When you’re aging on a budget | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

How was I to know that hair loss, for example, could cost me P8,000 a month?






At this age, even without any serious health threats, I’m running up serious expenses I haven’t at all anticipated. Let’s begin from the top.


How was I to know that hair loss, a masculine malady in the family until me, could cross genders and cost me P8,000 a month for the rest of my days? The deal seems simple and fair enough, though: Keep all your remaining hair and grow yet new hair with daily drops onto the scalp where hair once was. I’ve seen enough evidence and heard enough credible testimonials. Alas, it also comes with risks, of which I’ve also seen and heard: Quit the regimen and all hair quits on you, too.


In fact, that’s what keeps me postponing the treatment—until I’m 75. I’m calculating that by then I’ll have to support the habit for 10, 12, or, if I’m really lucky, 15 years. I just hope, at that age, I’d have kept enough memory cells to remember to put my daily drops.


Meantime, I intend to continue the monthly P1,000 treatment at my parlor that promises to stop or at least minimize falling hair. With manicure and pedicure and tips factored in, the bill still adds up to a pretty penny, but nothing like the P8,000 that buys you only one, though admittedly critical, item—hair.


My friend Malu, a long-living testimony that it pays to be vain, has just told me about a kit that costs P4,000 and lasts for four months; in certain cases, the treatment is repeated. The effect, says Malu, should be detectable within a few months. When new growth appears, it’s time to shift to maintenance drops that cost only P800-plus per reasonably lasting vial. Malu has been at it for years, and her hair definitely looks healthy and thick.


In fact, it’s not all Malu is into. She visits a dermatologist periodically, and gets her regular facial. She also has been urging me to do a coffee enema, which she herself does everyday and credits in part for her beating cancer. I haven’t gotten around to sampling it. I guess traumatic memories of my mom forcing it on me, as I was growing up, the dreadful choice between lavativa, a warm saltwater enema, or Carabaña, a saltwater laxative, have kept me off.


In fact, I hadn’t paid any attention to Malu’s enema advice until I finally made my oft-postponed appointment with Dr. Mikey Vergara, a nephew’s best friend known for his holistic approach to aging-related ailments. Another fainting episode brought me to his clinic. I seem to faint once a year in the strangest places.




Last year, it was during a tour of Malacañang. I was carried in a chair to the Presidential Security Group clinic and eventually taken by ambulance to Medical City, where I got well upon arriving but was made all the same to take tests, which revealed nothing. Before then, it had happened at the famous tourist market of Barcelona. An emergency medical team came, took my blood sugar and blood pressure, and pronounced me in no danger; indeed, I was soon up and walking.


This last time it happened at home—in the bathroom. My taste in fainting venue having clearly deteriorated, I didn’t object when my husband, Vergel, insisted I see Mikey.


In preparation for a physical examination, I made a point of wearing presentable underwear, but it was totally wasted. After questioning me for symptoms, Mikey only wanted to see my tongue, and from a tell-tale groove deduced an intestinal ailment. I had never compared tongues before, so I made him and Vergel stick their tongues out themselves for me to see—oh, the difference! Mikey noted that Vergel’s was a bit swollen, and rightly guessed too much salt—Malabon patis—in his diet.


He ordered, apart from a regular blood test, an occult-blood stool test to see if I had any internal bleeding. Except for slight anemia, I was cleared to undergo three sessions of colonic cleansing using—to reinforce Malu’s own prescription—coffee. Each session costs P2,000, making it easily the most expensive coffee I have ever drunk. Vergel decided to take the expensive coffee, too.


Mom was right all along—enema! Five years after her death, I’m finding more and more things to thank her for—even the lavativas. But, done by a knowledgeable therapist, this one was not at all uncomfortable; in fact, it was neat, gentle and respectful. Indeed, it felt good, especially since in the first session alone I lost 3 lbs.


Up next for cleansing would be the liver, done in a different clinic, in Tagaytay, for P30,000. That pays for two nights’ stay for detoxification. A great deal more, about three times as much, buys top-of-the-line service elsewhere—a longer stay, special meals for losing weight, and massage and other luxurious pampering.


Anyway, the liver-cleansing stage—the next big expense—can wait. Lesser, regular expenses we don’t mind incurring. Cranberry tablets have kept me free of urinary-tract infection, a previously recurrent problem, and for all sorts of check, I take fish oil.


Ah, but the Faustian deal that it is, stem-cell treatment is definitely beyond budget.