Arroyo chokes on broccoli stem

By Michael Punongbayan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 22 2014 10:04 AM | Updated as of Sep 22 2014 06:04 PM

MANILA - Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo went through another life-threatening incident earlier this month after she choked on a piece of broccoli stem.

Like what happened in August 2012 when she choked on a piece of melon, Arroyo had to be brought to the emergency room.

In a medical report dated September 15, 2014, Dr. Martha Nucum, head of the medical team of the former president, said Arroyo was taken to the emergency room of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City at around 12:30 p.m. last September 2.

Records said she complained of coughing, hoarseness and difficulty of breathing after she was said to have choked on her food while having lunch in her room.

An emergency flexible nasopharyngo laryngo endoscopy was done with the help of anesthesia, which showed that a food particle was lodged in her pyriform sinus.

Nucum said rigid endoscopy was ordered and while she was being prepared for the procedure, she manifested loss of voice.

Such was followed by forceful coughing “after which she vomited the food particle,” which was a piece of broccoli stem.

Sources said the episode, which lasted for almost two hours, now has doctors closely monitoring her and the proper swallowing technique is being imposed to prevent future similar incidents from taking place.

Doctors have advised Arroyo to swallow at a certain angle with tilting motion of her neck to prevent food from being lodged in her esophagus but despite such measures, she still has bouts of choking.

Sources said the latest choking incident was her worst so far considering that choking is a life threatening medical emergency because it blocks the flow of oxygen.

Nucum said the former president has frequent bouts of choking because of esophageal stenonis or the narrowing of her esophagus, which makes it difficult for her to swallow solid food.

Such condition came after she underwent triple operations in 2011 due to cervical spondylosis radiculopathy or more commonly known as pinched nerve in her spine.

Dr. Roberto Anastacio, a cardiologist of the Makati Medical Center who checked on the former president in 2012 after her operations, said that based on CT scan, the titanium plate placed in her cervical cage had shifted which has serious effect on her breathing, swallowing and blood circulation. He had said this poses a life-threatening condition.

At present, Arroyo, who is still detained at the VMMC because of a plunder case she is facing before the Sandiganbayan, is diagnosed to be suffering from cervical spine radiculopathy and degenerative lumbar spine disease as her recent cervical x-ray showed “spur formation along C3 to T2, which denotes osteodegenerative changes.”

Nucum said despite a twice a week physical rehabilitation and therapy, Arroyo’s condition has not improved as she “continues to complain of moderate to severe pain in the lumbosacral area, calf area and nuchal area which is relieved temporarily by NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).”

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