OPINION: What’s the truth about Duterte’s health?

MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Our President, by his own admission, has Buerger’s disease, Barrett’s esophagus, is subjected to migraine headaches, and has “spinal issues”. And now, he adds Myasthenia gravis to the list (inherited from his grandfather).

Our President, by his own admission, has Buerger’s disease, Barrett’s esophagus, is subjected to migraine headaches, and has “spinal issues” (which he attributes to a motorcycle accident when he was 68 years old). As many TV viewers have noticed, he also regularly gets large dark spots on his face. He also has admitted to taking sleeping pills, taking Fentanyl, which is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, and needing “additional oxygen” while sleeping. Just as gratuitously, he admits also to constipation (inherited from his mother, he says), although I don’t know in what context he offered this. And now, he adds Myasthenia gravis to the list (inherited from his grandfather).

That is a lot of ailments, Reader, all physical. He also has a mental ailment which I wrote about, almost two years ago to the day—antisocial narcissistic personality disorder. This ailment he has not been forthcoming about, unlike with his physical ailments. But this ailment was diagnosed by a doctor—Natividad Dayan, former president of the International Council of Psychologists—and submitted to the court that was presiding over the marriage annulment proceedings between Mr. Duterte and his wife. As I mentioned in earlier columns, Mr. Duterte and US President Donald Trump share this disorder.

The question: How do these ailments, in their entirety, affect the way President Duterte is presiding over our country? Is he fit to run it? Two years ago, through this column, I asked the Philippine Medical Association or whatever psychiatric or psychological association we have, to assess the President’s behavior. I got no reply. Now, I want to widen the scope and ask them to assess his other ailments. But I doubt whether there will be any takers, at least not publicly. They are afflicted with the Big C—and I’m not talking Cancer.

I know of no Malacañang or any other doctor who has even discussed the President’s health, or how it may affect his judgment or ability to govern. Maybe because there is no official Malacañang doctor, or whoever doctor there is doesn’t want to lie. So we are left to our own devices, mainly Google. Which I did. I googled Buerger’s, Barrett’s, Myasthenia gravis, migraine, back pains, Fentanyl, and narcissistic personality disorder. It’s all there. But if you have no time (or patience), let me share with you my findings (from Mayo Clinic):

BUERGER’S DISEASE. Rare, incurable disease of the arteries in the arms and legs. May lead to infection and gangrene. Symptoms include pain in the limbs that may come and go. Good news: Quitting all forms of tobacco is the only way to stop (not cure) this disease, and President D has quit.

BARRETT’S ESOPHAGUS. Associated with increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. Biopsy of tissue from esophagus is needed to determine the degree of dysplasia (the presence of cells of an abnormal type, which may signify a stage preceding the development of cancer). Bad news: We don’t know whether that biopsy has shown no, low, or high dysplasia. Worse news: It can recur after treatment. N.B.: Mr. Duterte said a polyp in his intestine (not esophagus) was biopsied and came out negative.

MIGRAINE. Can cause severe throbbing pain or pulsing sensation, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Attacks can last for hours or days, and pain can be so severe that it interferes with daily activities. Bad news: We don’t know how often President Duterte gets these attacks.

SPINAL ISSUES (back pain). A leading cause of disability worldwide. Signs and symptoms include muscle ache and shooting or stabbing pain, or pain that worsens with standing or walking. President Duterte says the cause of these and migraines was “nerve damage” due to a motorcycle accident six years ago (no doctor confirms or denies). Bad news (or good): Is this all the damage done by that accident?

MYASTHENIA GRAVIS. Can affect not just eye muscles, but face and throat muscles, and neck and limb muscles. Bad news: It looks like it is not just a case of drooping eye.

SKIN DARKENING. Could be caused by diabetes, or Addison’s disease (adrenal deficiency). Let’s not get carried away. I’m stopping here.

PLUS: NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER.

So what do you think, Reader? Would you trust him to run your company? Or the country?

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