My mother-in-law’s stroke in Manila, Philippines / How To Prevent Strokes

While I was on my Singapore Blog Awards 2013 Winners Trip to Northern Territory, Australia, I received some bad news. My (future) mother-in-law had suffered a stroke while she was holidaying in Manila with her husband and my fiance.

*I’m not married yet, so technically she’s not my MIL, but my future MIL. However, for the sake of convenience, I’ll just refer to her as my MIL.

It certainly busted some myths about strokes for me:

(1) Strokes only occur while you are doing something strenuous / stressful. Not true. She was on holiday and supposedly stress-free.

(2) There is only one kind of stroke, but different levels of severity. Not true. There’s Ischemic (clots) stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, and TIA (transient ischemic attack). [Source] My MIL had hemorrhagic stroke caused by the rupture of a weakened blood vessel, likely due to uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure).

(3) There is no way to prevent a stroke – it happens suddenly and unexpectedly. Not true. My MIL could have kept her blood pressure under control and the stroke might never have happened. Upon admission to hospital, her BP was in the 190 range, which was truly off the charts. Usual BP is about 130, and even 140/150 is considered high.


The aftermath: When I was told that the right side of her body was unable to move, I knew her condition was quite bad. When I flew over to visit her, after returning to Singapore from my Australia trip, she was still in the Neuro ICU.

While I was there, she was unable to speak and eat. She was fed milk via a tube inserted through her nose. Her right arm and leg lay lifeless next to her, and when the occupational therapist asked her to attempt smiling, her right cheek could not lift into a smile.


Now: She’s still being treated in Manila. I’ve been told that she can now eat a little rice, fish, vegetables, etc. Sitting upright is difficult for her as she’ll start feeling dizzy and her BP will go up. Only when she can sit for 2-3hours will she be given the doctor’s permission to fly back.

So, whichever religion you subscribe to, I ask that you help send a prayer / healing energy / best wishes over to her right now, so she’ll be able to recover and return home soon. Thank you!


The Hospital

The hospital my MIL is in truly exceeded my expectations. It looks as if it could be Gleneagles in Singapore. It’s the Makati Medical Center, which appears to be within their ‘CBD’ area.

It seems to be a very well-equipped hospital, with friendly nurses and doctors.

It was totally not as I’d expected: backward, ill-equipped, under-staffed, etc. Totally a misconception of mine! 😛

However, I have to say that I was shocked. On this first trip to Manila, I realized that the Filipinos LOVE fried foods. A pregnant lady seated next to me on the flight to Manila said that they can eat fried chicken or pork for breakfast, and throughout the day as well. They love to drink alcohol too.

And at the hospital, the fiance told me that he and his dad were shocked to see the doctors eating pizza within the hospital. Unlike hospitals in SG, Makati Medical Center has Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, Burger King, etc. It’s basically the kind of “food” that I would not expect to see in a hospital. But there it is:

Food in Makati Medical Center

Unsurprisingly, heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the Philippines.

The Filipinos are very happy people – in fact, it is not unusual for a cabby to suddenly break into song while ferrying you to your destination. In shopping malls, you’ll see sales assistants dancing or swaying to the music being played, and most likely, singing a tune or two too! Unlike us in Singapore, the Filipinos are unlikely to have ‘cancer’ become their leading cause of death.

But I know their diet needs to change if they want to lead happy AND healthy lives. Hopefully, we’ll see that happening soon. 🙂


How To Prevent A Stroke (Quick Tips)

[For more information: abcnews,,]

1) Quit Smoking

2) Limit Alcohol Intake

3) Eat more fruits and vegetables / Have A Healthy, Balanced Diet

4) Keep your weight, BP and blood sugar in check

5) Exercise, even if it’s just a 20-minute walk a day

6) Seek help if you have depression

7) Use olive oil in your cooking (it also helps lower your risk of getting a heart attack)


I’ve learnt 2 important things from this unfortunate incident:

(1) It is VERY IMPORTANT to go for regular health screenings. My MIL was afraid to go for screenings as she believed that as long as no doctor tells her she’s not ok, she’s fine. Unfortunately, her stroke could have been prevented if her hypertension was kept under control.

(2) It is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to purchase travel insurance when going overseas. The family had thought that nothing untoward would happen on just a short trip to Manila. Unfortunately, this was not the case and the hospital bill is already costing thousands in Singapore dollars.

So, folks, I hope you learn something from this too, and don’t let anything similar happen to you or those you love.

Stay Healthy, Stay Happy and Travel Well-insured!


5 thoughts on “My mother-in-law’s stroke in Manila, Philippines / How To Prevent Strokes

  1. Wish your future mother in law get well soon.
    i was so surprise to know that fast food also can find at hospital. No wonder that heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the Philippines.

  2. Dear grace, pray for healing onto your mother in law. And that she can return back to Singapore for treatment. In Jesus name, Amen!

  3. Pingback: Market! Market! Global City in Manila: Shopping & Food (Cupcakes by Sonja, Chez Karine, Echomarket) | Working With Grace

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