I have a cold…

…and every time I cough and feel annoyed that my throat hurts I remind myself that my dad has a brain tumor, my mom just had colorectal cancer, and yesterday my husband had a patient who miscarried at 19 weeks.

And then it’s like “oh OK never mind.”

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Spend Your Present Cash Flow

[No this is not a “Make money fa$t” post, despite the word “Cash”.]

Reblogged via Misifusa, long-term breast cancer survivor who has a very inspiring blog reminding us all to stay centered and appreciate the present moment.

Really, everything changes, and on shifting ground the present–this very moment–is precious, and is all we have.

Misifusa's Blog

Check

Yesterday is a canceled check;

tomorrow is a promissory note;

today is the only cash you have;

so spend it wisely.

~ Kay Lyons via Neale Donald Walsch

Just a friendly reminder to use your time wisely ~ with enthusiasm ~ fill your day with love, with forgiveness and with joy!  Don’t let your day pass by without telling your loved ones how you feel.  Smile.  Tap your feet.  Sing a song.  Look up at the sky every single day, even if only for a moment.  Appreciate nature.  Appreciate your breath.  Be grateful for what you have right now!

Shine On!

xo

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Exercises to Increase Mental Strength

My husband came home at 11 p.m. yesterday and informed me that he wanted to quit his residency and thinks we should move back to India. I don’t think that makes sense just now, although it is also extremely difficult to care for a baby totally alone and also do my best to help my parents.

What I need right now, I think, is not to panic. I can deal with all the challenges, if I can just keep my courage.

Here is a link from Forbes:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2013/12/03/5-powerful-exercises-to-increase-your-mental-strength/

I will find more as I post them.

Leaving Home to Go Home?

Before this year I would never, ever have thought of leaving the United States. This is where I was born, and it’s the only country I’ve ever lived in, or considered home. But the events of the last two years–my mom’s illness, my pregnancy and childbirth, my father’s illness–have made me realize how very alone I am here, and also that the US is a very difficult country to grow old in or raise children in. Most of that is that the costs of home care or assisted living here are prohibitive, the costs of good childcare are equally prohibitive, and there isn’t much of a “village” to help each other out–at least, not where I live.

I am the only child of two elderly parents, both of whom have cancer. It is a stab in the gut to say this, but it’s likely that I will not have my father for much longer. I’m not very connected to our US extended family, as most of them are in India and the ones in the US are far away. A lot of the US members of my family have gotten heavily involved in a religious organization that influences all aspects of their life. Since I am not particularly religious, let alone a member of this socio-religious organization, it is hard to connect to them. Also, all of my cousins have multiple siblings. And even though people in my family talk a lot about how cousins are equivalent to sisters or brothers, there is a huge difference. (Of course there is; you either grow up in the same house, or you don’t–I certainly don’t expect anyone to feel close to me, when we have only seen each other a handful of times in our lives.)

It’s been very hard, raising my baby alone. I had thought my parents would be able to help a little, but my dad’s health crisis came weeks after my baby’s birth. My husband began residency and is gone from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, sometimes later. He keeps saying we should send the baby to his family in India for some time if I can’t handle her–his family is well-to-do and has a household staff, and I am sure she would be well cared for. I am physically and emotionally exhausted and sending the baby to her grandparents for a while sounds awfully tempting. But literally everybody I have floated the idea past has told me that a prolonged separation from me would be very traumatic for the baby and should be only the last of last resorts.

I am tired. I long to have an extended family, to belong, to have some moral and emotional support. I don’t have that in the United States, and I don’t see any way of getting it.

Maybe it’s time to go “home.”

The Doctor’s Wife, Part II: Dissolving

Part 1 here.

Once I was a scientist, and a professor, and sometimes a writer.

I still work full-time. But now I am also a mommy, a cook, a housekeeper, and a daughter of a father dying of cancer and a mom who has been walloped by neoplasms too.

In the space of two years, my life has dissolved, and some days I feel like I have, too. I wonder: Where is the old me, who wandered around the US and world going to professional conferences? Who always knew there were two parents who cared whether she was home at night, whom she could always call?

And I am a doctor’s wife. I’ve hesitated even to write it as I feel a little queasy identifying myself as an appendage to someone else. I’ve collapsed into a footnote to other people. “Real” doctors (I am a Ph.D.) save lives, and sometimes confronted with the gravity of that I wonder what the point is in my own career; especially having two parents with cancer, medicine feels so much more important than teaching science or writing, or anything else I will ever do. An ordinary scientist writes papers that nobody reads. But even an ordinary doctor has a huge impact on people’s lives. I hope that my growing feeling that nothing but medicine matters is a fallacy, and jobs can be important without being urgent.

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Here’s a link to a collective blog by other doctor wives: http://doctorwives.blogspot.com/

There’s a whole online community of medical spouses out there, but I feel just as out of place there as I do everywhere else. Most of the blogs I ran across were by devoutly Christian SAHM’s much younger than myself, writing about how they coped with loneliness by telling themselves that their doctor husbands were working hard out of an eventual desire to provide for them. In my case, I have my own career, we aren’t in debt, neither do I need my husband to be a provider nor do I wish to depend on him that way, and he’ll be going into a specialty that isn’t well compensated anyway.

Still other bloggers write about how they remember falling in love and the memory of the person they fell in love with motivates them. We were Indian and had–not exactly an arranged marriage–but close, so I don’t have those memories to fall back on either.

I recognize that I sound really negative here, but I am really just fumbling in the dark for that motivational thought that will work for me when I am alone at night, as I am sure there is one. I know I have to get through this horrible time for my daughter, but the thought that I no longer have the luxury of collapsing because I am now responsible for someone else–that is even more stress.

My husband tells me repeatedly that it’s reassuring, emotionally, to have a doctor in the house, and that it’s good for family. How his whole time growing up he never had to see anyone outside the family for medical services. I’m sure it’s useful to have a doctor at home, but it’s reassuring to have a plumber at home too, and folks survive without them. And because he isn’t an oncologist, my husband’s medical training hasn’t helped my father or my mother in the slightest.

Insurance pays for my family to see doctors. What I need (and what isn’t covered by Aetna) is someone close to me to listen when I say how much it hurts to watch my father succumb to brain cancer and dementia, how out of the blue this is and how I thought things like this happened to “other people.” How I can’t bring myself to make long-term plans any more because I feel like it might happen to me any day. How painful it is to watch my parents suffer so much. But someone who is around illness and death fifteen hours a day and thinks that advanced cancer is normal is perhaps the person least able to understand what it’s like to be on the other end of the medical device–supposing he were even home to understand, I mean. That’s why I have this blog. It isn’t why I started this blog, but it’s why I keep it going.

I have no idea how my life is going to work out, or how I will get through the next few years.

How Being Tired Can Make You a Better Writer

What an awesome, and inspiring post.

Notable quote:

“I blog every day with a toddler whacking me 47 times with a NERF sword before breakfast.”

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 9.14.12 AM Image via Lauriesanders60 WANACommons

One of the best writing teachers/mentors in the business is Author Candace Havens. This woman isn’t an author, she’s a force of nature, and any writer who wants to go pro needs to take her classes. Recently, she presented for us at WANACon, and she brought up some interesting points I’d like to share here.

Embrace Being Tired

Okay, first I want to take a moment to acknowledge that we do need rest. We need breaks and days off. I’ve been working 16 hour days 6 and 7 days a week since the beginning of the year, and right now all I want to do is curl up and sleep…for a month. I’ve wanted to do this for the past 5 weeks at least, but I had to finish what I’d started.

It’s been almost two years since my last social media book, and it…

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Surviving

My husband has begun residency. This means that basically I am on my own as a new mom, on top of everything else. My husband and I are mid 30s because he was an “IMG” or “international medical graduate,” which is to say that he was already a doctor abroad. So we have an infant baby.

It has been about three or four weeks; I’ve lost count. So far I have survived. I was able to go with my parents to the oncologist. I was able to pick up my dad’s prescriptions, baby in tow.

I read a lot of stories about doctor wives with multiple kids. They are surviving. Maybe I can, too.