Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit
Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated
Articles by Dr. Friedman (except where noted otherwise)
The True Cost of Healing a Wound
© 2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
you think education is expensive, try ignorance."
"He who has a why to live can bear
with almost any how."
The exercise of our apparent choice is rare on this planet, yet ever available to everyone. It's generally taken-rarely given. Here's an uncommon exception when choice was offered. It's a slice out of my life-literally. Here is a true healing encounter:
At the wise old age of 11 what did I know about the true cost of anything, with the possible exceptions of Abbazabas, root beer popsicles and monthly subscriptions to The Citizen News (now defunct!)? I was hand-delivering these mercifully thin newspapers in Beverly Hills, California when choice, in unpleasant disguise, found me.
In overcast drizzle I steered my heavily laden Schwinn bicycle onto the street. Without warning, my tires skidded on gravel. Before I knew it, I was up close and real personal with the pavement. Embarrassed and hurting, I quickly recovered and picked up my bicycle. Luckily, no one had seen me fall. Although my hands were scratched, my pants were torn and right knee was badly skinned. Some of the gravel from the street seemed to be in it! When I made it home in the dark after completing my paper route, my knee was burning badly.
Upon taking one look at me, my mother said, "What happened Billy?"
I shrugged my shoulders and replied, "Oh, I fell, but it isn't anything."
"Let me be the judge of that," she fired back at me. "Show me."
Reluctantly, I bared my skinned knee for examination. She took one long look and exclaimed, "We're going to the doctor right now!"
Somehow she made an appointment over the phone and within an hour I was faced with a large, kindly doctor with soft, gigantic hands. As he began to examine me, I saw him reach for a shiny metal instrument.
I immediately protested, "Now, wait a minute. You're not gonna stick that into me. No way!", and I meant it.
Impatiently my mother ordered, "Be quiet and let the doctor do what he needs to do for God's sake!"
In a surprise move, the soft-spoken doctor told her he needed to talk with me in private and to kindly wait in the corridor for a moment. My mother really didn't like this one bit. This was in the days when medical doctors were given respect just shy of that given to God. So she reluctantly left us.
The doctor, pulling up his round, black swivel seat, the type on rollers, faced me and suggested, "Let's talk a moment, Billy."
I said, "Fine."
"Billy," he began, "maybe it would be of some interest to you if I explain what will happen if we don't get that lodged gravel out of your knee."
"Sure," I mumbled none too confidently.
"First, the wound and knee will get much redder and irritated with some painful, aching soreness," he said and paused.
He continued, "Next, it will probably
begin to throb and get even more tender to
"If not medically handled, the wound will become infected and start oozing pus, your body's natural process of fighting the infection," and he once again paused. At this stage I remember neither liking his pausing, nor the direction this conversation was going.
He carried on, "If still untreated, then the wound will get much more inflamed with great throbbing, burning and pain, which will spread to nearby tissues," and again stopped.
Looking deeply into my eyes, he continued, "Then, if still unchecked, the tissue around the wound will start to take on an ashen black color, indicating that it is dying. . . However, if we catch it soon enough, we may only need to cut here," and he pointed just above my knee. "And, if not, then here," and pointed half way up my thigh.
"WHAT?!" I squealed, like a pig being caught and lead to slaughter. He said, "Sure, that's the beginning of gangrene, and we would need to save the organismthat is youfrom this infection and dying tissue, or ALL OF YOU WILL DIE."
I was quiet, ghostly quiet, quieter than I could ever remember being in my entire life. He let me just sit there with this news, thoroughly soaking up this reality.
Now came the real clincher. Letting me know by his demeanor that he was serious, yet with a hint of a wry smile on his lips, he continued, "Now, here's what we're going to do:
"First, we're going to open up that wound and dig out all the gravel and dirt. This will sting and hurt, but it's necessary.
"Second, we'll clean out the wound thoroughly with antiseptic and be sure nothing else was damaged. This will burn and hurt too.
"Third, I'll use a sterilized needle and thread, put in about five stitches and seal off the wound. This won't tickle either.
"Next, I'll put some ointment on it with clean gauze that must be changed daily. I'll examine the healing wound every so often. In several weeks, I'll pull out the stitches. That isn't all that pleasant either. After all this, it will leave a small scar. Thereafter, most likely, you'll be able to walk, run, and do all the normal activities you did before."
He paused for what seemed like an eternity, and then asked, "Can I begin now?"
I looked at him, then down at my right knee and my entire right leg, then back at him. I swallowed deeply, then softly and bravely muttered, "Yes."
Inviting my mother back, he proceeded with all the steps he had outlined, doing what was necessary to do. My right knee and leg did heal, yet I never forgot one detail of what had occurred that day. As is often the case, the fear and anticipation were worse than the pain itself.
I imagine that it was common practice then as well as now to call in several nurses to hold a resistant patient down while the doctor took care of the necessary business at hand. Of course, this would have been only further traumatization on top of what trauma I had already experienced.
I think about this incident as if it were only yesterday. I am still astounded by how the doctor didn't pull any punches in being kindly honest about the painful steps in healing. I'm further amazed by the depth of respect and consideration, time and choice this good doctor had generously bestowed upon me, a total stranger to him.
If coincidence is but a miracle where God chooses to stay anonymous, then this encounter qualified for it was here that I was blessed to gain these lessons. Certainly the true cost of healing today is always a bargain when compared with the astronomical cost tomorrow!
Who shares with us the true cost of anything, until we're way down the road of finding it out for ourselves? Almost no one. This true story illustrates how very powerful it is to really understand the true costs of everything. Since the true costs are rarely offered, it behooves us to question, brainstorm, investigate, evaluate and repeat this process again and again until the costs, including the hidden and unintended ones, are ferreted out into the light of day. This sequence of events helps us know more alternatives and the consequences of each for us to make ever-wiser choices.
© Copyright 2013 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
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