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Nicholas Thurkettle
theory_of_chaos
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Nicholas Thurkettle [userpic]
He called it his milk

That's the detail that gets me. I have felt no desire to write about the death of Michael Jackson, but sometimes the story just starts writing itself. I imagine this scene - a doctor and a man; the man pleading for six hours straight for a drug. The doctor stays up all night with him, hour by hour putting an encyclopedia full of other drugs into his system, but not that one. The man says he cannot sleep without it, it is his milk. Who is the doctor to deny his patient what he needs? Who better than the man to know if he can sleep or not, if he is in pain or not?

There's nothing black-and-white about medicine like this. Any man, even a man with an MD, would find his confidence in his own judgment battered by six hours of agonized begging. And did I mention the doctor is being paid $150,000 a month, and being jetted around the world, to act as the man's personal physician? That money isn't so he'll tape the man's ankle up for a dance rehearsal.

We know that if you are rich (in money or in friends), there are a different set of rules in this country. You're not even supposed to have propofol outside of a hospital - yet no one is interested in the question of how he got it. The money wanted it, the money got it. He called it his milk. I was talking about this around the breakfast table with my father, reiterated my belief that any rich person's drug-related death is essentially a suicide. My father agreed: "Suicide by doc," he called it.

I remember reading Marsha Norman's 'night Mother in college, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a woman preparing for her suicide, and explaining her reasons to her mother as she does. Even just reading it pummeled me; it was so decided and inexorable, I felt dread through the last page and all night afterward. What a two-person play this last night in Jackson's life was - I don't think that doctor needs to go to jail. He'll spend the rest of his life remembering his starring role.

Comments

I agree that the doc didn't do anything he wasn't asked to do, but he also violated his title, and that should be revoked. A doctor should have the medical understanding not to OD someone accidentally. And the drug he gave MJ wasn't something that anyone takes, it's to anesthetize people for surgery. In other words, the drug already has an inherent risk of killing you because anesthesia is one of the most dangerous kind of drugs. People with no other drugs in their systems can die from correctly administered anesthesia, and anesthesiologists have highly specialized training and only administer the drug in hospitals where they have the medicine on hand to revive someone. That a man, no matter how well trained, would administer this to someone as a sleeping pill outside of a hospital setting shows a distinct lack of respect to the tools of his craft.

I fully believe in the legalization of at will access to drugs, but I also believe that if you've got MD after your name, you're supposed to behave responsibly no matter what the paycheck. Jackson was on so many drugs that nothing he was saying was coming from a place of reality anymore. If a woman on roofies says yes, it doesn't actually mean yes. Clearly Jackson had a lot of problems that needed to be addressed, not just by a personal physician but by a removal from his lifestyle.

And again, I'm all for physician assisted suicide, if the patient is in a rational place and can request it. But for a physician to willingly put an intoxicated man into harms way makes him a terrible person, not just a terrible doctor.

And you're right, the money would have gotten it no matter what. And it's completely tragic. It would be so much less so had he actually been asking for death instead of inviting death in a hit at a time.

Oh, I agree he shouldn't get to be a doctor anymore; he set himself up to get into exactly this kind of situation and then made the wrong call. And he will probably go to jail and probably should. But his punishment is going to happen outside of all that; and somehow humanized him for me, even in the awful choice he made; because I can see how difficult it would be to resist.

And it encapsulated for me all the stories about the parental abuse, and MJ's self-mythologized interrupted childhood; here he is begging his caretaker for his "milk" so he can go to "sleep". It makes me shiver to think about it.

Screw Patch Adams - doctors need at least some distance from their patients so they don't get sucked into this type of emotionally-compromised co-dependency. And they shouldn't be offering different menus of service to the highest bidder.

Well as long as you agree he shouldn't be practicing, then I'm with you. But I think that's true of a lot of crime and one of the reasons that prison doesn't necessarily make sense for a lot of people. Sometimes we make bad decisions and we have to pay for them, but if we're not a danger to others I'm not sure how prison is a solution.

Well.... He asked for it. Well, we think he asked for it. Maybe the Dr was just tired of hearing him bitch. Don't know. However people eventually fall asleep; it's not possible to be awake forever. So all the drugs and such were simply an attempt to hasten things along. Which they did well.

CZ

There are just so many layers to the word "dependency" in this scenario. The thought of being this powerless to a drug, or to emotional trauma, or even just to a man injecting me with potentially lethal substances - I have no words for the kind of terror that makes me feel.