The physician looked down at the patient in sadness.
Compressed lips, head shaking, a complete failure in his mind to understand why the patient did not just listen to him.
It was quite simple really. All that the patient had to do was tend the wound till it was fully healed. Change the bandages twice a day, clean it and apply the ointment that the physician himself had applied.
The physician had made it crystal clear that this is what was needed to prevent infection from entering the wound. He also stressed to the patient that if he noticed anything odd to come back. Even with the precautions in place, although less of a chance, there still was a chance of infection. The physician had other medication however. If the patient would have just listened.
As the physician looked on, the patient lay upon the gurney. Hair, slick with sweat, his head thrashing back and fourth in his fevered dreams. The ice packs the physician used, in an attempt to lower the patent's fever, lay over him, nearly melted. The smell of rotting flesh permeated the air.
The physician reflected back to the day the patient came to him. It was just a flesh wound really. The patient had explained that he was attempting to build a home for his family and had slipped with his axe. The axe had veered off from the piece of wood he was striking and hit him in the thigh. The wound was not life threatening, but it definitely had to be tended and the physician being as he was, tended free of charge.
The physician always tended free of charge, it was his nature. This did not mean he went without. His thankful patients would always take care of him. They would give him food or small gift's. It was enough to keep him content with his life. It was the mutual love and respect gained that was his wealth. He had no need for riches.
When this patient came to visit, even injured as he was, he was loud and full of bravado as young men are want to do. This did not stop the physician from treating the patient though. He had never turned down anyone who needed his services yet and he would not start turning them down now. He remembered vividly the day, just as he did every day, cleaning away the blood, cleaning and wrapping the wound, and the specific instructions given to the patient.
As the patient parted, limping away, the physician realized that this patient would be back. It was the patients arrogant attitude and outright disdain for the instructions given that caused the physician to believe this. He hoped he was wrong, but he was never wrong.
The physician was awoken from his reverie by the silence that was now in the room. The patient lay there, covered in sweat, yet it appeared that the fevered dreams had finally abated.
It was time the physician realized. He wished that there was another way but the patient had waited to long. There was no other way.
The physician stood from the stool which he was sitting on the whole time. He could not perform the procedure until the patients fever was broken. Now it was time to get to work.
Once again the physician compressed his lips and shook his head as he began to slide the sheets down the patient's body. Such a shame, he thought to himself. Such a strong young man. To bad he was so foolish.
The physician slid the sheets down past the festering wound on the patients leg. Discolored, gangrenous, and putrid, the physician had to steel himself from retching. How could this young fool let it go this long? Did this patient not realize that there was something wrong? Why did he not listen to my directions?
No matter. It was too late now to ask these questions. It was the patient who failed himself, he had everything he needed.
The physician used his gift to follow the course of the infection, back to the beginning day's.
The patient did not do as he was instructed. He only changed the bandages when he felt like it and even then only haphazardly cleaned out the wound. The healing ointment still lay nearly full in the patients home.
When the infection took hold, it did not appear to be too bad to the patient at first. Some swelling and some pain but nothing that the patient could not handle as full of bravado as he was.
The patient did not realize that as he was ignoring the infection, it was entering his bloodstream. He did not realize that it was this that was causing his fevers which ended up putting him in his bed. If he would have came to the physician then, all would have been different.
As he lay in his bed delirious, the wound continued to fester, becoming worse and worse. If it were not for the little creatures eating the dead flesh that his horrified family reported, he would have been dead already. They had returned from their trip just in time. Any later and they would have returned to a corpse.
He would not return to them the same, but the physician held hope that he would return.
The poison was inside the patient. It is this that would kill him. The treatment would have to consist of multiple layers. The first layers were already taken care of.
As soon as the physician received the patient and realized what was happening, he injected the patient with the most powerful antibiotics he had. He had to destroy the infection which was inside or any other treatment would be useless. This infection which has spread throughout his system had to be removed if there was any hope of recovery.
Many physicians did not realize this. They would have just hacked off the patients limb not realizing that it was the poison that was allowed inside of the body that was the real danger. These physicians never understood why the patient's would die when the offending part was removed.
As the physician waited for the antibiotic to take effect, he packed the patients body with ice water to bring down the fever. Now that the patient was stable, it was time to remove the limb.
The physician bowed his head, intent on his work. He held a twinge of sadness for the patient, yet he realized that he was doing what had to be done. If this patient was going to live then the gangrenous leg would have to go or it would just continue to poison the patient.
It was years later now. It took this long for the patient to forgive the physician for taking his leg. It took him these long years to understand just what the physician had done for him.
He made the trek to the physicians residence with intent born of understanding. He made this trek to give his thanks. His leg was built well, out of the strongest maple they could find. It had taken him time to learn to move comfortably with his prosthesis, now however it felt natural to him, it did not bother him, he was just happy to be alive.
As he came upon the old physicians house, he noticed the old timer sitting on his porch in a swing chair, rocking back and fourth, blowing ring's of smoke after each puff on his pipe. The patient stopped for a moment to observe the physician.
The man looked so content. Never had the patient seen someone who appeared to live in such peace, such acceptance. All around him emanated a beautiful power that made this land that he sat sacred. Here the physician sat, eyes closed, a half smile on his lip's, moving to a perfect rhythm that only he could hear. The patient was afraid to move forward, he did not want to break this peace that he felt emanating from this old man.
"Come forward my friend" the physician said, in a voice that was quite unlike anything the patient had ever heard. It was like the sounds of a stream, the howl of the wind, the crash of the waves at night. The patient realized that he was rocking in the same motion as the physician, peace flooding his spirit.
The patient moved forward, awe apparent in his eyes. This was the man who had given him a new life. This is the man he had come to thank.
"I nearly lost you my friend" the physician said in his deep voice. As he said this it was as if the woodland birds all sang at once in answer.
"Nay, it may have been close but you have saved me" the patient spoke.
"I have come to thank you oh great physician, you have given me a chance to live".
"You recognized that I had to be healed from within as well as from without, if it were not for this I would have not been able to come here to give you, thanks the patient finished.
"Ah, but that was the easy part my friend" said the physician.
"The hard part you were able to accomplish on your own. It took you many years to forgive yourself. You at first laid the blame at my feet for your predicament. Even though I had instructed you how to tend your wounds, you refused."
"You came to realize that it was your arrogance and stubbornness that brought about many of your pains. You realized that it was not I who was your enemy, it was not I that desired to hurt you, it was you through your own actions that were your enemy."
"Once you realized this, you were ashamed. I heard you cry for many a night about how sorry you were and it was I who would tuck you in and comfort your spirit to let you know that all was forgiven."
"What brought you back to me however, what makes me say I didn't lose you is this. You did not remain in your anger, nor did you wallow in your sorrow. You recognized where it was that the true problem's were and you allowed yourself to change.....You demanded of yourself to change."
"Not only that" they physician continued
"With these changes within yourself you have also strived to make a better world for others. This is the true gift, this is all the payment and thanks that I have a need for, you see."
"Just as I healed you from within and from without, you have allowed yourself to change by continuing to heal from within, and with this you are healing those without."
"You too my friend are a physician."
The patient stood there looking dumfounded for a moment as the physicians eyes twinkled. He looked at whom he was those many years ago compared to whom he was now and he was amazed at the difference.
The patient at that moment realized what the physician was saying.
Through his desire to change himself, to become a better person, he has been able to positively effect those he meets. Through his change for the better, in spite of his loss, he has helped people to realize that it is what's inside of him that gives him strength. Since losing his leg he did not become less of a man, in fact, because he was willing to change he became more of a man than he was before.
Others see this. They see the acceptance, the happiness, the contentedness in his eyes. They realize that he is just happy to be alive despite what he had gone through and this helps to give them strength within themselves.
The patient looked at the physician one last time and bowed his head. No more words were said as he turned around and made the beginning steps of his long trek home. As he was walking away from the wise old physician he carried a peace in his heart knowing that all was forgiven because he was willing to change.
Through the rest of his life he would strive his best to attain the wisdom that the old physician held. He would do great things yet he would always strive inside himself to reach the highest plateau overlooking the world in which the old physician resides.
The war to end all wars can only be fought on the front-lines of the mind.
The greatest deception they have perpetrated is that we need them. Our greatest mistake is that we believe them.