I have no problem admitting when I'm wrong and my husband is right, but I have to confess that this time, it stung.
When I shared my idea of a “Married to Medicine” column for Emergency Medicine News with him, he was supportive, albeit cautious. He was worried I would get trolled if I put myself out there in the medical community and shared my take on the experiences of one emergency physician's spouse.
“People are mean,” he said. I assured him that nobody was going to troll me, especially after that wonderful article by Edwin Leap, MD in the February issue, “The Women and Men Who Love EPs.” (EMN 2017;39:25; http://bit.ly/2kkPtiU.)
Imagine my bittersweet surprise when my Twitter account started pinging with comments about my first article. (“Gold Digger or Lucky? Being Married to an EP,” EMN 2017;39:5; http://bit.ly/2lXGYLm.) The first one was from a spouse who loved it. She said it was spot-on and thanked me for writing it. Then the trolls chimed in, mostly female, by the way. They wanted to know what my credentials were and why this type of article was published in EMN. They said they hoped I was pursuing my dream, not just identifying myself through my husband. The condescension was palpable. My favorite was that I had set feminism back because I drink wine and help my husband with paperwork occasionally.
The assumption was that only EPs read EMN, which is completely wrong because the pass-along readership of this magazine is vast. Nurses, NPs, PAs, administrators, and, yes — gasp — spouses read the publication regularly. My favorite saying, in fact, came from Brandt's Rants when Robert Brandt, MD, wrote about famous quotes from the ED: “Zofran is the bacon of drugs.” Truer words have never been spoken, especially when my 5-year-old daughter is getting car sick. Again.
Physician-Spouse Support Group
The purpose of the Married to Medicine articles is to shine a spotlight on what we experience as EPs' significant others. Marriage is a team sport, especially when you're married to a physician. I often say I'm a married single parent, pulling double duty a lot of the time. I do it gladly because I know the sacrifice my husband is making. And because I hold down the fort so well, he can focus on patient care instead of the roof shingles blowing off or our dog's surgery.
When my husband was in residency, his program director shared a story with him. He said his wife told their children when they were younger to address him as Dr. M. When Dr. M. questioned his wife about this, she said the kids would call him Dad when he started participating in their lives. It was then and there that the reality of being with an emergency physician hit me.
Strangely, it made me feel better because I realized I wasn't alone in feeling lonely or resentful. I don't have any physician-spouse friends, and I often felt, and still feel, like I'm on an island. I get jealous of women whose husbands join them at the farmer's market or in the aisles of Ikea. But then I remember my husband probably wants to do those things too (well, maybe not Ikea), and we're both making sacrifices for the betterment of our family and his patients.
To all the wonderful spouses, medical students, and emergency physicians who took the time to share their kind words of encouragement with me via Twitter, I appreciate it and thank you for seeing the bigger picture. To the trolls, my skin is thicker, and for that, I raise my glass of Trader Joe's chardonnay to you.
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