we can defer but still make optional payments? I just don't like the idea of having to pay a large payment every month. Good thing I have more than a year to figure (worry about) this thing out!
And since I was trying my hardest to find everything wrong with IBR I forgot to mention that the another advantage of it is that (again I think) that if your payments are still less than the rate that interest is acquiring then the government pays that interest. So I guess my final conclusion is that this IBR plan may not be a bad plan for single/unmarried residents but I think it could potentially be bad for married couples who both have student loans.
If you stayed with me this long - thanks for your patience... please leave comments or email me if you have more accurate information/corrections! Thanks!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Busy weekend

We had a pretty busy weekend and unfortunately I didn't get much done around the apartment. Saturday morning I went to work and D went on his last long run before the half-marathon next weekend. By the time I got back from work in the afternoon I had to throw a cake in the oven and change - then we headed over to some friends house to "watch the game" even though I didn't watch any of the game. But I had a great time catching up with Drew's med school friends. When we got home shortly after 9 - we vegged on the couch and passed out! This morning we got up early for mass, and headed straight to Davenport.
We got to spend the afternoon with Abbie, Conrad and new (1-month-0ld) Campbell Grace!
She is beautiful and it was heaven holding her.
We did get home here tonight at six; but at that point I didn't get much done around here. And while I was a total dork and went to bed around 10 both Friday and Saturday, I am glad I did because I didn't get my usually weekend naps! With that being said I am going to get ready for bed and spend some quality quiet time with the husband before heading to bed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why I love third year...

I cannot speak too much as to first year because my husband and I were 365 miles (a 6 hour drive or a 12 hours by a short car ride with two train rides to allow for adequate study time while I was in law school) apart. But I can speak in regards to second and third years of medical school. Second year the days were long (but manageable) but the excitement and nervousness of first year had worn off for Drew. While he was still excited about his dreams of becoming a doctor he began to get worn down with the long days of his nose in a book. The only change from studying and lectures was to practice on fake patients. Drew didn't really enjoy this first year and then only to continue it in second year to advance to doing pelvic and rectal exams was no improvement. The year dragged on for Drew and he was often exhausted.
We were worried to start third year; we had heard it was going to be tough, long days, busy weekends and very little free time. I guess with all the worrying about how "terrible" it was going to be we weren't really prepared for Drew to enjoy it.
Once Drew got past the orientation part of his rotation he would come home each night so excited. He was different, it was like someone had relighted his fire and passion for medicine. Drew started with "longs" which are Internal Medicine (IM) and Surgery (and are called longs because they are 10 weeks, rather than the rest of the clerkships which are only six.) Typically the "longs" are considered the most intense and most demanding. And while they most certainly were, I still can say that Drew (and even I) have been so much happier than last year. Internal medicine usually started at six or seven and he was usually home by six or seven. He was gone Saturday mornings but most of his Sundays were protected (meaning he had the whole day off). Surgery was a little less consistent. Most days he started at five or so and was done by five-ish but there were the occasional days where he got out in the early afternoon or other days where he went till 8 or 9 at night. Weekends were the same is internal medicine. While this seems miserable keep in mind that Drew's "shorts" psychiatry and Oby-gyn thus far have been shorter days and offered him most weekends off.
Although the schedule of IM and surgery seems intense, it was really quite bearable. I kept myself busy by visiting friends some weekends and we made every Sunday our day, all day, even if it meant laying down on the couch all day. I have also learned to love even simply times like when I lay in his lap while he studies. While I have gotten a little off-course (thanks for staying with me here) the point of my post, is that I have found third year to be the most rewarding. There have been so many days where Drew has come home so excited, and although exhausted he couldn't wait to tell me what he got to see, hear, or do that day. For us it was like all that time that he had spent with his nose buried in a book had finally paid off. He has finally gotten to see so many of the things he had only before read about. He is actually working with real patients, with real problems. It made the idea of becoming a doctor a little more real.
My favorite of course was surgery because each night I could watch his eyes light up with such awe and enthusiasm as he spoke about his day. It didn't matter what he spoke about, it wasn't what he said, it was just so wonderful as a spouse to see the one I love find his passion. It was the acknowledgement and satisfaction that all his hard work (studying and self-discipline) had paid off. I think it also provided a huge amount of joy and relief for him to not only know that medicine really was his calling, but also to know what your calling is.
And while finding the right specialty can be stressful for some, when they do find it, there is just a huge sense of relief and contentment. So if your spouse struggles to find something they like my advice is to try and calm their fears and encourage them to just learn from what (rotation/clerkship) they are in, even it means learning that they never want to do it ever again!
So while third year takes some accommodation and adaptation, it is a very exciting time - especially as a significant other getting to watch your spouse transform from a student to a future doctor.

Thankful Thursdays

Tonight I am thankful for:
  • My health and the health of my family and friends;
  • Spring and the promise that summer is soon to follow;
  • Babies in all their innocence, joy and unconditional love (if you look to my prayer requests - down and to the right- you will see that there are quite a few either newly arrived or on their way);
  • Having finally adjusted to daylight savings time and therefore being able to appreciate the extra hours of sunlight at the end of the day;
  • The fact that my wonderful husband made dinner almost every night this week (so that I could get things done and workout);
  • Learning yoga and all of its wonderful benefits; and
  • As always, my husband, my family, my friends, my job, my faith and the ability to pay our bills!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

*Paging the Ob's Wife*

(and any other spouses of medical students, residents or doctors). There is a new blog/forum called http://doctorwives.blogspot.com/ and if any of you are interested please let me know and I will send you an invite to become an author, we'd love to have you!
An Ob's wife who will remain nameless posted a comment on my blog and then deleted it - so my guess is that you wish to be anonymous so I'm not using your name in this post - I tried to contact you but your profile doesn't have an email and your blog doesn't allow for comments.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Proud Auntie

So this weekend was little Gaston's first Birthday. He is absolutely adorable and I must admit I am obsessed with him. I cannot help but take tons of photos of him every time I see him. So I am going to share a few of my favorites from this weekend.
In the hat we got him for his Birthday

He loves the bath!

Sharing his cake with my Dad

I love these blue eyes!

Opening presents!

Okay and I promise this is the last thing... but below is a video of his adorable little bum-scoot; which he is not allowed to do any more because they want him to work on his crawl (he is not quite on his knees yet which makes him a little behind).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Last week of Ob-gyn

And there are no sad faces in our household! Although the end of a unit does mean a test - so Drew is using his free-time to study for the exam which is on Friday. Then next week he will begin Neuro-radiology which he should enjoy. It will only be for two-weeks because it is a 3rd year elective. This year he had two, 2-week periods in which he could choose an elective to take. His first two week period he "elected" to take a break because he was in-between the two most intense 10-week rotations, Internal Medicine and Surgery. But this time there will be no break, but hopefully lots of learning. In other news he submitted his sub-Internship application to Northwestern, hoping to do a 4-week neurosurgery rotation there this fall. They don't start reviewing applications until May but Drew wanted to have his application there as soon as possible. We're also starting to ask for prayers in the whole residency process. Even though its a year away I am finding myself losing sleep already - which is why I am praying not only about applying to residency but also for peace of mind and peace in my heart. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope, and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fabulous weekend in Wisconsin

The husband and I hard a wonderful time in Wisconsin this weekend. Although its a long drive it was well worth the trip. I'm extremely exhausted so its gonna be a short (basically non-existent) entry tonight, but I just thought I'd share a photo of my three awesome nephews. (It was Gaston's first Birthday).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Match Day

On this Match day 2009 - and Thankful Thursday, I am thankful to be right where we are, and I am even more thankful to actually be happy right here, right now. On this journey the past few months I have found myself wishing it was two years from now (hoping we are closer to family) or 10 years from now (when Drew is hopefully out of residency) - but today I can say that I am happy and content just where we are. I am glad today is not our match day and I am glad that I can enjoy the next 364 days until it is our match day. I realize that in a little over a year while I may be closer to family, I may also be farther from family, and more importantly I will have much less time with the wonderful man who is my husband. So for now I will be content with where we are and just try and treasure the time that I do have with him, right here, right now. For the little time I have with him will only become more sparse in the upcoming future.
And to all of you 4th years (and spouses) - Congratulations on the big day - you have great things ahead of you!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Trying something new on the blog tonight. I (Drew) will be ghost-writing for Marissa because I felt like posting tonight. Who knows, maybe it will happen more often. My OR experience today inspired me to write. Today the attending on gyne asked if I wanted to open (make the incision, go through a couple superficial layers of tissue). I actually managed to form words and tell him I would love to. Even the smallest things in an operation require skill that you just don't think about. Everything you do, every little movement potentially impacts the procedure and/or the patient's recovery. Today I feel I started to think more like a surgeon. I tried to stay more involved in the case, thinking about every move. Its completely different from being a student just trying to stay out of the way/stay awake. I already knew I wanted to be a surgeon, today was just a little taste of the future. It was fantastic, I have to do surgery, its an amazing feeling. In other med student news, Match Day is one year from today. The seniors match tomorrow. I'm nervous for them, and nervous for myself. I'm not a nervous person but I'm already a little high-strung over this. This will be a life altering year, everything I do for the next 12 months could impact where we end up. I'm trying to focus on just being the best medical student and future doctor that I can be and remember that if I take care of business and work hard the rest of it should fall into place. And of course, in my typical fashion, I'm doing things the hard way. There are certainly less competitive specialties than neurosurgery, not that I'm saying its easy to get into anything, but I went and picked one that people work as hard as they possibly can for 4 years or more and sometimes its still not enough. On more of a fun note, we get to see the family this weekend for Gaston's first birthday! Some time away from Springfield and thinking about school will be a welcome break.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How we got here...

On the Doctor's wife blog she was talking today about
the beginning, the acceptance story, and how we got here.
Which got me thinking about where our journey began that brought us here. And so tonight, lucky you get to hear about how we got here. My husband and I knew of each other in college, but we didn't really know each other. We finally "met" a little over a month before graduation, and it was the week he had found out he didn't get into medical school. I had no idea at the time but I was the second or third person he told; I guess he knew right away he knew I was someone he could trust. Looking back now I don't know what would have happened if he had gotten into school that year.
We started dating that summer and it didn't take long for me to realize I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man. That fall he supported me emotionally through my first semester of law school at Northern Illinois University. At the same time I tried to help him fill out his medical school applications for his second time. I remember calling him daily to hear if he had gotten anything in the mail. I had even purchased him a frame for him his first acceptance letter. Then one spring day, to our (for the most part) excitement he was accepted to Southern Illinois Medical School - the only problem was it was at the opposite end of the state (7 hours) from where I was attending law school! A few weeks later he did get a second acceptance letter from a Chicago (closer) school notifying him that he had been placed on a wait list. It was also around this time that he proposed. I was so excited about the excitement of marrying the man of my dreams, I don't think I ever thought about the journey he would me taking me on.
I continued to hope and hope that he would get into that Chicago school. No spot ever opened up and before I knew it we were moving him to oh-so-far-away-Carbondale, Illinois. Somehow he managed to survive his first year of medical school while I balanced 18 hours of law courses and wedding planning, all while we were 7 hours apart at opposite ends of the state. Before we knew it he was taking his final first year exam, packing his backs and making the seven hour drive up to our rehearsal dinner (yes all in the same day - someone screwed up when reading his curriculum calendar!).
We spent that summer as newlyweds living with my parents so that I could work and we could live rent free. In the fall of 2007 we moved to our first (a one bedroom) apartment in what some would call the armpit of Illinois; Decatur. Five days a week for five months I drove an hour each way to finish my last semester of law school at the University of Illinois and my darling husband drove 45 minutes each way to Springfield to attend his second year of medical school. Thank goodness January came quickly and (with me) being done with school we were able to move to (a much roomier 2-bedroom apartment in) Springfield. And somehow by the grace of God I passed my Illinois bar exam by studying on an Ipod, and I managed to get the wonderful job that I have now (and have had for 11 months now). And while I never thought I'd end up living in Springfield Illinois, I cannot deny that it all worked out, and I'm extremely happy. I guess I have learned that sometimes the plans God has are a lot better than the ones I had in mind. Please remind me of this as we begin to apply for residencies this fall!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

This Thursday I am thankful to finally be feeling a little bit better. I have been sick since monday and was afraid there was something seriously wrong with me because what kind of virus lasts this long. I have slept the past three days, but the past few hours I have actually been able to sit up and be awake... perhaps I will be able to go to work tomorrow? Hopefully!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Goodbye O.B...

Hello Gyn. Drew officially finished O.B. last week and he will be starting Gynecology tomorrow. The upside is that there will be some surgical procedures so I think that part will be interesting to him, but that doesn't change the fact that he has had enough of working with that end of the body - but he will just have to suck-it-up for the next three weeks. At least ob-gyn is a short rotation (6 weeks) I can't imagine him having to go through this for ten weeks, or more appropriately put I can't imagine having to put up with him going through this for ten weeks.
Another piece of news is that drew passed psychology. No honors - I think I need to start beating him, I can't have any of this just passing. In all seriousness I am very proud of him, another clerkship down (passed) and three more to go (plus one two week specialty clerkship).

Spring Cleaning & Showers

Our Saturday was filled with some extensive spring cleaning. We were cleaning the apartment for Shannon's baby shower which was today. And when I say cleaning, I mean cleaning the gross stuff under the fridge cleaning. So I am proud to say our bathrooms, bedroom and kitchen are spotless. The only problem... is that our office...is not so spotless. Everything that I couldn't find a home for.... went in there. And it was not too clean to begin with because I have a habit of putting all all my mail, coupons, filing, papers, etc. on top of my desk. So perhaps this week or next weekend the office will get taken care of. But for now I will enjoy how super clean the rest of our house is!
Although the shower was a lot smaller than I was expecting (small to begin with then one guest was sick, and two more cancelled last night) it was still nice. I made an egg cassarole, a french toast cassarole and then the two other hosts brought fruit, juice and delicious pecan rolls.

Not only did hosting force us to clean, I also had a fun time making and decorating for the event. Above are the candy pacifiers I made. Also on the tray are the personalized pacifiers I purchased for Kaiden Jeremy. The little blue hexagon shaped boxes below were filled with pastel M&M's for the guests to take home. (I hot glued little purple and blue flowers on top).

Below is the coffee tabled that I decorated with a table runner and ribbon. And at the very bottom is the tray of gifts I got for Shannon that was also used a shower game (the guests got a few minutes to look at them and then we took it away and they had to see how many of the 20 items they could remember).

Unfortunately the shower was pretty brief, partially due to the small number attending, and then partially due to the tornado that hit the east side of town. One of the guests had to run home because some of the siding had been blown off her house! Another thing to be grateful for- although I wish we had a home, I realize our apartment can be a blessing - we don't have to worry about expensive or unexpected maitenance!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday

So lately I have had a bad case of the "wants." I really want to own something, like a house, or a condo. And I want a new car. And I want a puppy. (We seriously almost bought one a few weeks ago). And I want new furniture that isn't a hand-me-down. And I want not to be poor. But most of all I want not to so greedy and selfish. And my thought is that I have these feelings because I don't think enough about all that I have. So in an attempt to reform and minimize my selfish and materialistic thoughts I am going to make an effort to notice all the things I do have. Because after all - you never realize all the wonderful things you have until they are gone. This idea was inspired by Katrina (another blogger married to a medical student). So this Thursday, I am thankful for:
  • The Lord, my Faith, and the strength He provides
  • My fabulously sweet and thoughtful and adorably handsome husband (and how funny it is that he thinks his jokes are actually funny)
  • My wonderfully supportive and loving family (immediate, extended, and in-laws)
  • My job which I actually enjoy going to everyday and even on weekends
  • My friends, near and far and from all stages of my life
  • My warm, dry, clean, safe apartment where we have our own laundry machines
  • My safe, gas efficient Toyota for which I don't owe any money

And although I could could continue to go on and on now that I've started, I think I will wrap it up with those handful.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Weekend at HOME

Drew and I spent the weekend in my hometown of Crystal Lake. It has been brought to my attention that I still refer to Crystal Lake as home, even though I have been living away from home the past eight years. I often find myself referring to CL as home even though Springfield is really our new home. Last week I told Shannon that I was going to my neighbor's for homemade pizza when Drew and I were really going to my parent's neighbors for pizza. I do this sort of thing all the time, for example we were talking about how good Lou Malnati's deep dish pizza is - and how there is nothing like it down here - and I'll say "yeah we have one right down the street at home... at my parent's house." I often wonder if how I speak gives away the fact that I long to be closer to home, and that I always have hoped (and still do hope) that we make it back up there. And I say that even though we would have considered staying here if Drew had picked a specialty that was offered here. And while it will always feel like home wherever I am, as long as I am with Drew, I know in my heart that northern Illinois will always feel like home because that is where so many of my family and friends can be found. Slowly with time just as Springfield has become a home, I am sure there will be other places in life we will call home, but I also know I will always have another home in Crystal Lake for as long as my loved ones are there.

Another clue that made me realize that I am subconsciously in denial that I am no longer a resident of northern Illinois is that until last week according to my driver's license I still resided in Crystal Lake. So when I finally went to renew my expired driver's license I made a big change - my address - I no longer live at 123 My Parent's Street, I now live in Springfield. That's a step right?

We did have a wonderful and relaxing weekend at home. (See, I did it again). Friday we made it in town late and enjoyed homemade pizza at the Prioletti's (Mmm - Nancy makes a phenomenal homemade pizza!) Saturday was a lot of relaxing and Drew and I also took a trip to the gym (its way nicer than our Gold's so it was a treat!) Drew ran 13 miles - in preparation for his half marathon next month, and I ran (jogged is a more appropriate term), did some cardio and swam for a bit. That night for dinner my Mom made some fabulous ribs, sweet potato fries and my favorite dessert, chocolate eclair cake! We rented Burn After Reading - and if you haven't seen it, don't waste your time, its three hours of your life you will never get back (ie: horrible). Sunday my sister, my Mom and I went to Alex's bridal shower. It was gorgeous, with beautiful details such as wine cork placecards, lavender tulips, lavender napkins and chocolate brown and lavender favors! Below is a picture of me and my two childhood friends at the shower. (Em is due w/baby Olivia in June).

As far as Drew's rotations, the new-ness and interest that came with ob-gyn has already worn off. I think it was an exciting change from psychiatry, but it has already gotten very old for him and he is ready to move on to his next rotation. Unfortunately for him he has another week of ob followed by three weeks of gyn. This has made Drew realize how making his choice is kind of a double-edged sword. While he is sooo excited to know what he wants to do for the rest of his life, he is tortured going through the motions of experiencing other specialties. But I think it is good for him, I will remind him of these days years from now when he has had long days of surgery - and hopefully he will be glad his long exhausting days are filled with days of things that fascinate him, and not filled with things that he got bored of after two weeks.
On a random note - what is up with this Bachelor finale? Every time I watch it, it ends badly and I tell myself that I won't watch the next season - and sure enough I end up wasting two hours every week engulfed in yet another season. But I guess it does make me grateful that I've found the love of my life, and I have my fairytale.