The Light at the End of the Tunnel
By Cayela Moody
I have arrived. Twelve years ago, my husband began a medical journey, and in my mind I have been waiting for this day. Today is the day that I should be blinded by the light at the end of the tunnel. My husband took the second step of board certification and all the nights of studying until 1 a.m., all the family dinners missed, all the family time without him have led to this day.
Sure, there will still be the call hours and the long days, which I have planned for, but I feel like we may be at a stable place again. I pictured myself running around the house singing, “For the First Time in Forever” from Frozen at the top of my lungs at this moment. Although I am very thankful for him to move along in this journey, this day isn’t what I pictured. It is quite anti-climatic indeed. Normal to a fault.
Maybe this feeling is occurring because I have been here before. I bet a lot of you have been here as well. You imagine the light at the end of the tunnel at the end of residency. That is initially when I thought I would bask in the glow. If we can just survive to get to that point, we will be set for life.
My husband left for a carrier in the Navy after residency, and was gone off and on for a year. Predictable work hours were still out of my reach. Perhaps the physician in your family brought up a fellowship, so your light, too, became more distant. Maybe you were as naive as I was and didn’t realize how time consuming and stressful the time leading up to board certification can be. Surely after this hurdle, we will cross the finish line.
Most the time in this race, I could picture the finish line. The bright yellow ribbon is being held and I can taste the victory.
I imagine getting my golden medal that would sparkle in the sunlight – my award for being so supportive and encouraging, and only being bitter for the first half of residency. I am on the final stretch, and the people holding the ribbon take off on a full sprint away from me. Wait, this isn’t how it works in the Olympics!
Then, it dawns on me. The process will never truly end for the spouse of a doctor, or someone in the military, or really anyone with an ounce of ambition who is constantly trying to improve and learn more about his or her occupation.
I see how much my time as both a military and physician spouse has shaped not only my husband, but me personally. I have grown because I have been stretched and challenged in areas so far beyond my comfort zone. I believed this journey would be mainly about survival. It truly has become one of strength and endurance. I have learned so much about myself in the process. I’ve completed some major home renovation projects. I can effectively manage therapy schedules, children, school, you name it. Ten years ago, I would have said I could never do it. I have been forced to do it – and now, I can.
My family has indeed crossed over a major hurdle in our physician family race. Yet, the reality is that there will always be something coming down the pipeline. Maybe it will be an out-of-state CE course or preparing for a big case. For a military spouse, the thought of deployment can be like the elephant that follows the man around in that COPD commercial. You can’t shake it. It’s always there.
I am proud of my husband and all the hours and dedication he has given to his profession, and our journey continues on now. I am not at the finish line. I am looking forward to stretching and growing even more this year, and can’t wait to look back once again and see how far I have come.
Don’t wait for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Don’t put your life on hold.
This is a race for the both or you, individually, and as a team.
The truth is, the light wasn’t at the end of the tunnel. It was within you the entire time.
Cayela Moody is a homeschooler, special needs mom, and Navy wife. Together with her high school sweetheart, Evan, they are raising four children. Even though the military takes them to many new locations, Eureka, Kansas will always be their home.