Dr Rob's recent post, Hi Doc! got me musing about my encounters with patients outside of the office. Very often the reactions to a plastic surgeon aren't the same as the reactions to the family physician.
I get some who readily want to acknowledge that they know me. This can be in the "groupie/fan" kind of way or "friend (want-to-be)" kind of way.
The "fan" is happy to tell anyone who is present "This is the doctor who did my breasts. They are just perfect. Dr Bates' is the one I've been telling you to go see." This one I sometimes enjoy, even though I often am embarrassed by their gushing. I have had to stop a few of these from showing off their scars in the store. One even offered to show my husband "my work" (which I did not allow).
The "friend" -- "Hi Ramona. JB, this is my plastic surgeon. The one who did my scar. She's the one we need to go see for our BOTOX." In the back of my mind, I can't help wondering if this one is "fishing" for a discount for bringing me business.
Then there are the ones who don't want to acknowledge they know me professionally. "Didn't I meet you at that charity event?" "I remember meeting you at C and D's." I try to play along without resorting to bald-faced lies. They don't want whoever is with them to know they have seen a plastic surgeon. They might have to explain why.
There are some who don't even want to acknowledge they have met me in any capacity. You can see the fear in their eyes begging "don't know me, don't know me". These I will just smile at and once again taking their lead take the "friendly stranger" interaction. They really don't want anyone to know they have seen a plastic surgeon. They can't think of any other reason they should know me to give to their friends/colleagues. The one I remember the most was a young reporter years ago. I had done a breast reduction for her and happened to see her in a store where she was setting up to broadcast a report.
For this last patient, it helps that I don't really look like most peoples idea of a plastic surgeon. In fact, if I was to be on the game show, Identity, I would probably be a stumbling block for most. When you run into me at Wal-Mart of Kroger, I will often be in jeans or shorts and look like I could use Stacy and Clint's help with my wardrobe.
I'm happy to acknowledge you if we meet in the public eye, but if you don't want to acknowledge me that's okay too. If you do want to talk to me, let's try to keep it social. Remember I'm "off work". If you want to ask clinical questions, please, call the office during office hours. If you would like information about your nieces rhinoplasty, check out this blog (hat tip to Dr Oliver) -- Beverly Hills Rhinoplasty Blog
As Lynyrd Skynyrd puts it "if you want to talk fishin, I guess that'd be okay" or in my case dogs or quilting.