My wife Angela and our children were deep in slumber when I arose before dawn and walked down to the lake behind our vacation cabin at Lake Mohawk. I began pulling weeds, one of my favorite ways to unwind — quiet and simple compared to my job as a cardiologist. This was just what I needed, a two-week getaway from the stress of 14-hour days, seeing 45-60 patients, with few breaks in-between.
Unfortunately, on the drive down the night before, a disagreement had started our vacation off on a bad note. My mind was running in overdrive as I thought about things that I may have forgotten to do before I left the hospital. My wife interrupted my thoughts. “You know Terry,” she said, “We really need a new vacuum cleaner.”
The last thing I wanted to contemplate at that moment was a vacuum cleaner. Annoyed, I responded: “Angela, I don’t care what you spend. JUST GET ONE!”
I apologized for my outburst, but needless to say, the rest of the trip was a very quiet one.
I’d been down by the lake for several hours when I heard our car start and pull away. Angela, off to get groceries, without saying goodbye. Guess I’m still in the doghouse, I thought.
Several minutes later my daughter, Laila, bolted from the cabin. “Daddy come quick! Mom just called. She’s at the front gate. There’s a man dying and they need you!”
I hopped into Laila’s car and raced to the scene. Arriving there I found a man collapsed on the ground in a full cardiac arrest. I performed CPR until the ambulance arrived. Grabbing their defibrillator, I shocked his chest four times until a heartbeat returned. I rode with the ambulance crew to the nearest hospital. The man’s condition remained grave. But he was alive.
That night, the man’s wife called to thank me. Her husband would be okay. “When you ran up to the scene,” she said, “I just knew an angel had arrived. My family and I have been talking and we want to get you something to show our appreciation.”
“Helping save a life is the most invigorating gift one can receive,” I said. “You don’t need to give me anything.”
“We insist,” the woman replied. “I hope you won’t think it’s odd, but my husband and I work for Hoover — we want to give you a top-of-the-line vacuum cleaner.”