Five Things Med School Has Taught Me (Spouse Edition)

I will never forget the first day of medical school three years ago. Not only because Matt came home and said “What on earth have I gotten myself into?” but because the spouses/significant others had their own orientation on how to adjust to life living with a med student and we all left thinking the same thing as Matt: “What on earth have we gotten ourselves into and how on earth are we going to survive the next four years?” Well, the countdown to graduation is on (244 days!) and the light at the end of the tunnel is slowly coming into view. We were told a great deal at orientation, truthfully many things that probably did more harm than good, but below are 5 things that I wish someone had told me when I agreed to come along on this crazy journey.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to all your friends who are buying houses, starting families, and who give the impression they have it all together.  Trust me. They usually don’t, and I feel your pain. There have been numerous occasions when I wish we owned a house instead of rented, our loans were getting paid off instead of accruing, and we felt comfortable planning a family now instead of waiting until residency when we feel a bit more stable both financially and emotionally. Those who aren’t on this journey have no idea how unstable our lives actually are, and guess what? That’s okay. It’s unrealistic for them to get it because they aren’t going through it. However, you will eventually get to a point when you can have the house you absolutely love instead of the tiny rental with the green walls and the bathroom in the dining room; you will eventually start paying off your loans because believe me when I say they aren’t going anywhere; and lastly, your children, if you decide to have them, will come when you’re ready. Some people feel comfortable having children in medical school. Matt and I don’t, and that is okay. Do what works for you right now because it won’t last forever. fullsizeoutput_36ab
  2. Get involved. Volunteer at a local humane society (insert shameless plug here and see cute animal photos below), find a church family, join a gym, or find a job. You will need the community and support of other people, especially during the first two years when your spouse/significant other is rarely home. The time spent with him or her when they are home will be treasured and appreciated, but make the time to do something other than wait for them to get home.

3. Figure out your financial situation early and stick to a budget. Matt and I lived on his loans for the first 8 months we were living here and it was hard. We came from a lifestyle where he was making $25 an hour, so suddenly having to figure out money was a real struggle. I’ve always been a relatively thrifty shopper, but having to actually budget was a challenge and something we still are figuring out. If you cannot afford to go out to dinner with friends, suggest eating at home instead and having a game night. Instead of drinks, buy a mix at Walmart and have them at home. Be realistic about your finances and know what you should and should not be spending money on. Unfortunately, you will face people who think that because your husband/wife will be a doctor, then you shouldn’t be worrying about money. That could not be farther from the truth. Now is the time when you need to come together and evaluate your financial situation so you know how to handle it when you are more stable down the road.

4. Take advantage of all opportunities for extra income. I was fortunate enough to obtain a job that not only do I enjoy, but gives us a cushion to sit on financially. It’s not a large cushion, but I’m thankful it’s there. However, I do not depend on my job and Matt’s student loans to meet all our needs; we simply cannot with how much med school costs and all the expenses around it (rotations, traveling, lodging, board exams, etc). Not only do I still print paper coupons (yes, I use electronic ones too), but I use my iPhone religiously with cash back and saving apps. What I earn each month in those apps pays for a couple tanks of gas, which makes paying the additional money each month to have a smartphone worthwhile. I’ve mentioned some of the apps briefly before (see thrifty living tab), but I cannot emphasize their important enough. Ibotta: Cash back app where you earn money on things you’re already buying whether it’s at Kroger, Target, Walmart, CVS, Kohl’s, a restaurant, and even convenience stores. Uploading the receipt takes a few extra minutes at the end of each shopping trip, but it’s worth it to earn a few extra bucks. My referral code if you’re interested is kiqiglb. Checkout 51 is another good cash back app, but the checks must be deposited at a physical bank; mobile deposit will not work since they’re Canadian checks. Saving Star, another cash back app, lets you cash out in PayPal after only earning $5, and that’s ridiculously easy if you grocery shop a lot. Shopkick is an awesome way to earn “kicks” and then redeem them for gift cards.  Super easy and lots of “kicks” can be earned just by scanning items in the store! Referral code is COOL049763 if you’re interested. Receipt Hog gives points just by uploading your receipts, which is something we all get after we grocery shop anyway. Might as well earn something from them! The Walmart Savings Catcher App scans other stores and gives you money on an e-gift card if a lower price is found. I also sell clothing and miscellaneous items on both Poshmark and Mercari, AND buy stuff online using Ebates, a site that puts a percentage of your purchase into an account and you get a check four times a year: Referral code is https://www.ebates.com/r/ALEKAN4?eeid=28187 if you’d like to join and get some money in your account right away. These sound like a lot of work, but I assure they’re not. Knowing how to make a little extra each month is a great way to either put some additional funds in savings or pay bills you otherwise wouldn’t be able to make.

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Top L to bottom R: Shopkick, Receipt Hog, Checkout 51, Saving Star, Ibotta 

5. Learn to be okay being alone. At orientation, we were told that 85% of couples in med school end in divorce. I’m not sure if it’s actually that high, but as a young couple not even married when this journey began (we were married two months later), that is not what any of us wanted to hear. You will be spending a lot of time alone the first two years (and when they’re gone for 4 months the last year on audition rotations), so it is important you find stuff to stay busy. Take up a new hobby. Walk your dogs. Volunteer. Call family back home or go visit them. Make new friends. Don’t stop the activities you want to do simply because your significant other isn’t around to share them with you. Believe me, when you are able to be together, you’ll appreciate it so much more. I know personally that dinnertime was (and still is) the roughest part of the day. I like to have dinner together and he would be at the school studying until 9pm more times than I can count. He wasn’t there that late because he wanted to, but rather his course load was intense and required hours of studying outside the classroom. Your significant other wants to be with you as much as you want to be with them, but please realize that it will get easier. I remember Matt telling me in the beginning that knowing I was struggling to be happy was causing him pain, which shouldn’t have happened. As his wife, his partner, and biggest supporter, I should have been there for him and encouraged him during this process; he already felt guilty enough for bringing me along on this crazy ride. As I learned to love myself more and gained confidence, I became happier and the ride got a little bit easier. Do I miss him while he’s on rotations? More than I can possibly say. However, I know this will end and I can confidently say that learning to be more independent is not a bad thing. When you’re okay, your significant other will be better as well.

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My faithful sidekicks throughout this adventure. 

I hope these five things help you in some way, whether your significant other is a med student, a law student, in the military, or simply works long hours. It will get easier, I promise you!

 

 

 

 

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My Mother, My Friend

Weekends. We love them, work all week praying they will come sooner, and then are bummed when they’re over. That is EXACTLY how I feel right now at 9pm knowing I need to be up at 6:30 tomorrow for work. My mom was able to visit this weekend for the first time since Christmas last year and it was seriously the most therapeutic time for the both of us. We are both battling situations beyond our control (the unpredictability of med school is draining and Lupus sucks, to put it bluntly) and spending a weekend together was the therapy that we needed to refresh our outlooks on life.

We ate lots of Chinese food. We baked cookies and proceeded to eat almost all of them within 12 hours. We went thrift shopping until the little bit of cash in my wallet was gone. We took our dogs to the humane society where they were adopted to show them off to the workers who so diligently loved and cared for them until they came to their forever homes. We did yardwork and for the first time I actually enjoyed it; thank you mom for buying me gardening gloves that fit and pruning shears I so desperately needed. We hiked 7+ miles and enjoyed views so beautiful that it’s hard to believe they were real. Most importantly, we laughed. When life hits and you get depressed to the point of simply going through the motions, it can be so hard to remember what happiness feels like.

Go outside. Breathe fresh air. Hug your cat, walk your dog, or do both if you have five pets like I do. Call a friend. Exercise. Take a bath. Hug a loved one. Do something that makes you smile. For me, seeing the struggles my mother endures daily as someone who suffers from Lupus makes me admire her even more. Spending time with her this weekend made us both smile again, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

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My mother, my friend.

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Formerly unwanted and now forever loved pups!

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They adore her too 🙂

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View from Blue Bend Recreation Area

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Poshmark!

Just a quick note to let you know that I decided to start selling my unworn and unwanted items on Poshmark, an online store where you can go through people’s “closets” and purchase items that are either brand new or gently used. I am constantly clearing out my closet, so I am sure I will be frequently adding to my online shop in the future. I enjoy thrifting and love showing others how awesome it can be!

Come shop with me!

@lekiloui

*Some of the items available are shown below.

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Wedges worn one time. Made in Italy. Size 7.5.

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NWT American Eagle kick boot jeans, size 6.

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Beautiful stretchy bracelet.

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Two pairs H&M shorts, size 8.

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Cargo highlighter. Brand new with packaging.

A Slice of Heaven: Blueberry Pie!

One of the best things about summer is picking your own blueberriesSeriously. If you’ve never done it, find a place nearby and go right now. White Oak Farm, located in Renick, WV, sells pick your own berries for $1.95 a pound. I may or may not have picked eight pounds and froze five of them. Can’t wait to have fresh berries in the wintertime! Berry picking is a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy, affordable for those on a budget (or those who simply want to save money), and gives you tasty blueberries to savor all year round.

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What is the obvious thing to do with blueberries? Make a pie of course! Now before you assume I’m Betty Crocker, I confess I bought a store-bought crust. You know what? It did the job and that worked for me. I may not be Betty Crocker, but her recipe was delicious. Easy enough for the two of us to figure out!

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We bake with the best company.

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Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the first blueberry pie Matt and I have ever baked! It won’t be the last either. Blueberries are high in antioxidants, so obviously that means it’s healthy right 😉 If you have any recipes for us to try, please let me know!

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A Few Of My Favorite Things #1

I order from Vitacost at least every other month to ensure we are well-stocked on products we love. I’ve made quite a few purchases there recently, and thanks to $40 in coupon codes, I couldn’t pass up getting some of our favorite goodies. Below are five items that my husband and I simply cannot live without:

  1. The perfect base to a delicious smoothie. friday fave 1I still very much love the Garden of Life Raw Meal protein powder, but this whole meal shake is the bomb dot com. We mix it with some unsweetened chocolate almond milk, hemp and chia seeds, PB Fit powder, a banana or two, and a handful of greens for a morning meal that really does hold us over for a few hours. The ingredients are so simple, and yet the taste makes you wonder what it is in it that makes you want more.
  2. A healthier Oreo. friday fave 1 I know I know. Why buy a fake Oreo when the real ones are so good? Don’t get me wrong; Oreos are delicious, but I also know how terrible they are for my body. Palm oil, enriched flour, and high fructose corn syrup are not things I need to ingest when I want a treat. These Newman’s Own cookies have replaced Oreos in this household, and the best part is my husband actually prefers them! #wifewin
  3. The perfect dry shampoo. friday fave 1Truthfully, I have lost count of all the dry shampoos I have tried. Batiste, Psst, and Not Your Mother’s are just a few, but I have also tried plain cornstarch and baby powder as well. Nothing works as well as this one by Acure Organics. My hair is chemically treated, blonde, fine, and oily all at the same time, which makes finding products that work a challenge. I bought this on a whim a few months ago and love it. It actually gives my hair a bit of volume, and although it falls flat by lunch, I’ll take a few hours of successful second day hair than none at all. Depending on your hair type, you will either love this product or hate it, but for my thin hair, it works better than all the others I have tried.
  4. A clarifying shampoo that works in hard water. friday fave 1My husband and I moved to West Virginia three years ago, and my hair has never fully adjusted to the horrible hard water we have in our area. I have invested in expensive Malibu clarifying shampoo, a chlorine removing one by Paul Mitchell, and tried simple baking soda and apple cider vinegar, but nothing worked. In fact, the Malibu shampoo destroyed my hair to the point I went through two deep conditioners before it felt like hair again. This one by Avalon Organics cleans my hair without stripping it of its natural oils, and if I follow up with a deep conditioner, it actually looks good air dried. When that happens, a product is automatically a win-win in my book.
  5. A perfect price point body lotion. friday fave 1When it comes to body lotion, I don’t want anything sticky, heavy, or too fragrant, yet it has to work. I have went through three bottles of this lotion and will continually repurchase it. Not only does 32 ounces last six months easily, but the hydration lasts all day. The ingredients are trustworthy too, which makes me feel more confident in the product since the skin, the largest organ in the body, is what’s absorbing it.

There you have it: Five products my husband and I cannot live without. What are some of your favorites?

*Vitacost referral link: http://goo.gl/ykAyVW

 

Mother’s Day 2017 Thoughts

Mother’s Day. It’s a special day honoring the women whose love and influence has shaped us into who we are today. This is my mother, the strongest woman I know. She is a business owner (shameless plug here), lover of the outdoors, and has taught me the importance of loving animals. She has always been the perfect balance of friend and mother, and if I can someday be half the mother she is, I’ll consider myself a good parent. I’m so grateful to have had her support over the years, including my MSW graduation THREE years ago today.

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Bottom line: Treasure the time you have with your mother, because only when you move away will you realize how much having her close by was so wonderful.

Mother’s Day can also be a very rough time for those who have either lost their mothers or desire to be one and it hasn’t happened yet. It is easy to feel alone when you’re scrolling Facebook and see everyone’s Mother’s Day posts. You know what?

You’re not alone.

There is someone else out struggling just like you are.

More often than not, someone has endured a hardship and kept silent about it.

Lastly, stop scrolling.

On this particular Mother’s Day, I was fortunate to be surrounded by my husband; my church family; lunch with neighbors who took us under their wing and act as surrogate parents; and my fur babies, all five of them.

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This dog has the good life.

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So content in her special spot.

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So many personalities in these felines.

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Until the time comes for me to be a mother, I will savor every moment of my fur baby motherhood and always cherish those who have made a difference in my life: My own mother, my grandmothers I lost too soon, and my mother-in-law. Thank you for all that you are to me. I love you.

Shelter Spotlight

5.14.17-ADOPTED!

Meet Elsa!! My husband and I met this pretty little lady while walking dogs at our local humane society today. I love walking dogs and interacting with them just as much as my husband does, but I love being behind the camera and trying to capture their personalities too. This darling Boxer was a gem to walk and clearly not afraid of a few photos 😉 I mean, seriously. Who could resist that grin?!

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If you are interested in learning more about Elsa or any of her available sheltermates, please contact the Greenbrier Humane Society at 304-645-4775. We are located in Lewisburg, WV.