Are y'all following the Marriage & Medicine account on instagram? While I'll admit it's a bit difficult to keep up with two different instagram accounts, I've absolutely loved interacting with the community we've got growing in this space. It's been so fun to interact with so many folks around the world who are in such similar situations. Kali Duke is one of those people that I feel so fortunate to have "met", and I'm so thrilled to have her share a bit of her story on the blog today! 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?
My husband, Patrick, and I met in our first year of university doing our undergrad degrees at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. Patrick was doing science and I was doing arts. After we both finished our degrees, Patrick got accepted into medical school at the University of Alberta, one province over. While Patrick was in medical school, I got accepted into the after-degree nursing program at the university, an intense 2 year program. Patrick was matched to a rural family residency program in southern Alberta, which is a 2 year program. I was fortunate to get a job working as a nurse in a doctor’s office almost as soon as we moved, with ideal daytime 9-5 hours. Patrick will be finishing his first year in a couple of months. We have been together 9 years, and will be married for one year at the end of May.
What’s been difficult lately?
The biggest difficulty here has been isolation and loneliness. The way the rural family program works is that all the rural family residents work out of a primary city. The city we are currently in has a population of approximately 60,000. Residents spend 6 months of their first year, and 8 months of their second year outside of the main site, working in much smaller rural towns that are anywhere from a 1 hour to a 30 hour drive away. There isn’t a major university here, so there are only 14 rural family residents total, seven in each year. Patrick’s year, unfortunately is 6 female residents and 1 male resident. I have found it particularly difficult relating with the significant others, as they are all males and are able to travel with their partners to whichever site they are placed at. Another difficulty is that residents are never all in the same place at the same time, so forming solid friendships is a bit of a challenge. The city we are placed in is pretty isolated from other big cities and both of our families, so when we moved here in June, we only had each other to lean on.
How do you find joy in your circumstances?
Being married to a resident means that you don’t really have any control over where you move to. When Patrick was in med school, I felt like I didn’t have any control over our lives, and it was causing me a lot of anxiety. Since then, I have realized that whatever happens will happen and I can either be resentful for him working really hard to chase his dreams, or I can be excited that we get to explore different cities all over Canada. It may seem easier to be resentful, but it definitely makes us both happier to look at it in a positive light. I was actually pretty excited to move to southern Alberta just because I had never been here before. It has been really interesting exploring and getting to live in a city that’s quite different than any other city I have lived in. Our city is very outdoorsy and boasts that it is the sunniest city in Canada, which makes being able to explore the walking paths, parks, hiking trails, and national parks easy and enjoyable.
What’s something you’ve learned about yourself and/or your relationship lately?
I am generally fairly introverted and quiet, but living in a smaller town and being on my own for 4 out of the 9 months we have been here so far, has made me learn to be more outgoing. Not having school to fall back on to meet friends has made me move out of my comfort zone to meet people in other settings. I have also developed new hobbies and have learned how to be on my own – and to be okay with that! As a couple, we have definitely learned how to rely more on each other, and we have learned that communication is very important. When we first moved here, we didn’t know anyone and we ended up doing a lot of things as a couple – discovering new cafes and restaurants, exploring the parks and hiking trails, and, going to community events. With Patrick gone a lot of the time, communication has been very important to keep our relationship strong. I also have to remember that even though I may feel lonely without Patrick here, he probably feels even more alone in a small rural town without any fellow residents there.
What’s the best advice you could give to someone else in your shoes?
One piece of advice I would give is to get involved in your community! A month after we moved, Patrick had to leave for 3 months straight. I had done dance and art classes when I was younger, so I decided to join an adult dance class, and I sign up for mini art classes that our library offers. I also joined a small group at our church. These have all been really great ways to meet new friends. Getting out and exploring the city you’re in also makes you feel more connected to the city and the community. Plus, you can discover the cutest local cafes and shops! Finally, the most important thing to remember is that the residents can be your friends too! The biggest mistake I made when Patrick was in medical school was thinking that the residents were just his friends. Later in med school, I discovered that I could also call them my friends as well, and I can hang out with the residents without Patrick being there! And sometimes it’s nice not having him around – it lets me have some quality “girl time” watching TV, baking, chatting, and laughing!
Kali, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to be a part of the Marriage and Medicine community. I relate to your story in many ways (particularly the part about realizing that the other residents can ABSOLUTELY be your friends too!). Know that we're all cheering you on and are so thankful for your voice and willingness to share. :)
Love & Respect,