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.
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 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.
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.