LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson may have called the anesthetic propofol his “milk,” but rather than give him strength, it left him in such a vulnerable state that his urine was collected through a device for incontinent patients.
That was one view of Jackson’s final days and the extreme measures he took in life to maintain his public image as a beautiful superstar, which were revealed in a six day hearing into his death that ended earlier this week.
Other details were his wearing of a surgical cap while he slept to cover his balding scalp, and the numerous tubes of skin bleach cream he used to hide the disorder vitiligo, which causes a discoloration of the skin, from which he suffered.
But for the man once dubbed Wacko Jacko in the media, there was a softer side revealed, too. He was depicted as a father who cared deeply for his three children, and even as he was hounded by paparazzi, he tried to give them a normal life.
On Tuesday this week, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ordered Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the “Thriller” singer’s 2009 death due to an overdose mainly of propofol.
The anesthetic is used in hospitals to sedate patients, but Jackson’s doctor has admitted to giving it to him at home as a sleep aid. One prosecution witness testified to some evidence Jackson might have drank it he would a glass of milk.
At one point, Judge Pastor seemed puzzled over why Murray would make the unorthodox decision to administer — at Jackson’s request — propofol for sleeplessness, since the drug’s effects last only minutes.
“Isn’t the person still sleep deprived?” Pastor asked Murray’s defense attorneys. “What purpose does it do to administer a dose that’s only going to keep the person asleep for five minutes?”
Joseph Low, an attorney for Murray, responded that after Jackson had experienced over many years the adrenaline of performing for thousands of fans, he found it hard to sleep.
“It’s difficult to come down off your own chemistry, if you will,” Low said. “The propofol doesn’t allow you to sleep ... but it at least allows you to get started.”
Earlier in the hearing, witnesses testified to seeing a “condom catheter” on Jackson as he lay motionless in his bed. That is a device to collect urine through a tube in patients without control of bodily functions, such as those under deep sedation, testified Dr. Richelle Cooper, the hospital physician who pronounced Jackson dead.
Elissa Fleak, a coroner investigator, said she found a jug of urine on a chair when she combed through Jackson’s room.
Paramedic Richard Senneff testified that Jackson was also wearing a surgical cap when emergency workers arrived at his bedroom. That may be because, as revealed earlier in Jackson’s autopsy report, he suffered from “frontal balding” and his hair was described as “sparse and connected to a wig.”
Despite years of being maligned in the media for saying he suffered from skin discoloration disease vitiligo, when few believed that would be the reason for his changed skin color, the autopsy also disclosed that he did have the disease.
In the preliminary hearing, it was revealed that to make his skin appear one color, he used huge amounts of skin cream. Fleak testified she found tubes of the whitening chemical hydroquinone in Jackson’s bedroom, and pharmacist Tim Lopez said he shipped 20 tubes of the cream to Murray.
There was another side of Jackson, too, that was told from the witness stand. Several people said Jackson shared a joyful life with his children Prince, 13, Paris, 12, and Blanket, 8, and on the day he died, his kids were playing, as usual, in the den, said family chef, Kai Chase.
“It was normally a happy home,” Chase said. “There was always music playing. You could hear the sound of kids playing and animals playing.”
Jackson family friend Firpo Carr told Reuters Jackson never sang about heaven, and that he had unique thoughts about it based on his religious beliefs.
“He did not plan on going to heaven, as you can tell from his songs, his whole thing was living in paradise on Earth with his children,” Carr said.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte