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When Life Stops But Your Business Doesn't: A Voiceover Artist's Journey

“We’ll do everything we can.”

Rachel holding her husband's hand in the hospital
Rachel and her husband, Jeremy, holding hands

That was not the news I was expecting to hear. My husband had been in the hospital for four days already and while things were initially looking up, he had taken a turn for the worse that night and I was called into the hospital around 11:30 pm. The nurses thought he might be in intensive care before the night was through so I rushed in to find a circus of activity in his room.

Jeremy was admitted to the hospital with severe abdominal pain and vomiting and was almost immediately diagnosed with pancreatitis, thanks to a blood test. A few days later, we knew it was acute, idiopathic and necrotizing pancreatitis. Let me break it down for you: 

Acute = it’s a one-time thing

Idiopathic = they never found a cause for it (often, they never do)

Necrotizing = part of his pancreas had died

By day four, Jeremy developed a lot of scary and severe complications while in the hospital: he was on the maximum amount of oxygen, had a suction tube put through his nose and down to his stomach and wasn’t eating or drinking at all- only having fluids through an IV. He was on the cusp of being put into a medically induced coma in the ICU and that’s when the nurses called me to come in overnight. Then, when I asked two doctors, on two different occasions if he would be okay, told me, “We’ll do everything we can.” It was then that I realized just how dire his situation was and I wasn’t sure if he would ever be coming home again. If you’ve ever been in a similar situation, you know that to face mortality like that is surreal and terrifying. It definitely puts life into perspective.

I slept at the hospital for the next two nights, while family members took care of our children. After that, I did everything I could to be at the hospital as much as possible without sleeping there: be there to talk to the doctors during morning rounds, go back home to work, nap, get the kids off the school bus and go back into the hospital once more child-care arrived. I felt like I was in a nightmare and floating through each day, just going through the motions. I was running on adrenaline and fumes all at the same time, all the while trying to keep up with my voice over business, update clients on timelines and deadlines and record when I could.

You can let life interrupt for a little while but the longer you pause, the longer you don’t have any money coming in and that was also starting to worry me. And, the longer Jeremy’s hospital stay lasted, the more I started to realize this wasn’t going to be something he simply snapped back from. So I needed to continue with business as best as I could.

My clients and agent were all very understanding. I told them it would take me longer to reply and I had limited availability to record their projects. I did the bare minimum of work in between hospital visits and was thankful for the flexibility. My only focus was on the work that came in; forget hustling to look for new work, as is part of my daily routine. I would work in the early morning, between twice-daily hospital visits or late at night. All the while shuffling the kids around to school, grandparents’ and neighbours’ houses for care.

After two weeks, Jeremy was starting to get better. His complications were improving; he was off oxygen and his suction tube was taken out of his nose. He was starting physiotherapy to get walking again but was very weak and had lost a lot of weight and muscle. But his improvement meant I only needed to be at the hospital once a day and I could focus on work a little more (or sleep, finally!).

After almost a month, Jeremy was feeling better and was discharged to come home. He had almost no energy and daily tasks like making a sandwich and walking up the stairs were monumental for him. For the next while, I was his caretaker at home and tried to work but seemed to do even less than while he was in the hospital. It was all I could do to get up each day, get the kids off to school, care for my husband, do some work and then crash and nap every chance I could. I was exhausted and felt like my nervous system was still turned up to ten. So, I took care of him, took care of the kids, took care of myself and my business was largely ignored. I don’t know if it was a slow month for business or the universe giving me a break, but I needed it!

It’s been five months since he was discharged from the hospital and Jeremy is doing well! He’s regained a lot of his energy and stamina but is still on a strict diet and hasn’t yet regained all of his strength. He’s back to work full-time and so am I.

I’m so grateful to be my own boss and have my own flexible schedule that allows for life’s interruptions. The corporate world may not have been so forgiving if I needed to take so much time off and/or work at odd hours. Through this, I’ve realized that asking and accepting help at times is vital. So many of us are willing to help others but find it difficult to accept the same kind of help, for fear of being a burden. I’m so indebted to those who helped me with child care, meal trains and food and grocery gift cards so that I could be with my husband and continue working. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the village that stepped up for us!

I don’t offer any advice, only my, perhaps relatable, situation that sometimes life stops but your freelance business doesn’t and that having the flexibility yet responsibility of working for yourself can be equally daunting yet freeing.



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