The untimely passing of Michael Jackson, at the age of 50, has stunned the world of music. But those who knew Michael Jackson say the warning signs of his fading health were clear in recent months and his long-term addiction to painkillers is the obvious underlying health issue which, combined with the considerable pressure of attempting a show business comeback, may just have claimed his life.
An Emergency Room source at UCLA hospital said Jackson aides told medics he had collapsed after an injection of potent Demerol, similar to morphine. A Jackson source said: “Shortly after taking the Demerol he started to experience slow shallow breathing. “His breathing gradually got slower and slower until it stopped. His staff started mouth-to-mouth and an ambulance was called which got there in eight minutes but he was in full respiratory arrest, no breathing and no pulse. They started full CPR and rushed him to hospital. When he arrived they started resuscitation, giving him heart shocks and inserted a breathing tube and other supportive measures to try and save his life. He never regained consciousness. The family was told that he had passed.”
Only last month, the UK Daily Mail reported that Jackson was struggling to attend rehearsals for his comeback tour, which was due to start in July at the O2 in London. Out of 45 rehearsals, he has attended only two. Rumors of a painkiller addiction surfaced after enduring back pain in addition to other medical issues. The source, who asked not to be named, said: ‘He has pain in his back and that is the reason for the drugs, but it is obvious that the painkillers have taken over his life.’ He added: ‘His family is telling him to ditch the medications and get on with the tour.’ ‘He had been so frail, both physically and emotionally,’ the acquaintance said. ‘Many warned he was pushing too hard and overdoing things, but he wanted to get back to work so badly, he kept pushing himself harder and harder.” Another family source said he had become increasingly withdrawn over recent weeks, leaning on his mother Katherine for support as his health deteriorated.
Sadly there were no signs that Jackson was able to conquer his dependencies, believed to be to over the counter prescription opiates such as Dialudid. As it happens, a consequence of an overdose of these drugs is cardiac arrest. Jackson’s body has been transferred to the coroner for an autopsy on Friday.
According to most sources, his addictions actually dated back to the accident he had when filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984, when a stunt went badly wrong. It is also widely known that he became hooked on the prescription painkiller Demerol after an accident in rehearsals for a 1993 tour. At the time, he was also said to have developed a dependency on the anti-anxiety medications Valium, Xanax and Ativan, and entered rehab.
Jackson’s overall health has been in question and as recently as 12 months ago he was frail enough to ask for a wheelchair when on a shopping trip. He also said that the repeated operations on his nose left him struggling to breathe. Recently, Jackson denied reports that he was suffering from skin cancer, and promoter Randy Phillips said: ‘I would trade my body for his tomorrow. He’s in fantastic shape.’ But the truth is that Jackson was destroyed emotionally and physically by his trial on charges of sex abuse in 2005 (a trial, incidentally, during which he spent much of the time in a wheelchair, claiming to be in serious pain from a broken vertebra in his back). Though he was cleared of all charges, the sordid details that emerged during the trial left him mentally and physically broken. Since then, Jackson lived in his own bubble, surrounded by staff and protected by a permanent security team of five. He spent most days playing with his children Prince Michael, Paris Katherine and Prince Michael II (known as Blanket).