A Doctor’s Spouse’s Life: Residency Year Four

Usually fourth year of my husband’s neurosurgery residency program is devoted to a full year of research. This would mean more face time because he can do most of this work at home. This also would mean no crazy late nights wondering when he’d be home. But it didn’t quite work out that way.

During 3rd year, my husband should’ve completed 6 months of Endovascular Neurosurgery and 6 months of Ortho-Spine. Unfortunately, the neurosurgery program was down a resident. Instead of 7 residents, they had 6 so he had to stay on service with neurosurgery. Endovascular Neurosurgery was pushed to 4th year which cut into his research time. He completed 3 months with Ortho-Spine during 3rd year, but with COVID, elective non-urgent cases were canceled. The hospital was preparing for a surge of COVID patients and needed beds to remain empty and available just in case.

So the first 6 months of fourth year were spent on Endovascular Neurosurgery during the day and research projects in the evening. We definitely had more time together which was nice and a HUGE change. He also then spent 3 more months on Ortho-spine.

In December, I luckily received my first dose of the COVID vaccine. Hallelujah!!! I was done with my 2nd dose on January 11th. So thankful for this.

Christmas 2020 in Vermont

From January to March, he was busy with board preparations. He took them this year and passed!

About 2 weeks after boards, he lined up a fellowship interview with Rhode Island Hospital AKA Brown University. He kept going on and on about a Dr. Gokaslan. He honestly sounds amazing. I saw his CV (curriculum vitae/resume) and it is literally 60-something pages including 400 articles published! Also, he literally cut a person in half (horizontally) to save them from cancer. Imagine those magicians who pretend to do that…this surgeon did it for real! Lol….ouch.

Within 24 hours of his interview, hubby found out he got in.

Now ask me when I found out….

I found out 2 weeks later.

Was I mad?


Why did he do this? Well, he wanted to surprise me and the rest of our family with the news while we were altogether. COVID restrictions were clearing at this point so we finally could go home to Massachusetts.

Pretty much all his attendings and co-residents in neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery knew before I did. He told them to keep it on the downlow so I wouldn’t find out. After I found out, they asked how I reacted. When Raj told them I was pissed, they just laughed at him.

Lesson #1 of Marriage: Do not hide things from your partner.

He had also put up a very good front. He kept saying to me “ I still haven’t heard back from Brown.” And then I’d console him but in the back of my head I was like “He totalllllly didn’t get it because it’s now almost 2 weeks later.” He was applying during 4th year when people tend to apply 5th year so I just assumed they might tell him to reapply the following year. But naw, this kid just was just straight up lying to my face!!! I didn’t even bring it up most days and he’d be like “Aw man!!!!”

He wrote me a card to thank me for always supporting him but also said “LOL sorry I didn’t tell you.”

Celebration dinner just the two of us.
I don’t know which item in this image is the dessert.

In May, we went to Martha’s Vineyard. That trip deserves its own blog post. We loved our time there. We went a week before Memorial Day before the busy season. I’d say 75% of the places/things we wanted to visit were open. We ate a lot of good food!

Our favorite restaurant Lookout Tavern on Martha’s Vineyard

In June, we wrapped up things in Vermont by having a BBQ before we drove (and by “we” I mean just Raj because he doesn’t trust me with his car) to Utah for one year.

Stay tuned for Year Five in this series along with all the highlights of our (almost) cross-country drive!

A Doctor’s Spouse’s Life: Residency Year Two

(Residency Year One post is here: A Doctor’s Spouse’s Life: Residency Year One)

I know my blog is called Relatable Roni and that’s because I enjoy finding common ground with others. At most times, I feel like the average person, but this topic is probably only relatable to a few. 

In most other medical and surgical residencies, intern year (first year) of residency is the most difficult. In neurosurgery, it’s year two and seven (yes, neurosurgery is a 7 year-long residency). During first year, my husband and I went to the movies with two of his co-residents. They said, “He will be the busiest person in the whole hospital next year.” I just smiled. Later, I said to him, “What did they mean?” I didn’t know it could get worse! And I didn’t believe it could get worse until it actually happened *gasp*.

Intern year (first year) I did at least see him because I was unemployed and he was consistently off on Tuesdays. Each of the neurosurgical residents have 4 days off per month compared to the 8 days off “normal” people have. Now that I’m actually employed and his schedule is inconsistent and even worse, I’ve counted the hours we’ve seen each other in a particular week: 14 hours. Spouses tend to see each other for 14 hours in a single day on the weekend. This was our total for a whole week including any days off. It doesn’t help that in my field, I work varying shifts including on the weekends. There are days when I am leaving the house at 7am and he is leaving work to come home at 7am. There are days when he comes home at 12:30 pm and I have to leave for work at 1:30pm. He showers and we eat lunch and that’s it. If he has an extended amount of free time, it is well spent catching up on some much-needed sleep (See examples below).

Sleeping in an Uber in Washington, D.C.

Sleeping in an Uber in Montreal, Quebec

If we don’t communicate effectively or even have the time to communicate, I’ve neglected to request weekends off so they may coincide with one another. Communication has been so difficult I’ve resorted to emailing my husband to finish conversations we’ve started. And of course, I’m always the one that has to work around his schedule since his is inflexible. But you know what feels great?! Seeing him understand what I’ve been dealing with.

What do I mean by “dealing with?” Well, I spend a lot of time at home by myself waiting for him to come home. I’m essentially waiting for no reason. Eventually and hopefully, I decide to stop waiting, get off the couch, and fill those hours with cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, workouts, gaining a social life and just being productive. So this past weekend, I ended up working and he was off. In other words, the roles were reversed, and he finally experienced being the one home alone for a whole weekend. What did he think about it? He was bummed, just as I can get at times. We want to spend our free time together, not apart. Residency life is hard and it’s no one’s fault. It’s the nature of the field.

How we attend weddings together. “Raj on a stick” has been to 5 weddings this year. Real Raj has been to 1.

Because of our lack of time with one another, we are looking forward to a nice and quiet Christmas break at our home in Vermont. No packing. No traveling. No rushing around. Just going to take it all in (TWSS) and try to enjoy each other’s company. Let’s hope we still like each other by the end of it.

^ What I do when he’s asleep by 7pm. I can’t believe that dinosaur walking all over him didn’t wake him up!