It was normal Wednesday and I was staring absentmindedly at the surgery white board. I searched its unending list of procedures and "ectomies" that stretched the entire length of the wall, until I was finally able to locate my string of minor surgeries. Lost deep in thought, I wondered if there was any feasible way the labor gods would be kind to me. What were the odds my labor patient would deliver while I was scrubbed in one of my many hysteroscopies? As I came to the conclusion that once again my day was hopelessly overbooked, I sighed only to feel a hand on my back.
Turning around I saw the familiar friendly face of a charge nurse. She looked concerned.
"Dr. RH+, poor thing, were you on call last night?" she asked.
"Actually, no. I slept all night." I chirped.
"Oh....." she said as we stared at each other, slowly realizing that she had just accused me of looking like total crap.
When the awkward silence became too much to bear, I faked a page and make a dash for the locker room, where I stat ordered eye cream from one of the 200 people on my Facebook feed who try to sell me overpriced fancy products endorsed by celebrity dermatologist. Maybe I can be the next before and after picture on their web site.
Asking a doctor if they are post call is like asking a woman if she's pregnant: Just don't do it, unless you already know the answer, then think twice. The "post call" look for me often means no sleep, no shower, puffy eyes and hair style that can only be described as "Beetlejuice"-esque.
Time, stress and life itself have had their naughty way with my appearance. My running addiction is great for my legs, but my crows feet have deepened without the extra layer of fat to cushion them.
While I can't remember the last time a patient asked if I was "really old enough" to be a doctor, I also haven't had anyone question my abilities in an equally long time. At 40, I am enjoying the comfort of my own skin. My patients confidence and my colleagues respect are far more important to me than a few fine lines. I look socially acceptable most of the time (at least I hope so). I wouldn't consider trading the peace and maturity of age for a baby smooth face, but also still it's not nice to tell me I look like a tired old bag either.