I think most of us understand the term “breakdown maintenance”? We all know those with cars that only get serviced when they stop working? The car sees the mechanic when a bit falls off it that can’t be easily stuck back on, or if it stops on the side of the road and won’t start again. Well, medical treatment in the Philippines is often breakdown-maintenance too, and these Philippines health issues can lead to similar problems in Filipino people which you as part of an Australian Filipino relationship will come face to face with soon enough.
Yes, I did an article here recently on the topic of Filipinos and doctors. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do for a bit of background. I’m extending this topic here, as a plea to try to ensure your wife and her family take some better care of themselves before you find yourselves attending a funeral. Breakdown maintenance of human beings leads to short lives, because it’s often too late when the problem is finally diagnosed.
Filipinos and Health Maintenance
I’m often inspired to write articles by what I see happening around me. In this case, our extended-family here had another funeral to attend just over Christmas. She would have been 60 this year. Left behind a husband, three kids (youngest 19 I think), 8 grandkids. All could have been avoided with the occasional checkup rather than waiting for disaster.
And will she be the last untimely death in our extended family? Probably not. Was this the only death in the last few years that could have been avoided? No, definitely not! We lost Mila’s very close sister in 2012. She was only in her mid-40’s, and should have had many years ahead of her.
Recent cause of death? Stroke! Why? High blood pressure. “High blood”. Hypertension. No maintenance medication program. Death in 2012? Kidneys shut down. Why? Unmaintained hypertension again. They sort-of knew this, but never did anything about it.
Mila has a 62 year old auntie. Goes to see our doctor a few times a year when she comes to visit. Our doctor tells her to take maintenance medication for high blood pressure. Does she? No. Says that anti-hypertensive drugs will “damage the liver”. I’ve been taking them for 15 years, and my liver function is fine. Two relatives who didn’t are now in the cemetery. I think maybe it’s worth the risk.
Filipinos in Hospital
Think about how often your own relatives in the Philippines go to the hospital. Not so uncommon, right? How about you? OK, I had a couple of bouts with kidney stones in…..maybe 2003? Two occasions. Spent two separate nights in Emergency enjoying the benefits of analgesia whilst waiting for some stones to pass, then I went home. Had my tonsils out when I was 10 years old, back in the days when they seemed to like doing that. Needed the occasional thing stitched up over the years, and that took place generally in the Emergency section. Other than that? Me and hospitals are not so familiar, and I think that’s the case for most Aussies.
In the Philippines? When the human machine breaks down and someone collapses, they end up in the hospital. I would say many would stare at you blankly if you asked who their family doctor was! Some of them seem to spend a few days to a week there every year or so, then go home to wait for it to happen again. Scared into doing something to prevent it from happening again? Not likely!
Filipinos and Doctors and Chronic Conditions
Most know what “chronic” refers to. Those things that don’t normally get better. Hypertension. Diabetes. Chronic good-looks, like I have. Most of these (other than the handsomeness) can be managed and maintained by medication and possibly diet and/or lifestyle changes, and whilst far from ideal most find they can lead comfortable lives when on maintenance programs under the direction of a doctor.
And yes, I know that many are short of money, and medication plus doctors cost money. But families losing mothers and/or fathers usually means the loss of an income and/or a child-carer. That costs a whole lot more, and leaves kids without the parent they need and deserve. There are competent doctors everywhere, and not all maintenance medications are top-shelf priced.
After Irene died in 2012, I got Mila to check her various siblings when she could. Discovered that most of them had hypertension issues, with some very serious. Some are taking medication regularly, and have benefited. Others take it sometimes, then stop when they feel better. So whilst it’s far from perfect, it’s better than it was.
Suggestions for your relatives in Philippines
Suggest that you consider getting your 25 – 30+ relatives in Philippines checked for the following:
- Chest xrays for Tuberculosis. Even for kids. Our local hospital charges P280.00 only!
- Pap smears for ladies
- Mammograms (40 years +)
- And anything else they’ve been ignoring for years