Exam, the day before my wedding? No problem

by Aleisha


Meet Bridechilla Heather. So far Heather says that she is 'digging wedding planning' but 'not how much everything costs'. She says 'I don't even know what a good deal really is anymore! And occasionally I spend too much time on pinterest and get sad that our reception will be in a very average hotel ballroom and not in a forest overlooking a majestic lake with a beautiful mountain the background fiancé'.
Heather and her fiancé Matt have a LOT going on besides Pinterest boards! Matt is in medical school and Heather will be starting her Physician Assistant school in May (2017)- 2 months before the wedding AND she'll be taking her final exam the day before the wedding and then driving 10 hours to our venue. NO PRESSURE!

From the start, we knew planning our wedding would be complicated. I’m originally from Minnesota, and Matt's family lives in Pennsylvania. We met as freshman at the University of Notre Dame. In addition to being a special place for us, Notre Dame splits the 20 hour distance between MN and PA almost exactly in half, so we quickly decided to have our wedding there (inconvenience for all the family members!), despite the difficulties that might arise from planning from afar (currently, we live in Philadelphia). Additionally, our career goals complicated the timing. When we got engaged last October, neither of us knew what we’d be doing for the next several years.
Matt was applying to medical schools, and I was preparing to apply to Physician Assistant (PA) schools. We had a boatload of discussions about when would be the best time to get married. 

Waiting another year or two (or even five) wouldn’t solve any problems. Since virtually all of our guests would be traveling, summer seemed to make the most sense. Summer weather wouldn’t be as troublesome as winter weather, plus Matt would be on break from school. So, we booked our wedding for Saturday, July 22, 2017. Fast forward to this August. We're ten months and several deposits into the planning process, and exciting things are happening for our careers as well.
Matt is killing it during his first few weeks of medical school, and I get accepted into one of my top choice PA schools.

For a local wedding, this wouldn’t be a big deal. But we had been planning on making the ten hour trek from from Philadelphia to Notre Dame that day for our rehearsal and dinner that evening. Shortly after getting my acceptance letter, I sent an email to see if it was possible to take the exam early, do a makeup exam later, literally whatever they wanted as long as I could both get married and go to school.Matt and I both fully expected them to have some sort of system set up for this kind of thing.Boy, were we wrong.They don’t do any makeup exams. Cadavers are involved, and they can’t set them up just for me to personally take the exam.

After I moped for a bit and Matt frantically tried to come up with some way of forcing them to let me take the exams late, we got down to really figuring things out. If the school couldn’t work with us, maybe our wedding venue could. Some background info: Notre Dame does six weddings each weekend in the summer. You are assigned a rehearsal time, and you’re expected to be in and out punctually so you don’t screw up other couple’s events. As a general rule, there’s not a lot of flexibility. But we couldn’t think of anything else to do. We wrote our coordinator a heartfelt, embarrassingly desperate email about the situation, pleading for her help in our time of need.
And then we waited.
It’s amazing how long 12 hours can feel when two events you’re deeply invested in are on the line. Finally, we got an email from the coordinator saying that she had come up with a solution. Matt and I will meet with her in March and do a private rehearsal for the two of us, and on the Friday before our wedding she will do a rehearsal with the wedding party and family members while Matt and I speed to Indiana.
We were both so relieved!

We knew that as healthcare professionals, our careers are likely to cause difficulties in our personal lives. It’s why we didn’t wait for a perfect time to get married. In 2018 Matt will have boards to study for and take in the summer. When I graduate, he’ll be doing clinical rotations. After he graduates, there’s residency (which is no piece of cake from what I hear).There’s no point in waiting for the perfect time. There never will be one.Similarly, that doesn’t mean we can expect others to move mountains just because we have a wedding. I will be taking a very important, stressful final exam less than 24 hours before our ceremony.
We will arrive in the city where we’re getting married approximately 13 hours before the ceremony.
It is what it is.

But there are so many reasons to be grateful for this intersection of life events. First off, it means that I have two AWESOME things going on in my life right now. I’ve found my best friend, the person I want to spend my life with. And he loves me that much too! And I’m going to finally finish my education and have a career. How many people get to celebrate the beginning of their marriage and profession that close together? Even more than that though, this has been a great reminder to focus on the positive.Sometimes I get down because I wish our venue was more aesthetically pleasing or that I had more time to relax with my family before the wedding. But this is where we are in life now. Everything is working out how it is because of who we are and our priorities. The whole situation is a representation of us.Ultimately, our wedding is one day. One beautiful, fun-filled celebration with all of our friends and family (hopefully). It will mean a lot to us, but what endures can’t be captured on a Pinterest board. 


Complications by Atul Gwande

'Super helpful for life in general.' 

In gripping accounts of true cases, surgeon Atul Gawande explores the power and the limits of medicine, offering an unflinching view from the scalpel's edge. Complications lays bare a science not in its idealized form but as it actually is―uncertain, perplexing, and profoundly human.Complications is a 2002 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.

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