Ego Tripping

I had a patient this week who was just straight up mean to me. This is a not an unusual occurrence in the ED, as you might imagine. We take care of agitated patients all the time, whether it’s because of substance abuse, an adverse effect of a medication, a mental health disorder, an undiagnosed disease or anything else. I’ve gotten pretty good at what we call “verbal de-escalation” (talking the agitated patient down), and also at recognizing when somebody may need medications to help them relax so that I can properly evaluate and treat them.  I usually try really hard when I have verbally or physically abusive patients to remind myself that everybody came from somewhere and has a unique story. I try not to take their attacks personally, and strive to provide them with compassionate care even when they’re making it hard for me to remain empathetic.

All that said, I am still a human being and sometimes things get under my skin. I couldn’t help but feel hurt when this particular patient started calling me names- ugly things that I won’t give energy to on this blog. Some people just have a way of knowing what buttons to push, and this man definitely had my number.  My hurt feelings took over and did that thing that hurt feelings sometimes do- turned into anger and resentment.  I felt resentful that I had tried to help him when all he was doing was screaming at me and calling me slurs. I felt angry that I couldn’t cuss back at him. And, eventually, I felt disappointed in myself for letting his words get to me.

Luckily, the Universe didn’t skip a beat that day. I had promised one of my best friends from medical school that I would go to an event after work called Soul Spot. Soul Spot is  a space she created where people share poetry, music, or whatever they want in order to enrich our souls (yes, both she and I are hippies). Soul Spot is an awesome event but I was so tired by the end of my shift that I almost didn’t go. Something told me though, that I should woman up and overcome my exhaustion. Before I knew it I was sitting cross-legged on my friend’s mom’s living room floor being handed a basket of quotes to pick from. And right on top, beaming up at me, was a paper with the poem Ego Tripping by Nikki Giovanni printed out on it. This poem was EXACTLY what I needed after that patient interaction. I started reading it to myself before I shared with the group, and tears welled up in my eyes because I knew that I had been delivered this poem at this moment for a reason. Ego Tripping served that night as a response to my patient’s vitriol, a confirmation that I’m a badass, and a cosmic reminder that somebody is looking out for me. I brought that piece of paper to work the next day and I just let it sit by my computer, still giving me powerful energy, still healing my hurt so that I could heal others.  Here’s the poem in its entirety, I hope it brings out your inner badass too 😉

Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains
created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat’s meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can’t catch me

For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother’s day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended
except by my permission

I mean . . . I . . . can fly
like a bird in the sky . . .

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