Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Inside Scoop on Match Day, the End of Med School, and Moving to North Carolina

First pic with my Doctor hubster 

It was 6 months ago, but I've really wanted to write about Match Day and the whirlwind move to Chapel Hill. I think it's such a strange process how as a medical student, your name is thrown into the mix with a lot of other names, and a computer system ranks what programs you want vs. who the programs want, and the result is your match. And where you match is where you have to move two months after Match Day. It's crazy.

I'm not sure how else it could be done, and it seems to work well for most people, but man oh man, talk about being nervous about something. And imagine being maybe the most nervous you've ever been about something and being together in a room with 200 other people who are just as nervous as you are. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeek. Good grief, I'm getting jumpy just remembering it. Sweaty palms, fake laughs, straining hard to listen to the dean give his little match day speech while hoping that no one around you can actually hear your roaring heart beat trying to jump out of your skin. And that's how I felt just as a spouse....imagine how Michael was feeling!

When the time came, all the students went up front to pick up their letter that says where they matched, but they couldn't open it until everyone was back in their seats and after Dean Mitchell, the most charming and best med school dean that I know, did a little intro about all the programs where everyone matched. He pulled out an umbrella and talked about some of the students moving to Seattle. He pulled out sunglasses for the ones going to California. Then, he mentioned that a few of them were going to his favorite "light blue" school in North Carolina (Dean Mitchell trained at UNC), and then he looked right at Michael and said "And two of you are going to that terrible dark blue school in Durham." Meaning Duke. Now the background on this is that Michael went to Duke both for undergrad and grad school, and also played lacrosse there, so Duke is a big part of his life. And Dean Mitchell and Michael have always playfully sparred with each other over the UNC/Duke rivalry. So on match day, when Dean Mitchell looked right at Michael while saying that some of the students matched at Duke, both Michael and I naturally thought that Michael was one of them.

Dean Mitchell and his assistant Mikey

So, it was with MUCH surprise when he opens his letter and it says University of North Carolina! I momentarily inwardly freaked out, but it was honestly for silly reasons. Namely this: I had wrapped my thoughts around Duke and had embraced that school as who we would cheer for and support and be a part of. I had even pictured ourselves living near Duke in the neighborhood where we lived for a month this past fall. Michael did one of his away rotations at Duke, and being a Duke alum, we both thought it pretty likely that he'd end up there.

While I had my momentary and internal freak out, my eyes were glued on Michael to see what he was thinking and what his reaction was. We both looked at each other with a "really??!??" kind of look, and then Michael immediately told me that this was good. That he felt good about this. That he could already see the Lord's hand guiding us to (what felt to me like) the unknown land of Chapel Hill instead of Duke.

LL and Michael having a moment on his graduation day

Now here's what's crazy. Michael was right! We are four months into living in North Carolina and three months into Michael's residency, and we do really feel that Michael is exactly in the right program for him. The UNC attendings are amazing, there is a great camaraderie among all the neurosurgical residents, there is a deep understanding that Michael has a baby girl at home and would love to see her as much as possible, Michael loves the patient population that comes to UNC, and he has found research opportunities there that really excite him and wouldn't be available anywhere else.

We don't live in the neighborhood near Duke that I thought we'd live in, but even in that, I now love where we live and it seems perfect for us. It's close to Chapel Hill, close to I-40 that can take you just about anywhere, close to the grocery store (basically the most important thing,) and our neighbors have been so welcoming. There's a pool! There are great jogging trails! There are three other residents families on our street! We love our little house (it's HUGE compared to our Georgetown apartment) and have been slowly but surely making it feel like home. There is much to be grateful for.

Hanging with the locals at the Carolina Inn 

Throughout med school, and even more now that Michael has started residency, we've both learned how much we need to trust the Lord. A lot of people thought we were crazy for getting married right before med school started, but it was the BEST decision and we are so glad we didn't listen to them! Yes, there was a LOT of studying (and Michael's 3rd year was especially hard -- see this post,) but he studied at home, and I loved having him nearby all the time. Some of the sweetest memories when I think back on our 4+ years of marriage involve Michael and I sitting side by side on the sofa in our tiny apartment, Michael studying and me reading a book. (If that's not true love, than I don't know what is!! Just kidding.... it sounds boring..... I swear it was wonderful.) We had to trust the Lord in getting married when we did and his carrying us through med school. And carry us he did -- like the time Michael thought he failed the boards and I spent the first three days of our Bermuda vacation convincing him that he will be ok, that we will be ok, that life will go on, that the Lord has a plan even if he really did fail.... and then he got his score a few weeks later and he TOTALLY crushed the boards and basically got the highest score ever. The Lord carried us through the long conversations and indecision over what specialty Michael should go into, what our lives would be like if he did this or that, and if we could really handle a seven year neurosurgery residency. The Lord carried us through the craziness of 4th year away rotations and the long and tiring process of interviewing at 19 programs all over the country. And I was growing a baby inside me in the midst of that! Holy cow, there was a lot going on as I remember all of this! But it's a sweet, sweet remembering of God's hand directing and steering us down the path that we are on, that path that led us to where we are today.

Which is here: 9 o'clock on a humid North Carolina Wednesday night with me writing these words while our baby girl sleeps as I wait for Michael to get home from his last and final day of a 23 day stretch of work. Residency is not for the birds, that's for sure, and we are only three months
into this seven year journey. But like I said above, we have learned to trust the Lord, and are continually discovering what that looks like each and every day.

The seasons change and you change, but the Lord abides evermore the same, and the streams of His love are as deep, as broad, and as full as ever. - Charles Spurgeon

LL plotting her escape while her parents take selfies