The early days

Michelle's now on the wards. She just started her third rotation in surgery (ortho, urology, and now oncology). For the first time since our days at the Air Force, we're getting up around 5am. It's rough. Fitz stays in bed when we get up this early, occasionally lifting his head to look at us and then letting it fall back on the pillow with a soft thud.

I get to come home and make coffee and wake up at my own pace. Meanwhile, she's running between patient rooms, waking people up and asking how they're doing. Her white coat is eight pounds heavier than she'd like, so she shuffles up and down the halls, her little shoes tapping out a hurried rhythm. She loves working with the patients and seeing them go home.

As for me, I can usually have a good amount of work done before 9am. If I held myself to an 8-hour day, I could probably stop working around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. It's strange to think about it that way.

I usually keep working because I like it, but also because Michelle usually gets off sometime between 6 and 9pm. She's supposed to come home and study hard for several hours after that. The curriculum in med school reminds me of Aragorn's "I give hope to men. I keep none for myself." - the system is structured against giving time to sleep or eat or, you know, be healthy.

(we still go to the gym on days she gets out before 7pm, but this schedule is nothing like the first two years)

Third year started with anxiety. She was concerned about the rotations as anyone would be, but also awaiting Step 1 scores. You simply can't plan your life and career until you know your score, unfortunately.

The entire June pool of tests was held so that the NBME could make adjustments after some test changes. For some reason they released her scores (and everyone who took it towards the end of June) one very long week after everyone else in the batch.

On nights where there weren't many hours to sleep, the anxiety of waiting made sleep even more difficult. So the days were long.

When the release day rolled around - a week after others had come to terms with their scores and had thrown themselves into third year fully - I waited for her to send me news. I had a hard time focusing on work. Then she texted me.


I had some cupcakes waiting at home to celebrate her hard work, the results, and the close of the first half of med school. Observing this preparation process - which extends back over the past two years - has been a ride. I can't imagine actually going through it and I'm really proud of her. Some people go to extremes: no movies, no nights out, no time for the gym, no time to talk, blank stares when you mention the name of a TV show. She did well and we had fun doing it.

Reaching this point was something we talked about on evening walks around the neighborhood back in Crestview, nearly five years ago. Now we can get back to planning.