Monday, January 18, 2010

This is me, like it or not

I may have mentioned last month that I have started to notice the anxiety creep into my life. Shortly before Christmas I found myself struggling to stay asleep. I was so exhausted I could fall asleep but I would find myself waking up in the middle of the night unable to resume my slumber. My mind would race, my thoughts were uncontrollable and I found myself thinking about all I had to do. At the time I thought it was the stress of the holidays and making sure everything got done in time. Unfortunately I found that even after I had gotten everything taken care of, the problem didn't subside.

Fortunately, however, a few days after Christmas, Drew and I headed to Florida with our families for a relaxing vacation. While I was there my sleep issues disappeared (for the most part.) We did sit down with our parents one night to discuss the "rank order list." That night we put together a tentative list (except for the programs Drew has yet to visit). Our parents mostly listened to what we had to say and chimed in occasionally to point out things that we didn't realize or make comments based on their life experience. They wouldn't tell us where to rank any of the programs but they did give us some greater insight and made us feel more confident in our draft list (which will change because we still want to give the remaining programs full consideration).

Immediately following our discussion, I felt great; like a weight had been lifted. But then again, later that night, in the early morning hours I found myself wide awake, mind racing. I was wondering if I had made a mistake expressing my thoughts and feelings causing Drew to change or flip flop the order of certain programs. I began to think, what if my feelings cause us to match at the "wrong" program. Or what if we end up at a place and are miserable, all because I was advocating that program over another? I know I do want to be a part of the decision, as this is our life. But I am also horrified of Drew being unhappy in residency, and feeling like my opinions and contributions to the rank list are the reason for his misery. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to handle the pressure associated with helping in his decisions.

When I shared my sleep difficulties with others, someone suggested that I write down all my fears. They said something about writing or communicating your concerns can help both sides process the feelings and possibly help with the sleep problems. I put it off for a while because I guess didn't even know what I was scared of. All I knew was that I was terrified of this whole match thing. Eventually I did sit down and write out all my fears and worries. It made me realize that not only do I have a lot of worries, but also that I have worries about residency in general, and not just about specific programs. It also made me realize that while I have a worry about every program, I also have something I like about every program.

While writing things down has helped the sleep issues there is still an ongoing conflicting battle between by brain and my body. My brain and my heart, know and believe that everything will be just fine, but my body insists on manifesting signs of anxiety. And I hate it. I feel like a crazy woman. I do. It is horribly frustrating for me and those around me. My poor husband doesn't understand it, and feels helpless. I don’t understand either. I’m upset with myself for not being able to better handle these things. In quiet times, when I should be relaxing I find my heart begin to race, and my stomach will be in knots. I am doing all that I can by exercising, praying, and taking deep breaths, but it is still a struggle.

I am hoping by sharing my madness it will either help me accept my fears and worries (and somehow be therapeutic), or it will at least make someone else out there feel a little less crazy because they aren't the only one going through it.

2 months. And now, I am ready for it. I cannot handle the unknown much longer, it is literally wreaking havoc on my body. I realize I may not like what that envelope holds, but at least there will be something to face


Alicia said...

Hi Marissa....
Have you ever considered anti-anxiety meds? I had lots of sleep problems over worry at one point in my life and Xanax (small amounts when needed) REALLY helped. Just a thought! Hang in there!!

DeDe said...

While I don't know the anxiety when dealing with matching for a residency, I can relate to the hopeless feeling, especially when I was having all of the medical issues and not knowing how it was affecting the baby. I still have anxiety and fear but I have learned to let my emotions out (this is VERY hard for me) and be open and honest. That is all you can do until the big day! Also, allow help from others. This is also VERY hard for me. I am miss independent. While you might not agree with the help or advice, always take it into consideration. You never know, it might be the wisest thing you have heard through all of this! BTW.. thanks for the add to the prayer list.. you and your family will definitely be in my prayers throughout this journey!

Jessica @ Acting Adult said...

You mentioned that you exercise - have you tried yoga or some similar meditation? I found it did wonders when my mind was racing. I also second the idea of writing down all the fears running thru your head. It's good to see it on paper.

But make sure that you don't run away from the decision - as I see it, this is as much your decision as his because where he places changes your life. Right?

You'll be thru it soon and then you'll look back and wonder why you ever worried in the first place.

KatherineAnne said...

I get it. You are not alone. While Mr. B isn't even close (he's 2nd year) to worry about this yet, we are starting to stress over Step 1. And I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life, etc.

It's almost over, and whatever the result is, it is a part of His plan and you and Drew will be just fine!

I hope you get some sleep tonight, lack of sleep makes everything seem a lot worse.

xo, KA

Made in Taiwan said...

What you're feeling is completely normal. I barely slept those months before match. And the nights I did sleep, it was only because I drank!!!

Honestly, all you guys can do is make a list of the things that are important to both of you. Him as a resident and you guys as a family. Some of the places that you aren't too fond of may end up near the top of the list because of the "dream." I had no desire to live in Cleveland but there the clinic was placed #1. In the end, you really have no control over where you end up and you just have to know that whether it's 5 years or 7 or 9, you're going to make it through. Honestly, I was so happy he matched into ortho period, and that he didn't have to scramble or wait it out another year and reapply because all he wanted to be was an orthopod.

Sometimes your dream spot turns out to be a nightmare, sometimes the least desired place ends up working out great. Just try to have faith that no matter where you end up, you'll make it through and try to find strength and comfort in that. Residency doesn't last forever. Best of luck. I'll be thinking about you guys.

LittleMissDreamer said...

I'm sorry that you've been so filled with anxiety. I totally understand what you are going through. I am just reacting a totally different way and choosing to avoid thinking about it (which may not be the best way of dealing with it, but hey, I'm the avoidance kinda person). I'm scared to have to move and leave my job, one that I love so much. But at the same time, I think that it will be a great adventure to travel somewhere and start a new home with my (soon-to-be) hubby. We are getting married in August.. will the program let him take his vacation then so we can go on a honeymoon? All of these things circle in my head. I give some thought to them but then I push them in the back of my mind. Why? Because I can't really do anything about it right now. We'll rank the programs as best we can, but other than that it is in God's hands and I like to think that he will choose the best place for us in the long run. I hope that writing things down will help you feel more calm. If you want to talk to someone who is going through the same thing, you can always send me a message and I'll give you my email. Hang in there... things will work themselves out. I promise!

Jessica said...

Thanks for this post--you need to do what I do when feeling anxious--read other med school wives' blogs haha. Anyway, you're definitely not alone...I've had so many of the same considerations you share in this post. I wish you guys the best-- wish you many restful nights and peaceful thoughts! (BTW this is Jessica...I'm the person who randomly emailed you a couple months ago)...

Happy Dash said...

Thanks for stopping by! I can't imagine what interviews will be like starting next fall/winter - I'm not a stresser, but my husband is so I am sure we will be a tested house at times. Know you're not alone as I know many of my 4th year friends are experiencing the stresses to of where this road will take them! I look forward to reading your blog and experiences as a med school wife :)

Startup Wife said...

Just found your blog (via life of dr's wife).

Just wanted to chime in to all the wonderful comments already. I've been dealing with awful anxiety and severe panic attacks for a few years, and recently my husband started getting panic attacks for the first time. I'm sure you're in great hands with your physician husband :) but I just wanted to say that I'm so sorry you're dealing with anxiety, and it's totally the worst, but it DOES get better. It sounds like a really stressful time in life for you (I think moving and new jobs/positions are two of the biggest stressors?), and it's totally understandable that you'd be feeling that like that. And I definitely hope that things settle down for you soon!

All the best, and glad I found your blog.

Adriana said...

Match is scary and so is residency but what matters most is you and your husband. No matter what happens and no matter how "hard" it may be at times you guys are a team and will make it through just fine. Don't ever feel bad for telling him what you think about a program/location or how you feel. You guys are partners and it will affect your life just as much as his. We have started the process of job interviews and trying to decide what jobs and where we are going to move can seem very over whelming at times. I also sometimes feel bad about having strong opinions about where we might live thinking it might be more important to think about the job and how it will fit for him. Hang in there it will all work out fine.

Mrs. D said...

Oh the anxiety!! And the trouble sleeping. They are crushing. I'm so sorry you're having to deal with these things, and I hope these next two months fly by so that you have your decision quickly.

It's so so hard to leave this huge part of our lives up to someone else. But it will work out. My father always had a very reasonable (and wholly irritating) response to me in times of stress: You can hold your breath that long. And it really is true - residency is finite. Even if it's not what you expect, it will pass.

I don't want to get advice-y on you. I know you are a very smart woman and you and your husband will get through this.

Serendipity said...

I am having a really interesting time today reading through posts written by people with doctors in their family. I've always known that my career affects my entire family, "location" issues especially. Here in the UK it is possible to transfer your rotation if necessary, although this is certainly not encouraged and often not facilitated either. But I have some friends who have managed to transfer their rotation to another region and I'm sure that must be possible in the US - although I suspect it would be as difficult as it is here. What (I think!) I'm trying to say is that nothing is completely fixed, and the program that you pick now may not be the right program in a few years - but that won't mean you made the wrong choice, just that your needs are no longer the same. And if that happens you will somehow find a way to make it work! Over the past 18 months I have had significant medical problems myself and have been blown away by the support and flexibility of my rotation organisers - they have really responded helpfully to my change of circumstances and have gone out of their way to help. I'm rambling now so I'll shut up, but before I do I just want to say: don't worry you will make it work! I'm glad I found your blog :)

Kelly said...

Hi Marissa..

I've posted a few times on Doctor's Wives (my husband is just beginning the whole potential med school journey). It's been a year since we have decided to go down this path but NOW we are at the action point of the plan. We have sold our house, are moving in w/in laws (for at least a year while he does a one year post-bacc pre-med program at the University of Rochester) and I have just accepted a full-time job offer (I've been a stay-at-home mom for 7 years to our four children) and he begins the program in May (also quitting the job that has supported us for the past nine years). Anyway....I too am finding that my nerves are completely on edge. I can absolutely relate to your feelings of anxiety and unrest! While I wish that you were not feeling this way as well it does feel good to know that I was far from the only one! None of our friends can really understand all of this so I love your blog and the blogs of other women going through these situations. I hope that everything works out for you and your husband as far as matching and residency and I will keep you in my prayers!