POSTSCRIPT / August 14, 2012 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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P-Noy doesn’t think GMA might just die?

CHOKING: Balikbayan friends tell me that, unless you are an ambulance case, the fastest way to get instant attention in a hospital in the United States is to stagger in gasping “I can’t breathe!” Hospitals everywhere do not want a patient dying in the premises.

It is obvious that anyone who stops breathing is likely to die right then and there.

Still, many detractors of former President Gloria Arroyo refuse to believe that her delicate condition could just result in her choking, being unable to breathe, and possibly dying. They dismiss her suffering as pure malingering, in conspiracy with her doctors, to find asylum abroad.

When she was home after her release on bail last month, she choked on a piece of melon. After she was able, with excruciating effort, to spit out the particle, she was rushed to the Veterans Medical Memorial Center in Quezon City where she was previously held on “hospital arrest.”

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UNSUCCESSFUL PROCEDURE: Those who do not know Ms Arroyo’s true medical condition, together with those who want her permanently out of their supposedly straight path, probably think all this rushing in and out of hospitals is just political high drama.

I have not seen or talked to the former president, now congresswoman of Pampanga’s second district, since her arrest on election fraud charges and her eventual release on bail.

What I know, aside from what I gather from the news, is culled from reports of acquaintances who have talked to her and her physicians.

With due respect to the doctors who had attended to her previously, I believe that the procedure she had at another hospital was not that satisfactory. Neither was the followup corrective procedure successful.

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OBSTRUCTION: I have also seen the films taken during a recent CT-Scan on her thorax area showing a displaced part of the titanium brace implanted on her. Examination has shown that that offending metal plate sometimes causes obstruction in her trachea or windpipe.

That wayward titanium piece sometimes gets in the way when she swallows food or drinks. Nobody knows when it would cause another choking and possibly her passing out.

Her aide Helen Bautistia-Horn says eating has become a painful process for Ms Arroyo, which might explain why she has lost a lot of weight.

People around her say it is just will power and her work ethic that keep her going to her constituents in her district and attending to paperwork. She went to the House of Representatives days ago, but her physical condition did not allow her to stay long.

Her family wants the problem corrected, even to the extent of finding an alternative specialized treatment abroad. But Malacañang, through Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, refuses to lift the hold order on her. They say she might “escape.”

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ANASTACIO OPINION: In the meantime, Ms Arroyo has decided to get a second opinion from Dr. Roberto V. Anastacio, cardiologist at the Makati Medical Center. The doctor said, among other things, in a medical opinion last Saturday:

“When I saw the patient during her last confinement, she was very thin and dehydrated with extreme anxiety after an episode of severe swallowing dysfunction which resulted in an episode of choking (air unable to enter her lungs). During her vigorous effort to expel the food, she suffered acute cervical and lumbar strain.

“On further investigation she manifested extreme difficulty of eating and swallowing even water.

“I do agree with Dr. Martha Nucum who decided to continue hydration before any examination be done.”

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SUDDEN DEATH: Anastacio continued: “It had been three months since I saw her (Ms Arroyo) and suggested to repeat her quantum CT-Scan (Anastacio protocol) to determine any further deterioration of the anterior cervical cage.

“I had reported that the superior plate is functionally displaced and compressing the periform recess, the laryngical vestibule and muscles along the voice box.

“The inferior plate (T1) (is) compressing the trachea. The presence of a displaced titanium plate along C2-C3 is a serious factor in the mechanism of breathing and subsequently blood circulation which may Iead to sudden death.

“Again, I suggest that we repeat our Quantum CT-Scan to determine the status of the risk and how to address it. I do hope the patient will consider my serious suggestion of re-investigation and second opinion.

“ln addition, the former President is suffering from a 4O-30 percent Coronary Artery Obstruction of her proximal right coronary artery and left descending coronary artery based on Quantum CT-Scan Angiogram (Anastacio protocol).”

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POPE ON CONDOMS: Proponents and opponents of the Reproductive Health bill (RA4244) are expected to renew debates on the plan to have government buy and distribute condoms with fresh reports that Pope Benedict XVI may have modified the Church’s stand on prophylactics.

It is being recalled that in a book published more than a year ago, the Pontiff said: “In certain cases, where the intention is to reduce the risk of infection, it (use of a condom) can nevertheless be a first step on the way to another, more humane sexuality.”

This impinges on the question of whether it would be morally permissible for a married couple, in which one partner is HIV positive, to use condoms to prevent the other partner from being infected.

Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith, a leading British moral theologian, said: “The central point here is that such couples are not using condoms as a method of contraception, but rather as a means of preventing the virus spreading.”

The Pope’s spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, said: “The Pope considered an exceptional situation in which the exercise of sexuality is a real danger to the life of another.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 14, 2012)

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