10.10.10 EKGs, pistachios, robots, the most amazing wedding and the importance of contingency plans

Full coverage of Erin & Jeffrey's amazing 10.10.10 wedding at the Griffin Photography Museum in Winchester, MA will start tomorrow and I can't wait to share the amazing details, the family and wedding party pictures at the historic Sanborn house, the beautiful wedding ceremony and all the fun of the wedding reception....

I want those blog posts to be purely about the wonderful wedding so today I'll fill you in on some of the behind-the scenes stuff that was happening as it's too crazy not to share...but feel free to skip this post and come back tomorrow ;)

Last week I was in the UK and Sweden and I'm usually a pro when it comes to beating jet lag. I was feeling out-of-sorts, barely sleeping, short of breath, like my heart was beating really fast and there was this sort of heavy feeling in my chest.

Full disclaimer: I do have some hypochondriac tendencies. A pain in my leg whilst flying? I start imagining a DVT - you get the idea.

As we landed back in Logan airport on Saturday I had convinced myself that I was at imminent risk of a heart attack, I was panicking at the thought of collapsing in the middle of Erin & Jeffrey's wedding on Sunday (see what I mean about the hypochondriac tendencies...) so Paul pulled off the highway to make a stop at Lawrence General Hospital.

The whole ER team were just lovely, they said I was absolutely right to be concerned and in no time at all ran a full set of blood work and an EKG:

And I'm as healthy as a horse - my EKG was perfect, cardiac enzymes great, electrolytes A-OK. Paul had patiently sat with me, got me tissues when I cried as they drew blood (did I mention my needle phobia?) and he laughingly shook his head as they discharged me saying "Well, I'm glad you're not dying of a heart attack too."

One of the questions that you should ask your wedding photographer is what would happen if they get so sick they can't shoot your wedding. Although I don't keep another photographer on call 24 hours a day, I have a number of contingency plans involving great photographer friends and contacts through photographers guilds and forums that would have rallied to cover for me in the absolute worst case.

But once I knew everything was OK I felt SO much better, I slept for 11 hours and woke up raring to go for my Sunday wedding.

I'll start at the beginning of the wedding tomorrow - all of the getting ready pictures and the stunning details tomorrow but just to prove I was firing on all cylinders here's just a couple of preview pictures that caught my eye as I've been downloading:

So Sunday was going swimmingly, I had been looking forward to Erin & Jeffrey's wedding for the longest time - I mean robot themed centerpieces? Hello!?

Around 8:15pm I sat down with the wonderful Julia Snider who was assisting/second shooting for me to grab a quick bite of dinner before the cake cutting. The food was DELICIOUS thanks to Green Olive Catering. I'd finished the tasty stuffed chicken and enjoyed a few forks of cous cous when I noticed a weird tingling feeling in my lips and tongue...

About twelve years ago I ate my first pistachio nut and noticed a sort of scratchy feeling in my throat so have always erred on the side of caution and avoided pistachios. About six years ago my allergy suspicions were confirmed when I ate a chocolate that contained pistachio and noticed the same kind of thing. Now luckily pistachios are pretty obvious in food - they're bright green and tend to be scattered on top as a feature so it's been easy to avoid them.

Had I been paying more attention on Sunday I probably should have read the menu:

Or actually looked at what I was eating. Silly Leah.

The above picture was taken by Julia who was an absolute superstar on Sunday. As soon as I'd confirmed with the chef that there were pistachios in the food, Julia hopped in my car returning in minutes with Benadryl from CVS. I took just one as I didn't want to get drowsy and off we went to shoot the toasts, cake cutting and parent dances (they'll follow later in the week).

Around 9:30pm Julia was scheduled to finish, she was planning on jumping on the train back to Cambridge, MA. It was around that time that I started having some trouble swallowing so took another Benadryl and Julia refused to leave.

I really can't say how amazing Julia was when she agreed to stay until I also finished and we came up with another contingency plan. If I held up both hands at her, it meant I was in serious trouble and she was to call 911 and explain about the pistachios. I explained where my extra memory cards were so she would stay to shoot last hour of dancing and then drive my car home. It's all in the planning :)

Luckily we didn't need to activate the contingency plan but as I drove back home around 11:30pm after dropping Julia home, it was getting harder to swallow and I could barely talk. I called my primary care doctor to ask if I should just take another Benadryl and go to sleep or if my airways would close over as I slept causing me to die in my sleep (hypochondriac alert again!), and he advised me to go straight to the ER.

So embarrassingly I was back in the ER just 24 hours after being discharged for the first time. Steroids and anti-histamines calmed all of the swelling and inflammation down and I now have epipens on hand, a prescription for 5 more days of steroids and an appointment scheduled with an allergist:

I won't be eating pistachio nuts again you'll be relieved to hear. I've been advised that the steroids might make me somewhat "wired" so I plan on some speedy editing so I can share with you the beautiful pictures of the wedding. And that's it for today. How was your weekend?


  1. I am immensely grateful that I was there. Not so much to keep shooting, but more-so as a witness should anyone question the validity of the story. It's all true, folks...and Leah never broke down once or stopped shooting for a second. The bride & groom had no idea...well...until NOW!

  2. One thing I can guarantee - no nuts at my wedding! Well, not counting the GUESTS...

    I've had a sensitivity to nuts for years, so I avoid them whenever possible, and the Miller/Martin and Holtzman families are pretty good about keeping most of the food nut-free. :)

    Glad to hear that you're alright, and that there's no permanent damage.

  3. Glad your feeling better!! Definitely stay away from those pesky pistachios from now on! great shots even when your not feeling well...that's even more impressive!

  4. Oh my goodness, Leah, sounds like you had an eventful weekend. Very glad you are okay! I promise, we won't have pistachios at our wedding. Can't wait to see more of the wedding photos from Erin and Jeffery's wedding.

  5. @Julia You were a lifesaver - literally. I think it was only my weird speech that might have given me away as we said the goodbyes :)

    @Kathleen I think it's just pistachio nuts although will be confirming it soon. But I have my epipen all ready to go now!

    @Tracy Thanks! I was actually feeling pretty great all day! Just a tiny bit concerned that I might stop breathing. But I knew all I'd have to do would be to give the signal to Julia who would get me an ambulance and continue shooting the wedding.

    @Meg No need to change your wedding food!!! I also need to start paying more attention to menus and just checking with the chef BEFORE eating :)

  6. Oh my gosh!!!! What a crazy story! So glad you are feeling better! Nut allergies are so scary to me, I sympathize with anyone who has to deal with them! I'm so glad you had no problem with the food at our wedding. Indian food can be tough they often grind up nuts and put it into the sauces. Usually more cashews or almonds than pistachios though. I'm mildly allergic to almonds, which make my tongue tingle and lips swell. But nothing more serious than that!

    You are such a trooper! Glad you are feeling better! Love that you never stopped shooting, even got a shot of the EKG! You are so funny!

  7. @Neeta - thanks! Be careful with the almonds. I first had a little lip tingle with the pistachios, then a slightly tight throat and then Sunday. The doctor in the ER told me that the reaction can get worse with each exposure. And almond oil is often used in food I think. Looking forward to next week!

  8. Ditto from me on the insanity of nut allergies (Jude is deathly allergic). So glad you have Epi's and an appointment with an allergist. Lots of good wishes for continued good health!