Since I graduated from medical school, I have traded in my given name for the title- doctor. Practically no one calls me by my given name anymore. The litany of pet names and nicknames I grew up with, have all gone to roost. Sometimes even my parents and siblings call me doctor or perhaps even more “affectionately”, its evil cousin- doc. It has pretty much become standard procedure for everyone else.
Fresh off the podium, it felt nice, exhilarating even, but 3 years down the line, I can honestly say I detest it. I understand that categorization is the way that we as a species understand the world around us, but this is suffocating to say the least.
For most people, I am the doctor, the person whom they come to when they have a cut or a fever or pain or something bothering them. I am little else. It takes no energy to refer to me by that role which I fulfill in their lives. It’s understandable, it’s not that I blame them too much either.
It is just that, in addition to your doctor, I am someone’s child, brother, friend, confidant, colleague, acquaintance. I am so much more than those hands that clean the cut and bandage it shut, much more than the ear that listens with the knowing smile. I am much more than the quick-thinking mind that scribbles remedies onto a piece of paper for your sick child, so much more than the tired eyes that wink back at them when they are all better and have returned for their checkup.
I am also frail and ignorant, lonely and difficult, petty and sentimental, crazy and preposterous. I am not pristine, calm and calculating, shrouded in the white of my ward coat all the time.I am human too, normal, I dare say, some of the time, maybe all of the time.
And by God, I have a name. A name my parents called me when they looked upon the crying face of their newborn infant.
I have a name! I feel like screaming this simple fact all day, so that somehow people can remember.
Regardless of what it looks like, I have a name. A name that I have not heard in a long time. A name I would love to hear more often. To remind myself that I am not useless outside the four walls of a hospital. To remind myself that even though it doesn’t look or feel like it, I am still human. Still normal.
Is it too much to ask to be called by my name, any name in fact, but doctor?