An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Matters of the heart

Starting at the beginning of last week Jon was experiencing a tightness in his chest, one that made it almost impossible to catch his breath. By Thursday his strained stutters while breathing started to really scare me, so I took him to our primary care physician where in the process of asking a few questions the doctor focused in on our recent trip to Mexico. Was he experiencing this then? How long was the flight? And I was all BOTFLY INFESTATION!! WOO! WOO!

Just joking, of course. I don’t think the larvae of a hairy fly living inside his skin would cause him this specific kind of pain, but the doctor was like, huh? What’s a botfly?

Um… didn’t you go to medical school, DOCTOR? I would hope that they have a whole semester dedicated to human botfly infestation, otherwise ask for your money back, dude! Cause I’m not going to recommend you to any of my friends who come back from a tropical locale with a fly that has burrowed inside their skull. DUH.

Confession: I have spent a little too much time on YouTube watching botfly infestation videos. It falls under that same fascination I have with watching pimples being popped or tumors being removed. I won’t post them here because they are not for the faint of heart, but I will link to my favorite ones, including this one where an ecologist has one in his hand THAT HE LETS GROW TO MATURITY. And when the larvae comes out of his hand he shrieks, “It’s a girl!”

(This is a good one. This one is, too.)

I told the doctor that he should watch these videos, at least, if he was okay with horrifically gory things that you can’t un-see. That’s when he turned to Jon and said, “For Valentine’s Day you should get her a book on dermatology with LOTS of pictures. It’ll be her favorite Valentine’s Day ever.”

Turns out he was worried that the flight might have caused a pulmonary embolism, basically a blood clot that dislodges from the leg and travels to the lung causing all sorts of problems. Except, after doing some blood tests and x-rays, all he could say was, “It’s not a pulmonary embolism. Yet.”


That is just the most comforting diagnosis ever, kind of like, you’re not going to die right now. Maybe.

He sent us on our way with the instructions to head to the ER if it got any worse, which it very much did the following morning. This time the pain was more localized in Jon’s right chest, and he felt like someone was squeezing his torso every time he took a breath. Since I didn’t want to wait around for a blood clot to reach his lung, I told Jon we should head to the hospital. He was like, are you sure? And I was like, am I sure? Dude, I love you. And I am not about to raise two kids alone, especially since that second one just took up head butting as a pastime.

(Seriously, I tell her, “Kid, don’t do it. It’s going to hurt you more than me.” And then she head butts me, feels the searing pain in her forehead and starts crying. Kids really are just the biggest idiots.)

We got a room at the ER rather quickly considering the horror stories you hear about people waiting two years to be seen by a doctor, although to tell you the truth I think we just beat the Friday afternoon drunk and clumsy crowd by about an hour.

After we told a nurse about his symptoms someone showed up immediately to perform an EKG. As he was applying the wires to Jon’s chest I asked the technician if this test would show whether or not Jon really loves me, but he didn’t understand what I was doing, That Thing We Do When Confronted With Scary Shit, which is joke around as much as possible to distract ourselves. Jon waved his hand and said, “Don’t pay attention to her or next thing you know she’s going to start telling really awful jokes about Viagra.”

Q: Why don’t they make Viagra for women?

A: They do, it’s called “having someone else unload the dishwasher without being asked to do so.”

See? I made that one up JUST NOW. Is it awful? Yes. BUT IT WOULD HAVE DISTRACTED ME.

I’m sorry, but my husband who was having chest pains was lying on a hospital bed connected via wires to some machine that was about to tell us whether or not his heart was about to perform a coup. I WAS ALLOWED AN AWFUL VIAGRA JOKE.

Just as I was about to tell the one about a Viagra walking into a bar, the technician told us everything looked good and that someone would be right in to draw blood. This is the part of the story where I had to exhibit the most self control because Jon hates having his blood drawn. Loathes it. Has been known to break down into fits reminiscent of scenes in a Charlotte Brontë novel.

And the kicker here: we were at the teaching hospital, so the really friendly blood taker who looked like he knew what he was doing had to stand over the woman who looked like she had been plucked right off of the street and told that she was about to draw blood from someone, had she ever done this before?

Not even kidding, she was looking at Jon’s arm (which had “awesome vasculars” according to the experienced blood taker), and I could tell that she was WAY more scared about what was about to happen than Jon was. Like, the look in her eyes was one of absolute terror. And her lip was curled into a snarl that suggested she did not like the sight of blood.

Do you have any idea how hard it was to hold my shit together? I mean, I had to hold in any and all laughter to show my support for my husband, even as she jabbed him three times without even getting the needle into his arm. Even as Jon’s body lurched inches off of the table every time she jabbed him, a lurch similar to the manner in which Kramer walks into a room.

Even when she stopped, exasperated, and said to Jon matter-of-factly, “You are scaring me.”

Really, lady? Because you are just writing my content for me.

Finally, after Jon started to lose the color in his face, the experienced blood drawer stepped in and took over, showing the student exactly how to get the needle through the skin. But then Jon looked down and saw a syringe hanging off of his arm, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that color of white before. In fact, I think Jon may have lost consciousness for a tiny moment, and then he started sweating like he does at the end of a workout. That’s when everyone in the room turned into a cheering squad and was all IT’S OKAY, HEY, YOU’RE ALL RIGHT, HANG IN THERE, DON’T PASS OUT, BUDDY.

And the whole time the student just stared at Jon as if he were crazy.

Tell me that you would have been able to keep a straight face. That’s what I thought.

After a sonogram showed his heart to be working perfectly and the results from a series of blood tests all came back with good news, I thought we’d be able to head home for the night. But Jon met a list of requirements that had the doctors wanting him to stay overnight for observation. That list being 1) man who is forty-five years old, 2) is experiencing chest pain, and 3) is just irresistibly adorable.

What? It’s Valentine’s Day. Cut me some slack.

It’s Valentine’s Day and my husband who spent the night at a hospital because of chest pain is okay. Perfectly okay, it seems, after several more rounds of blood tests and a cardiac stress test proved that none of The Scary Things were causing this pain. They couldn’t say exactly what it is, maybe inflammation, maybe something viral, but we know his lungs and heart are fine.

However, this scared the living shit out of me, and I don’t recommend going on this ride. Many thanks to those who sent words of concern, they really helped us get through this weekend.

  • Wombat Central

    So glad for the update and the accompanying good news. Will John be adding “Awesome Vasculars” to his resume?

    LOVE the new banner.

  • The Cotton Floozy

    Stress! I’m going to need a morphine drip just from reading this.

  • Mari

    omg, that botfly video was disturbing- and I’m not easily disturbed! Too bad I didn’t see it before I ate all that Valentine chocolate, it would have been a great diet aid!
    Glad Jon is feeling better : )

  • TBA

    See, I knew exactly what you meant, but when you said “blood drawer,” I still couldn’t help picturing a bureau-esque drawer full of blood!

    Glad Jon is OK 🙂

  • jonsbebe

    So glad everything is OK – I just wanted to echo the posts that mention gallbladder. My Dad had all the same stuff, it was his gallbladder. Had surgery…no more symptoms!

  • Panya

    I’m glad he’s okay. I’ve had two different things cause that — GERD and anxiety. Meds mostly fixed it. I still get that someone’s-sitting-on-my-chest feeling every once in a while, but it’s manageable.

  • jessalee

    My 34-year-old, healthy-except-for-his-diabeetus husband was taken via ambulance one night when he became glassy-eyed and was so wet from sweating it was pooling off of him and could have easily been wrung out of his shirt when he took it off. His blood sugars when I found him this way were 34. Dangerously low.

    While in the room, hooked up and still out-of-his-mind delirious from his diabeeeeetus, an administrative person came in and said, “Sir, I need you or your wife to sign this for us so we have permission to see you.” He replied quickly back, without missing a beat, “If I don’t sign it, will I become invisible?”

    I laughed so loud it drew a crowd.

    Then when another one came in to draw blood, she needed to take some of his blood, and he looked over at her lazily and said, “You can’t. I’m using it.”

    Whatever it takes to get through! So glad that Jon is okay and that he’s back home now. Happy VD. 😉

  • Nancy D.

    At halftime during a local NBA game, one of the players dropped to his knees and then just went flat out DOWN.

    Shades of Hank Gaithers….

    Trainers out with defibrillators at the ready… the whole nine yards.

    But then he got up and went to the locker room. Word was that he was having trouble breathing and wouldn’t be back for the second half. Um… YEA.

    The next day the full workup at the local university hospital.

    Heart? Fine. Lungs? Fine.

    Cartilage BETWEEN the ribs? Not so much. Seems he had some sort of inflammation of this rib cartilage that makes it insanely painful, and thus difficult, to breathe.

    Scared the whatsit right outta everyone, but ended up with a “meh… it’ll pass” diagnoses. It has some big ol’ doctory name to it. Not that I could remember what that would be.

    Glad it is something similar for Jon. My husband does the whole Pleurisy thing every few years. That’s fun. BIG honkin’ needle pulling fluid off the outside of the lungs. So… tell Jon to buck up… IT COULD HAVE BEEN THE BIG NEEDLE. 😉 He might’ve made that tech wee a bit with that one….

  • Schmutzie

    I am so glad to hear that Jon is alright! Phew.

  • dykewife

    umm…did anyone think of checking to see if his gall bladder had stones? my first gall bladder attack (yes, i felt like i was under siege) was intensely painful on the right side of my chest. i thought i was having a heart attack. if his heart rhythm is normal, that there was no abnormality in his ecg or in his blood tests, perhaps it wasn’t his heart but gall bladder.

    i hope he’s feeling better.

  • normanphil

    This is my favorite bot fly video:

    Also I use to get chest pains in my early twenties and when I went to the doctor they discovered it was high cholesterol. It is recurring if I don’t eat right and fail to get enough exercise.

  • pricklyrose

    Had to register to comment (which I should have done months.. err, years.. ago).

    My dad went in in 2003/2004 with pains similar to that, it sounds like. They did test after test, he was fine. They told him it was anxiety, even gave him some pills. Shocker. He gets the chest pains worse and worse, he goes back in and they do a dye test (angiogram). Bam, part of his heart is not getting blood. They take him in asap, put in a stent, he feels great.

    As he’s later told by his “heart doctor”, EKGs only diagnose 40ish% of the issues the heart can have. The other 60% are missed, and only dx’d through an angiogram usually.

    All of that said, my husband had a similar issue – went in a few times, being his grandfather died of a heart attack in his 30s! My husband was dx’d with anxiety, and yep, it was anxiety.

    To further this long reply of mine, I had severe pains in the middle just below my ribcage. It was worse than labor and then when the drugs wore off during my c-section. Gallbladder was the culprit.

  • Plano Mom

    Awesome story with a happy ending. And I make stupid jokes too.

    Ask John if he’s changed the height of his office chair recently. A very small change for me caused muscle spasm which felt like chest pains. I have a feeling he spends as much time as I do hunched over a computer.

  • staceypea

    Oh God, this was all going well until you got to the part about Charlotte Bronte, when somewhere deep within me, in a dark place where the ghost of an English major lives, a shrill little voice piped up. I don’t know what it said, but it had something to do with “Bronte fits” being associated more with Catherine from Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, at which point I whispered back to this voice something to the effect of “can it, harpie. I thought I’d have whiskeyed you into submission by now.”

    But it didn’t shut up, so I knocked it out the hard way. Don’t Worry.

    Happy Day-After-Valentine’s Day and glad all the hearts are still throbbing.

  • britonb

    Check out Guinea Worm disease as something totally gross, you’ll love it!

    Ideas of things to get checked out if Jon’s chest pains continue: My brother had a crazy virus once that caused heart problems. My mom was in and out of the hospital for years with heart scares but never had any heart attacks or anything and her heart is actually very healthy. It turns out she has heart fibrillations that cause weird things to happen, and has a bad thyroid.

    I hope he’s feeling better!

  • kristanhoffman

    I’m really glad that Jon is okay, but it kind of stinks that they have no idea what caused the pain. That would make me really uncomfortable… Well bottom line: he’s fine, and that’s what matters. Very happy that your Valentine’s Day, and your Valentine, turned out okay. 🙂

  • cecsupergirl

    Um . . . I think Jon was at the Playboy mansion. 🙂

  • cecsupergirl

    Um . . . I think Jon was at the Playboy mansion. 🙂

  • heather s.

    I’m experiencing the same issues right now. I went to the ER and had a ton of tests done and they couldn’t find anything so I have a stress test next week. I’ve had PE’s in the past (one blood clot on each side of my lung at the same time – awesome) so I was glad that was ruled out this time around. Good luck!

  • Alisha Jaybird

    Holy balls! I’m sorry! That sounds scary as heck! Glad everything is going to be okay. **Kicks Jon** How dare you scare us like that?!

    I’m with you on the botfly and pimple thing though… it’s kind of mind-numbing amazement. Best thing ever? Blackhead extracter. The sun would stop rising at my house if it ever got lost.

  • skurski

    I never comment but had to on this one.

    I am 32 and was in the ER (and admitted to the cardiac floor) last week for the EXACT same problem, and had the EXACT same outcome.

    I just wanted to tell you….I am starting to think it is a virus going around. A very scary virus.

  • SuzieQ1

    I’m glad my husband and I were not the only ones who joke at “inappropriate” times. Shortly after we learned he had cancer and was getting ready to start chemo he told the doctor that if the chemo caused him to lose his hair he would, for the RIGHT PRICE, have the doctor’s name and phone# tattooed on his head for some cheap advertising. We were the only ones that found that funny.

  • cipsi

    So glad to hear Jon’s o.k.

    Take care of yourselves – all of you!

    And next time take Marlo with you. It sounds like they could use some serious head butting in that ER.

  • Sassy Molassy

    Someone may have already said this, but pain in the upper right quadrant radiating out and/or back through the shoulder is often gallbladder. I once had a 3-day gallbladder attack while pregnant that hurt so badly that when I would start to yawn, the yawn would just die because it too much. I didn’t even turn out to have stones, either. So if it continues, especially if he experiences things like suddenly feeling crazy full after eating very little, or other fun belly turbulence, he should mention that possibility.

  • JillyMack06

    I know other people have said this already, but I immediately thought GALL BLADDER!

    Very painful, hurts to breath…worth checking out, especially if he keeps having episodes.

  • Dani

    I’m glad he’s okay. Don’t you hate the way Dr’s say “well it’s not any of these super scary things we’ve mentioned that you’re not going to be able to stop thinking about now but we don’t know what it is so don’t worry about it.”

    I had to take my husband to the emergency room for similar reasons a week before our daughter was born. I was freaked out and kept thinking “you’re not supposed to be the one being rushed to the hospital I am.” Luckily all three of us are fine now.

  • EasyFromNowOn

    Glad to hear that things are okay for now. Thinking of all y’all!

  • Kristen from MA

    an ecologist has one in his hand THAT HE LETS GROW TO MATURITY.

    Dude, that’s just wrong.

    Really, lady? Because you are just writing my content for me.


    Glad everything’s OK.

  • aliciakay

    Glad he is okay! That sort of pain can mean so many things – it sounds exactly like what my husband experiences when his ulcers and GERD act up (ah, middle agedness – when your body starts to plot to destroy you). I also remember a friend going through the same scary ER experience and was told he had pleurisy, which sounds way awfuller than it actually is, apparently.

  • TexasKatie

    Just reminded me of a House episode that I just watched. They thought it was endocarditis but it ended up being metal poisoning from an artificial hip. Jon hasn’t had a fake hip put in recently, has he? 😉

    Glad that he is okay, but just tell him to take it easy. 🙂

    I see someone just mentioned pleurisy. I have had that before and that is freaking AWFUL. That very well could have been it.

  • aproka425

    So what you’re saying is he failed to get you anything for Valentine’s Day. I see… LOL

  • betsybarron

    OMG my eyes, my eyes! I so wish I could Un-See that video..

  • Older Parent Dooce Reader

    My husband ended up with babiosis and lyme disease in a similar situation. Maybe the blood tests already checked for that.

  • sugarbaked4386

    Wow, I’m so glad John’s ok. That musta been one “heart-wrenching” Valentine’s Day for the both of you….am I allowed a bad joke too? Hope so…love to the girls, and my best to you and John.

  • dianemaggipintovoiceover

    probably just the rib he gave up to make you.

    or maybe a cracked rib.

    but all the ribbing must’ve helped.


  • J. Bo

    SO glad Jon is healthy and well, and that YOU are able to climb down off the wall now.

    I know from this kind of scared, having recently spent WAY too much time in a hospital where no one could tell me exactly what was causing “the problem.” I’m not married, but I can tell you I NEVER want to see “that look” on my mother’s face again.

    STAY well, keep close, and thanks for keeping us all posted; you know we think of you as family.

  • shestumbledin

    I’m so glad it wasn’t anything serious.

    Also, since you’ve outed yourself as a lover of weird, gross illnesses and diseases and Jon as a wimp about blood drawing, I must suggest that you watch this show:

    Seriously, I think you’d like it.

  • Daisee

    Im glad all is ok! Important to keep an eye on things should this happen again. After 2 ER visits for my daughter last year, and nothing found abnormal on the 1st, only to be told very scary things on the second, after we waited all GD night for them to figure out what was wrong. I will always always squak until there is an answer; be bold and ask LOTS of questions.
    my captcha assoul beyond” and how fit is that I would make myself an asshole and beyond after crappy experiences with drs!

  • ehopeb

    Sorry you had to go through that and SO GLAD he is okay.

  • lagringaloca

    So sorry to hear about Jon. My husband had a similar experience a few months back. The doctor told him stress but some hospitals and doctors, apparently, try to avoid saying it’s stress. Which makes absolutely no sense to me. Feel better and enjoy taking the deep breaths!

  • strawberrygoldie

    HOLY SHIT BALLS I watched the botfly in the poor girl’s head who went to Belize for a romantic vacay with her man and OMIGAWD. Dammit, you drew me in.


    You have a new fan in my 12-year-old son, who is supremely impressed that a GIRL recommended such vile YouTube footage. His adolescent squeals of joy and disgust made me smile, I admit it.

    He would like to be your friend now.

  • littlewords

    OMG, so glad that I was TOTALLY RIGHT!!! And this just turned out to be something that you would write a really funny story about!
    I am so happy for all of you that this was nothing.
    As I said in a thread on the community, I myself am a total doctor avoider, but my husband always seems to think I am dying. Therefore, I worry on a regular basis that I am actually going to just randomly croak for no apparent reason whatsoever, which would totally freak him out.
    I mean, yeah, he would be sad, but he would also just like, TOTALLY FREAK OUT.
    He’s been doing it for the last several weeks because I have this cough that won’t go away, and I even went to the doctor! And she said I was fine!

    What I’m really trying to say is: we all love you guys and I am super glad that Jon is okay.
    : )

  • tdotjen

    Pretty much the same thing happened to a friend of mine. She had all the symptoms of pulmonary embolism, and had recently flown, but they never found one. They did identify an unrelated abnormality in her adrenal glad while trying to figure it out, but nothing to explain the chest pain.

    Glad Jon’s okay.

  • dolphy36

    I’ve gone through similar with my husband, and I know it’s no fun for either of you. Glad to hear that all tests are pointing to “major systems” functioning well. I hope you get the answers you need–and that they are easily solvable.

    Wishing you health and love…

  • love guru

    Oh my god,the video from youtube is really :bleahhh.
    Hope everything is ok with you.
    Is first time when i heard about this BOTFLY(nasty stuff)

    Lg from Love Tips

  • aedesormeaux

    I recently had a flare up of costochondritis and it sucked a whole lot. I felt like someone had punched me right in the middle of my chest.

    Glad he’s feeling better now!

  • frannyglass

    I hate to say it, but it is somewhat comforting to know that I am not the only person to have experienced this, it is such a bizarre thing to go through. About a year ago I ended up in the ER with the exact same symptoms and was scared shitless. I thought I was having a heart attack, which seemed just a little unlikely for a 29 year old, healthy woman…I went through the same battery of tests and had the exact same conclusion: who the feck knows! Maybe I had a chest muscle spasm from straining myself at the gym, maybe it was a panic attack…I guess I will never know. I am so glad that Jon is okay!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more