MANILA, Philippines - Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was rushed to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City near midnight Thursday after she choked on a piece of melon and strained her fragile neck, her spokesperson said yesterday.
The 65-year-old Arroyo was brought to the VMMC by her husband Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo at 11:58 p.m. from their house in La Vista for “acute cervical and lumbar strain,” according to the emergency admission form of the VMMC signed by Dr. Martha Nucum.
Ma. Elena Bautista-Horn, Arroyo’s spokesperson, said the former leader was advised by doctors to go on complete bed rest.
“I think her neck was strained and overworked in her effort to remove the melon that choked her,” Horn said.
Mike said his wife would spend the night at the VMMC, where she was detained for eight months on charges of electoral sabotage.
The Pasay Regional Trial Court had allowed her to post a P1-million bail due to lack of evidence last month.
He said Arroyo had dizzy spells and back pains on Thursday and was not eating much.
“I noticed that she was not feeling well,” Mike said in a telephone interview.
Arroyo underwent three surgeries on her neck to treat a degenerative disease afflicting her neck bones in July and August last year.
However, the titanium implants on her cervical spine became dislodged and another surgery was recommended by VMMC doctors.
The lawmaker, however, last week said she was not yet emotionally and physically ready to go under the knife again.
Because of the obstruction affecting her throat, she can only eat soft foods and remains at risk of choking, Horn said.
A day after she was released on bail last July 25, Arroyo spent a night at an alternative healing center in Tagaytay.
The following day, she visited her parents’ grave at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani and proceeded to her district in Pampanga.
On Tuesday, Arroyo showed up at the session hall of the House of Representatives and listened to debates on the Reproductive Health bill. She left after half an hour.
The head of the VMMC, meanwhile, yesterday said Arroyo needs to limit her movement for a year.
When she was brought back to the government hospital a week after she was released on bail, the former president was advised to go on a “complete bed rest,” said VMMC director Nona Legaspi.
“But that doesn’t mean she has to lie down all the time. She just needs to allow her muscles to rest,” Legaspi said.
“Fifty percent of going back to normal is dependent on that,” she added.
According to Legaspi, the effect of physical therapy sessions the former president undergoes could have their effect in a year.
Legaspi said Arroyo had been advised to limit her movement even before last Thursday night’s incident.
The VMMC director said movement has effect on the body of Arroyo even if she is riding in a comfortable car.
She noted road conditions could cause jerking to those inside the vehicle.
Legaspi said the congresswoman also needs to limit her visits to the House of Representatives.
She added that doctors have yet to determine if Arroyo needs to be confined longer.
When asked about the condition of the former leader, Legaspi said: “She looks kind of weak and dehydrated,” noting Arroyo had been “hooked to an I.V.” - With Reinir Padua