Medicine and children with high needs?

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  • #64109
    mommd2bmommd2b
    Participant

    Ok…so I’ve ‘officially’ given up my premed status, but I continue to lurk here daily and occasionally can’t help posting :p . I really am struggling to come to terms with the idea that medical school is not in the cards for me, even if I say that I have :boggled: …

    Has anyone here pursued a medical education who also has children with ‘special’ needs….I have a child with an anxiety disorder that is possibly OCD (he’s about to turn 8) and a daughter who is 6 and suffers from social akwardness and shyness which makes it harder for her to connect and make friends. Fortunately, my 3 year old seems fine :crossfingers: , but I have found myself extremely overwhelmed on the parenting front lately.

    My biggest frustration is my simple resentment (am I allowed to say that?). I feel badly that my children’s needs feel like they are preventing me from pursuing my own dreams..and at the same time, I DO want to be there to meet their needs. The issue then of course becomes whether or not I am doing a good job of meeting those needs when I feel overwhelmed and…resentful?

    Has anyone ever felt this way?

    My husband is also a physician and has told me that if I want to go to med school in 8-10 years (I’ll be in my early 40’s) then he’s all for it. He thinks that the kids will be teen-agers then and that we’ll be ‘all systems go’..ie, we won’t be having any more problems :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

    I told him that we’ll continue to have these issues throughout our lives and that in 8 or 10 years I might be in the exact same boat…

    How long do you delay..for the sake of the kids?

    Kris

    #64111
    Paula GPaula G
    Participant

    Kris,

    I have 2 special needs children and I’m a 45 year old 4th year med student. :goodvibes: :goodvibes:

    Paula

    #64112
    MomMDMomMD
    Participant

    Paula,

    I remember you! I visited your webpage ages ago! Glad to see that you’re here! I lived in Portland for a while, great food!

    Sethina

    #64114
    mommd2bmommd2b
    Participant

    Paula,

    Wow…thanks for the response!!! I read through your diary and it was really interesting to me…I would love to hear more from you about how you managed to balance the demands of medical school (studying and rotations) with the kiddos….that is my husband and I’s big concern.

    Kris

    #64115
    drmoo55drmoo55
    Participant

    hi mommd2be

    you do sound frustrated. and that’s OK.

    Resentment is a word you used and I wonder if you are just frustrated that your kids are more needy of your time than others may be. Would you be looking to go to med school as a way of running away? from the day-to-day parenting struggles?
    I think you would be frustrated the same b/c then you would have both needy kids AND a stressful med school/residency to deal with.

    Could it be that just doing something away from the kids from time to time would help? Of course, I am only giving some thoughts. I by no means have the answers. Just thought I’d pose a question for you to ponder.

    What is it about med school that makes it the only option? Could you do something less stressful now? That could be fulfilling as well?

    I think you could do both med school and raise your kids. But just ask yourself if the resentment will go away doing something else.

    hope that helps. if not- just ignore 😉

    #64117
    mommd2bmommd2b
    Participant

    Drmoo,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I think that for me the issue is more that I gave up a med school admission 8 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child thinking that I could go back and do it again someday. I put my husband through his own 8 hears of residency and fellowship and see him now enjoying the rewards of being finished with training…There are many frustrations for him and he often says that he wouldn’t do it again if he had the choice…so I’m “LUCKY” in his eyes that I didn’t follow this path.

    I do have an ‘other’ in my life now…I’ve gotten my MS in mol. bio and am currently teaching cell bio lab at our State University on a part-time basis. I don’t think that medicine is the only option…I really, really don’t. I believe in exploring options and that there isn’t necessarily one calling for one person…and yet…I just can’t shake it. I do ask myself if the reason is that I gave up the opportunity so long ago and am looking back on my decision now? I’m not sure.

    Whatever my choice ends up being, it won’t be medicine for at least 5 more years because it doesn’t fit into our family’s life right now and I’m not willing to add that kind of stress to our lives at this time. We’ve been through it once and need time to ‘heal’.

    That being said, I do feel frustrated because for many years my husband (MD)’s needs have always come first…my children second…and mine have come last. I am honest when I say that I’m afraid that in 5 years there will be another obstacle in the way…and that I will end up being 80 years old, sitting in a wheelchair looking back on my life and wondering what life would have been like ‘if only’.

    In terms of my marriage, there is a great deal of inequality now. My husband and I met during a time in our lives when we had a great deal of similar goals and we planned our lives/training together…that never came to pass and I still earn no salary (I’m volunteering to teach the cell bio because the dept. has no money and I don’t want to lose touch with science!). He even recognizes that he doesn’t treat me as an equal anymore….It is very difficult to be an intelligent, capable woman who earns no salary, gives all of her time for free and is busy raising children who have some challenging needs while watching my husband enjoy the success that I secretly wish that I had myself.

    Life isn’t black or white…but various shades of grey as well… :p . It isn’t easy to pin down exactly what the issues are..I’m sure that there are several.

    At the end of the day, I feel that I am a very caring person who is smart and very interested in the health and well-being of other people. I’m good at science, love a challenge and really enjoy working with people. If I end up eventually going back and getting my PhD in cell bio and teaching, I’m sure I’ll find a way to be happy…if I never make it back to grad school and eventually earn a paid place in our dept…then I’m sure that I’ll find a way to make peace with that as well. My greatest dream has been to become a family physician…and I’d like to accomplish that…maybe due to my particular family and their needs and my desire to be there for them as much I am right now, I won’t be able to accomplish it.

    Thank you for helping me to think this through and for your comments. 🙂

    #64119
    mommd2bmommd2b
    Participant

    I’m curious about something though:

    Why do you think that my desire to pursue medical school is related to wanting to ‘run away’ form parenting?

    Having children changed our lives in a way that we did not anticipate and I had to put my own life on hold for awhile…especially considering that things became so challenging with my husband’s training. When I talk about my own dream again and the frustration..even resentment that I sometimes feel, people often do not understand. I’m supposed to just be “happy to be a dr’s wife”. It really bothers me. This isn’t really directed just at you…many of my husband’s female colleagues give me that “Oh, you DONT want to be a dr.” thing and don’t even take me seriously…as if having children caused me to lose brain matter or something.

    The ones that do have children had their children during residency and all say that there is no way that they could have done med school and kids..and I pretty much get the brush off there too…

    just curious,

    Kris

    #64120
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    Originally posted by mommd2b:
    [b]I’m curious about something though:

    Why do you think that my desire to pursue medical school is related to wanting to ‘run away’ form parenting?

    Having children changed our lives in a way that we did not anticipate and I had to put my own life on hold for awhile…especially considering that things became so challenging with my husband’s training. When I talk about my own dream again and the frustration..even resentment that I sometimes feel, people often do not understand. I’m supposed to just be “happy to be a dr’s wife”. It really bothers me. This isn’t really directed just at you…many of my husband’s female colleagues give me that “Oh, you DONT want to be a dr.” thing and don’t even take me seriously…as if having children caused me to lose brain matter or something.

    The ones that do have children had their children during residency and all say that there is no way that they could have done med school and kids..and I pretty much get the brush off there too…

    just curious,

    Kris[/b]

    I know you’re probably sick to death of hearing my opinion on this, but here I go anyway. I can’t even help myself… :rolleyes:

    Some things you might want to ponder on. First, your husbands training was tramatic for your family, without a doubt, but that doesn’t mean that yours would be. You’re married, yes, but you’re two different people, and from what I’ve gleened from your posts, you have really different career goals. He did the specialty route with long residency and fellowships, you want to be a FP. Right there, you cut out at least four of the training years he went through.

    Second, you really, really want this. Perhaps now you’re better equiped to handle the stress of medical school than you or your husband were when he started.

    Third, as far as what other people (even people you respect) have to say: Whatever. For every person you know who says “You DON’T want to be a doctor,” I can introduce you to one who loves being a doctor and can’t imagine doing anything else. And for every woman who says it’s impossible to go to med school and have kids, you have ample proof right here on this board that it’s not impossible at all. Added bonus, you’re a great mom who loves her kids, and that’s not going to change no matter what happens in your life.

    I can actually *feel* your frustration the computer, and I do understand it. And you can be mad at me for saying this, but Kris, even with a hubby and kids, you have ownership over your own life. Don’t give that away to anyone – not your husband, or your kids, or your friends – not anyone.

    And it’s totally OK to feel resentment about your situation. From what you’ve said, it seems (to me – and I know I might be totally wrong about this) like you don’t have too much support just for you. I’d be pissed about that, too.

    Anyway, I’ll stop now. (And I do hope that you won’t be mad at me… 🙁 )

    Nanon

    #64122
    mommd2bmommd2b
    Participant

    Nanon,

    We’ve talked before privately at the sdn and here…I could never be mad at you and I appreciate your opinion….You have AGAIN given me something to think about (you always do!)…and I thank you very much for your honesty and insight….

    Kris

    #64124
    NanonNanon
    Participant

    Originally posted by mommd2b:
    [b]Nanon,

    We’ve talked before privately at the sdn and here…I could never be mad at you and I appreciate your opinion….You have AGAIN given me something to think about (you always do!)…and I thank you very much for your honesty and insight….

    Kris[/b]

    😀

    #64125
    KimyaKimya
    Participant

    Hi Kris,

    Just wanted to say that I can relate to some of what you are feeling- sent you a PM

    Happy Holidays,
    Kimya

    #64127
    yayayaya
    Participant

    I have a lot of empathy for your situation, Kris. I too had the desire and passion to become a physician, and then I let my desires for a family interrupt me from that accomplishment. I love my husband and daughters immensely, and realize if I did it differently, they wouldn’t be in my life. And even so, it doesn’t seem to help me feel okay about not having pursued my dreams professionally. I feel like I should have made time for myself, and stayed on track with med school, and maybe even have a family at the same time. Now, because I question how much I can be there for my girls while in school and during residency, and how that will impact them, I am still hesitent to do what I want. It *is* really hard to not be resentful. My situation is different in that my husband doesn’t have much of a career or high earning potential, although he’s working hard. Still my desire to be a physician not only to serve my own intellectual needs and help people, but to also provide for my family is not seen as being family-centered. Yet, if my husband turned around tomorrow and said he is going to go to medical school, family and friends would thing that was fantastic.

    So I’m still trying to determine how much of an effort medical school and residency really are with two young children, and how I might manage it so I can present them with a real plan. I’m also trying to figure out if this is my last real opportunity to go. The next time I could see attempting it would be when the girls are in high school or college, which would mean I’d be 45 – 50 yrs old. Not much time to have a productive career, and I’d probably be too worried about paying for the girls’ college and our retirement.

    My only comfort is that I attended a career services workshop where I did a values card sort. You sort the importance of all sorts of career factors (such as high responsibility, high recognition, short commute, family balance, …). As much as my values are in line with what a medical career offers, my highest priorities were with my family. It was interesting to me in that, as much as I hear others telling me to not go to medical school because it would make me a horrible mother, I could see that I really am concerned with being able to be available and supportive to them as they grow up. I’m trying to look ahead and figure out if I look back in 10 – 15 years, will I say “yeah, I’m so happy I followed my dreams” or “I wish I was there more for my kids.”
    I hate having to make this choice, because I know choosing not to pursue medicine *will* leave me always wondering if I could have managed both, just as you were saying.

    So, I’m rambling on and on. Just wanted to say I empathize with you and I know it is a really difficult situation.

    I’m also looking for help from anyone who has pursued this challenge with children and what the impact on them was.

    Cheers!

    #64129
    mommd2bmommd2b
    Participant

    Thank you all for the thoughtful responses. I really appreciate the input. This is a struggle that has been playing out in my mind and that I’ve brought to these forums/email group more than once over the last few years. I have gone back and forth on my decision because of these issues. For those members who have made a decision and gone with it, I’m sure that I seem quite wishy washy…but our lives have been complicated by my husband’s residency/fellowship training and the needs of my children have given me pause to think and rethink my decisions on a regular basis.

    I have begun to resolve this issue thanks to the input of all of the people here. After posting this and reading the responses and PMs (I am going to answer the PMs privately this week 😎 ) I sat down with my hubby for a long talk. He came at me with the whole “You DONT want to go to med school” argument and I just broke it down for him. We came to an agreement that made us both really happy. I am now officially on the 8 year plan. I am 32 now and will apply the year I turn 40. The reason for this is simply the needs of my children and the ability to juggle parenting such small children and something as challenging as medical school right now….I would probably be in the position of doing too many things and none of them well….

    So…we came up with the long term goal of 8 years and then the short term goals of the steps that I’ll need to take in order to get there again…ie MCAT, etc…So we’ve decided that I’ll continue to teach for now even if it is as a volunteer because it is great experience…and that in the next year or so I’ll begin retaking some intro courses, etc because it has been sooo long! I’ll re-prepare myself for the MCAT and refine my short-term goals as I get closer.

    My husband works for a hospital that has a small, non-malignant FP residency program associated with a good medical school and that is what I will shoot for.

    So…I guess the dream lives on again thanks to all of you who responded…because it has given me the opportunity to really think about what I want in my life and to make my husband aware of how important this is to me. He is even talking about this now and is as excited as I am…

    The trick for me now will be to step back and really take it slow. It is exciting to think that this actually could happen for me…and I will need to remind myself that I’m on the 8 year plan as opposed to the 2 year plan….

    You ladies are great. Thank you so much for your insights! I have been able to relate to so much of what has been said here in this thread. I don’t feel so alone anymore.

    Kris

    #64130
    drmoo55drmoo55
    Participant

    mommd2b-
    I did not mean anything about the running away part- From what I read – it had seemed that the parenting issues with ‘special’ needs kids were the part you were resenting

    I feel badly that my children’s needs feel like they are preventing me from pursuing my own dreams..and at the same time, I DO want to be there to meet their needs. The issue then of course becomes whether or not I am doing a good job of meeting those needs when I feel overwhelmed and…resentful?

    After reading more about your situation, I understand more clearly why you are still wanting to pursue the path you had initially intended and to also have the equal respect that you would have had if you had followed those dreams.

    It is unfair that you are not considered an equal based on your intelligence alone. It seems that you have had people brush you off when you express your desires and I did not mean to do that at all! I think everyone should follow their dreams and also feel that they are respected for what they do- no matter what that is.

    I respect that your life has taken a different path than you had intended- but things may happen to allow you to pursue your goals sooner than 8-10 yrs. I would keep looking into fullfilling those dreams and not ignore the strong desire you still have. Things can work out in strange ways.

    I don’t have kids now – I went straight through from college to med school to residency to work and thought I could wait until after to have kids. Now it is difficult to face the fact that I may not be able to have kids (husband had testicular cancer and my eggs are kinda crappy ‘n old) 😉 – so there is always the wonder of what if? or that the other side is greener kinda mentality.

    I wish you good vibes :goodvibes: and hope that all will work out for you and your family. I don’t think you can ever be too old to do what you love.

    Michele

    #64132
    elisemomof3elisemomof3
    Participant

    I just want to give you my support :wave: . Whatever decision you make is the best. I also want to say that there is NOTHING wrong with putting one’s family and children first. Nothing wrong with that at all. Raising one’s children to be the best that they can be is truly an enormous gift to the world. If one can do that and complete one’s medical training, then all the better. As a medical student, I stand by my oath that if ever I have strong evidence that I am failing as mom, the medical school gets dropped. My children did not ask to be born, and I believe I have an obligation to God to care for them, and raise them to be wonderful people. If I fail at that, then I am a failure. Even if I win the Nobel prize, if I have not given my children my all, then I am a failure. That is my personal belief.

    Nuff said :p . Cheers and happy holidays!

    Yours,
    Elise 😀

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