Pizza Night, Interrupted

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It has become a custom in our family to enjoy a homemade pizza every Friday for supper. Our neighborhood has a small Farmers Market Friday afternoons. I like to walk down to stock up on produce for the week, including tomatoes for our pizza. I even have a pushcart just like both my grandmothers used to have in New York when I was a kid.

This particular Friday was unusual in many ways. We had spent the previous eight days in San Diego Hospice ICC, saying a long good-bye to Larry’s mother. Although my mother-in-law was very elderly, it was a stressful and sad time for us and for her grandchildren. As my husband always says when death robs us of a loved one, “We are never ready”.

So Friday began with Larry making some necessary phone calls while I plunged into piles of laundry and household chores. Midday, I suggested lunch at a quiet Greek restaurant, very pleasant. Larry, out of character, complained of being tired. We both thought it was pretty normal, under the circumstances, for both of us to feel fatigued. After a brief nap, Larry went off for his usual tennis match. For some reason, I decided to skip the market and made a quick trip to the grocery store instead.

When Larry returned from tennis, we chatted briefly before he announced he wanted to lie down before taking a shower – peculiar, I thought. As I was signing a thank-you note to Hospice, I heard a loud crash and one of our cats ran out of our bedroom. I flew into the bedroom and found Larry collapsed on the floor. His face was ashen, he appeared mildly disoriented and sleepy. Although he weakly protested, I promptly dialed 911. As I described his condition to the dispatcher, I knew my husband was having a heart attack. My anxiety grew to a state of absolute terror. I shut the cats into Larry’s den, gathered his medicines and listened to the sirens as the paramedics and firefighters approached the house, within three minutes of my emergency call.

Suddenly, our small bedroom was filled with eight men and women who intervened and became part of a life-saving team. My fears increased as I heard one of the paramedics cry out, “Stay with me, Larry!” I had less than two minutes to free the cats, close up the house and jump in the ambulance. As we sped past the Farmers Market towards the ER, I remember thinking, “What if I had walked to the market after Larry’s tennis?”

Once at the ER, I was separated from Larry and two cardiac teams began to work on him. He looked dead. A nurse was assigned to deal with me, “…the nervous wife”. Thankfully, my stepson and his wife arrived and gave tremendous support.

Larry was whisked up to the cardiac catheter center, his blood pressure dangerously low. Quickly stabilized, two stents opened the clogged artery, forty-two minutes from having entered the ER.

Two days in the ICU were followed by another in the step-down unit, and, quite suddenly, Larry was discharged. It was Tuesday rush hour as we made the brief trip home from the hospital. We walked into the house, looked at one another and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day”.

And then I made a pizza.

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35 Responses to Pizza Night, Interrupted

  1. Sunchowder February 26, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    Beautifully written my friend and terrifying for you–this post really touched me. I am so pleased to hear the happy ending and thank God you did not walk to the market, it was all meant to be that you were there at his side. My heart is with both of you for rapid healing and perfect health. Love, Wendy

  2. Cathy February 26, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    Dear Liz, I’m so relieved you are both at home and well. Take good care and hug eachother, ok? xox

    • lizthechef February 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

      I remembered how you wrote about dear Dylan and thought it would help me to write too – it did.

  3. Chez Suzanne February 26, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    Dear Liz, Thank you so much for sharing so beautifully what has been such a terrifying and emotionally exhausting experience. For both of you. Larry is so lucky to have you in his life – and you are so lucky to still have him in yours. You are both often in my thoughts and prayers! XOXO Susan

  4. Barbara (drbabs) February 27, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    Dear Liz,
    I’m so happy that you were there and you knew what was happening. And I’m glad Larry is on the mend–take care of yourselves–you’ve both been through a lot. Big hugs!
    XOXO Barbara

    • lizthechef February 27, 2011 at 1:44 am #

      Thanks, sweet Barbara! We are definitely on the mend. The post helped me and Larry is his usual calm self.

  5. Jayne February 27, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Liz, such a beautiful post! I hope that this is now all behind you. Here’s to many, many more Pizza Fridays!
    Ps Such a nice picture!! Lots of love Jayne xox

    • lizthechef February 27, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

      Thanks, Jayne – this is our favorite beach in Coronado, just across San Diego Bay.

  6. TasteFood February 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Dear Liz,
    I am so happy for you that this story has a sweet ending. What a difficult time for you nonetheless. And what luck you didn’t go to the market that day. I wish you and Larry many, many more pizza nights together! xo Lynda

    • lizthechef February 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

      Thanks, Lynda, this kind of wrote itself – guess I needed this “non-foodie” post!

  7. Elizabeth February 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Beautifully written and I feel priviledged that you shared it with us. To all the pizza nights in the future. Cheers.

    • lizthechef February 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

      I just sat down and out it came- thanks for all your support!

  8. Dianne Jacob February 27, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    A heartfelt post (hah! That’s a pun) is just what you needed to write. This one got a great response. Glad to have nudged you.

    • lizthechef February 28, 2011 at 12:09 am #

      Your comment is the highlight of my day – thank you! You have taught me so much and continue to do so.

  9. merry jennifer March 1, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    What an ordeal. I’ve been thinking about you, and I hope that you both are doing okay. *hugs*

    • lizthechef March 1, 2011 at 1:48 am #

      Thanks, dear Merry, there was another 2-day hospitalization for a quirk but check-up with cardiologist this morning went very well. X0 Liz

  10. Mary March 1, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    I originally discovered your recipes through Jenny’s column. And I skipped over to your blog from food52. What a beautiful and brave post. Wishing you and Larry the best.

    • lizthechef March 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

      Thanks and I hope you enjoy my blog!

  11. Toni March 2, 2011 at 4:03 am #

    Love the picture, it is so Larry and as I was eating pizza tonight thought of the two of you.

  12. Maria March 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    Liz, I’m so happy your husband, Larry is OK and that your sixth sense kicked in telling you not to go to the Farmers Market that day. What a Happy Valentines Day it was for the two of you! Thinking of you and hope the coming months will be smooth sailing!
    xoDaphne

    • lizthechef March 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

      Thanks for your good wishes and so nice to hear from you, Daphne!

  13. Bevi March 3, 2011 at 3:28 am #

    Your story moved me to comment. What a terrifying experience to go through for both you and Larry. It reminds me to enjoy each moment with loved ones. My own baby sister is suffering from ALS, and her will to live is waning steadily. Whether we know what the future holds, or we come upon it unexpectedly, the terror is overwhelming.

    I bet that pizza tasted mighty good, and made with extra special love.

    • lizthechef March 3, 2011 at 3:30 am #

      I sincerely hope that your sister and her loved ones such as yourself are receiving support from your local hospice. I am so sorry for your plight.

  14. Lana May 12, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    From your opening words I could sense the air of foreboding. My heart raced as your story unfolded. I am so happy that everything ended up well, even though I don’t know your husband, and spent mere minutes talking to you at Camp. But we are practically neighbors, and I’d love to get to know you better.

    • lizthechef May 12, 2011 at 1:52 am #

      Thank you, truly. Because I skipped the market, there was NO damage to Larry’s heart, but I still stand still when I hear the wail of a siren nearby. Me too, re meeting – will look now where you are. X0 Liz

  15. shayma May 12, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    Liz, tears are rolling down my face- those words, “Stay with me, Larry,” really made me cry. You are blessed to have him with you mashallah- (which means knock on wood, even if it may mean smthg else literally). may you have many more happy years together. a beautiful, heartfelt piece about your husband. love shayma

    • lizthechef May 12, 2011 at 1:56 am #

      Yes, and I realize now why I have been so stressed and cranky all week, wondering if Larry would make this birthday and remembering the 3 month anniversary today. You are too sweet. Really.

  16. Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator February 11, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Now that I know you both, this makes me cry. Soooooo glad you listened to your intuition, and that Larry is still here blessing the world with his lovely energy. XOXO

  17. Laura @ Family Spice February 12, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    I never did read this. Wow, Liz. Amazing that you sensed something was wrong and stayed close by. So thankful to have you in my life. xxooxx

    • Liz February 12, 2013 at 8:33 am #

      Hug your loved ones close – I so envy you your large and extended family – thanks for reading.

  18. Gerlinde@sunnycovechef February 15, 2014 at 7:45 am #

    I’m glad that you followed your intuition and shared your experience on this blog. It makes us all aware how fragile our life is. Wishing you and Larry a speedy recovery and many more pizza nights together.

    • Liz February 15, 2014 at 8:49 am #

      Many thanks – we shared a pizza last night, as usual.

  19. Lisa @ Whisk & Cleaver February 24, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    Oh, Liz – what a scary experience! I’m so impressed by how calm you were. It’s so smart to listen to your intuition! I’m so glad you still have your pizza nights together 🙂

    • Liz February 24, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

      Believe me, Lisa, I was far from calm…Thanks for taking the time to read this.

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