Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Me indispensable????

For the past couple of days I have been writing about some actual events in my life and my reactions to them. Even as I write I realize what an idiot it all makes me sound like. Fair enough for really that is what I was. With my 20:20 hind sight I can clearly see that now, but at the time, in the heat of the moment it all seemed to be the thing to do. I hope by sharing this others may look at their own situations when they are “in the heat of the moment” and really question themselves, is what I am doing really the best thing to do? What can seem like the necessary thing isn’t always the right thing. It is kind of embarrassing actually to admit this all to the world. It certainly doesn’t make me out to be the smartest guy in the world.

It is just I know there are others that take their dedication to the job to the extreme. Often I have heard things like: “it is a busy time at work, I just can’t be sick now. Or, “it wouldn’t be fair to my coworkers, if I am not there my duties fall onto them and they are all to busy already.” Another I have just been reminded of by Mel, “just get up and move, you will feel better.”

I am not sure, but I have begun to wonder, are we giving ourselves some sort of an ego boost? Maybe even subconsciously or something, why else would I seem to have the idea and this also may even just be on a subconscious level, that my contribution was so important. Would the entire bank actually collapse if I wasn’t there for a day?

I ask one question directly to anyone that may choose to read this. Have you ever had thoughts along these lines or heard others say something like this. If so give yourself or them a slap on the side of the head and say wise up. Your health is the most important thing you have to take care of.

In the year 2000 the bank ask me to go into Norway House to manage the branch there. I have many stories I can and will be sharing about what a really wonderful place it is. The only draw back to Norway House is that it is an extremely remote and isolated community. It is about an 8 hour drive to Winnipeg. The last 2 hours of that drive is straight into the bush on a gravel road.

It is a community of about 7,000 people, with only one financial institution to serve their financial needs. That one bank had only one person authorized to grant loans or deal with investments mutual funds etc. That was me. The closest other bank was about 3 hours away. We provided an important service to a lot of people. As the only lender available I felt even a greater responsibility to be at work every day.

In my mind I was responsible for representing the bank in a professional manner, having no one there to service those needs couldn’t be considered responsible. Many in the community even seemed to considered me to be the bank.

Heart conditions can be misleading. It is not like having a cut on your arm where you can see the injury and rationalize in your mind the need to care for it. This wound is internal and can be deceptive. You can’t see the damage and on good days can easily convince yourself you are alright.

I have a whole list of events I could rattle off showing how I put the bank and customers ahead of my health showing my continuing and increasing foolishness. Of my bouts with tachycardia, my heart rate going up to over 200 beats per minute. The doctor telling me to take a month off work to rest and avoid stress, and me returning to work after 4 days. Why, because that is where the bank needed me and that is where my customers needed me. The new medications or something had kicked in and I was feeling better. At that same time I was bombarded with phone calls at home from customers and bank staff all with issues and problems I couldn’t deal with being at home. For me that was even more stressful than it would have been actually being at work, so off I went. Now I wonder why didn’t I just unplug the phone, that thought never even entered my mind back then. I think this was the occasion when Vi actually went behind my back and phoned my boss, Ken. After she explained the circumstances, I quickly received a phone call and was sent home. Why was it suddenly more acceptable to me having my boss tell me to go, than just going myself. It was like the yolk of responsibility was lifted from my shoulders. Can anyone else relate to that feeling?

Hey even other more obvious issues didn’t stop me. In that same time period I broke my right wrist, there is a really bizarre story behind that one, that I will share one day. Doctors reset the break not realizing at the time, a part of the bone was shattered not just a clean break. I missed no time at all for that but trying to type left handed only certainly did slow me down and lengthened the days. It caused a lot of constant pain. Cast was supposed to be on for 6 weeks but I finally went to the doctor after about 4 because of the constant pain and it not getting any better. A new xray revealed the shattered bone with little jagged pieces sticking out which explained the pain. I was quickly scheduled for surgery in Winnipeg, which involved chiseling out the shattered bone part and implanting a piece of bone taken from my hip. I thought my wrist had been painful but that was nothing like the pain with the hip. I would have to check my old journal but I think that kept me home for 3 days. That next week or so was agony with the hip. When I got into work and my butt plopped into my chair there was no way I would be moving.

But, hey I did what I had to do. I KEPT THE BANK RUNNING. I was indispensable or so I thought, I am pretty sure the whole banking system as we know it would have collapsed without my efforts. LOL, that is really a big laugh out loud.

Through out this all chest pains began to increase as did trips to the hospital ER and so did my time off work. In this time a new development began to show itself. I started having falls. I had no memory of the fall itself, just suddenly I found myself on the floor. It got to the point, I used to joke, I am going to have to try and time my falls differently. I always landed on something hard or even worse hard and disgusting, The most disgusting was suddenly finding myself face down on the floor of a not so clean public wash room. I am not sure but is joking about things and just laughing them off a coping mechanism, I don’t know? Several times with these falls I sustained some sort of minor injury, not enough to stop me, but did slow me down. Beyond the fall itself, I suppose the most potentially dangerous one was a fall I took on the way to work. We lived only a short distance from the bank and I usually walked. It was one of those “Manitoba winter days” temperature was around -40. I suddenly found myself flat on my back in a ditch. Now I couldn’t have been down very long as when I regained my senses I was cold but not freezing cold. I wiped the snow off my pants and carried on to where I was “needed”.

Now, I may sound like it but I really am not a complete idiot. The doctors having no clear diagnosis or what was causing all my issues, thought it was likely side effects of the various medications I was on, possibly the side effects of different medications interacting with each other. Some where in there I developed edema (retaining fluid) and water pills were added to the mix. Just carry on as best you can and your body will adjust. It is important to understand here that I have nothing but very good things to say about the quality of the medical care I was receiving. My health issues were just more complicated than anyone realized at the time.

The main complication was discovered almost accidentally. In one of my heart related trips to the ER, it was feared I may have had a stroke. I was sent by air ambulance to here in Winnipeg and after numerous tests including a C-scan there was good news and bad news. The good news I had not had a stroke, the bad news they discovered a brain tumor. I was subsequently diagnosed with epilepsy trigger by the tumor.

Strange as it may sound it was almost a relief to learn of the tumor, it explained so much. Tumor is in the right frontal lobe in an area of the brain that affect things such as JUDGEMENT and impulsivity.

I have been poking away at this post for 3 days now. I thought I would finish my sage of my last days with the bank and subsequent events but I realize I am rambling and still have more to say.

I can only hope that anyone that may read this will take a look at their own lives. See if there is any similarity and if so change. The end result of all of this is, the bank did not collapse but my health did. What more can be said than that. No one is indispensable at work no matter what the circumstances. Stress is a killer, putting anything before your health is a killer. Please look very seriously at your own lives.

Surprising to me is how just writing this is stirring up so much emotion within me. In the next day or so I will write about the really scary and stressful time.

12 Responses to Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Me indispensable????

  1. Lorri says:

    We hate to admit it to ourselves, but nobody is indispensable. We usually will collapse before the organization we work for will. They will immediately find someone else to cover for us until they hire or promote someone. We feel some sort of allegiance to a company that often feels no responsibility towards its employees.

    The heart is a misleading organ, and the internal processes involved in keeping it functioning are not usually apparent on our exterior. Tachycardia, angina, swelling of muscle, left ventricle heart disease, etc. can’t be seen from the outside. But, the internal damage can be irreversible, combined with stress.

    I hope this nicely written post of yours will help others…I am sure it will.

  2. Lori says:

    Bill I come to your site each day to see what you have writen and how you and your family are doing. Bill you are not an idiot not at! Almost everyone I know have or are doing just what you did work work work work and everything will be ok, as you say get up get going and everything will be fine. I am so happy you are saying what needs to be said “The Job can wait your Health Can’t” . People always say we need the money. But what good is money if you don’t have health money can’t buy back your health, people today feel they need alot more than they actually need! Need and want are two different things. A person needs a warm place to sleep, a person needs clothing, a person needs food. Everything else is not need it is want and today people are to greedy with their wants rather than just thinking of their needs as well as the needs of others around them. Thank you so much for allowing others to learn from your writings! Thank you! I enjoy you writings every day sometimes they make me cry sometimes they just make me think. I pray for you and your family every day. You and Vi are both very special people.

  3. ceeque says:

    am 100% with lorri here….my thoughts on this supposed “work-ethic” we mostly seemed to share is diabolical and wrong..in my last years at my work I actually sent people home myself if they were ill at whatever “cost” to the business…I really do want this so-called “ethic” to be done with…..and yet after berating it thus, the opposite of it is not good either!! I really don`t care to say what the answer to it could be but know that too much harm is done to people who work thru` pain and suffering…..tough one!!! πŸ™‚

  4. V- says:

    Again you have me in tears. “The bank did not collapse, my health did” I’m sure that has to stike a chord in so many, as it did me. I truly believe you are saving lives with your posts Bill. You are shinning example of the earth angels you talk so much about. Your posts are very well thought out and deep in meaning- I don’t feel that you are rambling at all.

  5. Mel says:


    Ego? Dunno, Bill. Perhaps a heightened sense of responsibility to the people I work with, the families and kiddos we serve.

    Ya know, there’s a bit of that tossed in there.
    I ‘pride’ myself in being responsible.
    I ran a chunk of my life refusing any responsibility to others, any responsibility for my own actions, and any responsibility for decisions I made.
    Credibility is a huge deal to me.
    I like being credible, trustworthy, reliable, etc, etc…
    Pride. Some of that is a good thing.
    But on the reverse side of that is ALWAYS ‘fear’, for me.
    Fear of becoming that which I was, maybe?
    I’ve been irresponsible and selfish and not worthy of anyone’s trust. Frankly, it sucked and I’d prefer not to put myself there again.

    I know there’s a ‘happy medium’.
    ‘Balance’. Oy….I suck at ‘balance’ and ‘moderation’

    Yep, pride and ego-obviously they’re both at play for me.

    And laughing at physical signs that all isn’t right with Mel….uh huh…..
    Funny how that works for me.
    It’s like joking about tripping before you get poked fun at for being a klutz.
    I get a sense of being in charge of that instead of being a ‘victim’ of it.
    ANYTHING but being victimy and weak and gakky……(please understand I’m talking about me and not making a judgement upon others)
    Oy, I’m such a control freak sometimes….

    I do have a sense of ‘pride’ in how I handled years of chemotherapy, surgeries, brain tumor, masectomy……and kept doing what was in front of me day after day after day.
    I also know a huge part of ‘showing up’ was what kept me moving forward instead of sitting and spinning and giving up.

    I’m not my job.
    I’m not the sum total of what I ‘do’ for a living.
    But long hours, heightened sense of responsibility, dedication to the lives of the people I’m privileged to work with……Yep. That’s in play for me, today.
    I’m not so egocentric that I don’t recognize that I’m dispensible.
    Dunno that I’m compromising my health today. TODAY would be the operative word.

    I DO know if I’m not listening to the messengers in my life I’m being just plain dumb.

    (SEE! I didn’t shoot the messenger! LOL)
    Obviously, I have some thinking and some praying and some inventorying of my own stuff that I need to do.

  6. saija says:

    i’m glad you shared that … there are many out there who might see themselves …

    blessings on you this day! and i hope that you still enjoy some measure of health – so that you can taste the sweetness of the life you share with familiy and friends!

  7. Jo Hart says:

    Keep going Bill, there is a message there for us all.

  8. Bill, Sometimes it is so horrible what people have to go through. I remember herniating my disks at work, and then continuing to work for 4 months after that. I had to crawl to the kitchen table and pull myself up and walk around the table for an hour before I could go to the bathroom. I was in so much pain I wanted to die. And I have a high tolerance for pain. When they did the MRI they found out I had 7 disks that were deterioting besides the 3 herniated ones. I live in pain daily. But you know I learned to trust God even more through this time in my life. I do not think you sound like a fool at all. You are opening yourself and sharing your life. That is brave. ~ Nita~

  9. babychaos says:

    If it’s any consolation, I always look back at the way I have been… oooh, often as little as 5 years ago and I think, “Wow! What a spanner I was!” Interestingly enough, in 5 years time, I know I will be looking back at the way I am today and thinking exactly the same thing.

    What I’m saying is that as you grow, being a little ambiguous about your earlier incarnations is probably part of being human! So on one hand you feel a bit “I wish I was as sensible then as I am now.” On the other, at least it means you’re developing and growing as a person.

    So, you’re not an idiot, you’re just honest. And you know, I reckon everyone wants to feel indispensable, useful, needed… it’s part of the human condition. Also, don’t forget, a lot of the time you WERE needed, useful and if not indispensable to the Bank, then to some of the people who used it…

    Then there’s another important fact, ergo, that you undoubtedly are useful, indispensable to and needed by the people in your life who love you. That’s how come all those angels keep cutting your grass! πŸ˜‰



  10. Ha! I read this as I started day 4 of working sick. Not real sick, but not real well either. Why? There is nobody here that can do what I do. I always wonder what would happen if I suddenly dropped dead tonight. Who would keep all the balls in the air? How long before the bones of this operation started to weaken – 1 week, 2? Never? Do I like being indispensible? Oh yeah – ego boost. Smart? Probably not terribly.

    This made me think.

  11. OH Bill, I hope that there aren’t too many people left willing to risk their heatlth for their sork…I admire you though for being one of them.

  12. Janice says:

    Hi Bill. Your blog is bringing back a lot of memories here. Not everyone could see the beauty of living in a remote community like Norway House. Those left doing the banking after you left heard many comments on what a great job you did, AND how concerned your customers were for you. Having worked with you in Thompson and then ‘after’ you in Norway House, I saw the big difference in workload you had to carry.

    While working for the bank I recall taking a seminar about stress and there was a phrase that has always stuck in my mind. We wear our stress like a badge of honor. We all love to say how busy we are and how tough the obstacles are in our way. It validates us somehow.

    I left the bank before Bill did, (except for a short return to help out in Cross Lake and Norway House), largely because the stress was affecting my health and home life. In the end I decided no job was worth so much. Part of my decision was probably due to being close to Bill and seeing how work was affecting his health, and the health of other collegues I had worked with.

    We miss you up here in the North!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: