Gloria Arroyo chokes on melon, goes back to hospital
MANILA, Philippines—Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was rushed to Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) late Thursday night, casting doubts on her capability to participate in the chamber’s crucial vote next week on whether or not to close the period of interpellation on the reproductive health (RH) bill.
Arroyo, 65, was in pain after choking on a piece of melon and had to be admitted to VMMC where she had been on hospital arrest in connection with an electoral sabotage case for almost eight months.
Dr. Nona Legaspi, director of VMMC, said the former President was brought to the facility due to pains in the neck and lumbar area. Arroyo also complained of a shooting pain in her leg.
“She came to the emergency room around 9:30 p.m. and was subsequently admitted,” the hospital official said.
The sudden hospital visit came a week after she left the facility following the posting of a P1-million bail.
Arroyo had been busy the past week, making the rounds of her legislative district in Pampanga province and visiting Congress.
Legaspi pointed out that movement has affected Arroyo’s body as traveling on uneven roads can cause jerking.
She described the former President as looking “weak and dehydrated.”
“She needs rest and food, as well as therapy,” the doctor said, noting that eating well is part of getting well.
Part of Arroyo’s treatment at VMMC is a regular, one-hour physical therapy session at least four times a week.
Legaspi recalled that prior to her discharge last week, the former President was advised by doctors to have a complete bed rest and to slow down her activities for at least a year.
One activity a day is fine, but back-to-back activities may be harmful to her health, the doctor said.
As of Friday afternoon, Arroyo was placed on intravenous medication as she was eating very little.
The VMMC director said Arroyo’s condition is not critical.
“She will be fine with the therapy sessions,” Legaspi said.
Asked how long the congresswoman would be staying at VMMC, Legaspi said Arroyo may stay for the weekend to get complete rest.
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said opposition lawmakers were still hoping that Arroyo would bounce back to health in time for the Aug. 7 session when House leaders are expected to cut short debates on the RH measure, also called House Bill No. 4244.
“Hopefully [she could attend],” he told the Inquirer in a phone interview, noting that Arroyo’s vote—though not necessarily a swing vote—would help the cause of congressmen seeking to continue debates on the advantages and disadvantages of HB 4244.
“I will ask her if she could come because she usually gasps for breath after 20 minutes. She finds it difficult to stay in a permanent position. There has to be movement,” Suarez added.
Complete bed rest
An emergency admission document released by VMMC showed that Arroyo was diagnosed with “acute cervical and lumbar strain.” Her blood pressure was 130/90 when she was admitted at 11:58 p.m. the other night, according to the document signed by Dr. Martha Nocum, the admitting physician.
Arroyo’s spokesperson Elena Bautista-Horn said the former President had been advised to have “complete bed rest.”
“It appears that she overworked and her neck was strained in her effort to remove the melon that choked her,” the spokesperson said in Filipino.
Arroyo made a brief but surprise visit to the House of Representatives last Tuesday amid rehab sessions and previous visits to an alternative medicine facility in Tagaytay City and in her home province of Pampanga.
In an ambush interview, she complained of difficulty in eating because of her condition. To swallow food, she said she had “to turn my left so that the food will go to my right.”
“It’s a complicated procedure that’s why sometimes I’d rather not eat,” she added.
Arroyo attended the plenary session for 18 minutes and stayed on for a few minutes to chat with other opposition lawmakers at the South Wing lounge.
Suarez said Arroyo’s eating problem was the reason she was losing weight. She reportedly lost some 30 pounds by the time a Pasay judge freed her on bail last week.
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