LIST: 'Migraine everyday' and Duterte's other ailments
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte capped off a long day on Monday, December 12, speaking to businessmen at a forum in Malacañang on a range of national issues and personal concerns, including his daily bout with migraines and a slew of other health issues.
Duterte had spoken about his ailments even before be assumed the presidency. The 71-year-old Rody, the oldest Philippine president upon assumption of office, blames his maladies on his vices during his younger days and his fondness for riding motorcycles.
During the campaign, he missed some events due to health issues, prompting other candidates to demand the release of his medical records. His aides say he is particularly weakened by long periods exposed to the sun.
Though he has listed his various ailments in public speeches, Duterte has been highly sensitive when asked about his health, at one time even challenging a reporter to resign if Duterte could keep running on his treadmill for an hour and a half.
So what ailments are bugging Duterte? Here's what he has revealed so far.
1. Buerger's Disease
"Don’t believe in cancer. What I have is really Buerger’s disease. It’s an acquired thing that you get from smoking because of nicotine," said Duterte on Monday, during a Peter Wallace Business Forum at the Palace. (READ: Duterte: 'Don't worry about my health')
Buerger's Disease is a rare condition involving the constriction of blood vessels in the arms and legs, blocking blood flow. This leads to damaged or destroyed skin tissue in the arms and legs, particularly in the hands and feet. Symptoms of this disease include a cold feeling in hands and feet, burning pain, and a pale, red or bluish color. The pain is often worse at night.
Buerger's Disease occurs mainly among smokers.
2. Barrett's Esophagus and GERD
"I have a pain also with the – I have a Barrett...the GERD, they call it," Duterte said on Monday.
Barrett's Esophagus is a complication of GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Smoking is a risk factor. In people with GERD, stomach contents flow backward into the esophagus which is not protected from the acid the stomach produces.
Frequent occurences of this "acid reflux" could cause cells in the esophagus to become similar to cells in the intestine, creating Barrett's Esophagus.
People with this condition have higher chances of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma, a potentially fatal cancer of the esophagus.
3. Spinal issues
"I have a lot of issues with my spinal...So that if you guys see me always with a sad mode, I am actually pushing a nerve here to relieve the pain," said Duterte in the same speech, referring to his habit of cupping his cheek with his hand.
Addressing members of the Highway Patrol Group in Davao City in late November, Duterte said his bouts with migraine are the aftermath of a motorcycle accident years before. This condition is what makes him frequently press his finger to his temple.
The pain got so serious that Duterte even mulled having an operation but eventually decided against it. He numbs the pain with fentanyl patches, the same pain killer used by cancer patients.
"I was only given a fourth of that square thing. There was a time that if I took two. But now no more because – of course, my doctor learned that I was using the whole patch because I felt better. When he knew it, he made me stop and he said, 'Stop it. The first thing that you would lose is your cognitive ability,'" said Duterte.
4. Daily migraines
"Oust me, good. Assassinate me, better. I have this migraine every day," said the President.
After his complaint of "spinal" problems, Malacañang assured the public of Duterte's good health.
"Nothing serious," Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said on Tuesday, December 13.
Despite his old age and infirmities, no one can say Duterte is not an active president.
Cabinet members and his staff have marveled at his energy, traveling to dozens of military and police camps in his first months in power, making several foreign trips abroad, and giving as many as 5 speeches a day in between meetings. – Rappler.com