Sunday, May 29, 2016

On the way to Smithfield, something unexpected happened.

This is a true story from my varied  life. I hope you enjoy reading it. – Werner
“I’ll be back for lunch in twenty minutes,”
were the parting words to my wife, Karola, as I drove off in my utility to the supermarket, 5 kilometres away, to check out a measurement for shelving at the Woolworths supermarket. While keeping my eyes on the road, my mind was preoccupied with all the work I had planned for the afternoon. What awaited me further up the road, or that I would be more than an hour late for lunch was something I could not have anticipated.

On the straight stretch of the road, on the outskirts of Yorkeys Knob,
I could see four cars in the distance in front of me. Their brake lights were lighting up, one after the other, for a short time, but they kept driving on, and I wondered if there were some obstacles on the road. I soon discovered the reason for their braking. Beside the road a car with a trailer was parked, and the owner, a man stooped over, giving the appearance of being intoxicated, waved his hand frantically, beckoning them to stop, but they ignored him.

An article from Readers Digest, which I had read the night before, sprang immediately to my mind. The article gave an accurate account of a heart attack, the symptoms, and their manifestation. As I pulled up beside him, he opened the door and in a slurred, but anxious pitch in his voice, said to me, “Please call an ambulance!”

I immediately suspected a heart attack and recognized the gravity of the situation.
To drive home, to the nearby petrol station or the nearest farmhouse, was out of the question as I figured too much time would be lost, as this man needed urgent medical attention, so I said to him, “I do one better, I’ll take you direct to the doctor’s surgery at the Smithfield Shopping Centre, please hop in.” I made sure his car was locked and that he had the keys and his wallet with him. “What is your name?” I asked him, as I drove off. “John Brewers,” he answered in a faintly hoarse voice and slumped against me on the seat. Further along the road I found out that he lived at Holloways Beach, the adjacent beach village, east of Yorkeys Knob.

I had to steer with one hand, using the other one to shake him constantly and pleading with him not to die on me. He managed to sit upright again, but in a somewhat stooped position. However, he kept slumping against me on and off. When I arrived at the busy T intersection (No roundabout then) of the Captain Cook Highway and Yorkeys Knob Road, and only 2 Kilometres from the doctor’s surgery, the traffic on the highway was extremely heavy. It seemed an eternity before I finally could cross into it and at the same time constantly shaking John and talking to him. I thought that if I get him to the surgery alive, I would be really happy.

I drove behind the shopping complex, which was the shortest way to the doctor’s surgery.
(This was the shopping centre before the new development.) I helped John out of my Ute and put him prostrate on the footpath, then raced inside. On my way, I ran past Ann-Marie Whelan, a customer of mine, whose kitchen I had recently installed, but still had some work to finish there. I called out to her, “Sorry I can’t talk to you, I’m in a hurry.” This, of course, is something unusual for me, not to talk to people I run into, especially a customer.

Breathlessly, I said to the girl behind the reception desk at the surgery: “Please send a doctor out to the back. I left a man there, who I suspect has suffered a heart attack!” Two doctors overheard me, one ran out to where John was, while another got an injection ready for the heart attack suspect, and the office girl called an ambulance. I handed in John’s wallet and his car keys to the office girl for the next of kin to pick up. I let out a sigh of relief, for me, this had been a very strenuous and stressful 5 km drive.

I was just about to go into Woolworths, when I saw the ambulance arrive, so I walked to the back to see if John was still alive. He was, but only just. One of the doctors had injected a drug to stimulate his heart, but the patient’s face looked deathly pale. They put him onto a stretcher and then into the ambulance.

They were just about ready to drive away to take John to the Cairns Base Hospital.
One ambulance officer jumped behind the steering wheel, while the other officer was about to close the tailgate of the ambulance when, all of a sudden, John had muscle spasm in his arms and legs. He clenched his fists, pulling up his arms and legs. This was followed by a big sigh, and he went limp. “Let’s give him shock treatment”, one ambulance officer called out to the other officer with great urgency in his voice.

With every electric shock John’s body jolted upwards, the fourth electric shock brought him back from the brink of death. He started to struggle violently and ripped off the oxygen mask; a doctor jumped into the ambulance to administer an injection, but was unable to, because the other officer wasn’t able to hold him still. Eventually, with one officer holding the head, the other his arms, one doctor and me holding on to one leg each, the other doctor kneeled on John’s chest and finally managed to give him a Valium injection, which calmed him down. The ambulance finally drove off and was on the way to the Cairns Base Hospital with its sirens wailing.

I could now finally go to Woolworths and do what I came here for in the first place.
On my way home, I thought the first thing I had to do was to ring John’s wife or family, who by now would have been wondering what had happened to him. After all, he had only gone to the Yorkeys Knob rubbish dump to dispose a trailer-load of rubbish and was only six kilometres from home. I was browsing through the phone book, but could not find a Brewers at Holloways Beach, but then I thought the surgery would call the family, they had the wallet which would contain his drivers’ licence and other personal details. The reason I couldn’t find a Brewers in Holloways Beach, I found out later, was because the name was spelled Brouwers. John was of Dutch descent.

I couldn’t get John out of my mind, I wondered if the ambulance got him to the hospital alive. After some considerable time, it got the better of me. I couldn’t resist my desire to know whether John had arrived at the hospital alive, any longer. I had to ring the ambulance service. “Yes he made it and he is now in good care in the intensive care ward”, said the man on the phone. This was all I wanted to know for the moment, and now, I was able to relax.

Karola and I drove to the hospital in the evening and headed straight to the intensive care ward. A sister stopped us at the door. “You can’t go in, unless you are next of kin to a patient,” we were told. “Well”, I said, “I just wanted to find out how John “Brewers” was, the man brought in by ambulance around midday. I am the person who picked him up at the side of the road and took him to the doctor’s at Smithfield.”

“Oh, we heard about that, and wondered who it was. John is doing fine,” she continued. “Come on and have a quick look.” And she led us to the doorway. John’s bed was next to the door. He was propped up with pillows and was sleeping peacefully, a heavily sedated sleep, but his face had a much healthier colour than when I saw him in the ambulance. We left after a short while, but I experienced a wonderful feeling of satisfaction. It is hard to put it into words how I felt. Perhaps I could try. I was intoxicated with blissful elation at having saved the life of a fellow human. It was an assignment I hadn’t anticipated. This was an experience I’ll never forget.

Four days after I took John Brouwers to the surgery, I returned to Ann Marie Whelan to complete her job. I apologised for running past her in the supermarket foyer without taking time to have a chat with her. I told her about the man who suffered a heart attack on the road and that I was in a hurry to get help for him from a doctor.

“Oh, that was you!” she said. “They have been looking for you for the last four days.” “Who is looking for me?” I asked perplexedly. She handed me the newspaper and pointed to the personal column. In a small space was a request. It read, “Would the person, who picked up the man beside a yellow Suzuki car with trailer on Yorkeys Knob Road and took him to the doctor’s surgery, please ring this number.” I was astounded.

When I arrived home, I rang that number and a man answered.
I told him who I was and why I’d rung. The man was a long-time friend of the Brouwers. He wanted to know what had actually happened, so I gave him an accurate account of what had transpired between the spot where I picked up John, and the Smithfield surgery. After a lengthy conversation, he thanked me profusely for saving John’s life.

We kept ringing the hospital daily to find out about John’s progress. When I was told that he was out of the intensive ward and was able to receive visitors, we visited him one evening. There, we met John’s wife, Pon, who is of Dutch Indonesian descent. John, of course, had only a very vague recollection of what had happened and he was extremely interested to hear the whole story from me. When we left, Pon followed us to the corridor and, with tears welling in her eyes, she gave me a hug and a kiss and thanked me profusely for saving her husband’s life. She went on to tell us that in a fortnight’s time they would celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, to which we would be invited. “If it hadn’t been for you,” she concluded, “this milestone celebration would have been denied to us.”

When John and Pon made a trip to Holland and Indonesia the following year, they sent us a postcard from both countries, and one sentence read, “Thank you again, if it hadn’t been for Werner, John would not have been on this trip.”

John was sixty-six years old when he suffered the heart attack.
He had never had any heart trouble before or been seriously sick. In 2001, we were in Brisbane on our yearly visit to our daughter and family. As always, when in Brisbane, I buy our local newspaper, The
Cairns Post, to keep me up to date on what is happening in our local area. Sadly, one day, we saw in the funeral notices that John Brouwers had passed away. But, beside the sad news, I felt somewhat elated. After all, I had given John eleven extra years of life. Being in Brisbane, we were disappointed not to be able to attend his funeral service.
My thought for today.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ― Aesop


Marilyn said...

Oh Werner you are a wonderful man, God bless you for what you did for John and for the many other people you help through your website, your knowledge and your love.

Lily said...

What a wonderful story Werner, I totally agree with Marilyn, you are a wonderful man everything you post is interesting and we learn from it. Thank Werner for all you do, keep up your good work.

Peter said...

Good story, Werner

Kirsty said...

This is a wonderful and heart-warming story, Werner. I can just feel have wonderful and elated you must have felt saving John’s life. Yet the other people drove past and ignored him. What a wonderful deed you have done and how interesting it was that reading an article in Readers Digest, helped you to recognise what was wrong with him. Just amazing!

Ute said...

Hi, Werner, what a wonderful story! So good you were on your way to Smithfield that day, but you did not drive on, but stopped like the Good Samaritan… wish all of us would act like this! Thanks also for all your insights and medical attentions you are sending through your emails! Love and hugs to you: Have a relaxing Sunday.

Jennifer said...

I absolutely enjoyed reading your story, Werner, and you told it superbly. It really made my day. There is nothing more I can add to what had already has been written in the comments – and I agree with them totally. You acted in a very altruistic manner. Yes, you are a wonderful man.

Dulcie. said...

That is such a lovely story, Werner. That man was so lucky that you were around. It is a wonder that no other person stopped for him, and it is a sorry state of affairs that people are too frightened to help others these days.

Barbara said...

Hello Werner, what a heart-warming story. John Brouwers was so very lucky to have a 'guardian angel' (you) stop by the roadside to assist him by transporting him to the nearest medical centre. I have no doubt in my mind that had you also elected not to stop like the other motorists before you, then John most certainly would have died on the roadside. You've certainly earned a few heavenly credits with this deed.
Kind regards,

Joan said...

Hi Werner, You were meant to be there, do you believe in Angels, I do. Sadly in our society today, people are only too ready to assume that a person signalling for help or lying on the ground is drunk. Good on you mate!

Dymity said...

Hi Werner,
What a wonderful story. This shows what a very kind and thoughtful man you are.Best wishes Dymity

Megan said...

An incredible story Opa! Love Megan

Irene and Gavin said...

Congratulations Werner. You not only took the trouble to stop but you knew what to do and did it. Life gets to fast paced that some people won’t stop for anything.

Donna said...

Werner, What a lovely story, you must have a lifetime of writing to do…. Keep up the good work
Kind regards,

June and Bob said...

I absolutely enjoyed reading your wonderful story; you have done a wonderful act that four other people refused to do. God bless you. I totally agree with all the other comments, so I can’t add anything, they spoke for me too. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Julie, from USA said...

Hi Werner, Wow! I've been so lucky with my husband, when he's had his two attacks that they were not nearly so urgent. And I was easily able to drive him the 10 miles to a hospital both times. Eleven years for that man was a great gift from you to him and his family.