Home + Work: CEO turned caretaker

Photo courtesy Unsplash

In mid-April, the day after Whitney and I did a photo shoot together in Seattle, my husband woke up in a hotel room in Wenatchee experiencing numbness and tingling in his limbs. He was over the mountains with our older son, who was trying out for a competitive hockey team.

By Sunday when they got home, he was almost entirely paralyzed in his left leg. It’s almost crazy now to think about how the week before, we were walking around Disneyland with our kids for spring break. So much can change in a week. In a day, really. 

When he and Hank got home from Wenatchee, I saw how my husband could barely walk and I took him to the ER. He spent 10 hours getting many blood tests, MRIs and a spinal tap. They didn’t have any answers and told us we could go home and follow up outpatient in a few days at a specialist clinic. We had to fight back many times and said, “Absolutely not.” Finally, the hospital agreed to admit him. 

The medical team took my husband via ambulance to Swedish Cherry Hill. He stayed on the neurology floor for a week. 

After what felt like hundreds of tests with no definitive answers, he’s being treated for Guillain-Barré syndrome. He did five rounds of IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, the standard treatment for people with antibody deficiencies that replaces antibodies that a person should be making) treatments in the hospital. 

The tests for GBS, though, have all come back negative. 

My husband and I are both entrepreneurs, and we are seeing the highest positives (my ability to be by his side and work remotely) and the hardest challenges (his business involves manual labor, which is now at risk). I’m working to bridge the gap in the event of a slowdown for his business. 

It’s been about a month and we are now running from appointment to appointment (we’ve had as many as 14 appointments in one week!) every day. We’re juggling new meds, new doctors, my learning his physical therapy treatments so I can replicate them at home, and we still won’t be back to normal for a while yet. 

But we are hopeful. My husband is still here. We are together, our kids are OK, and our businesses are still solvent. 

Through this whole confusing and frustrating ordeal, though, I keep coming back to how grateful I am for what I’ve built at She’s A Given. I’m grateful for my team, my clients, my community, and our family and friends who have shown up for us in expected and unexpected ways. I never thought I’d be excited about a meal train, but here we are. 

Hug your people for me today and remember how many local businesses and business owners are around you here. I don’t know if I could be the caregiver my husband needs right now if I didn’t have a business in this area. Special shout-out to Rehab Without Walls, Hearth Retailer Support Services (Ned, Rico, and Abby specifically), and our Seattle Junior Hockey Association (SJHA) family. You probably didn’t realize what a difference you’ve been making in my super-long and stressful days. 

And if you’re reading this and have any experience or insights you can share while I try to run my business and an exceedingly complex life, I am all ears. 

— By Emilie Given

Whitney and Emilie

Emilie Given is a virtual assistant agency owner in Lynnwood and Whitney Popa is a writer and communications consultant in Edmonds. They write this column together to share work-from-home ideas. They love where they live and are grateful the virtual world allows them to achieve more work/life harmony. They also co-host a weekly podcast where they share their entrepreneurship journeys while learning about those of others. You can learn more about Emilie here and more about Whitney here.



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