No TV, no papers for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
She’s already out of ICU, but doctors still want her to stay out of touch.
Saying hearing “the news around her” could hamper her recovery, a doctor attending to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) said the VIP patient had been advised against watching TV, reading the papers and using her phone to help stabilize her blood pressure after Friday’s surgery.
The antistress prescription came as Arroyo faced a string of plunder complaints and revived allegations of election fraud during her presidency.
“No TV and newspapers. We are asking her to stop texting,” Arroyo’s main attending physician, Dr. Juliet Gopez-Cervantes, told reporters yesterday.
“I think occasionally (she uses her phone), maybe when we (doctors) have our backs turned. If only we can shut her off completely from all the news around her, then by all means,” Cervantes said in an interview at St. Luke’s Medical Center at Global City in Taguig City.
The doctor said the six-member team that performed the July 29 operation noted an unusual rise in Arroyo’s blood pressure over the last 24 hours
“Medically, she is not in a serious [condition],” Cervantes said. “However, we are closely monitoring her because of the new development.”
“As doctors, we can manage only mostly the medical part,” she said. “But the external factors, it’s really hard to control… That’s why we are asking her to lower the risk of probable complications (and) help herself relax.”
“I think it is easier said than done [because] with her situation now, even if I am in her position, I think my blood pressure will also rise,” she said.
Surgeons corrected a portion of Arroyo’s spine in the neck that had become misaligned, a condition that doctors said could lead to paralysis if not treated.
Doctors attached a titanium plate to four levels of her spine to treat a condition called cervical spondylosis, an otherwise common age-related deterioration of the bones.
Loss of appetite
Arroyo was moved out of the intensive care unit to a regular room on Sunday.
Cervantes on Monday reported that despite antihypertensive medication, the former President’s blood pressure “persistently” rose in the range of 140/80 to 170/90.
She said Arroyo had also lost her appetite but that this was normal “especially for somebody who had received steroids to lower swelling and the risk of rejection of the implant.”
Doctors were also giving Arroyo antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection, Cervantes said.
The Pampanga representative, who had also been given mild sedatives to help her sleep, was advised not to receive many visitors so she could have a full rest, the doctor said.
Cervantes maintained that Arroyo’s recovery remained on track but doubted whether the patient could already be discharged tomorrow as initially planned.
Lilia Pineda prays
Despite the stressful news around her, Arroyo could still count on her most loyal well-wishers.
In her home province of Pampanga, a staunch ally, Gov. Lilia Pineda, called on constituents to pray for the former President, saying her condition remained “not good.”
Before delivering her annual State of the Province Address in the City of San Fernando, Pineda asked an audience of some 1,000 people, mostly City Hall employees and local officials, to hold a minute of silence and pray for Arroyo’s recovery.
Pineda’s voice was shaking and she also appeared on the verge of tears as she spoke onstage at the Bren Guiao Convention Center.
Pineda, 61, and Arroyo have been known allies for the last 30 years. Arroyo’s father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal, was a native of Pineda’s hometown, Lubao.
No letup from Erap
And even while doctors tried to isolate Arroyo from the world, one of her longtime foes appeared to be in no mood for a truce.
For former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, the “day of reckoning” may be at hand for Arroyo, as he hailed the filing of a series of plunder complaints against the woman who took over following his ouster in 2001.
Estrada, who was convicted of plunder and granted pardon during the Arroyo years, congratulated President Aquino for going “all-out” in holding the former President accountable for alleged anomalies during her term, especially the “Hello Garci” election fraud scandal.
“I’m glad [these charges were filed]. We have to put a closure to the corruption that happened during her administration; all the cheating and miserable corruption that she did,” Estrada told the Inquirer yesterday.
He said the “most heinous” of these cases would be the massive election fraud in 2004 that purportedly ensured Arroyo’s victory over Estrada’s best friend, the late movie icon Fernando Poe Jr. With reports from Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon; and TJ Burgonio in Manila
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