As an Anesthetist I get a wide range of medical questions, not just those involving anesthesia. I’m not complainin’, I’m just sayin’. Don’t get me wrong I’m cool with it…because most of the time the people that are asking are my family, friends, or patients…and I am happy to answer anything I can. The questions usually center around a surgery or chronic illness of someone or their family member. Maybe something they are afraid to ask their doctor directly or just something that they’ve been saving to ask him/her on their next visit in 2 months. So I look at it, generally, as an opportunity to share honestly, and “without harm”, to someone. In other words, I tell them what I know IN COMBINATION with what I think (perception/view/judgement), if that is even relavent. Depending on the person and situation the last part may be very open or a little more tapered back or “vanilla”.
So here’s my take on Michael Jackson’s death via an anesthetic drug, Propofol, and his addiction, from an Anesthetist in recovery (and not so vanilla, I might add). This post comes from the “many” questions I have been fielding lately at work and out and about. My insight may not be that unique from others, but I believe, my experience in this profession, along with knowing something about my disease of addiction, and possibly how it affects others too is what’s motivating me to rant like this. My path of recovery seems to act as a light to reveal not just my disease to me, but in others to. I say that with confidence and humility, not arrogance and pride. Those close to me know this is true. So you get where I’m coming from? I hope so!
I have never been asked by more patients what Propofol is… or “the medicine Michael took”, than I have since his death. The brutal honesty of it is the medicine didn’t kill him. Propofol is an induction agent for general anesthesia. It does have a history of addiction, but it is unknown what component of the medicine is addictive. Many an anesthetist/anesthesiologist has died due to abuse of such a potent medication. Most deadly situations are due to overdose related to self administration. The facts in Michael’s story are that he was given the medicine and an overdose occured…either related directly or indirectly due to Propofol. This is what pisses me off probably the most. This is what I do for a living. Anesthesia is a medical science, that takes into account not just how 1 drug works, but many in tantum. My job gets a lot harder when a patient comes in telling me about ALL the pharmaceuticals they are on and I am to give medicines that render them unconscious…while at the same time maintaining hemodynamic stability. I don’t get what was going on in that doctors mind. Seriously, I do this everyday and Michael would be a challenge, yet alone doing all this at his home.
Dr. Conrad Murray, a cardiologist, internal medicine specialist, was Michael’s doctor. It appears the guy (and others) did more harm than good and the outcome proves it…death. More and more info is coming out and if you haven’t put together that MJ was an addict, than you will…very soon. All the script meds this guy was on is freakin amazing. He probably has been dodging death for years and years. This doctors integrity and professionalism was bought for $150,000 a month to sign prescriptions, manage MJ’s healthcare, and sadly enable MJ’s chronic and deadly disease of addiction to the point of “killing” him. And again, it wasn’t just him. MJ’s family, collegues, friends, AND healthcare professionals all played their “deadly” part.
Micheal had no business using a mainly hospital based medicine that is used primarily for surgery and secondarily for heavy sedation, in someone’s makeshift hospital room, located in their house. RNs are not even allowed to administer this medicine via titration, yet alone a MD that manages patient care with little hands on experience. The RN that worked for MJ refused to give it…and good for her…STRONG WORK…that is some integrity. She doesn’t get off the hook totally because she has a “part” too. I wonder what she was payed to “enable”. I guess she had a price. I wonder if I do.
That, for me is the key, ie, “teaching tool” of this whole thing. When left to my own will (an addict’s will), God is pushed aside and my disease will run the show…and everyone close to me is fair game to destruction as well. My integrity is destroyed first and others’ follow. That is just how addiction works…and the result is ALWAYS, jails, institutions, or death.