The Armstrong Archives (52): Which Field of Medicine…and Where?

Playground at DeRoyJuly 25, 1978  It’s going to be a magnificent day, so I thought housework should be done as quickly as possible so the boys and I can enjoy being outside. They’re still asleep, but Alan has already left for work. He gets all his meals free this month and has to leave so early that we don’t try waking the kids up for a family breakfast as is our usual custom. Alan really likes anesthesiology; in fact, he is considering it as one serious option for a residency program. We spend most of our thought time trying to figure out what he ought to do for the next how-many-ever years, remembering that “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,” and greatly desiring that this will be true of us. My role is to pray and be ready to accept anything…and be a bounce board. As wife and mother, nothing will change too drastically no matter where we go or what he does. However, there is really a vast difference in the quality of life between the various fields of medicine. So, what are our values, priorities, etc.?!! The ends of the spectrum are roughly G.P—surgeon, and practicing in Dafter—missionary to anywhere. Obviously, where we practice will have some influence on what type of preparation Alan needs. We would love to live in the Soo, but we don’t want to be selfish either, and there are certainly places where doctors and Christians are more scarce than they are at home.

Well, anyway, that’s our current thought problem. In the flesh, there is nothing I would enjoy more than building a little house back at the McKiddies’ farm and rearing a bunch of kids and a big garden, enjoying the relative peace and security of the quiet North and the friendship of family and the lovely people there. However, that might not be the most useful investment of my time. Both of us love being together and enjoying family. Alan chafes a little under the saddle of such long hours and such a consuming career of service, but he is prepared to do it. If he is going to work time and a half or better for the rest of his life, though, it should be doing what is both satisfying and as interesting as possible, and he doesn’t really know what his greatest interest is yet. None of this would bother us were it not the season to be applying for residencies. But, ‘tis the season! IMG_4234We enjoyed a lovely week. Friday we went on a double date to Windsor with Keith VanOsterhout and Marji Barber. Keith has just changed radically since he started dating Marji…I like t think it’s the influence of a good woman! He just floats around and is becoming much more sociable and happy! Anyway, Saturday night he proposed to her, and Sunday night he came over to tell us all about it and get some advice (advice?!), and Monday Marji called to tell us a second-by-second report. It is so much fun to be in on such a special happening. Plus we get to do some “remember-whening” to ourselves and realize how much we’ve grown since we were anticipating marriage. We are just extremely happy to be married and want to thank all four of you again for all your faithful years of parenting! IMG_4923Saturday was a Sunday school picnic. Alan’s still a bit sore from playing ball but just loved the chance for some good, hard exercise. Aaron and Michael really ate up the chance to play with all the other kids. Jim Watson, our teacher, teasingly observed [while watching Michael chasing and kicking a big ball], “I think Michael must already be saved, he’s just happy all the time.” He is too, almost always. Michael is so winsome that Aaron has taken a bit of a turn towards being jealous, especially since Michael is starting to walk and is right at a good age for getting attention. We are trying extra hard to notice and appreciate Aaron. Big brothers have an awful lot expected of them!

August 1, 1978  First, I’d better beg your indulgence for writing with Michael on my lap, because he’s contesting my exclusive use of the keyboard. gk [doubtless from Michael]We’ve had quite a busy week, highlighted by our high school’s ten-year reunion. It was really fun to see all the kids again—many of whom seemed to have changed very little—and all of the various reproductions thereof. I was surprised to see that most of us have just continued to grow along the same lines…a bit fuller (the adult frame physically, emotionally, and spiritually), but really very few radical changes in character or personality.

I took the boys to the Belle Isle Children’s Zoo with a friend and her little girl. It is a zoo built on the themes of Mother Goose rhymes and full of baby animals. Aaron has always loved animals, and Michael was absolutely in his glory with the baby goats that attempted to eat the plastic seat of his stroller. They have a special area where you can buy baby bottles full of milk to feed the baby goats. We got three bottles, which lasted just second because the kids were right ready for a morning snack. I always thought it was a joke to think the billy goats ate clothing, but they went right after Aaron’s shirt! IMG_4930Our neighbor Bill came for dinner one night just before his wife and daughter returned from visiting the grandparents in Scotland. They’ve been our neighbors ever since we moved in, and Aaron has gotten to be such good friends with their nine-year-old daughter that I’ve had several people ask about his “sister.” They’re moving to Texas next month, which will be quite a loss for us, and even more so since Bill has recently become an avid student of the Scriptures. He comes from a Lutheran/Jehovah Witness background and is just now trying to figure out what the Bible really says. He’s forever asking questions and bringing up verses concerning doctrines that Alan and I have accepted for years without studying recently, such as the trinity, deity of Christ, eschatology, etc. It has been really exciting to study, search, and review with him, and it also strengthens our own knowledge. [Eventually, their whole family came to Christ. We have continued our friendship to this day. Bill is now a biochemistry professor in Tennessee, and the Lord eventually blessed them with three other children, much to Janice’s great delight! She had feared that Cheryl Ann would be an only child!]

One day Alan and I attended a “Financial Planning Seminar” which was simply excellent. It dealt with insurance, wills, credit, debt, etc. from the Biblical perspective. Of course one day barely scratched the surface, but it really gave us some helpful insights in so many areas where we had had questions—why term insurance, how to avoid probate, why have a will, should everything be joint—just ask us, we’re experts. HA! HA! One of the most exciting aspects was their emphasis on budgeting and how to do it. We’re working on that now and will meet with an ex-economics professor who’s working with the organization on Friday. July 2012Well, the boys are hot to get outside. It’s a gorgeous, cloudless morning. [I couldn’t find a picture from that time, so I’m using this one of Aaron with two of his sons from July, 2012 when they were just about the same ages as Aaron and Michael were in 1978! :)] Alan’s doing radiology this month and has the best hours he will have in his entire medical career, I’m sure: 8:30-4:30 Monday through Friday with no weekends. As for the ongoing guessing game of what he’ll do next year…after spending the weekend in the Soo and seeing their grave need for family practitioners, today he is back to considering being a family practice doctor. We already have a Christian friend who has expressed interest in going into such a practice with him, so who knows, maybe this will settle it. He’s so good with people (my very blind and prejudiced opinion I realize), that I think he would be well suited to primary care work. Who knows? Hopefully, we will by next April anyway!

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