Poker face 

Poker face 

I watch a great many of my colleagues operate, some junior and some senior and some around the same as me. One of my great leaders tells me that my biggest problem in life is my inability to control my face. I can keep my mouth shut but the contents of my head are visible in my expression. Handily I wear a mask in theatre but it’s in the eyes and eyebrows apparently. Somehow people can see “oh my god that is horrible” and “seriously, you’ve made another enterotomy” just from the eyes. 

Why this is my problem I don’t know, it has served me well in my personal life and on the odd occasions when it has led to be being caught out telling a lie, that was for the best in the end too. 

One of my bosses just now encourages me  not to talk at all when I am operating, we do mostly laparoscopic surgery together. This person wants me to not utter a word other than to the scrub nurse or to my assistant to pull harder or clean the camera. This is very difficult, my constant chatter and explaining to everyone what is happening  is a longstanding habit. 

This person thinks that I/we should know that it is now time to move to the next part of the operation, by careful following of the case. This gets on my nerves immensely and when I used to assist, rather than operate under the supervision of this individual, I would frequently fall asleep holding the camera as it was so very quiet, boring and  hot beside the Bair Hugger. 

In terms of surgical philosophy this person and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum, the annoying thing for me is that I have to pretend I agree with all they say and do as that is what a registrar does. 

I’m a fake, everybody else in theatre knows I’m a fake and that this silent operating is not me. When I am alone there is talking, music, teaching, communicating. I’m not even quiet when I’m sleeping and frequently wake myself up talking loudly. If it gets hard or I can’t concentrate I am a big enough girl to establish silence in theatre. 

This boss insists I persevere with this odd, almost religious silence, we have music on very briefly sometimes but it has to be quiet and goes off at the first sign of difficulty. 

I wonder what the scrub nurses make of it all. In a few weeks I will be free to sing along to the music and enjoy my job the way I want to, all the time, not just when I have my own lists or am being left alone. I am so tired of doing everything somebody  else’s way and nodding like an idiot with things I completely disagree with when everyone can see I am a fake.

“Yes I totally agree”.