Yesterday was Muhammad Ali’s funeral.
Given that he was The Greatest, it seems only fair to dedicate my first blog post to him.
I know next to nothing about boxing.
I know that, if you are not very good at it, you break your ring and little finger metacarpals because you were not connecting to your opponents jaw (or the wall) with your index and middle finger knuckles, like a proper boxer. That would have never happened to Muhammad Ali. He was so mean, he made medicine sick.
Muhammad Ali’s probably most famous quote can be an inspiration for the work we do in the emergency department (ED).
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
Obviously, he was talking about his quick feet and powerful jab prior to his fight against up-and-coming George Foreman.
To me, it means to have the right approach to each patient in the ED.
A major trauma or sepsis patient needs immediate, aggressive and powerful treatment – sting like a bee.
An elderly patient with early dementia and a simple fall needs a thorough examination, but might benefit most from holding their hand for a few minutes while taking a history, and giving them a minute to talk about their life – float like a butterfly.
Whatever the best approach to the individual patient, we should do it wholeheartedly. After all, there is no point in floating like a bee and stinging like a butterfly.
In his own words:
‘I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times.
Who was humorous and who treated everyone right.
As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him. And who helped as many people as he could.
As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what. As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love.
And if all that’s too much then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people.
And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.’