Heater, Mother of Lance

Matters of the heart, continued

The Saga of Jon’s Mysterious Chest Pain continued last week when I drove him to the hospital so that he could undergo an endoscopy, a fancy term for having a tube shoved down his throat. Yes, all sorts of jokes were made beforehand. Remember, my assistant is a gay man who really enjoys making straight people feel uncomfortable. That’s the first skill he lists on his resume.

They were going to inspect his esophagus and stomach for signs of anything peculiar, you know, lesions or ulcers or Osama Bin Laden. Wait. They found him? In Pakistan? PHEW. I was trying to figure out how we were going to tell authorities that Jon picked him up in Mexico and, my God, the heartburn.

The nurse who explained the procedure to Jon beforehand was incredibly thorough and loving in stark contrast to some of the doctors we’ve seen in the past. I’m not generalizing here, because we’ve seen some doctors who could rival Jesus in their bedside manner. But some doctors… the part of their brain that made it possible for them to get through medical school is so big that there is no room for the part that would make them think twice before saying, “That spot of skin cancer really isn’t that big. I’ve got better things to do.”

Or, “Your daughter sucks her thumb? Make fun of her so she’ll stop.”

I wasn’t allowed to be in the room during the procedure, but I guess it went something like this: they fit him for a mouth guard that would guide the tube into his throat before they gave him a dose of Propofol, a fast acting anesthesia. The drug that killed Michael Jackson. This is important to remember. You’ll see why.

Once he was asleep they inserted a scope into his throat and inspected the specific areas, taking biopsies if needed. From start to finish, the entire operation took twelve minutes. Meaning it lasted way longer than a lot of the guys I dated! Hey-ooh!

Post endoscopy

The nurse brought me back to see him as the Propofol wore off, and here’s where I share with you just how adorable Jon is when he’s drunk. Like, the most adorable drunk in the history of adorable drunks. When he saw me sit down next to his bed, he squinted at me and said, “You’re so pretttttyyyyyy.” And then he spent the next two minutes trying to reassure me that he was not kidding, no seriously, TAKE HIM SERIOUSLY, even though I had not said one word.

The nurse handed me a stack of paper, and I read the first page of instructions out loud to Jon. For the next twenty-four hours he was not to drive a car or operate any machinery whatsoever or engage in any important decision making. And PLEASE, refrain from any activity requiring coordination. For an Armstrong that means no walking.

The whole time I read those instructions Jon would interrupt me every two words and say, “Did you know they gave me the drug that killed Michael Jackson?!”

I’d answer, “Yes. You told me that a second ago.”

And then after another two words he’d say, “OH MY GOD, I forgot to tell you. They gave me the drug that killed Michael Jackson!”

“Did they really?” I’d say.

“Huh?” he’d spurt out in return. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. But guess what? They gave me the drug that killed Michael Jackson!”

I continued with the instructions letting him tell me over and over that they gave him the drug that killed Michael Jackson, and then when I was finished the nurse walked over to Jon and said, “Could you please sign here to indicate that you understand the instructions your wife just read to you?”

“WHAT?” he shouted in total confusion. “She hasn’t read anything to me! What are you talking about?! Hey, Heather, they gave me the drug that killed Michael Jackson!”

He doesn’t remember about ten minutes of his life, but thankfully those ten minutes weren’t our wedding vows or the birth of one of our children. They were just one message after another out into the ether that when you get an endoscopy you get the drug that killed Michael Jackson. ARE WE ALL CLEAR ON THAT POINT?

Preliminary diagnosis: nothing is wrong with his esophagus. Test indicated a little irritation in his stomach. So, you know, totally inconclusive. Except for the bill. That was pretty distinct and abrasive.

More tests to come. WHEEE!

  • SugarShopSweets

    2011/05/02 at 11:54 am

    Oh Heather! You always make me smile even when you are probably terrified. I am sending you good karma and hope it is nothing more than a nasty little Mexican vacation virus he hasn’t gotten rid of.

    Kindest Regards,

  • jan001

    2011/05/02 at 11:56 am

    I’ve had an endoscopy. Such fun. NOT.

    It’s a good thing you weren’t in there or else you might have mused to yourself — as I did when it happened to me — that the thing they put in your mouth the keep it open so they pass the tube in must look a lot like something from the back room at a porn shop.

    With me, they didn’t use propofol, probably because Michael Jackson was still alive. o_O

    Instead they used something called Versed, and not enough of it because I didn’t go out. They started with the tube and I started fighting them. It was weird because the tiny still-rational-not-at-all-anesthetized part of my brain was saying, “Just relax, swallow the tube, stop fighting” while the rest of me was strictly brain-stem, fighting for my life (or so it seemed). Really bizarre to have both going on at once.

    Rather than pushing just a teensy bit more of the anesthesia into the IV, the doctor just called in a couple of nurses to hold me down. Bedside manner FAIL.

    And after all that, they found nothing to explain the pain I was having.

    Hang in there.

  • annecat

    2011/05/02 at 12:01 pm

    Ah, yes. I once had a young doctor tell me, without having done anything more than talk to me about my symptoms, that I might have MS. I’m sure he was probably just thinking out loud, but can you imagine my reaction? Of course it turned out I didn’t have it, or even anything else particularly serious.

  • Daddy Scratches

    2011/05/02 at 12:09 pm

    As I’m sure they advised you at the hospital, it is important that you monitor him for signs of wanting to wear a sequined glove, moonwalk or play with Macaullay Culkin.

    Sorry Jon’s mystery affliction remains a mystery. Hope you guys have some answers soon.

  • JourneyBeyondSurvival

    2011/05/02 at 12:11 pm

    My daughter has had more experience with doctors than I. Since she is nonverbal I get to interpret most things for her. A few months ago she had surgery.

    I was not allowed to accompany her as her translator (she IS smart) because she was sleeping. Duh, right? Yeah. Well, I was two floors up and across the atrium with the other worried parents when I heard them bringing my daughter down to recovery.

    She doesn’t scream often, but a mother knows her child’s screams. I wasn’t too surprised when they hurriedly came to alert us that she was in recovery a few seconds later.

    Anesthesia does weird things to people for sure. When a low muscle tone child that can’t walk or two keeps two grown women busy to distraction? That’s some powerful stuff.

  • Cecily

    2011/05/02 at 12:13 pm

    My mom totally had that drug for her medically induced coma in January and it took two or three days for it to fully work out of her system. CRAZY.

    Hope he feels better soon. Endoscopies suck.

  • mybottlesup

    2011/05/02 at 12:20 pm

    ugh, i’m sorry y’all are going through this… the inconclusive tests are such a damn curse, because (if you’re anything like me) your mind races with “WHAT IF IT’S THIS????” or “ACCORDING TO WEB-MD, YOU HAVE SOMETHING HORRIBLE THAT WILL KILL YOU SLOWLY AND PAINFULLY.”

    we had to scope jackson when he was a baby, 5 months old. the procedure was the longest 15 minutes of my life… so far. he’s only 3. and like jon, my son’s endoscopy resulted in nothing but a ridiculously large bill.

    i wish you and jon strength.

  • slappyintheface

    2011/05/02 at 12:22 pm

    When I had that done, I kept telling Derek that the numbing spray for your throat tasted like gasoline … oh and the floor had turned to water … and even though it had been out of style for years, they must have decorated the entire room in E.T. curtains(yeah … the little alien guy). Oh yeah …. it was “the good stuff”.

  • kellyelizardbeth

    2011/05/02 at 12:22 pm

    If you ever need a new assistant, you should call me because I make EVERYONE uncomfortable.


  • Erin Human

    2011/05/02 at 12:28 pm

    I don’t know why you’re spending money on all those fancy doctors when everyone knows that The Internet is an excellent diagnostician. Feel better soon Jon.

  • Elizabeth in Chicago

    2011/05/02 at 12:48 pm

    Weird coincidence: I had that test done last week, too! Except that someone had made a mistake and written colonoscopy on my chart. NOT KIDDING. I literally called across the hospital hallway (while naked with an IV sticking out of my wrist), NO! WRONG WAY!

    They did not give me a colonoscopy (yay!), but that’s one way to learn how tightly you can clench your booty.

    Feel better Jon, and good luck!

  • LUE

    2011/05/02 at 12:49 pm

    Very funny! Also loved that you included a picture to add to the humor!

  • Former Homecoming Queen

    2011/05/02 at 12:58 pm

    Wow, mybottlesup and I have a lot in common already; MY son Jackson was also scoped, but at 2 months old for an unexplained continuous cough. He also had an xray taken where I had to hold his little arms up while he was trapped in a plastic tubeish thing. Jack was a trooper though and afterwards I told my husband all I could think was “Jack is trapped in a glass case of emotion!” (hope someone gets that).

    It’s crazy all the tests people can be put through, all the money spent and they still don’t find a cause.

    Hope Jon feels better, and Heather I hope YOU are feeling better also because dealing with this on top of depression and taking care of 2 kids must be next to impossible. <3 to all of you.

  • Greygirl

    2011/05/02 at 12:59 pm

    My husband had that procedure recently, followed soon after by a colonoscopy! The fun never ends. Turns out he is sensitve to certain foods and is on some medication now called Aciphex (say it out loud. Seriously. Tyrant will have a field day if he has to remind Jon to take his ass-effects every day).

    Mu doctor horror story? Years ago I went to a dermatolgist with a rash on my hands and he told me it was probably syphillis!
    PS: it was a rash. I went away in 2 days with ointment.

  • ChickWhitt

    2011/05/02 at 12:59 pm

    With my husband it was:

    “WHAT?!? NO PUDDING?!?”

    Again, and again, and again, and again, until I smothered him with a pillow.

    He also rolled away from the entrance when I went to get the car, so they tried giving me an old lady instead. If I had known about the pudding thing, I would have taken her.

  • stacey

    2011/05/02 at 1:06 pm

    The last time I went in for an endoscopy my paper was marked for a colonoscopy. Fortunately it was caught plenty early but I was all “WRONG END, PEOPLE”.

    I also suffer from post-anesthesia one track mind. I am thankful I don’t remember it and now I don’t let anyone back with me until I am making sense and can remember what the hell is going on.

  • MJBUtah

    2011/05/02 at 1:25 pm

    After my husband’s endoscopy he didn’t do so much of the talking thing but he kept trying to pull things off of himself, like the cannula in his nose, his iv, his fingers, etc. So apparently propofol is as much fun as verced, which I was given in the emergency room once and according to the nurses I talked constantly about my cousin who worked at that hospital on the fifth floor.

    I really am not a fan of drugs where you don’t remember things you said after. I have spent years wondering what else I talked about.

  • kellimarks

    2011/05/02 at 1:26 pm

    I had that done recently too (also followed by the colonoscopy, CT scan and ultrasound-and they still don’t know what’s wrong with me either). My obsession according to my husband was the living will. No less than ten times did I freak out asking why it was they asked if I had a living will. Then we went to lunch where I ordered a baked potato and potato soup. The next day I found the photos of the inside of my stomach and freaked, but my husband swears that I had already seen them, I just didn’t remember.

  • girlplease

    2011/05/02 at 1:30 pm

    I had that done too last month. He needs to double check if it’s prophonol or fentynal. Fentynal is the BOMB. Mix that baby with versed and you are on one happy, best sleep in your life, hey how did that sparkler get there feeling you’ve ever had.

    I now totally understand why people love heroin. Fentynal is 1,000xs worse (and deadlier) than heroin BUT the most kick ass sleep you’ve ever had.

    Glad all is ok. Must be the age of Aquarius and the year of the endoscope.

  • wilg1

    2011/05/02 at 1:31 pm

    You know what another (albeit rare) side effect of propofol is? PRIAPISM. Which would you rather deal with? Answering the same question a hundred times is more acceptable when it’s compared to a husband with an intractable woody.

    Hope you get answers and Jon feels better in short order.

  • felix

    2011/05/02 at 1:42 pm

    I had an endoscopy a few years ago…I don’t remember much about the day, but I guess I spent most of my twilight sedation in the recovery room, where other patients who had undergone colonoscopies were hanging out waiting to “pass gas” so they could go home. Apparently there was a lot of conversation about passing gas…I know this because for WEEKS afterwards I’d say things to my girlfriend (who was in the recovery room with me, reading the same literature you were reading Jon) like “I think I dreamt last night that there was a guy talking to me about needing to pass gas” or “I dreamt we were out to dinner and there was a guy telling us about his gas pain!” Basically I spent weeks thinking I was having fucked-up dreams about strangers and their gas passing…It may be better for all of you if he doesn’t get those ten minutes back…

  • Bren

    2011/05/02 at 1:45 pm

    Ok, I only mention this because I haven’t seen you mention it, not that you share EVERYTHING with us….oh wait……

    Could Jon be having intermittent esophageal spasms? They cause MAJOR chest pains depending on where they occur, and are sometimes caused by acid splashing up into the esophagus, showing up as minor stomach irritations. Not always, though! It’s one of those things that’s not like the other (Sesame Street reference).

    This can’t HURT him and it might help: have Jon sip on peppermint tea – NOT peppermint FLAVORED tea – it has to be made from actual peppermint leaves. It’s a very mild antispasmodic, it tastes good hot or cold and it gives you minty fresh burps. If his symptoms subside in frequency or severity, you might be on to something.

    I only know about this because *I* went through the whole cardiac/ulcer/cartilege strain, etc. BS many years ago and finally a freaky hippie homeonaturaopathicasaurus convinced me to try it. ONE DAY later I was symptom free and even today if I get that sort of achy feeling, one or two cups and I am right as rain.

    As I said, it can’t hurt and the minty burbs are really cool. (Too bad you can’t get them at the other end!)

    Good luck!

  • Meranath

    2011/05/02 at 2:13 pm

    Hey, did you know that was the drug that killed Michael Jackson?

  • jan001

    2011/05/02 at 2:16 pm

    @Greygirl – Re: Aciphex. My PCP prescribed that for me when my problems first started years ago and (pre-test) he thought I might have an ulcer.

    Dr: “I think you have an ulcer. Take this. It’s called Aciphex.”

    Me: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ass Effects? Wrong end, doc!”

    Seriously, someone got one over on the New Drug Naming Committee on that one.

  • Meranath

    2011/05/02 at 2:41 pm

    OMG, that’s the same drug that killed Michael Jackson.

  • sweetpotatopie

    2011/05/02 at 2:43 pm

    If my husband was that adorable when he was drunk, I’d make sure he was fully inebriated at all times. Is that tempting for you??

  • tallnoe

    2011/05/02 at 2:47 pm

    Not knowing is the worst.
    The 2nd most worstest thing is this:
    OMG, this is so amazing! Everyone – come look at this patient!! Have you ever seen anything like it?

    Um, not cool.

  • dianemaggipintovoiceover

    2011/05/02 at 2:47 pm

    maybe it’s his love that is so strong it makes his heart hurt.

    probably not, though.

    a friend of mine reminds that without booze to complement the drugs, it’s just a waste of pills 🙂


  • juliemewood

    2011/05/02 at 2:53 pm

    So sorry to hear. Hope all is well!

  • Beauty Marks

    2011/05/02 at 3:02 pm

    Have had that same experience with my husband after he had icky procedures and propofol – except it was “I really, really love you. Do I tell you enough how much I love you?” About six times. Not that I minded. And I swear he looked exactly like Jon – loopy and vulnerable and sweet.

  • subjectivitis

    2011/05/02 at 5:00 pm

    I hope they solve his chest mystery soon so you don’t have to worry about it. Wishing you guys the best!

  • renaemcalister

    2011/05/02 at 5:04 pm

    Yeah, I had one of those and they said I kept trying to talk so they gave me Benadryl?! Then the last time I had it, I was in the hospital about to have emergency gallbladder surgery when they were all, we know we already did a procedure with RECTAL contrast, now let’s shove a tube down your throat and not give you enough sedation! I was screaming and I remember the whole thing. The good thing is, my mom and two small boys were waiting in recovery for me, where I was balling and a complete mess. Now my kids will NEVER like doctors! It was awful. But hey, they said, good news! You’re having your gallbladder out tonight and we found out that you have severe esophagitis and a hiatal hernia!!!!! Fun times, but only if you get enough sedation. I could tell you about my most recent procedure but if I do that I might as well just write on my own blog.

  • mouthymama

    2011/05/02 at 5:05 pm

    Have had this experience, only it was after taking my dad for a colonoscopy when my mom was working. While I was wildly excited about not hearing anything too nasty as he lay there all drugged and positively giddy, there is something to be said for seeing your loved ones curled up on a hospital bed spewing nonsense all over us.

    My dad explained his experience with “watching the needle go in his arm and then….nothing, just nothin’ after that” over and over and over and over. Even though I still make fun of him I’m reminded of what my dad looked like lying in that bed, without my mom around. It scared me to think of a time hopefully in long far off future when I become my parents’ parent. I’m not ready for that yet. But I suppose we never really are.

    Hope you will get some good news soon. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  • Wombat Central

    2011/05/02 at 7:06 pm

    I had that done, and boy were the drugs good. Not sure if I had the one that killed Michael Jackson, though. My MIL took me, and she still giggles over my drug stupor after that procedure. I have no recollection of how I got out to the car that day. I do remember when they gave me the drugs, though. I was all, “Whoa. My head feels kinda fun…. zzzzzzzz”

  • Pandora Has A Box

    2011/05/02 at 7:10 pm

    Aside from the fact that getting an endoscopy probably sucked (ask the Tyrant!…*rimshot*), this is probably one of my favorite posts you’ve written in a while. Not that I wish the DRUG THAT KILLED MICHAEL JACKSON on Jon. I don’t. But just that the way you told this made me laugh. Thank you for that laugh.

    I hope that the nice, kind doctors and nurses figure out what is wrong soon. It sort of sucks (and not in the good way) to be a medical mystery.

    I also wonder what on earth I said when I was coming out of anesthesia after knee surgery. No, I don’t. Yikes.

  • nikki

    2011/05/02 at 7:30 pm

    You have to see it to truly appreciate the humor. My husband had the same procedure done twice in the past 5 or so years. The first time, it was, “Has the doctor been here yet? What did she say?” at least 20 times before we left. The second time it was, “Hey, I’m really hungry. Did we have lunch?”

    And then he tossed his cookies in my car after I bought him a cheeseburger on the way home.

  • CalypsoRodeo

    2011/05/02 at 8:16 pm


  • Lauren3

    2011/05/02 at 8:44 pm


    Jon 🙁

  • termitejb

    2011/05/02 at 8:48 pm

    I had similar problems many years ago and turns out that my problem was due to infected tonsils. Does Jon still have his tonsils? If so, have them checked. Mine turned out to have been slightly abscessed for a long period of time and the abscess had been dripping into my esophagus and stomach. Had it not been caught when it was I could have been much worse than it was. Good luck Jon!

  • Cecily Maude

    2011/05/02 at 9:43 pm

    That was the laugh I needed today! But did you know that’s that drug that killed Michael Jackson?


  • aliasolympia

    2011/05/02 at 9:50 pm

    This post made me click on the link to Part 1, and THAT post reminded me of those botfly videos I meant to watch but never did. Now I did. Ew. But I watched them, didn’t I?…

    Good vibes to Jon!

  • Crazy Card Lady

    2011/05/02 at 11:21 pm

    Has he tried Cymbalta? I had chest pains. I checked out okay. Turns out it was a little anxiety….geeze maybe running an empire makes Jon a little on edge.

  • KoB

    2011/05/03 at 1:05 am

    Ugh. I’m so sorry to hear you are dealing with this! I’m 32 and I just did that whole mess myself a few weeks ago, complete with ambulance ride and my first-ever spray of nitroglycerin. Long story short, it turns out that a medication I’ve been taking long-term is wearing out my stomach lining. I would never guess that a wornout stomach lining would feel like a 300-pound man on my chest, but there you go. They put me on Nexium for the next few months and I had a very restricted diet for a few weeks, but now I can eat mostly what I want again (no kidding, as soon as I could, I pretty much inhaled a bag of spinach, I was so desperate for vegetables!). Thankfully, the chest pain is very intermittent and minimal at this point.

    Good luck getting it all figured out. It’s stressful not knowing what’s going on. (My husband is still jumpy around ambulances, poor thing.) Fingers crossed that you get answers soon!

  • kranky

    2011/05/03 at 6:05 am

    ugh, Armstrongs! This stinks. We just experienced something similar at my house. My husband was diagnosed first with gastritis, then an ulcer, then a POOP IMPACTION. An endoscopy revealed…nothing at all. We’re in the same state of limbo that you guys are in, shuffling bills and awaiting tests while my husband struggles to eat. You must be having such a stressful time of things.

  • Catewms

    2011/05/03 at 6:11 am

    I’ve had that procedure twice now along with the one from the other end. Best name for Propofol yet?

    MILK. OF. AMNESIA. Heyoooh!

  • Mama to Henry

    2011/05/03 at 6:26 am

    Do you realize how much of Leta you can see in Jon in that picture?

  • kentuckienne

    2011/05/03 at 8:56 am

    Ha, I had an endoscopy once! I don’t know if they gave me the drug that killed Michael Jackson, but I managed to call my mother multiple times from the recovery room to tell her that I’d woken up. Actually, most of the rest of that day is a blur, now that I think about it.

  • Cooky

    2011/05/03 at 9:55 am

    Sending all my best vibes to the Armstrongs for a solution to Jon’s health concerns.

  • kindofnormal

    2011/05/03 at 10:44 am

    Glad the results were good!

    I don’t remember about 15 minutes of my life either, because I had concussion after falling off a horse. It would have been more fun if I’d been doped up on happy medecine 🙂

  • marrate

    2011/05/03 at 11:00 am

    I want to say something very important about chest pain. My husband was experiencing this back in 1996, and no cause could be found. They tried everything. EKG’s came back showing no problem. Oxygen was always 100%, GI testing, you name it, no problem. THEN they tried a stress test. Girl, it saved his life. He had triple (yes, TRIPLE) bypass, including two (no shit, TWO) coronary arteries bypassed. This was in January, 1997, 18 days after his 35th birthday. It’s genetic. Shit happens, and he’s 49 now, which he wouldn’t have gotten to if it hadn’t been for the stress test. Some people with clogged arteries can have stents or drano or whatever, but of course, my husband would need the surgery. In any event, from one non-widow to another – have him get a stress test. If it’s not that, then great, tell him to stop being such a pussy and move on with your lives.

    By the way, my name is Mercy Arrate. I am 45 and have 2 grown children (one bio, one bonus) and 2 grandchildren (one baby princess, and one baby terminator – guess which one lives with us?) we are Cuban-American. Bet you didn’t know you had a Cuban fan now did ya?

    Much love, much luck & mucho dinero 🙂

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