Tuesday, December 27, 2011

an intern's december

the guy who was in charge of making December's schedule is kind of a joke.  he had a couple of months to prepare it and guess what?  no schedule until Nov. 30th around 10pm.  yep.  and even though he had plenty of lead time, he *still* managed to screw it up.  big time.  look, i know that the new hour restrictions for interns were confusing and annoying to figure out at first.  but it's DECEMBER and they've got a pretty "easy" way of handling the whole thing.  so, looking at the schedule we immediately noticed 3 things:

1) he scheduled Orthoman to be on call the day of his brother's wedding.  after sending out emails and talking to people for months, he had arranged for his one weekend off to be that weekend.  while we weren't surprised, it was really annoying.  he did, however, schedule the following weekend as his "off" weekend.

2) he had illegally scheduled Orthoman.  so not only was he going to be on call during the weekend he was supposed to be off, but he had done so in a way that legally couldn't happen.

3) he was on call Christmas Eve AND New Year's Eve

when you combined #2 and #3, it meant that there was no way to "fix" the schedule.  it had been bungled up in so many ways that there was no repairing it.  after much discussion and debate, one of the REALLY awesome and nice 2nd years took the pager for Orthoman and covered for him.  and guess what?  they let him KEEP the next weekend off!  he offered to take call, but the guy said that since Orthoman was working both holidays he should enjoy the weekend off.  to say that i felt a profound sense of gratitude wouldn't do my feelings justice.

the wedding weekend was really fun, but stressful because he took a red eye Friday night so he could be there Saturday and we came home Sunday.  it was short and busy, but not awful.  we even managed to get some "hang out time" Sunday night after the girl went to bed.  when he was off the following weekend we did a lot of "family" stuff.  the girl was beside herself - her daddy was there for 2 mornings when she woke up!  at one point on Saturday, he was putting on his shoes to take the dog for a walk and she came up to him, gave him a HUGE hug and kiss and said, "bye daddy.  be a good doctor!  love you!"  all without any prompting.  she's already used to this sort of lifestyle i guess.  when he told her he wasnt going to the hospital, she got so excited that she started jumping up and down.  it was heart warming and heart breaking at the same time.

given our recent struggles, it wasnt the easiest weekend.  he didnt feel like going on a date; he wanted to spend time as a family.  it stung, and i was mad, but we talked through it later and i actually ended up agreeing with a lot of his reasons (you're 7.5 months pregnant - you'll be miserable sitting in a movie seat for 2+ hours, save the money for Christmas next weekend, little girl was glued to his hip and begging to snuggle, etc.).  January has a lot of "free" weekends for him so we're planning on doing a lot of "couple things" next month.

we also had this conversation:

me: so you're on call Xmas Eve.  is it safe for me to assume that you dont have any days off since you didnt get to use any vacation time?

orthoman: sorry, no vacation time at all.  we'll have saturday morning and all of sunday once i get home.  that'll be it.

you'll notice that in this (already really long) post i havent mentioned my feelings about his being on call for both holidays and not getting time off.  well, that's really because i dont have strong feelings about it.  i completely expected he would work in Xmas and New Years - he's a intern AND a surgeon.  December is one of those really busy months for surgeons because people are trying to use up the last of their benefits.  so clinic is ridiculous and the ORs are running full speed.  there's also a lot of drinking, partying and all around stupid behavior occurring so the ERs get really busy.  we talked about this LOOOOOONG ago, before medical school even.  people get sick year round without regards to the day on the calendar.

we're also fairly religious and attend services on most Sundays rather than the High Holy Days.  and, as a history nerd, i also dont feel obligated to celebrate on the 25th because what we're really doing is hijacking the festival of Saturnalia (see HERE).  so, rather than be a slave to the calendar, i've always felt pretty flexible about celebrating with my family at a time that best suits us all.  well, it turns out we got an extended christmas present!  Thursday night, about an hour before he was due to come home, Orthoman found out he had Friday off!  it was a complete surprise to all of us.  he stayed late to finish his dictations and when he came home he surprised me with the big news.  after looking at the schedule, he called someone and found out he had MONDAY off too!  so even though he was working on Xmas Eve, we got 2 WHOLE DAYS with him!

i cant tell you how incredible this weekend has been.  our Xmas was small, but the train set we got our little girl has made her the happiest girl in the world.  we spent all Sunday playing it and most of Monday too.  We stayed up late every night to talk and hang out - just the two of us.  i feel like it's given me "breathing room" in the marriage.  i dont the same sense of urgency or perseverance that i did just a few weeks ago (does that even make sense?). we've been able to relax and calm down.  we've had time to remember that we're not just "partners" or spouses, but friends too.  and yes, there was even some major flirting going on.

any rough moments were quickly smoothed over.  i didnt feel burdened, as if i was carrying the entire load on my shoulders.  and really, what better Christmas gift could i get?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Financial Peace or lack there of

I can pinpoint where it all went awry.  We had meticulously saved all of intern year for our big move across the country.  We lived within our means, out of little envelopes of cash.  We had only student loan debt.  Credit cards were debt free and only used for online purchases and paid right back.

We decided to buy a house at our residency location to build equity and so forth.  We knew we'd be there 4 years.  We paid cash for our down payment and the move.  Our savings was gone, but it didn't matter because we would have 4 calm years in a low cost of living area to rebuild.

This was a great plan until hubby's first day of work.  He instantly learned that his "match" was not a "fit."  He was soon offered a position in another specialty somewhere else.  It was what he wanted to do.  We had no funds left and took a leap of faith and used the credit card to pay for the move.

In our new, high cost of living location did not give us any wiggle room in the budget.  The credit card balance kept getting higher as I had to charge things like groceries in order to have the cash for the minimum payment that had gotten enormous.  This sort of thing cannot not go on forever, but we felt absolutely trapped.

Fortunately, family came to our rescue and partially bailed us out.  What has been very hard is to break the cycle.  Cut our expenses to the point where the cash we pay toward our credit card balance comes from extra money, not grocery or rent money.

The whole thing has made me a very unhappy person over the last few years.  I hate to be so unhappy when I have so many blessings I should be happy about.

As you could tell I'm sure from my last blog entry, something had to give.  Since then we have attained our first financial goal in our "get out of debt" plan.  I feel ecstatic!  I am happy that we have a plan and that it has actually been working too!!!!  We have made leaps and bounds in the last few months to combat our personal debt situation. 

Before, when we were in such great financial shape, we had followed the advise given by Dave Ramsey.  I have compiled all my notes from his advise and will be putting them on my personal blog to share with anyone interested.

We have a goal of being credit card debt free by end April!  Just in time to save for our move for fellowship.