Interview #16: Angus, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, 41 years old

A friend of mine who is studying dentistry put me in touch with Angus. He is originally from Glasgow, Scotland, but has been in NZ since 1994. He gives me a great first impression and seems like a really happy, funny character. He obviously loves his job and has been practicing since 2002…he spent 10 years as a full-time student, something he comments could be a form of escapism for some people. He thinks back and ponders if it was for him. Maybe for a little while, until he became sure of what he was trying to achieve. He finished his masters in surgery in 2002 and became a surgeon in 2005. “I found breaking away from a pathway was more difficult than following one.”

Escapism to Angus means being able to switch off from work and not be contactable. In his job he get patients calling him at all hours of the day and night, and it is hard for him to sometimes get a rest from it. When I asked him what form of escapism has he indulged in lately, he answers “I bought a Porsche for fun.” He is really in to his cars and now wants to learn to ride a motorbike…well he has actually bought one, but is not telling his wife just yet as he has also just bought a new little puppy that the wife wasn’t to impressed with. And when he broached the subject with her that he wanted to take lessons, it sort of went down like a lead balloon. So the bike is at a mates place in the time being…in the mean time Angus can day-dream about riding it.

We get in to a conversation about his work. He essentially has 2 jobs. His bread and butter work is the dentistry. The other is the maxillofacial surgery – he basically fixes broken faces. He fixes about 400 to 500 a year. This includes anything from car-crash victims, interpersonal violence, broken jaws and oral cancer patients.

I ask him what are some or one of the most horrific things he has seen in his time of being a surgeon. He tells me of a story of a 15-year-old boy whose father has a gang background. The boy and a mate were playing around with his fathers sawed off shot-gun. Not realising the gun was loaded, it went off while the barrel was pointing at the boys face (from his nose upwards). He shot off the top part of his face and survived. You can just imagine what state of mind someone like Angus needs to put themself in during situations like this. The horrific sight is not something everyone can cope with. Another story was a recent patient, who is a 15 years old girl this time. Her teeth were in such a bad state that he had to extract all of her teeth and prepare her for dentures. When she came back for a post-opp check up her mouth was like a sewer, she had not looked after herself after the operation and she sat in his practice with her mother laughing about the situation. I asked why and surely she would know better, Angus tells me she has a very poor background and has not been taught any better.

On his off time Angus likes to escape in to a book, “it’s the easiest thing to do without physically having to go somewhere, ” he says. However, if he was to go somewhere, his ultimate holiday destination would be a Greek Island, not too hot, quiet and the most important thing to do all day would be to eat lunch.

My impression of Angus is that he is pleasant, mellow, easy-going and funny. He describes himself as often loud and cheerful. He is an interesting person with an interesting career.

About Karley Burgs

Artist - Painter, Sculptor Lover of Taxidermy Girl Friday
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1 Response to Interview #16: Angus, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, 41 years old

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