Assalamualikum! Yes I’m still alive:) I apologize for not posting in the past few months, third year has been brutal with exams and clinic alhamdulillah, but the worst ( I hope!) is over for now… 6 more weeks and I’ll have taken my final academic exam! Thank you to all those who continued to visit my blog, I’ll post regularly from now on inshaAllah and will respond to the comments ASAP:)
Those who spend [in Allah’s Cause – deeds of charity, alms, etc.] in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers). -Surah Al-Imran, aya 134
Anger is an emotion that all of us have experienced at one time or another. Whether it was for a simple reason, such as missing the exit on the turnpike, or a more complex issue, such as being unfairly denied one of your rights, we have all been disappointed and upset. However, how we deal with our heightened emotions during these moments is what defines us. Its easy to simply curse or break a vase and walk away, but it takes a strong person to control themselves during difficult moments.
I always assumed that controlling your anger was simple; just hold your tongue and wait for it all to blow off, no big deal. Like most issues in our lives, its easier said than done. I had a first hand experience with this a few months ago when I first started my clinical rotations. It was my second day in the wound care module, and frankly speaking, I had no idea what I was doing. When the secretary announced that a chart was up, I ran to the desk to take the patient, excited to show off my skills and newly acquired (yet limited) medical knowledge. It only took a few minutes after introducing myself and beginning the initial patient history that I realized that this patient was not what one would call a walk in the park. In reply to my standard protocol question, “so what brings you here today, sir?”, I received a grumbled reply, “my feet of course!”. I patiently asked what was wrong with his feet and received again another muttered reply, “ulcers”.
We continued in this vein for a while, with either monosyllable answers or an angry glare, and occasional mutterings of that no one has ever asked him these questions before. He rolled his eyes and sighed when I measured his blood pressure, pursed his lips when I asked him how often he changed the dressings on his ulcers, and was frequently questioned by him as to what I was doing and ordered to change my gloves every few minutes. I bore all this with an impassive face and tried to keep my expression neutral as I received these ridiculous orders and was ordered to confirm what I was doing with the attending physician for every step I took. During one of my trips down the hallway a fourth year glanced at the chart in my hand and groaned, “That’s the patient from hell”. Ouch. I had already figured that out quite a while ago. When I finally gathered the supplies to clean the patient’s wounds and dress the ulcers, I returned to the room and proceeded to open the sterile dressing pack. Just as I began to remove the dressing, the patient screamed, “You’ve contaminated it!”, and in my shock I dropped it in the garbage. This elicited another round of shouting from the patient along with an order to retrieve the attending physician, who walked in and questioned what occurred. Within in a few minutes he began to shout at me as well. Apparently the dressing pack that I threw away costs $50 apiece and is hard get by. Whoops.
During this entirely embarrassing and humiliating episode, I honestly felt as though I wished the ground to swallow me. I almost snapped at the patient and wanted to walk away while the physician berated me, but I plastered a smile on my face and apologized to both the physician and patient and acknowledged my mistake without arguing. Little did I know that the attending was watching my face for any emotions or negative expressions.
After I wrote up the patient’s home instructions and sent him on his merry way, I prepared to enter the lion’s den, also known as meeting with the attending to discuss the case. I entered the office and began to apologize again, but the attending waved his hand and told me that he was also at fault for not informing me that this particular dressing was expensive and required a special technique when applying it to the wounds. With a lift of his eyebrow he also said, “and you did well in there”. If I had gotten angry and allowed my emotions to get the better of me, then I probably would not have received that bit of praise. Instead, I would have had a prolonged negative experience and may have jeopardized my clinical grade. A two hour experience taught me a lifetime lesson. Although I received the scolding that my mother never gave me, at least I learned that I am able to hold myself back when angry and in a difficult situation.