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Stay Focused, Stay Balanced, Stay Healthy: Part One

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This is a post by Gary Bonner, a regular contributor on Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

I came up with “no one ever laid on their death bed and wished they had spent more time at the office” out of personal experience. After putting in a marathon 21 days straight of 12-14 grueling hours at my desk, my health broke. I was in a meeting with 2 people who both questioned me “are you alright?” Not wanting to take a break I said I was okay. They both gave me skeptical looks and even asked again. Reassuring them I was okay we finished the meeting. That night I didn’t sleep very well and woke up exhausted.

The next morning I got to work early and worked on my “to do” list. A “floor meeting” was called where people stand around aisles of cubicles because you can’t get everyone into one room to listen to a manager speak. I felt a sharp sting down my left side. I waved off my manager and walked down three flights of stairs to the parking garage and drove five miles in freeway traffic to my doctor’s office.

The receptionist took one look at me, crinkled her forehead and said “You need to see the doctor right now don’t you Gary” … I nodded and walked past a waiting room of patients who had appointments. The nurse took my blood pressure and left the room. The doctor came in and took my blood pressure again. I had been a patient of his for a few years. He is a great doctor and we have a very warm friendship.

He said, “Hang on, I need to make a phone call.”

I was feeling pretty woozy and after a few moments the door opened. The doctor unfolded a wheelchair and said “Come on and sit down, I’m going to take you over to the Emergency Room and get some tests done”.

I looked at him and asked, “Why the chair?”

He replied, “It’s okay, I do this a few times a month for patients. And besides, they have the equipment over there that I need to run the tests”.

I sat down, he wheeled me through his bulging room of patients with appointments and pushed me to the elevator and went down to street level. The Emergency Room was about four city blocks from the doctor’s building in a large medical complex covering acres of ground. Visualize a slightly built man about 5′ 7″ and 165 pounds pushing a 5′ 10″ guy weighing about 215 pounds down an open street that distance. If it hadn’t been serious, the image would have been laughable.

It was about 10:30 in the morning when we entered the Emergency Room. It was absolutely quiet, as if everyone was on a coffee break. The doctor said “Mr. Bonner needs to have some tests run.” The whole Emergency Room staff jumped like bunch of scared cats. They put me into an emergency bay where I laid on a gurney after stripping off my clothes and donning a hospital gown. Then, they brought in every conceivable instrument of modern science like the machines were coming off an assembly line.

Four registered nurses (RN) and a doctor started sticking needles in me, setting up an I-V drip and strapping on monitoring equipment. I craned my head around and saw the blood pressure reading: 233 over 130. Not good. Normal is 120 over 70. They pumped me full of drugs and even put an external heart rhythm equalizer on my chest. It emits electronic impulses directly to my heart. I couldn’t figure out why they were using it since the monitor showed I was in sinus rhythm but the RN said it was for “precaution”. Then they left me alone to let the drugs do their work.

I stared up at the ceiling and muttered “Well Lord, is this it?”

There is an old saying there is a “sting” at death. Although I didn’t feel that big a sting, I definitely was stung really hard.

The nurses checked on me every 15 minutes. At one point I asked one, “Where are we in the process here?”.

She answered, “We are about halfway between determining if we can release you or if we will admit you overnight for observation.” At roughly 3 pm, five hours after the doctor had wheeled me into the Emergency Room, I was released to go home. A friend picked me up and the doctor signed me out on disability for a month. I didn’t have a heart attack or a stroke, but I came as close as one can without sliding over the edge.

This is only part one of this poignant saga, continue to part two.

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2 Responses to “Stay Focused, Stay Balanced, Stay Healthy: Part One”

  1. Wow…pretty scary. I would love to hear more about your overall health when this happened. I’m 26 years old and a total workaholic (writing this at 5:30am from my office), but I absolutely love my work. I also work out every day and eat more healthy every day, so I’m hoping that the fact that I work a lot of hours doesn’t destroy my health.

  2. Matt Simmons says:

    Gary,

    That’s a very scary story. I’m a sysadmin, and work in sort of a crucible situation as well, so I can definitely identify with your story. I honestly can’t believe that the company you worked for would take that stance with you, after what you went through, and all of it for them. Unbelievable.

    I wanted you to know that I wrote a short blog entry today, and featured links to your story, so that other people will see that they’re not alone in suffering like this. Employers who take advantage of workers who are willing to “go the extra yard” and “be a team player” at the expense of their own health shouldn’t get a free ride.

    Here’s my blog entry:
    http://standalone-sysadmin.blogspot.com/2008/08/burnout-and-toll-it-takes.html

    Thanks for sharing this. I know that it’s going to hit close to the mark on a lot of people, and I wanted you to know that I appreciate what you went through.

    –Matt Simmons


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