Wednesday, July 18, 2007

On Anonymity

I had a haircut last week. It is one of those things that I keep procrastinating about and delaying. It's been a good two months, and I have had a mop of unmanageably long hair around my ears that I hoped my patients would ignore.

In any case, I went to a new hairdresser, and it was only a matter of time before they asked what I did for a living. I knew it was coming, but my reaction is always the same. I hesitated before admitting that I was a doctor. I avoided saying that I was a surgeon until pressed, and did not elaborate further.

I don't like having my profession displayed on my shoulder like a scout's badge. I am quite happy not to use the title "Dr Sheepish" in public. My credit cards say "Mr Sheepish". My plane tickets say "Mr Sheepish". I'd rather not be recognised in public. The last time a television crew came into the hospital I actively avoided them, despite being in the same operating theatre and treating the relevant patient.

One of my colleagues a few years ago asked me if I knew anyone who would let a journalist follow them around for a few days. I replied that the kind of doctor who volunteers to let a journalist follow them around is not the kind of doctor that you want splashed on the newspaper representing our profession.

Despite that, I did reluctantly agree to an interview and photo in the local rag once. It was a once-off, on an issue that I strongly felt was not being portrayed fairly. I insisted that the final text was read to me first before I approved the use of my name and picture. I have a copy in a drawer somewhere, but it is not framed or displayed proudly on a wall.

I'm not sure what my aversion is to publicity - be it shame, shyness, or whatever. I think I just like to be treated as a person, not a profession, and that sometimes I like to just sit and watch things play out, hoping that I am not influencing them by my mere presence. Perhaps that is changing - and perhaps this blog is representative of that.

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