Guest Editorial: I married a radiologist

Ms. Mirvis is a Reference Librarian at the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD. She is also the Administrative Editor of this journal and is married to Stuart E. Mirvis, MD, FACR, the Editor-in-Chief of this journal.

These observations, for what they are worth, may strike a familiar chord with radiologists in our readership, but this might also be a piece you'd like to share with your spouses or significant others. They could probably affirm the validity of some of what follows and might also appreciate realizing they are not alone in dealing with these issues. As is probably true in any medical specialty, we, the spouses of radiologists, accept the long and often unpredictable hours the job entails. We have also become used to the colorful shoptalk we hear in social settings. Many of us can probably claim a bit of a second-hand medical degree based on our familiarity with anatomical lingo. But, for some of us, the descriptions of X-rays of pencils sticking out of someone's eye socket become tedious after a while.

Speaking of social settings, even without our spouses present, we have learned to automatically clarify the profession. I'd like a nickel for every time I've explained that a technician takes the X-rays and a radiologist interprets the studies. I'm never fully convinced my audience gets the point, however.

Being married to a radiologist can certainly have its perks. There are often conferences in very nice places, and when we tag along, these become great vacations. But really, who wants to visit Chicago in late November? Ugh! So when we opt not to go to RSNA, our spouses just have a great annual excuse to get out of leftover turkey and the final days of relatives' visits.

You may not all experience this next tendency. When watching television or a movie with your radiological significant other, are X-ray films always hung backward or upside-down? I marvel at the odds that none of them even inadvertently end up in the correct position!

Then there are those situations, such as on an airplane, when the dreaded question is posed: "Is there a doctor on board?" Our spouses face the age-old dilemma: Does a radiologist count? Should they wait to see if a "clinical" physician steps forward before they decide? Should they ask the flight attendant if there is a multislice CT or state-of-the-art MR on board before they commit to volunteering?

Radiologists seem to see the world in their own unique way. For anyone who has ever navigated for a radiologist driving a car, you know they can have a definite problem determining which way is right versus left. Perhaps being accustomed to reading films in reverse affects their view of reality from behind a steering wheel. Radiologists can show impressive creativity in seeing familiar shapes in things that the rest of us find shapeless. My husband will sometimes point out animals and inanimate objects in clouds, which just look like, well, clouds to me. He tells me that he often sees animals, people, etc. in stomach and colon contents while reading CT scans. This worries me.

Then there was the Scrabble problem. For years, he would always get most of the S 's, blanks, and high-scoring letters. That was when we turned the tiles upside down in the box lid to select them. Now that we drop them into a dark bag (not even lead-lined), the distribution works out much more fairly. After years on the job, these people actually acquire X-ray vision! By the way, I've stopped reaching for the dictionary for all the obscure medical terms that show up on the board.

Finally, there is the issue (pun intended) of radiology journals all over the house. Yes, even Applied Radiology joins the American Journal of Roentgenology , Radiology , and Medical Imaging in piles on coffee tables, countertops, and bathroom floors. That's just one more hazard of being married to a radiologist. I imagine other professions also have their share of unique concerns. All things considered, radiologists are not so bad.

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