Due to my poor dietary habits and failure to listen to my loving spouse, I found myself in an Iloilo City Emergency Room this past Sunday. Hence, today’s post “Gall Bladder Attack Fells American Expat in Philippines.”
The Agonizing Pain Begins
First of all, today’s saga began at 4:00 am Sunday morning. A horrible stomach pain on my right side was troubling me. My anxious asawa rubbed my stomach and back with Tiger Balm. She also instructed me to take some pain medicine for stomachaches, Buscopan.
I groggily stumbled out of bed and headed for our medicine cabinet. I couldn’t find any Buscopan so I went back to bed. Consequently, the pain didn’t go away so I got up and went to our living room and tried to rest on our sofa. Finally, I was able to go back to sleep and woke up around 5:30 am.
Therefore, since I was still in pain, I advised my spouse that I couldn’t find the Buscopan. She informed me that the meds were in the same container that contained the medications she had used for her gastritis attacks.
Finally, I discovered the Buscopan and took a tablet. We had planned a trip to Iloilo City that Sunday since my wife was getting her hair cut at David’s Salon at Robinsons Mall in Iloilo.
We caught the 9:00 am Yohan Express fast craft at the RORO, Roll-on, Roll-off Ferry, dock in Guimaras. As I sat waiting while my better half’s hair was being trimmed, my stomach pain returned. I had a few Buscopan’s on hand and swallowed one.
Seems like the pain subsided for a while but by the time my wife’s new hairdo was completed, the pain came back. In contrast, these were not the same symptoms as I had almost a decade ago when I had my first kidney stone attack.
We Seek Medical Attention
However, the discomfort was significant enough for me to complain to my wife who immediately said we should see a doctor. We quickly left Robinsons and piled into a waiting taxi. My spouse suggested we try the nearby StatLab first due to the fact we had visited the medical facility years ago.
Hence, when we discovered the office was closed, we directed our taxi cab driver to Medicus Medical Center on Diversion Rd. in Iloilo City. My pain was increasing. Furthermore, I was glad to see we were headed to Medicus. My wife had received excellent care from their emergency room staff in the past.
Arrival at Iloilo City’s Medicus ER
As our driver pulled up to Medicus’ Emergency Room, my stomach pain had moved further over to my right side. The pain was increasing in intensity.
I caught my reflection in a mirror as we entered the hospital. It wasn’t a pleasant view. My face was ghostly white. An elderly lady sitting at the front door asked if I needed a wheelchair. I said “no thank you” and we made our way to the crowded Emergency Room where all the beds were already full of patients.
An employee quickly pulled up a faded turquoise plastic chair for me as my wife explained my situation. An open bed in the ER became available about 10 minutes later. I was grateful to be able to lie down. The pain was increasing. My spouse spoke to the staff on duty but a doctor wouldn’t be available for a while.
“Do you want to wait?” my concerned asawa asked.
“Yes, I have no choice,” I replied, “where else could we go?”
The Doctor is in
Thankfully, it wasn’t long before a doctor came by my bed. She asked about my problem. I explained and hoped that I could get some pain medication soon. My pain was so intense that it had even brought tears to my eyes. However, I quickly brushed them aside being raised “old school” in the Fifties. It wasn’t “manly” to cry, especially in public.
The physician explained that she would have to consult with a surgeon. Soon after another doctor arrived and ordered an immediate ultrasound. The physician was going to prescribe some Buscopan for my pain.
“That’s not going to do it, Doc,” I interjected. “I’ve been taking it all day. I need something stronger.”
Thankfully, the doctor listened to my wishes, and an ER orderly came by and injected a vial of medication in my arm. In about ten minutes, I felt somewhat better and eventually the pain subsided. In fact, I had called on the Name of Jesus to help me. The pain was almost as severe as the previous kidney stones attacks I had experienced years earlier.
The Ultrasound Results
Furthermore, the ultrasound cost wasn’t going to be cheap. Our PhilHealth national insurance had expired at the end of 2019. Unfortunately, when I recently filed for my Annual Report at the Iloilo Immigration Office, we didn’t stop by PhilHealth to renew our membership.
Moreover, while my wife has enrolled us in PhilHealth in previous years, even if we paid for our membership it took the next quarter before it went into effect.
Consequently, the cost of my full abdominal ultrasound was 5, 350 Philippine pesos, approximately 107 US dollars. The ultrasound itself was 3,000 pesos. The sonologist’s fee was 2,350 pesos. The average national cost of an abdominal ultrasound in the States is $390 according to Health.Costhelper.com.
In contrast, my emergency room fee at Medicus was only 850 pesos, 17 US dollars. A separate fee for the ER physician was 300 pesos, 6 US dollars.
The doctor who performed the ultrasound was very thorough and answered any questions I had. The results of the ultrasound revealed that I had gallstones but no kidney stones. In fact, the ER doctor described it to my wife as a “gall bladder attack.”
The Return of “Fatty Liver Disease”
However, my fatty liver condition had also returned. It fact, the ultrasound report listed it as severe hepatic steatosis. I had lost a lot of weight several years ago when I was first diagnosed with “fatty liver” disease. Upon returning several months later for another ultrasound, the doctor pronounced me completely healed and my liver was back to normal.
While some fatty liver conditions are caused by alcohol abuse, mine is due to my poor eating habits including too much junk food. We don’t have a drop of alcohol in our home and I rarely have a beer when going out.
We don’t eat out as much and last Friday was the first beer I had consumed in a couple of months.
The ER attending physician recommended surgery to remove my gall bladder. “Absolutely not,” I said. Consequently, the doctor said I would have to go on a very restricted diet and cut out my fatty food intake.
Gall Bladder Attack Fells American Expat in Philippines
The gall bladder attack, the return of “fatty liver” disease, along with my wife’s strict orders regarding a diet plan severely limiting my fatty foods, has prompted me to lose weight.
I will listen to my doctor’s advice, along with my spouse’s strict orders, and lose weight again. This time, I’ll adopt healthier eating habits and keep the weight off. My motivation? My wife. She’s extremely worried about me after her private consultations with our ER doctor.
It is imperative that I keep the weight off but I can’t lose over 53 pounds in 10 weeks like I did back in the States over 10 years ago. That’s not healthy. There was a weight loss competition at my former workplace at AT&T. I won both weight loss contests I entered. In the last competition, I lost almost 24 percent of my body weight, over 53 pounds.
I started out yesterday weighing 212.6 pounds. At 6 ft. tall, that puts me in the overweight range with a Body Mass Index of 28.5 according to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Preventio0n. According to the CDC, for my height, a normal weight range would be from 136 to 184 pounds.
image courtesy of pixabay
136? I weighed that back in high school over 50 years ago! I can live with a 184 weight. When I won my last weight loss competition, I weighed 163 pounds. My co-workers said I looked like a euphemism for feces.
Consequently, it will be my goal to lose 28 pounds. That will put me at 184 pounds. I’m on my way. Hence, no more burgers, fries, and pizza for a long, long time.
However, I can do it. I have to. I’ll post updates on my weight loss in upcoming posts.
Thankfully, no gall bladder attacks since the initial one on Sunday, January 5, 2020. I’ve lost over seven pounds since going on my low-fat diet which began on January 6, 2020. I’m now at 205 pounds.
Chicken, fish, and lots of fruits and vegetables have been on my menu. No soft drinks or foods high in sodium.
The weight loss continues. I’ve lost 14 pounds since January 6, 2020 and now weigh 198 pounds. The low-fat, healthy diet along with exercise is helping drop the weight.