Cirrhosis of the Liver: Our Filipino Trike Driver

Death. We all eventually face it. If you’re a Christian and have followed the straight and narrow path, chances are you’ve got a good chance of meeting Jesus. If you’re Shirley MacLaine you might be reincarnated and come back as a beautiful bluebird, happily chirping away or  you could return as a festering pimple on some old geezer’s flabby fat ass. I’ll opt for the bluebird. If you’re a Catholic you’ll be twiddling your thumbs in purgatory hoping someone will light enough candles and recite enough prayers for you to escape. If you’re a professed atheist, you’re finished. You don’t believe in anything so I guess you’ll end up as a pile of nothingness as you hum “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas for eternity. I’ve known of three people that have developed cirrhosis of the liver since moving to the Philippines over five years ago. Two of them died. Now the third,  our Filipino trike driver,  is holed up at the local Guimaras provincial hospital for the past few weeks and is diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. It’s a grim disease, often fatal.

Grim Reaper                                                                                       The Grim Reaper: Graphic Source: Butterfunk.com

 

 

Now, “Mikey,” not is real name, is our back-up tricycle driver. To the uninitiated, a tricycle, or “trike” driver is not some kid tooling around the subdivision  on a blazing red Radio Flyer with an  Albert Pujols baseball card clipped to his bike’s frame bar so it can make that loud clacking noise we all loved as a kid. Here’s a look at what we call a tricycle in the Philippines.

Trike drivers lined up at the Old Site in Guimaras

Trike Drivers lined up in Guimaras

 

Mikey always wore his trademark knit cap on even the hottest and muggiest of days. Laid back and prone to take a siesta or two every afternoon at our local subdivision trike stand. And unfortunately, according to my sources, drank too much on occasion.  My buddy, The Tom Cat, an American who used to live on “The Farm” where we currently reside (and just signed another year’s lease with Sister Nilda), first introduced me to Mikey and our current driver, NoNo. Yes, “NoNo” (everyone in the Philippines has a nickname.)

Here’s the problem. Red Horse Beer and Tanduay Rhum are cheap in the Philippines. Even with the increase in the Philippine “sin tax” a person can still get crocked at cut-rate prices. 25 or 30 pesos for a bottle of beer or rhum will only set you back 55¢ or so.

I liked our back up trike driver. I was really sorry to hear about his condition. I knew something was wrong as I had not seen him since my return from the States. I asked our main man, NoNo, where Mikey was and that’s when NoNo filled me in.

Now since my fatty liver diagnosis I’ve been more careful regarding my alcohol consumption. The doctor at the Guimaras Provincial Hospital told me I should completely abstain from imbibing any adult beverages. My last ultrasound revealed a “mild” fatty liver condition in which the emergency room doctor at the local hospital advised me a drink or two a week would be fine. Last week I didn’t consume any beers and have still managed to keep the twenty pounds off that I have lost. I’ve switched to the less manly, sissified San Mig Lite which only has 100 calories in order to keep my gut from expanding and have been trying to eat healthier.

red horse beer

 

Cirrhosis of the liver is a painful way to die. I had an ex-girlfriend back in the States who succumbed to it while only in her early 40’s. I certainly feel for Mikey the trike driver and honestly don’t see much hope for him. It’s a terrible way to go. Liver disease is the 14th leading cause of death in the Philippines according to WHO, the World Health Organization. In the Philippines, accidents of all types – including road traffic crashes – rank fourth among the causes of mortality in all ages per a report from the Philippine Department of Health. No doubt many of those accidents could involve alcohol. I pray that Mikey can somehow recover. But the prognosis doesn’t look good.

8 comments

  1. Dave,
    Sorry to hear about Mikey. Unfortunately with the cheap prices of alcohol that will always be an ongoing problem here.Yes prognosis for a recovery is not good unless you are wealthy or able to get a Liver Transplant. I don’t remember if we rode with Mikey, but i know we did with NoNo several times. I can’t drink beer with my High Uric Acid, but i do drink one glass of red wine everynight which they say is good for you.

    1. Yes, Papa Duck, chances are not good for Mikey’s recovery. There is no extensive organ donor list in the Philippines like one can find in the States.
      Melinda and I were walking to the trike stand this morning. And older gentlemen that was sitting near the trike area greeted me with a “good morning” as we passed by. “Good morning,” I replied, having no idea who had I spoken to. Melinda said: “Do you know who that was?” “No,” I replied. “Mikey,” she informed me. I yelled back at him. He wasn’t wearing his hat and looked so much older and painfully thin. He was sitting outside his home, I later discovered, after having been released from the hospital. The poor guy didn’t look good at all.

  2. That is very sad to hear.

    Even though so many of us Americans complain so much about how we hate how the medical insurance system works here, ( most definitely me included) compared to so many others that cant have or afford hardly any medical services if at all any, we do have it far better here than so many others have in other countries. Yes, it is expensive here for sure, but as we age we may be grateful we do actually have it, it may actually prolong some of our lives at some point, of which if we were Mikey right now, it is most likely a whole different story.

    America has its problems for sure, but maybe its not such a bad place if we really do some comparisons, to other countries, and the way many have to live,,or die.

    1. Yes, Bill S, Mikey would have far more health care options available to him in the States. Alcoholism is not considered a serious problem in the Philippines but is considered macho, a holdover from when the Spanish controlled this archipelago. So more people will die from alcohol related accidents and liver disease caused by excessive drinking. It is sad. The trike driver always treated us fair and was always dependable.

  3. Dave as you know Mikey is a friend of mine and I’m saddened to hear he’s hurtin’. Being a trike driver is dangerous enough when you are strong and healthy. I pray for health to improve and hope his family will support him during this time. Most trike drivers thought my beer of choice was a girlie beer since it was very light and low in alcohol compared to Red Horse. I found the best way to handle the horse was to chill enough to hide the kick. Needless to say cold anything didn’t happen very often at our hangouts. Even if you got cold Red Horse it only slowed the kick down until the next day. My worst hangover came from drinking buckets of Red Horse with some Aussies at Raymens. Their tougher than me for sure. Please let Mikey know I’m praying for him.
    TomCat

    1. Yes, Tom Cat, I know you are a friend of Mikey’s and I will let him know you are praying for him. I saw him again this morning around 5 am as I was beginning my daily walk. It certainly is sad to see him in his present condition. Our other trike driver friend, NoNo, as you know, is the “Elvis” of our local posse of tricycle drivers. Mikey is substantially more quiet and certainly laid back. Often times when I would walk by him in the afternoon and needed a ride to escape the heat, he would be snoozing. I never had the heart to wake him up so I would pass him until I found a driver down the road who was awake.

      Aussies, Raymen and Red Horse. Now that is a combination that will surely produce a hangover the next day without question. Btw, the nipa hut construction is beginning this week and Melinda heads over to Guimelco next week to endure the four hour lecture to become a new customer. I’m staying home and taking a nap. That’s how I roll, Captain Tom.

  4. A few weird items. The liver is powerfully regenerative. If cirrhosis has not covered all of it, two thirds of it can be removed and that remaining third will regrow the rest. But most cases of the disease cover the whole liver.

    Also, you can develop the disease from too much insecticide exposure, which is just bizarre.

    1. I don’t know how bad our trike driver’s condition is, Owen. I don’t know that he would have any funds available for any possible surgery. He is looking extremely frail and has lost a lot of weight.

      Didn’t know one could get it from too much insecticide exposure. Interesting fact.

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