“My husband is a plastic surgeon”.
You know the scene. Wedding. Reunion. Seminars. You meet someone new. Genuine small talk. Standard questions; where are you from, what do you do for a living, oh you’re married/have children, is your husband a doctor too? Up until that point, conversation is very polite and low-key.
Then comes all kind of comments, some positive, some funny, and some not very …flattering, depending on your point of view.
Flashback: I remember one lecture in medical school, I honestly can’t recall what the title was, but we were thought not to react or show our emotions when the patient reveals things that are unpleasant or shocking, because we do not want to discourage the patient from telling us the truth that might help in their treatment.
Back to the conversation with the new friend. “Well’, I tell the new friend, “that’s cosmetic surgery. My husband doesn’t do any of that. His patients are mainly cancer patients, people who’ve had their limb or finger injured or cut off and patients who have burns”.
Then comes that moment where you see a change in perspective, a change in paradigm, happening right before your eyes. “Oh I see”. The new friend says, almost apologetically. “I didn’t know that”. Sometimes, they are genuinely disappointed because they were hoping for some discounted cosmetic surgery. Other times, the conversation heads into “what reconstructive surgeons actually do” and “what its like to be married to a surgeon”. Definitely more interesting than “life as a lecturer” or “life as a non-plastic surgeon doctor”.
I can hear readers thinking, what is the point of this status update again? Is it to tell everyone what my husband does for a living? Of course not. Now that I have your attention, the point I’m trying to make is this; it’s all a matter of perception.
Perception is our viewpoint of the world, the map that we hold and believe to represent reality. Reality, on the other hand, is the actual world itself. (I think I first read about this in the book ‘Seven habits’). I have come to know a lot of people have perceptions about what plastic surgery is, and I can’t blame them. If I was not married to one, I wouldn’t have a clue either. All I would know is what I had seen on tv, read in the papers, heard on the news etc.
It turns out, all my posts on the safety and halal status of vaccinations, have been perceived by some friends (real friends, ones whom I had known even before I went to medical school or had children) as…………..scare-mongering. I would be lying if I said that it didn’t hurt, but I thanked those friends for their honesty, and I thanked them for not un-friending me, either on facebook or in real-life. At some level, I know they want to believe I mean well. Of course, that, is a matter of perception too.See More
  • Selva Raja Very true. U r a deep thinking philosopher. But always remember it is a thin line which separates the genius ‘einstein’ Plato Socrates , from an inmate in ‘the mental institution’ . Thin line between pseudo reality n abstract thought waves , n quantum reality in its various dimensions n existence.  In 15 th century ,the Pope jailed a scientist 4 saying the world was  round n rotating around the sun,  bcos the prophet was born on the earth n everything must rotate around the earth, n earth must b square, so that , ,god’s teaching can spread to earth’s 4 corners , as god’s will n rest heresy. Ultimately this scientist was released after he recanted n signed a statement agreeing to the Pope. Even thoug he kneew that 4 the 2000 years the chinese , indian , arab, persian civilazation had accepted the sun as the centre of the known universe n the rotation of the planets. Galileo was the scientist
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Selva Raja: Thanks, that’s the first time anyone has called me a philosopher. Undeniably, all doctors accept the occupational hazard of potentially going to jail. In recent times, I have seen more and more non-criminals end up in jail in our own country. All I can say is, its a matter of perception 🙂
  • Taqi Azy Kak mazlyn, I think you should write a book!
  • Santharathas Muthusamy dr maz nice to know ur hubby is a reconstructive plastic surgeon of course lay men may different perception they are noit wrong they are talking from their inner space their world of perception  we us e the the 4 cornerstone of humanity integrity authencicity responsibilty n enrichment we will better of rather than labelled criminals if mistake is made out complications its accepeted insurance should not cover for non negligence  u ar far sighted n compassionated Dr Maz
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Taqi Azy: Thanks, that will be a different ‘status update’ altogether. Give me time to address that one 🙂
  • Jr Moorthy Well said. Kudos
  • Hilwati Hashim Hahaha. I x pernah terpikir how people will react when the wives of plastic surgeons say “my husband is a plastic surgeon”. How many will secretly think ” i wonder if those boobs/nose/lips are real. i bet she get free botox. lucky woman”. I wonder how people will react when the wives of orthopaedic surgeon talked about what his husband does “hmmm….senanglah kalau patah apa2, boleh repair kat rumah je. Tak yah susah2 gi hospital”. Kalau urologist(sakit tuan in layman’s term)?
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Santharathas Muthusamy: Thanks. I just want my non-vaccine advocate friends and my medical friends to know that I have not given up hope, I’m merely changing strategy ;). Coincidentally, the MBA module I’m studying now is ‘strategy’. As I once told a friend, there are no such things as accidents.
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Hilwati Hashim: ask your hubby what people’s reaction are when he tells them he’s married to a radiologist 😉 JUST KIDDING! Thankfully, my husband just gets an ‘awkward silence’ and then they move on to more interesting topics like golf.
  • Hilwati Hashim Most of the time, people will ask “radiologist tu apa?”. And then we try to describe what a radiologist does, u can see that u have lost their interest and it’s time to change to a more interesting topic. Hahaha
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Hilwati Hashim: its true, nothing beats the perception and perceived status of a plastic surgeon 🙂
  • Hilwati Hashim And pakar bedah jantung!!!! (That sounds more dramatic then cardiothoracic surgeon, betul tak Aida Abdul Aziz)
  • Aida Abdul Aziz Haha.. That’s funny Wati: Since u mentioned what ortho and URo do… I guess as a wife of cardiothoracic surgeon they’ll think of “how many times does her heart get repaired/replaced”… Haha!!

    And Wati: Dato’ Samad told us a joke at COR meeting, when a taxi driver (overseas) asked him what did he do, he said ‘radiologist’ then the taxi driver asked him..”so… U repair radio??”
    Another friend plak told me about her circle of friends’ reaction..”X-ray pun kena ada pakar ke??” Haha..!

  • Ardita Dewi Roslani Mazlyn, sometimes i dont mind so much if a non-vaccine advocate friend chooses to do so after much reading, but what I do mind is that they sometimes paste links or say things that are very offensive to doctors, when it may only be a few that fall into that category. Things like, for example, all doctors hide the fact that vaccines have no side effects… wth…its more likely the doctor doesnt know what the SEs are  and so doesn’t mention it, but i dont think one would say vaccines have no SEs at all…after all, no one doctor knows everything about medicine, that’s why there are specialists…… everything seems to be exaggerated in those links. Those advocates want to “educate”, but being rude about it in the same article defeats the purpose…when someone is rude at the same time about something they are saying, I switch off immediately! I agree with your words on perception. Sometimes, I myself joke about plastic surgeons, just as I’m sure many joke about pathologists, but I do know the bulk of the work that they do goes far deeper beyond implants & facelifts.
  • Aida Abdul Aziz Dear Mazlyn…. Salam perkenalan…
    I guess if u layan sgt apa org kata… Nobody will get satisfied…
    Just like the story of Luqman Hakim with his son and a donkey, if u remember …
  • Kartini Md Ariff Same old mazlyn I knew in school…only wiser ; P
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Ardita Dewi Roslani and Aida Abdul Aziz; for me it’s ok. I’m not so easily offended. Remember, I went to medschool 🙂 LOL. But because so much is at stake, and I believe I can make a difference, I will not back down and give up so easily. They are my friends. And their kids are my friends too, and my kids friends. So I continue to write. After all, I am just a writer @my facebook wall.
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Kartini Md Ariff: Erk, I’ll take that as a compliment 🙂 Could have been ‘older’ LOL
  • Selva Raja Innovators n dreamers  r the master , n logic n administration  n r the implementers n servants of public. But society praises the servant n  ridicules n n debases the master with its liminited understanding n perception. ( explanation n comment on Einstein quotation). What government does is not neccessarily always right n should not b disputed accordinh to  your conscience. History has always shon that the loner is ultimately proven right, retrospectively after  a few hundred years,
  • Man Dy The matter of perception is depends or affected by how much knowledge the person has abt the field. It would change his or her perception if they know more before they react.
  • Man Dy My experience was, whenever I told people I worked at Kfc marketing. I’ll get all sorts of complaints abt kfc or ask if they can get discount in the next second. They lack of interest abt what I specifically do for my job. U see people reaction is always first think of themselve instead of care abt you. They forgot I don’t own the Kfc.
  • Mazlyn Mustapha Man Dy; I didn’t know you work at KFC. Can get discount? LOL :p
  • Man Dy Haha….. oppss….that was my previous job. Too late….
  • Marina Sham Just to share wt you mazlyn…we were visting an elderly uncle (husband side) and he asked me my specialty. I told him that I am a ‘dr kanak kanak’…. and he laughed and said dr kanak kanak?.. I was thinking why is the laughter? Felt very small that time…