When you’re the wife of a neurosurgeon, there are sacrifices to be made—long nights at home minding the fort and watching the child while your husband is out fixing brains.
“We both can’t have the schedule of a busy neurosurgeon,” says Goesel Anson, whose husband, John, is one of the Valley’s top neurosurgeons. “Obviously someone has to be a little bit more stable, and that someone is me.”
Sounds like a classic story of a patient medical spouse. But there’s a catch: Goesel Anson is one of the Valley’s top plastic surgeons.
Her practice focuses on facial rejuvenation; she has been featured on numerous television shows and has worked on such high-profile patients as Frank Marino.
While John is regularly called away for emergencies, though, Goesel’s practice permits her to be home most nights with the couple’s teenage daughter.
“I work hard, but I’m home at the end of the day, so I don’t think my daughter sees anything really different than any other working mother,” she says.
The couple have been married 18 years, residing in Las Vegas for the past 14. The Chicago natives and graduates of the University of Illinois College of Medicine began dating while doing their residencies in the Windy City, but soon after that Goesel left to study plastic surgery at New York University, while John went to Phoenix for a fellowship.
In Las Vegas, though, they’ve come together to strike a remarkable balance. The two worked together in surgery in the past, but as their respective practices have grown, they’ve done so less often. Twice a week they work out of the same office building, which allows them an occasional quick visit. But if there’s one thing physicians at this level know, it’s how to maximize the value of each moment.
“I think we have a real clear understanding on what we have to do,” she says. “When he has to go in [on call], it’s just not an issue. That doesn’t mean we don’t complain, that doesn’t mean it’s not annoying, but … it works out. It works out quite well, actually.”
As befits two successful doctors in highly competitive specialties, the Ansons don’t mind ribbing one another about their work. “He likes to remind me that he’s the real doctor,” says Goesel, who jabs back at her husband’s suturing technique.
During his limited “downtime,” John, a licensed pilot, volunteers on the tactical medical support unit for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s SWAT team and with Metro’s Search and Rescue Unit. Each day he deals with traumatic nerve-related injuries that can result in brain damage, paralysis and death, and it’s often hard for him not to carry the stress home. That’s when he especially appreciates his unique relationship with his wife.
“It’s very helpful for me to be able to go home and have someone who understands that,” he says, “who really understands it from the medical standpoint and understands it from the emotional standpoint, as well.”