Kelsey & Faizan

  • Kelsey & Faizan New York, NY

“I’m always reminded of a quote that I grew up with in the Bronx from Wu Tang Clan, “Diversify your bonds.” Right? So this is my effort to stay faithful to Wu Tang and diversify my bonds.”

Faizan:

We’ve been dating for five years. She was a nurse in the ICU, and I was a young physician training in New Haven, Connecticut. Out of the blue, it’s literally three in the morning, I get this provocative text, and who is it from? None other than this one over here.

Kelsey:

It wasn’t provocative.

Faizan:

All right, fine. Maybe not provocative, but it was inviting nevertheless. To get a bit more specific, we had a patient who was 84 years old. The only way to describe her is like a “noni,” a cute, Italian grandmother, but moderately demented. She was coming in with a critical electrolyte imbalance, and she kept pulling out her IV lines, so Kelsey had actually called me to put in an order for mittens because she didn’t want to restrain her. So she’s like, “Could you put mittens on my noni?” and I was like, “I would love to do that.”

Kelsey:

How did we end up here? He moved to New York last summer for a fellowship. He was originally going to California. We were both in New Haven. He moved to New York, and I came here to move in with him.

Faizan:

I worked last year for the FDNY as a Deputy EMS Medical Director of Manhattan, so essentially I’m a Medical Director for all the ambulances that you see on the streets. Now I work over in New Jersey as a fellowship director and Medical Director of the State Police. It’s cool stuff where we send a physician to all the slot assignments in the state, so we make sure that our frontline people who are going in and doing all sorts of dangerous things have the complete support and backup that they need.

My family is from Pakistan, and I was born and raised in the Bronx. My mom had graduated medical school, and as it turns out, both my grandfathers knew each other. One was a conductor for the train and an engineer for the train, and my other grandfather hopped on board, and they started a conversation. He was like, “Hey, I have one daughter.” He was like, “Cool, I have a son.” Then he’s like, “Hey, I have another daughter.” And my other grandfather said, “Hey, I have another son.” So right then and there, they put together the composition or deal for a double marriage between two separate families. Arranged. My mom and dad were the younger pair. My mom had just finished medical school, so shortly after getting married, she came here for her residency in the Bronx. My dad was working for a bank at that time. She was studying social pediatrics and he was getting his MBA.

Growing up in the Bronx was awesome. It was a blast. I was living in Parkchester. The neighborhood was fantastic. It was a post WWII development, a fantastic community, and it was a really pleasant time and experience for us. The neighborhood started getting a little bit rougher, so we moved into northern New Jersey in fourth grade.

Kelsey:

My mom’s side of the family is French-Canadian. I grew up mostly in upstate Maine. My dad is Irish and English. I do not know how or why they came to the U.S. Although they have passed down some things that make me feel connected. I was spoken to in French growing up, and I know a lot of the sayings, I guess, but it wasn’t enough that I learned how to speak French.

Faizan:

I think for both of us, our heritage influences the work we do and how we do it, one hundred percent, absolutely. I’ve been surrounded by medicine my entire life. It was almost a natural career choice, but I wouldn’t say that I was pressured into the profession. It’s just what I was born to do.

Kelsey:

For me, it is just about being accepting of everybody that you see in medicine.

Faizan:

My specific specialty is emergency medicine, so it doesn’t matter to me if you have insurance. It doesn’t matter to me if you have a primary care physician. It doesn’t even matter if you walk in, come in by ambulance, or if your friend brings you in the back of his truck. I take care of all patients, and Kelsey’s the same way. She’s in critical care. It really doesn’t matter to us. We’re there for the people. We serve the people on a daily basis. I think there are certain stereotypes that we deal with on a day-to-day basis, but what people really respond to is your inner character. As long as you’re faithful to yourself and represent the best interests for the city at large and just to serve the population and the people, I think that shines through and people see you for who you are. That’s really what’s transcendent and inspiring. The toughest question is how our backgrounds influence our relationship. Everything else so far has been easy. That’s where it really gets difficult.

Kelsey:

We were dating secretly for three years of our five-year relationship because neither of us could tell our families about each other because of the differences and the fear. Not fear, I mean, it wasn’t a fear. We knew that if they knew, they would not accept us as a couple. I eventually told my mom. They knew something was going on. I’m very, very close with my family. Now it’s better than it ever has been. It’s not great. My family is more accepting than his.

Faizan:

Yeah, it’s a very difficult experience for us. My mom specifically had this grand plan, ‘He’s going to graduate from high school at the top of his class. He’s going to go to this college. He’s going to get this graduate degree. He’s going to do X, Y, and Z. He’s going to get married to this girl that comes from this family.’

Kelsey:

A Pakistani Muslim family.

Faizan:

That would have been her preference, yeah. She raised me to be a strong, independent, willful, young man, and part of that is pursuing life to the fullest, including love and passion and finding that perfect life partner that makes me the best person on a daily basis. That person for me was Kelsey. That really was the most important thing, so we had to make that a reality. It’s been a tough transition, but we’re going at it very methodically because the connections to my family are obviously so important, and my connections to Kelsey are obviously very important, so we’re just working together to stay positive and help bridge the divide. I’m always reminded of a quote that I grew up with in the Bronx from Wu Tang Clan, “Diversify your bonds.” Right? So this is my effort to stay faithful to Wu Tang and diversify my bonds.

All of our stories are a part of the American Story. What's Yours?

#IHM2016 #ImmigrantHeritageMonth