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Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to the Asian countries - China, The Philippines, Thailand, etc.

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Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby davewe » Tue Aug 25, 2015 2:02 am

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Re: Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby MarcosZeitola » Tue Aug 25, 2015 6:59 am

It's strange how some people are utterly broken and done for at fifty-five, and others make it to a hundred healthy as a clam. In the Philippines, this is very much reality. My wife's great-grandmother is still with us today, having lived long enough to see some of her grandchildren become grandparents themselves. Whereas several of her children have been dead for many years now.

You can't really predict death anywhere, even less so in the Philippines where in many places health care is far from perfect, or hard to reach. If someone in the wife of my wife has a heart attack, they'll bring him to the local clinic too. The nearest hospital is almost two hours by car. When my grandfather in Europe had a heart attack in his fifties, he recovered well, got medical help quickly and ended up living another twenty-plus years (and counting!), whereas in the Philippines that heart attack would have been the end of him.

Maybe for this reason, attitudes surrounding death are different too. It is understood to be a regular part of life, and as virtually everyone is Catholic, a Filipino dies in the knowledge he'll meet his loved ones again. So the relaxed manana, manana lifestyle prevails in all aspects of life, and death.
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Re: Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby davewe » Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:21 pm

MarcosZeitola wrote:It's strange how some people are utterly broken and done for at fifty-five, and others make it to a hundred healthy as a clam. In the Philippines, this is very much reality. My wife's great-grandmother is still with us today, having lived long enough to see some of her grandchildren become grandparents themselves. Whereas several of her children have been dead for many years now.

You can't really predict death anywhere, even less so in the Philippines where in many places health care is far from perfect, or hard to reach. If someone in the wife of my wife has a heart attack, they'll bring him to the local clinic too. The nearest hospital is almost two hours by car. When my grandfather in Europe had a heart attack in his fifties, he recovered well, got medical help quickly and ended up living another twenty-plus years (and counting!), whereas in the Philippines that heart attack would have been the end of him.

Maybe for this reason, attitudes surrounding death are different too. It is understood to be a regular part of life, and as virtually everyone is Catholic, a Filipino dies in the knowledge he'll meet his loved ones again. So the relaxed manana, manana lifestyle prevails in all aspects of life, and death.


I read a great piece (can't find it now) that said that in the West our attitude toward death, which is one of fear and procrastination (don't pull the plug on Grandma) is partly based on the fact that we no longer grow up experiencing death. Someone born in the 19th century in a rural area or someone living now in provincial Philippines, grew up experiencing the life and death cycle by observing animals.

For many Westerners, the 1st time they ever encounter death is with a grandparent or even a parent - and it often happens unobserved in a hospital or hospice - and they don't know what to do.

As to Janet's Uncle in the piece - the cause of death changed after the autopsy was finished. They saw a pretty severe bruise and speculate that he fell. It's possible that a clot broke off or his heart just gave up the ghost. Could he have survived if he lived closer to a major hospital? Maybe. Or maybe it was his time.

How to live is a decision we all have to make, particularly as we get older. Personally I don't want to worry about dying and feel like I have to live next door to a hospital, but OTOH, don't want to be many hours away. Outside of Dumaguete's looking better and better to me.
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Re: Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby MarcosZeitola » Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:37 pm

davewe wrote:I read a great piece (can't find it now) that said that in the West our attitude toward death, which is one of fear and procrastination (don't pull the plug on Grandma) is partly based on the fact that we no longer grow up experiencing death. Someone born in the 19th century in a rural area or someone living now in provincial Philippines, grew up experiencing the life and death cycle by observing animals.


Very true! My daughter grows up surrounded by chickens, pigs, dogs, cats and goats. She's already familiar with the concept of death, though she's barely a year and a half, because a few weeks ago when my father-in-law was about to kill a chicken, she started crying and tried to stop him... as he turns out, she thought it was HER chicken (we gave her a chicken as a present and she's been feeding it herself). When we showed her her own chicken was fine, she stopped crying.

davewe wrote:How to live is a decision we all have to make, particularly as we get older. Personally I don't want to worry about dying and feel like I have to live next door to a hospital, but OTOH, don't want to be many hours away. Outside of Dumaguete's looking better and better to me.


I'm probably too young to say something sensible about this, but I suppose if I was older and fear a heart attack, I'd take my chances if being further away from the hospital meant I got to live in a beautiful, sunny place. I'd rather die with a cold beer in my hand under a palm tree at 75 then die a vegetable at 95 in a concrete jungle which happens to be close to the hospital. ;)
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Re: Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby davewe » Wed Aug 26, 2015 3:23 am

MarcosZeitola wrote:
I'm probably too young to say something sensible about this, but I suppose if I was older and fear a heart attack, I'd take my chances if being further away from the hospital meant I got to live in a beautiful, sunny place. I'd rather die with a cold beer in my hand under a palm tree at 75 then die a vegetable at 95 in a concrete jungle which happens to be close to the hospital. ;)


I basically agree but having the Uncle just die when he might have survived if he'd gotten to a real hospital gives me pause.
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Re: Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby Mr Natural » Sun Aug 30, 2015 5:22 am

MarcosZeitola wrote:I'd rather die with a cold beer in my hand under a palm tree at 75 then die a vegetable at 95 in a concrete jungle which happens to be close to the hospital. ;)


The percentage of people who say this is high, but goes down markedly when they actually get to 75.......
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Re: Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby mentor » Fri May 13, 2016 10:18 am

What about air pollution in Manila and surrounding areas?
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Re: Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby davewe » Fri May 13, 2016 5:29 pm

mentor wrote:What about air pollution in Manila and surrounding areas?


Not sure what you're asking or what it has to do with the original post.
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Re: Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby Rock » Fri May 13, 2016 6:09 pm

MarcosZeitola wrote:
davewe wrote:I read a great piece (can't find it now) that said that in the West our attitude toward death, which is one of fear and procrastination (don't pull the plug on Grandma) is partly based on the fact that we no longer grow up experiencing death. Someone born in the 19th century in a rural area or someone living now in provincial Philippines, grew up experiencing the life and death cycle by observing animals.


Very true! My daughter grows up surrounded by chickens, pigs, dogs, cats and goats. She's already familiar with the concept of death, though she's barely a year and a half, because a few weeks ago when my father-in-law was about to kill a chicken, she started crying and tried to stop him... as he turns out, she thought it was HER chicken (we gave her a chicken as a present and she's been feeding it herself). When we showed her her own chicken was fine, she stopped crying.

davewe wrote:How to live is a decision we all have to make, particularly as we get older. Personally I don't want to worry about dying and feel like I have to live next door to a hospital, but OTOH, don't want to be many hours away. Outside of Dumaguete's looking better and better to me.


I'm probably too young to say something sensible about this, but I suppose if I was older and fear a heart attack, I'd take my chances if being further away from the hospital meant I got to live in a beautiful, sunny place. I'd rather die with a cold beer in my hand under a palm tree at 75 then die a vegetable at 95 in a concrete jungle which happens to be close to the hospital. ;)


I've basically always lived very close to a hospital, not out of fear of death but rather pain. If something happens which causes intense ongoing pain, believe me, you don't wanna be too far from a decent hospital.

I've had bouts of serious food poisoning several times in Taipei and Bangkok. The pain in some of those cases was so bad I begged the ER docs to tranquilize me to sleep. Instead, they gave me very powerful pain killers and started me on IV drip to get me cleaned out. Within an hour pain subsided and by next day, I was as good as new.

I've also suffered from numerous gallstone attacks which required ER treatment. Again, thank God for those powerful pain killers and muscle relaxants they inject you with. If I was stuck in the province with something like that, I might pay a local to shoot me in the head and put me out of my misery lol! I finally had the stones (but not bladder) removed in China.

My Taiwan gf suffered some inexplicable pain once in Bangkok. Again, very nice we were staying right next to Lerdsin Hospital so she was relieved of pain and good to go back to hotel within 3 hours for just a few hundred baht.

Death is not something to fear. It will free and liberate you from these limited little lives and bring you to God. But having painful physical problems associated with certain conditions or accidents can be pure torture. That's one reason I don't wanna spend too prolonged a period in remote areas of Philippines or other very poor countries. I also am leery when I'm in the USA cus I don't wanna spend 1,000s of USD on an ER visit or 10s of 1,000s in case I required hospital care. I don't have insurance which covers me in USA.
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Re: Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby mentor » Fri May 13, 2016 6:34 pm

davewe wrote:
mentor wrote:What about air pollution in Manila and surrounding areas?


Not sure what you're asking or what it has to do with the original post.


It is about lung diseases around there.
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Re: Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby davewe » Mon May 16, 2016 4:54 pm

Rock wrote:I've basically always lived very close to a hospital, not out of fear of death but rather pain. If something happens which causes intense ongoing pain, believe me, you don't wanna be too far from a decent hospital.

I've had bouts of serious food poisoning several times in Taipei and Bangkok. The pain in some of those cases was so bad I begged the ER docs to tranquilize me to sleep. Instead, they gave me very powerful pain killers and started me on IV drip to get me cleaned out. Within an hour pain subsided and by next day, I was as good as new.


I think that pain is a reasonable concern, particularly when you have experienced episodes of it before. But while hospitals/clinics in smaller cities and towns are considered poor compared to major metro areas for sophisticated treatments and technology (for good reason), the one thing they can do is give you drugs. Hell, you can be in a small town in the Philippines and get drugs without ever going to a hospital or seeing a doctor :)
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Re: Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby Rock » Mon May 16, 2016 5:52 pm

davewe wrote:
Rock wrote:I've basically always lived very close to a hospital, not out of fear of death but rather pain. If something happens which causes intense ongoing pain, believe me, you don't wanna be too far from a decent hospital.

I've had bouts of serious food poisoning several times in Taipei and Bangkok. The pain in some of those cases was so bad I begged the ER docs to tranquilize me to sleep. Instead, they gave me very powerful pain killers and started me on IV drip to get me cleaned out. Within an hour pain subsided and by next day, I was as good as new.


I think that pain is a reasonable concern, particularly when you have experienced episodes of it before. But while hospitals/clinics in smaller cities and towns are considered poor compared to major metro areas for sophisticated treatments and technology (for good reason), the one thing they can do is give you drugs. Hell, you can be in a small town in the Philippines and get drugs without ever going to a hospital or seeing a doctor :)


When it comes to powerful drugs, NE/SE Asia including Philippines is very conservative. It's virtually impossible to get any kind of narcotic pain killer here. Even the ER in Taiwan would usually treat me with tramadol IV drip even though I put my pain at 9 out of 10 and begged for a powerful shot of morphine.

In the USA, especially in States like Florida, it's a piece of cake to get about any type of pill form opiate based painkiller legally. Some of these are extremely powerful. There are doctors galore in America who hand em' out like candy. So pain management for say a person with gallstone pain or maybe chronic back pain (like Steve Neese) is more challenging in Asia than USA. Cancer patients get all the morphine they need in USA. Not so in Asia where they believe moderate pain should be tolerated. The strongest pain killer you can get in a drugstore here in Philippines is tramadol which is just not enough for more serious pain.

Ditto for relaxants and sleep meds. In Taiwan, at least I can get a bunch of xanax or valium for virtually nothing. But in Philippines, you actually have to get a prescription available only from say a specialist like a psychiatrist. GP cannot give you such prescription. Going through that process and buying the meds here is time consuming and quite expensive.

What about smart drugs like modafinil. Again, not available unless perhaps you tap into the murky online black market. Much easier to get in the USA. And drug abuse laws here can be draconian.

Need medical marajuana? Better not try that here unless you don't mind many years in the slammer! In the USA, it's doable or even legal depending on which state you are in.

The opium den days are long behind us. The romantic wild east image that places like Phils or Thailand are easy and free zones to procure powerful drugs legally is a myth. The stuff available OTC is very lightweight. Think Tylenol, tramadol, and maybe ambien concoctions. And doctors here tend to be a lot more conservative in what they are willing to prescribe than in the USA or even Taiwan.
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Re: Sickness and Death in the Philippines

Postby davewe » Mon May 16, 2016 8:25 pm

Mr Natural wrote:
MarcosZeitola wrote:I'd rather die with a cold beer in my hand under a palm tree at 75 then die a vegetable at 95 in a concrete jungle which happens to be close to the hospital. ;)


The percentage of people who say this is high, but goes down markedly when they actually get to 75.......


It's a tough choice and I can see several sides of the coin. One of the problems is that most of us have lived in the doctor TV show generation where all you had to do is make it to the ER and you were saved. The reality is far different. Check out the statistics on survival rates when receiving CPR. Again, TV makes it look like a miracle, but reality is that the survival rate is very low.

So your comfort zone is much less about objective reality and much more about what you feel comfortable with. If the 75 year old feels secure because he is close to what he considers a quality hospital - well, there is something to be said about feeling good.

If Rock feels secure because he is close to a hospital and is concerned about another episode of pain requiring the best drugs - well, that security feels good.

Every time someone dies in a hospital in the Philippines I have friends who say it was the hospital's or doctor's fault. And sometimes it is. But again look up heart attack statistics in the US. Just because you made it there and George Clooney is your attending doesn't mean you're gonna live through it.

Of course this is my life view. My mother was a healthy, attractive woman who died at 40. My father's nearly 100 pounds overweight and has been his entire life - and is just about to hit 87. So who knows. In my blog piece no one realized what was wrong with the uncle and thought he'd just fallen asleep. There are worse ways to go, I suppose.
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