Hi friends! I feel so lucky to have such a steady stream of contributing writers/interviewees and today we're ALL lucky to be hearing from Micah Larsen. Micah is yet another lovely human that I met via the Marriage & Medicine instagram account and was thrilled to learn that she and her husband Eric would soon be moving to Oregon (hooray for new friends!). I love Micah's advice about independence and keeping the right perspective and I have a hunch that you'll enjoy it too. :)
Oh, and as a quick aside...I realize that it's been a while since y'all have heard from me on this blog. Don't worry! More personal posts are coming soon. The past few months have been a little crazy for us, so I've enjoyed taking a little writing break and adding a few more voices to this space. As always, I'd love to hear from you about topics you'd like me to write about, so never hesitate to reach out to me in the comments section or over on instagram.
Let's get into the interview!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you and your partner been together? Where are you in the medical journey?
I'm a traveling girl with a Midwestern heart looking forward to relocating to her fourth state in five years. I own a communication consulting company called Apis Communication Science and though I spend a lot of time coaching public speaking clients, my foremost job is to be a wife. I fell in love with my husband, Eric, not long after our first date in his home city of Fort Worth, Texas, where I jumped on the back of his motorcycle, set out for beer and tacos and never looked back. We are about to leave Wyoming for Oregon where he'll begin a career as a hospitalist. Fortunately for me, Eric makes it a point to make his life about more than medicine. He's backpacked to the highest mountains of Nepal. He's been chased by a rhino, held at gunpoint by the Chinese militia, and once won a national suture competition. In fact, Eric and I first connected over our love of adventure and it has remained a common theme in our marriage. We got hitched last July on the banks of the North Platte River here in Casper, Wyoming, the day after our "Wild West Wyolympics" competition complete with clay pigeon-shooting, Viking chess, and other activities involving an appropriate amount of danger.
What’s been difficult lately?
Lately -- and always, it seems -- it's difficult to watch Eric suffer through burnout. If you're reading this, you're probably familiar with that struggle. But I'm not talking about the physical type of exhaustion that comes from long hours that don't end when you leave the hospital. I'm talking about emotional burnout, the kind that lingers after he's had a difficult case and follows him home long after he's signed the death certificate. It's the kind of fatigue that as a communication scholar I've read countless articles about but still don't really know how to fix.
How do you find joy in your circumstances?
I find joy in being married to medicine because I am a scientist at heart, too, and the wealth of information Eric has about human beings is amazing to me. Learning from him has helped me “intellectualize” a lot of things and understand people much better than I could before.
What’s something you’ve learned about yourself and/or your relationship lately and what’s the best advice you could give to someone else in your shoes?
There is a funny stereotype about "doctors' wives" in our culture. We're supposed to be women riding our partners' coattails to the upper echelon of society. But that's so far from the truth. In fact, I think that being "married to medicine" means being supportive and independent. Eric's work is demanding and time consuming and as a result I've learned to carry heavy burdens on my own. For the first year of our engagement we lived 1,000 miles apart while I went through anonymous egg donation. It was beautiful, terrible, and incredible. Afterwards I experienced medical side effects that affected me physically, mentally. That was when I first learned that being “married to medicine” meant that no matter how much Eric wants to be there for me sometimes his work keeps him at bay. But from that I've learned that fierce independence is nothing but a strength and that being married to a doctor puts a lot of things in perspective. No matter how hard I thought I had it, I knew that at least one person Eric is meeting is having the worst day of their life. The difficulty of "marriage to medicine" should be overshadowed by the fact that doctors give so many people in this world a second lease on life. What they do every day is incredibly consequential and if it means allowing Eric to do that job well, I'm more than honored to fight battles on my own.
Micah, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to be a part of this. I especially love what you wrote at the end about keeping things in perspective. You're so right about the fact that what is a typical day for our partners is often their patient's most memorable (and terrifying) day. What an honor it is to play a small part in supporting those patients through those tough moments (not to mention the fact that it makes some of my more trivial frustrations seem a whole lot easier to let go of).
Love & Respect,