Lupus, Vitiligo, Plastic Surgery and the concept of ‘self-hatred’. Did Michael Jackson want to go white?
Interesting coincidences sometimes happen. A week ago the accusations of Michael Jackson of ‘black self-hatred’ impressed me so much that I decided to write a few words about this allegation - touching upon Michael’s health on the way, and here we are – a certain Dr. Drew Pinsky suddenly uses his TV show to spread old lies about Michael’s nose ‘falling off’ and invite Michael Jackson’s so-called ‘friends’ (Brian Oxman and Deepak Chopra) to say nothing good of him except that he was an ‘addict’.
Surprisingly, but my post is also going to be about Michael’s looks and even some problems concerning addiction and I will also be quoting a former associate of Michael Jackson – Dr. Arnold Klein who isn’t regarded as Michael’s friend at all – however it is this man who will assure us that Michael’s nose was very much in place and that Michael managed to withdraw from his former addiction to Demerol. Moreover it is this non-friend who will help us understand how drugs were introduced into Michael’s life and who is responsible for it.
No, in these days of an open battle for Michael Jackson’s good name it is difficult to say who is a friend or foe – some people are definitely undecided with whom to side and are running back and forth. Time to make your choice, guys - we are almost there and afterwards it will be too late.
But let us start where we left the discussion about Michael alleged ‘black self-hatred’. A reader raised it in the comments section and it turned out that some people believed it and applied it to Michael Jackson as this is the only explanation they see why he turned from black to white and had plastic surgery on his face.
Only the deaf and blind do not know by now that it wasn’t Michael’s desire to become white. The change in the color of his skin was due to Vitiligo – a grave autoimmune disease which turned his skin into porcelain white and his life into a nightmare. It couldn’t be stopped or healed, was a huge obstacle to Michael’s stage work and public appearances and in addition to bringing him lots of suffering was regarded the world over as a sign of Michael wanting to betray his race.
The MJEOL site worded it perfectly: “For years Jackson lived with the totally unfair, undeserved and unfounded allegation based on something he could not do anything about. All of the hell he was given and all of the jokes that were made could have been an enormous burden on someone who was already utterly self-conscious about his looks.”
Those who still allow themselves nasty jokes about Michael’s desire to ‘go white’ should be reminded on a daily basis that this kind of a behaviour on their part was more or less passable when people were in the dark as to Michael’s disease. Repeating the same old story now – after he told Oprah and others about his vitiligo and the diagnosis was confirmed by numerous pictures and even the autopsy report – is simply monstrous, same as it is monstrous to laugh at another person’s wounds. This type of behavior should be stopped by a steel hand by everyone who sees it as there is simply no way it can be justified.
Michael’s dermatologist Arnold Klein said in an interview with Larry King that Michael’s vitiligo was really bad and the ultimate decision to ‘go white’ wasn’t his: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0907/08/lkl.01.html
KING: What is vitiligo?
KLEIN: It’s a loss of pigment cells. And the pigment cells, you — for every 36 normal cells in your body, you have one pigment cell pumping pigment into them. Unfortunately, it’s an autoimmune disease and lupus is an autoimmune disease. And they tend to go together, because you make antibodies against your pigment cells.
KING: Did Michael have it?
KLEIN: Absolutely. We biopsied it.
KING: What causes it?
KLEIN: It causes — it’s caused by your immune system and your immune system destroying your pigment cells.
KING: Do black people have it more than white people?
KLEIN: No. But it’s just more visible on black people, because they have a dark skin. The other thing is, it certainly occurs with a family history. And I believe one of Michael’s relatives did, in fact, have vitiligo.
KING: How bad was his?
KLEIN: Oh, his was bad because he began to get a totally speckled look over his body. And he could…
KING: All over his body?
KLEIN: All over his body, but on his face significantly; on his hands, which were very difficult to treat.
KING: So let’s clear up something. He was not someone desirous of being white?
KLEIN: No. Michael was black. He was very proud of his black heritage. He changed the world for black people. We now have a black president.
KING: So how do you treat vitiligo?
KLEIN: Well, I mean there’s certain treatments. You have one choice where you can use certain drugs called (INAUDIBLE) and ultraviolet light treatments to try to make the white spots turn dark or – his became so severe, that the easier way is to use certain creams that will make the dark spots turn light so you can even out the pigments totally.
KING: So your decision there was he would go light?
KLEIN: Well, yes, that’s ultimately what the decision had to be, because there was too much vitiligo to deal with and…
KING: Otherwise, he would have looked ridiculous?
KLEIN: Well, you can’t — he would have to wear heavy, heavy makeup on stage, which would be ridiculous. And he couldn’t really go out in public without looking terribly peculiar.
Here is the video of them talking:
Dr. Klein’s account of the events same as the words of Michael’s make-up artist Karen Faye explain why Michael turned white almost overnight (or at least some of us had that impression). Karen Faye says they first tried to cover white spots with dark make-up but when vitiligo became too extensive they had to use light make-up, which naturally brought about an almost immediate change in Michael’s looks into the opposite color:
The change was quickly noticed by the media and was attributed to a “skin-replacement” operation he had allegedly undergone. This lie was so effective that even in my far-away part of the world a great many intelligent people believed that Michael’s skin had been replaced.
And this despite the idea being completely ridiculous, absurd and even delirious. Where does a black man take so much white skin? From a donor? But there are no precedents of a surgical replacement of skin on the whole body! The maximum replacement they do now are separate patches of skin only! And how do these people imagine the full replacement? Full scalping him first? And then gluing back someone else’s skin? Some people must have watched too many horror movies and cannot tell life from fiction as a result!
Other detractors believed that Michael used creams for bleaching his skin. He did use some lightening creams all right as doctors prescribed them for evening out his color and make dark spots look paler – but this is a standard cosmetic procedure for all vitiligo patients which saves them from the embarrassment of facing the public with their leopard looks. And since the use of these creams is standard it makes all those dirty hints about “bleaching his skin” completely out of place – we don’t laugh at people who use toothpaste for everyday hygiene, do we, so why all this innuendo and laugh about the “bleaching cream found in his house”? Why not laugh at finding someone’s toothpaste in his home too then?
Like all people suffering from vitiligo Michael was terribly self-conscious about his condition and confessed he had the disease only when he was practically white. If he had said it earlier the hysteria about him ‘wanting to be white’ could have probably subsided, but knowing that no one believed Michael even after his admission I doubt that an earlier confession would have made much difference.
Instead, it could have landed us with photos of speckled Michael, covertly made by paparazzi from some bushes and published in every tabloid with catchy headlines. Can you imagine the juicy stories accompanying those pictures? I very well can – “The Freak Going Freakier Than Ever”, “A Speckled Thriller”, “Are You Scared Yet?”
No, it was wise of him not to say anything until he became one-color again.
THE COMMON CONCEPT OF BEAUTY
But the theory of Michael’s ‘black self-hatred’ is based not only on the dramatic change of his skin color – very much talk concerning this matter revolves around the plastic surgery on his face. Some are sure that this way Michael was keen on acquiring ‘white looks’ and that his desperation to ‘change his race’ was so big that he allegedly had more than 50 operations. After the Bashir interview aired the media wrote:
“Earlier this week, a “Dateline NBC” special examined the singer’s denial that he had only two plastic surgery operations. A doctor who shared an office with Jackson’s personal plastic surgeon claimed the pop singer had over 50 operations”. http://www.lifewhile.com/news/1995933/detail.html
Which doctor? Name please! And how much could he see if he only shared the office? However let us not waste time on these people trying to stop them from going to hell (where they belong) – the question we need to pursue is whether Michael did indeed hate himself for being black and whether he indeed ‘betrayed his race’ by having plastic surgery on his face.
First of all let me say that the idea of ‘black self-hatred’ as such and in application to cosmetic surgery in particular looks to me a heavily slanted and a highly artificial mental construction. You can feel that something is basically wrong with this statement but cannot pin down where the wrong is – all you can say is that the idea is too primitive to explain things which are in fact much more complex.
Unfortunately the phenomenon of ‘self-hatred’ does exist, though I would rather call it self-dissatisfaction or non-acceptance of yourself the way you are. But calling this phenomenon solely black would be a ridiculous exaggeration to say the very least.
The truth of the matter is that most people are unable to accept themselves fully – dissatisfaction with ourselves is a feature typical for the majority of us and it is only the degree of it which varies from person to person. This phenomenon is not only one of the biggest human driving forces (as it encourages changes and working on oneself) but is also one of the biggest maladies in life (as it brings about neuroses).
Taken in a wider context inability to accept oneself doesn’t include only one’s looks. Some people don’t accept their weight and go dieting. Some are unhappy with their intellectual abilities and gifts nature has given them – they wanted something better or more. Some suffer from lack of confidence in themselves or inability to properly socialize and become totally neurotic as a result. Some have a hard time accepting their sexuality or social standing and this can bring about its own huge excesses. However there is one thing which is common to all of us – practically each and every is dissatisfied with the way we look.
I haven’t met a person in my life who was fully happy with his or her looks. Something is always wrong – nose, ears, condition of skin, shape of hips, belly, legs or mouth. Some have too little or no hair, some have too much hair and not in the right places, those with curly hair want it straight, those with straight hair want it curly, so on and so forth – the list can go on forever.
Dissatisfaction with one’s looks is so widespread that the whole of beauty industry is based on this concept thus making it technically possible to call all avid users of beauty products self-haters too. This would be an absurd statement of course but the popularity of cosmetic procedures and every-day make-up proves that self-dissatisfaction with one’s looks and partial non-acceptance of yourself the way you are is an absolutely routine thing which shows the desire of each of us to reach a certain standard – yes standard - ideal of beauty.
I wouldn’t be suddenly talking about this concept if it didn’t have a direct bearing on Michael. He was accused by everyone of a desire to look more attractive and the hypocrisy of these accusations is simply astonishing when you look at it from the point of view of a great many of us who are heavily engaged in similar activities ourselves.
If some of us do not resort to cosmetic procedures it means that we are either very wise people who have learned to accept ourselves the way we are or are simply lacking means to enjoy all the good things the beauty industry can offer us. Considering the latter factor I strongly suspect that if we had his money we wouldn’t be able to resist some of the cosmetic temptations either and would also find what to do to our faces or figures (and at every age too).
As you rightfully say it happened that the ideal of beauty was somehow forced on the world by the white race though it has begun to noticeably change in the past decades. But even despite the new tendencies human mind is still heavily dominated by the ideals which have been evolving for centuries and which are implanted in our minds without us even realizing it.
As a result of this or probably because the concept of beauty is somehow built-in into a human mind (?) I’ll venture to say that there is a certain mental image of beauty which exists in an abstract form for all people of the world irrespective of their race and skin color. This beauty ideal includes a combination of several obligatory elements – the minimal of which are a clean and healthy skin, straight and well-proportioned nose, eyes which are preferably bigger than smaller, ears that do not stick out, not too thin lips, good hair, etc.
The color of skin is not that important because it is a minor factor as compared to facial features – if all
above elements are present the face remains within a certain common standard of beauty and the color of skin is only a little spice added to the whole picture. Look at the handsome faces of famine refugees in the Horn of Africa who are currently on everyone’s TV screens and you will understand what I mean – many of the faces are so beautifully modeled that if it weren’t for the tragedy of it many of these emaciated women could make ready-made models. Their faces help you realize that it isn’t the color of skin which makes a person beautiful but the features of the face and its proportions.
The point I am trying to make here is that beauty is not in color – beauty is in the proportions of one’s face the complex of which is registered by our brain on some very basic level recognizable to all.
This universal standard of beauty has taken long time to form and it will again take time and some unknown psychological mechanisms to make our brain perceive beauty differently. It is not in our power to change mass public perception of who is handsome and who is not – especially since the media is doing its best to make all of us want to look the way they consider it beautiful at the moment. In the next century the concept of beauty will change and everyone will again try to look that way – and this is something which simply cannot be helped by any of us.
PLASTIC SURGERY IS FOR ALL
Each of us wants to come closer to the standard of beauty which is currently in fashion and people go to many extremes in order to attain their goal. But if ordinary people are so very much set on it, how much more willing should be those whose face is constantly on the screen and on front pages of popular magazines? And wouldn’t it be extreme hypocrisy to say that what is allowed, promoted and encouraged by beauty magazines for all of us should all of a sudden be forbidden for a man like Michael Jackson?
When I look at Michael’s face in his adolescent years and see him turning from a cute boy into a shy teenager with acne I can understand full well why he was dying to have a cleaner skin and make his nose smaller. The face is well within the accepted ‘standard’ but the nose and state of skin are indeed a deviation from the ideal concept of beauty.
It is true that a wide nose is typical of some black people, however other black people and even whole black nations have noses I can only be envious of. On the other hand white people cannot always sport the best of facial features – so speaking generally there is no strict determination of who should look how.
But what is interesting is that when it comes to correcting one’s facial deficiencies it suddenly turns out that a white man can have plastic surgery without being accused of anything bad while a black man cannot because he is immediately said to be ‘betraying his race’!
The above is equivalent to saying that black people are obliged to stay the way they are, while white people are not answerable to anyone and are allowed to change their looks the way they want.
See how ridiculous it is? See the absurdity of all these ideas if you detach yourself from common prejudices and look at the problem from a neutral angle?
I suspect that the shape of Michael’s nose indeed made him hateful of his looks especially since it was the subject of constant ridicule from his family members who were more fortunate with their noses (they nicknamed him “Big nose” or something like that) – so it doesn’t surprise me in the least that he wanted to change its shape.
Haters often laugh at Michael not being able to give the exact number of plastic surgeries he had. In his ill-fated interview with Bashir he first gave the number of two and then corrected it to three.
Does it mean that he was lying about the number of cosmetic surgeries made by the year 2003? No, it doesn’t. Michael was a very honest person - so honest that he even admitted to fighting his addiction to Demerol in one of his songs. So to me his hesitation in the number of surgery means that he had a difficulty to separate between the nose jobs done solely for “beauty reasons” from those which were a medical necessity.
I want to remind everyone that Michael’s rhinoplasty started with an accident in 1979 when he broke his nose while rehearsing a dance move. It was about that time that he took the opportunity to make his nose smaller which was a very logical thing to do – if you are doing it anyway why not have the full package all at once? However from what we know about it, the operation was not successful as it blocked his nose breathing and had to be redone.
Nasal obstruction is a rather common side effect of rhinoplasty as according to a recent study up to 60% of patients complain about difficulty in breathing after it and seek to revise the operation:
Patients Seek Revision Plastic Surgery to Correct Asymmetric Nasal Tips, Breathing Obstructions
ScienceDaily (Sep. 20, 2010) —
Kathy Yu, M.D., of Columbia College and Cornell University, New York, and colleagues collected questionnaires from 104 consecutive patients seeking revision rhinoplasty between Jan. 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009. Patients ranked the top three reasons for seeking revision surgery, reported any symptoms of nasal obstruction and listed the reasons they did not return to their primary surgeon.
Most patients reported seeking revision surgery because of tip asymmetry, difficulty breathing or nasal blockage, or a crooked middle third of the nose.
Of the 64 (62 percent) of patients who described having difficulty breathing or other experiences of nasal obstruction, 60 (94 percent) had objective physical findings related to obstruction.
I don’t know when exactly cosmetic surgery proper was made on Michael’s nose for the first time– at the initial or corrective stage of repairing it, but it isn’t that important. What is important is that out of the two nasal jobs only one of them was partially cosmetic as it only accompanied the first surgery to mend the fracture or, most probably, went with the second surgery to improve his breathing.
How much more cosmetic surgery Michael had later I don’t know but tend to believe him that by the time of the 2003 interview their number was two or maximum three. The reason for the rest of the nasal surgery could have been completely different. Though some say that it was the result of ‘bad judgment’, a much more probable explanation is that Michael had to deal with the consequences of his very first nasal job and the reason for those after-effects was Michael’s lupus.
Even though many people are now aware of Michael’s vitiligo they still tend to forget that he had another terrible autoimmune disease – Lupus. In contrast to vitiligo lupus is practically not seen but is a much graver ailment as it undermines the patient from the inside. In case of lupus the immune system which generally fights infections only, suddenly turns on the body and attacks its healthy tissues instead. The consequences of lupus on a person’s overall condition and everyday life are horrible – just horrible – and even this word will be too mild a way of putting it.
To see how bad an effect it has on a human life here are some video stories about patients with lupus. If you watch them you will see that this disease alone can turn anyone’s life into a total misery – even if a person lives a comfortable life among those who dearly love him, and is not harassed by all the media in the world, sued a thousand and a half times, unjustly accused of horrendous things he has never done and is also a performer whose job is to regularly appear in public and impress people with fantastic shows:
Lupus Awareness Infomercial
Faces of Lupus
We are being told that Michael was suffering from a discoid or milder form of lupus (DLE) which affected ‘only’ his skin – which is no small matter as skin is considered the largest organ of the body. There are also signs that Michael could have developed a graver form of lupus, a systemic lupus (SLE), which spreads onto internal organs.
But whatever form of lupus Michael had, there is one thing common for both of them – people affected by lupus are not recommended to have plastic surgery (unless they are in a stable remission stage) for fear of grave side-effects. Here is an account of a lupus patient who was surprised to learn than cosmetic surgery was not quite compatible with his disease:
- A few years ago I attended a lupus seminar for health care professionals and learned cosmetic surgery is not a good idea for those diagnosed with discoid lupus. MJ, unfortunately, had cosmetic surgery performed on his nose, chin (the dimple) and possibly other areas of his face. According to one of the doctors who spoke at the seminar, she did not advise her patients to seek out plastic surgery unless their discoid lupus was in remission. I don’t know if MJ was prescribed this drug or not but anti-malarial drugs like Placquenil are typically prescribed to keep discoid lupus at bay. Patients on this drug can have successful results from plastic surgery but, there is no guarantee. If he was on an antimalarial drug he needed to protect his eyes and skin from sunlight and, unfortunately, these drugs can cause damage to your retinas and blindness which coincides with a more recent rumor that MJ was losing vision in either one or both eyes.
- In the aforementioned seminar, a good deal of emphasis was placed on the dangers of plastic surgery for individuals diagnosed with discoid lupus. I was surprised to hear this and thought about MJ during the discussion because they said plastic surgery could exacerbate the condition and could cause further scarring and/or difficult or slow healing.”
But if Michael knew that cosmetic surgery was no good for him how could he seek nasal surgery then? Isn’t it exactly the reason why people accuse Michael of ‘bad judgment’? Or was it doctors who didn’t tell him of the dangers of it? And did they know about it themselves?
The truth of the matter is that at the time of the first nasal surgery (1979) neither Michael nor his surgeons knew of his lupus condition. First his broken nose was mended, then it was corrected to improve breathing, and accompanied by some plastic surgery, and only several years after that Michael was diagnosed with lupus (in 1984), so there was no way Michael could know of possible lupus-related consequences of his initial surgery. Nor could he avoid the operations as both nasal jobs were a necessity.
It will be more correct to address the question about why they disregarded Michael’s lupus to doctors who made those operations. It is quite possible that some of them simply did not know of it.
The patient who attended that medical seminar says that ignorance about autoimmune diseases is quite common among plastic surgeons. It isn’t their primary business and the disease itself is so tricky that is not easy to diagnose. In fact it often goes undiagnosed for years as it is known to be a great ‘imitator’ of other ailments and is often taken for something different.
So it is quite probable that none of the surgeons were smart enough to make the right guess and test Michael for lupus before the operation. The lupus patient shares his observations about it:
- In fairness to plastic surgeons, not all of them are well versed in autoimmune diseases, particularly if the patient never mentions it. Some will not bother viewing your health records either. That said, since Lupus DLE, SLE and SCLE (subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus) are hard to diagnose and many go undiagnosed for years, it is not uncommon for a plastic surgeon to proceed knowing nothing about the patient’s lupus or what effects the surgery will have on their skin. Many simply don’t know. Those who do know will defer surgery until such time the patient is in remission. Now ask yourself, what doctor is going to pass up that much money?
Michael underwent his first rhinoplasty as early as 1979 and his lupus was diagnosed only several years later when Michael, who was suffering from acne, was introduced to Dr. Klein and Klein took a biopsy and made the correct diagnosis. This is how Klein diagnosed Michael with lupus:
Transcript of their conversation:
KING: Doctor, how did you first meet Michael?
DR. ARNIE KLEIN, MICHAEL JACKSON’S DERMATOLOGIST: I met Michael because someone had brought him into my office. And they walked into the room with Michael. And I looked one — took one look at him and I said you have lupus erythematosus. Now, this was a long word.
KLEIN: Lupus, yes. I mean, because he had red — a butterfly rash and he also had severe crusting you could see on the anterior portion of his scalp. I mean I always am very visual. I’m a person who would look at the lips of Mona Lisa and not see her smile. I would see the lips.
KING: Was he there because of that condition?
KLEIN: He was there only because a very close friend of his had told him to come see me about the problems he had with his skin. Because he was — he had severe acne, which many people…
KING: Oh, he did?
KLEIN: Yes, he did. And many people made fun of him. He used to remember trying to clean it off and he’d gone to these doctors that really hurt him very much. And he was exquisitely sensitive to pain.
So he walked into my office. He had several things wrong with his skin. So I said — and you have thick crusting of your scalp and you have some hair loss.
He says, well, how do you know this?
I said, because it’s the natural course of lupus.
So I then did a biopsy. I diagnosed lupus. And then our relationship went from there.
Forget about plastic surgery for a moment.
The 20-something year-old man has a severe acne, a red butterfly rash on this face, some hair loss and a thick crusting visible on the anterior part of his head? And vitiligo too which is making his most visible parts – face and hands – turn into a black-and-white mess?
Isn’t it too much for one person? And he didn’t sit at home sulking over his diseases but stubbornly worked to become a genius of a dancer and singer and go down into history as a phenomenal songwriter? Could he have attained all that if he hadn’t been an incredibly tough man who managed to live with all those ailments and still become the best entertainer in the world?
A totally amazing example for all of us! And what a lesson it is for all those who think that strength and toughness are in muscles only….
Okay, so Dr. Klein’s interview confirmed it once again that Michael nasal surgery had started well before Michael learned about his lupus and this is exactly the reason why both he and his doctors boldly stepped on the road of plastic surgery at the end of the 70s.
The difficulty in diagnosing the disease doesn’t release doctors of their responsibility though – they were not only unsuccessful in treatment of his acne (‘hurting him a lot’) but none of them noticed a butterfly rash on his face, his hair loss and a thick crusting on his head all of which are extremely visible signs of a discoid lupus. Dr. Klein saw it the moment Michael entered his office (no wonder Michael kept to that doctor ever since), but what about the others?
It is true that they probably didn’t bother to check as the first nasal surgeries were a necessity and had to be done anyway, but if doctors had diagnosed Michael’s lupus at that stage it could have saved them from a tremendous amount of medical mistakes later and spared Michael from much pain and extremely grave consequences of the doctors’ (not his) poor judgment!
We learn about what happened to Michael’s nasal surgeries in the years following his meeting Dr. Klein not only from Klein himself, who compromised himself by telling a lot of contradictory stories about Michael, but from another, highly credible source, Dr. Richard Strick.
Dr. Richard Strick isn’t just a nobody in matters concerning Michael Jackson – he is the doctor who was appointed by DA Tom Sneddon to review Michael’s medical records in 1993 seized from Michael’s dermatologist and plastic surgeon. So when Dr. Strick talks about Michael’s surgeries he definitely knows what he is talking about as he studied all the respective documents.
And after studying those documents this medical expert who cannot be suspected of bias towards Jackson as he was working for the government, says it point-blank – all further work done on Michael’s nose was reconstructive and was the direct result of his lupus condition. Michael’s initial nasal surgery was followed by attempts to cope with breathing obstruction (which account for the first two operations) and the follow-up surgery dealt with the damage done to the nose by lupus which destroyed part of its tissues. Further surgery was aimed at simple reconstruction of the nose back to its normal condition:
DR. STRICK: Michael had a disease vitiligo in which the pigment is lost and attempts had been made to bring that pigment back which had been unsuccessful so he tried to bleach it out so it would be one colour. Lupus is also an autoimmune disease and he also had skin involvement, which had destroyed part of the skin of his nose and his nasal surgeries and all were really reconstructive, to try and look normal.
QUESTION: So all these nose reconstructions you’re saying was as a result of him treating his lupus?
DR. STRICK: The first one was to try and reconstruct from some scar tissue and obstruction that had happened with the skin there. It didn’t work out very well and all subsequent attempts were to make it right. I think he was trying to look like a normal guy as best as that he could.”
Besides this eye-opening revelation the full version of the same tape discloses another extremely important point in connection with Dr. Strick’s involvement with Michael Jackson. It is a somewhat side matter for the present discussion so will have to go as a separate point.
I WAS TOLD IT WAS A MATCH
Dr. Strick represents the prosecution side as he was appointed by Tom Sneddon to find out whether Michael had undertaken any changes on his genitalia in order to make them look different from Jordan Chandler’s description. Sneddon thought that Michael could have had some surgery to return to a non-circumcision state or bleach his skin to change the color of his private parts – both of which Jordan got absolutely wrong (we have numerous posts about it, please look up at least this post, this and this).
However, though Dr. Strick was actually the main authority to make the final determination (this is why he was invited at all), we learn from his interview that he didn’t have an opportunity to compare the photos with Jordan’s description and was simply TOLD that it was a match!
See the full version of the same video where, among the usual biased talk about the settlement, he mentions this crucial fact somewhat in passing, so if you don’t know the context you might not even notice it:
In his interview with Larry King Arnold Klein also confirmed the fact that Michael’s medical records had been passed over to the medical examiner representing the prosecution side:
KING: … have you been contacted by any authorities, police or anyone?
KLEIN: The only thing I’ve done is I’ve turned my records, a long time ago, over to the medical examiner. I’ve not been contacted by the medical examiner.
Of course he wasn’t contacted because there was nothing to contact him about! And though this is a side issue for today’s discussion, considering how important the point is we need to stop here for a second to make some conclusions from the above.
1. Firstly, Dr. Strick’s words are a first-hand proof that the prosecution did have Michael’s medical records in the 1993 Chandler case. Up till now some haters claimed that the medical records were hidden from the prosecution for fear of revealing some “dark secrets” of Michael Jackson, so now these people are requested to please shut up – if the direct evidence from the prosecution’s medical examiner doesn’t suit them it shows that their hatred for Michael Jackson is simply a fixed idea similar to those treated in respective mental institutions.
2. Secondly, the “I was told” phrase is not a simple figure of speech. It is a direct admission of the fact that the prosecution concealed from their own main expert that Jordan Chandler’s description didn’t match the photos of Michael’s genitalia. Sneddon didn’t want even his own medical examiner to know the truth and told to the public a LIE which should be added to the long list of other dirty tricks he used against Jackson during the years of his vendetta.
We knew of this lie long ago when Michael wasn’t immediately arrested after the strip-search and when Jordan’s lawyer Larry Feldman suddenly demanded to bar the photos from the civil trial (for information about his motion please go to this post).
By the way Jim Thomas, the former Santa Barbara county sheriff also said that he was only “told” about the match (he didn’t see the photos). How very interesting it is – the main medical expert saw the photos but didn’t compare them with Jordan’s description, and the county sheriff evidently saw the description but didn’t compare it with the photos, and both of them were just “told” that there was a match. Incredible things were going on in Tom Sneddon’s department! (for post about Jim Thomas please go here).
3. And thirdly, if we return to the matter of our present discussion we see that Dr. Strick’s words about Michael’s nasal surgery show that everything done on Michael’s nose in the period covered by Dr. Klein’s medical records (at least from 1984 to 1993 when the records were seized by the police) was reconstructive surgery only dealing with the side-effects of his lupus which damaged the tissues of his nose.
Dr. Klein once again spoke about the need to reconstruct and rebuild Michael’s nose before the concerts in London, but confirmed that it was very much in place (despite all the innuendos from guys like Drew Pinsky):
KING: You saw him the Monday before he died.
KLEIN: Absolutely. Yes, sir.
KING: What was the purpose of the visit?
KLEIN: He came to me because, basically, I was sort of rebuilding his face, because he had severe acneand scarring. He had scarring from having a lot of cosmetic surgery. And my expertise is — like it is with every one of my patients. My patients are my treasures. And I was rebuilding his face so he looked much more normal. And contrary to what people said, he could not take off his nose. His nose was attached. But it looked too small. And I just was trying to get him ready to do the concert, because in the way he looked in his face, he wanted it to be absolutely as perfect as it could be.
Since so much is being said about the side-effects of cosmetic surgery for lupus patients I’ve decided to have a closer look and see why these sufferers are not recommended to have it. This is what I’ve found among the answers given by doctors to the inquisitive patients:
Can patients with lupus have plastic surgery?
- Lupus is a disease of the blood vessels and healing can be unpredictable in these patients. In a worse case scenario, areas of the skin can die (skin necrosis) leaving a real mess. Making this potentially worse is the fact that the medications a Lupus patient tends to be on include drugs that further inhibit healing like steroids and immunosuppressive drugs. http://www.cosmeticsurgerytruth.com/blog/?p=8125
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosis is a very serious disease which affects the blood vessels which are responsible for healing and keeping the skin alive after plastic surgery. Lupus can cause large areas of skin on the face or tummy to actually die after plastic surgery and result in terrible scars. Please encourage the patient to discuss this and be honest with the doctor. The result of not telling the doctor could be disastrous.
- There are different forms of Lupus, but I would be very concerned doing a facelift on a patient with both diseases. The patient should discuss this with the rheumatologist and surgeon. Complications could be severe and deforming. http://www.realself.com/question/facial-plastic-surgery-lupus-fibromyalgia
The first thing which attracts our attention in these doctors’ replies is that lupus comes in two forms – DLE (a milder one) and SLE (a systemic and graver one), but plastic surgery is not recommended for either of them. In both types of lupus healing of the skin and other tissues is difficult, the skin can develop a necrosis and die, and this usually results in severe scars. And no one can help this situation as lupus is treated by drugs suppressing the immune system – as it is too aggressive towards its owner - and such drugs are an additional factor hindering the healing process. It is a vicious circle, you know.
Didn’t Klein say something about Michael already having severe scars when he came to him? The scars he had from lupus and the very first surgery on his nose in 1979? And these were further aggravated by scars from a burn on his head that he got from filming a commercial for Pepsi in 1984?
This article is telling us the dramatic story of Michael’s burn, the area of which was as big as a palm even after it healed. The resulting bald patch was treated by Dr. Steven Hoefflin for several months by means of a laser and other procedures meant to restore Michael’s hair:
Michael Jackson’s hair loss – what happened to his bald spot?
The King of Pop once wore a very different crown and almost had it taken away. It’s hard to believe that Michael Jackson once sported a full afro and everyone’s probably also forgotten that he nearly went baldat 25 after a freak fire accident.
While filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984, pyrotechnics accidentally set Jackson’s hair on fire. He was rushed to hospital and treated for second degree burns to the back of his head which scarred his hair follicles and left him with a major bald patch.
When hair-bearing skin is badly burnt, the hair follicles are destroyed and replaced by scar tissue. The hair loss is permanent and known as cicatricial (or scarring) alopecia.
Jackson was singing his hit “Billie Jean” in a simulated concert scene when the special effects went wrong. Three thousand fans saw a firework display erupt behind the superstar, showering him in sparks and setting light to his hair. Jackson covered his burning hair with his jacket but some audience members thought it was part of the act.
Jackson later underwent 80 minutes of laser surgery to repair his scalp. His surgeon Dr. Steven Hoefflin, famously known as “Doc Hollywood” who Jackson formed quite an attachment to over the years, said he was able to stitch the wound without having to implant or transplant from other parts of Jackson’s head.
According to Leonora Doclis, senior trichologist at the Belgravia Centre, while laser surgery can make the scar smaller, it won’t help in generating hair growth from the scar.
“Apparently the laser treatment reduced the scar to palm-size, but that is huge,” Leonora says. “If the follicles are damaged they will not produce hair. It is very unlikely that his hair grew back after this treatment.”
This begs the question then – what happened to Michael Jackson’s bald spot? Leonora says treating cicatricial alopecia is challenging. “The best they can do without wearing a wig is if they can hide the scarred bald patch with their own hair.”
Cicatricial alopecia is a broad term that includes all forms of hair loss concerning inflammation directed at the hair follicle.
“There are several reasons for scarring hair loss. Scalding is just one and there is an autoimmune factor,” Leonora says. In addition to burns and other injuries, cicatricial alopecia can be caused by certain types of infections like granulomas, lupus erythematosus, recurring bacterial or fungal infections, a skin disease called lichen planus, and scalp ringworm.
“Therefore there is no point in transplanting hair from one side of the scalp to another when it can still be subject to an autoimmune attack.”
The progression of cicatricial alopecia as the result of an internal problem is unpredictable but hair loss is irreversible once the follicle is destroyed. Leonora says autoimmune suppressant steroids could be injected but they won’t prevent or treat hair loss.
Despite Dr. Hoefflin’s claims that Jackson’s scalp would be completely healed within several months, Leonora has her doubts over the authenticity of Jackson’s hair.
“I think he may be covering certain areas with a hair system (hairpiece),” she says.
And just so you know…
Back then, hair wasn’t Michael Jackson’s only concern – he’d already had two nose jobs by the time he was 25 and went for his third rhinoplasty shortly after the hair loss incident. From then on his visits with Doc. Hollywood became ever more frequent.
It is really painful to read that at the age of 25 a nice-looking guy got a huge burn on his head due to a stupid mistake of some pyrotechnics. Even after the wound healed it was still as big as a palm. The doctors treated him for several months to reduce the bald patch and somehow managed to stitch it together. However there was no guarantee it would work as lupus could ruin the whole thing again…
We know that Pepsi paid to Michael a $1,5 mln. compensation for their negligence but no money can of course compensate for this type of damage to one’s looks and Michael donated all the money to other victims of burns anyway….
When Larry King asked Arnold Klein if he gave Michael any painkillers he said Yes, and mentioned numerous surgical procedures Michael had to undergo due to that burn. He even acknowledged that on occasions he did give him Demerol to dull the pain after the procedures made on him by the cosmetic doctor:
KING: “Well, what — what about pain killing medications? Did you prescribe any?
KLEIN: I mean I’ve some sedatives for, you know, when he had surgical procedures that were immense, because, don’t forget, he had a lot of — he had the burn — the serious burn when he was burnt on the Pepsi commercial and the severe hair loss when he, you know, contracted lupus, also.
So when you have to fix all these areas, you have to sedate him a little bit. But if you took all the pills I had given him in the last year at once, it wouldn’t do anything to you.
KING: What was the strongest medication you gave him?
KLEIN: I once — you know, I, on occasion, gave him Demerol to sedate him. And that was about the strongest medicine I ever used.
KING: How did you treat the vitiligo?
KLEIN: Well, we basically used creams that would even out the same color and we destroyed the remaining pigment cells.
KING: And did his color change a lot over the years?
KLEIN: No, because once we got — we got it more uniform, it remained stable. But you still had to treat it because once in a while — and he had to also be extraordinary careful with sun exposure because of a lot of things. And that’s why he had the umbrellas all the time (INAUDIBLE) skin now.
KING: So when you have vitiligo, you have it all your life?
KLEIN: Usually. Almost uniformly. You don’t just have a little bit of it. And it’s most disconcerting not in white people, but in black people because you begin to look like a leopard.
KING: You can see it. Yes. Did he have blotches?
KLEIN: He had blotches but we evened out almost all of them. And he was very, very devoted to treating it. I mean he wanted to look well. He wanted to look well for one group of people, his fans. He wanted to embrace and love his fans more than any performer I’ve ever known.
KING: Did he have hair?
KLEIN: He had lost a great deal of it. You forget this first fire…
KING: That was the Pepsi fire, right?
KLEIN: Yes. But then what happened is he used a great deal of what are called tissue expanders in his scalp, which are balloons that grow up — blow up the scalp.
And then what they do is they try to cut out the scar.
Well, because he had lupus, what happened is every time they would do it, the bald spot would keep enlarging.
So, I mean, he went through a lot of painful procedures with these tissue expanders until I put a stop to it.
I said no more tissue expanders, because he had to wear a hat all the time and it was really painful for him.
KING: So what would his — without the hat, what would he look like?
KLEIN: Well, he had a big raised ball on the top of his head because of this device. It would expand the tissue, which you cut out.
But (INAUDIBLE) would you — (INAUDIBLE) too much stretch back in the scar, you understand?
KING: Did you see him one other time?
KLEIN: Of course I did. But he would have a stretch back on the scar.
I mean the scar would get worse after they removed it.
And I had to put a stop to it. So I told Michael, we have to stop this. And that’s when I fired this plastic surgeon altogether.
And I said I can’t deal with this anymore. We’re going to deal with me as your doctor or you’re going to have to find another doctor if you want to work with him”
Frankly when I first read about those tissue expanders I didn’t understand a thing and it is only now – when seeing the whole picture – I realize what was being done to him and for months at a time.
The initial burn left heavy scars on his scalp where hair would naturally not grow – so to cut out the bald and scarred patch those experimenters put expanding balloons under his scalp. The idea was to stretch his skin in order to have a surplus of it to cover the bald spot.
As soon as the skin expanded they stretched it over the affected area, cut the scar out and stitched the skin together.
However since Michael had lupus, each new surgery on his scalp resulted in a new and heavier scar and the bald spot would only enlarge.
And it was real painful for him.
I doubt very much indeed that Michael invented this torturous method himself and I doubt it even more that he agreed to it willingly as it should have been giving him excruciating pain day after day, week after week, month after month – not to mention the fact that he had to wear a hat even inside his home.
We do remember Michael complaining about the excruciating pain of the treatment he received for his burn, don’t we? But all of us thought it was the usual treatment for burns, which is extremely painful too, right? None of us could ever imagine that they would do this to him!
And he had to put up with this agony round-the-clock and for months too while waiting for the skin to stretch? The doctor said it himself that he hoped he would reach the desired effect within several months! And they kept doing it to him again and again though every new scar-cutting-out procedure didn’t work? Didn’t they know that this kind of treatment was useless anyway as Michael had lupus which hindered healing and left him even more scarred after every new surgery?
Shouldn’t they have been working in cooperation with the dermatologist if they themselves were so terribly ignorant of the side-effects of Michael’s lupus? He would have told them that discoid lupus hinders the healing process, is a scarring disease and is in itself the primary reason for permanent hair loss! No wonder that Klein finally put a stop to this nightmare and confronted the plastic surgeon with an ultimatum!
And all this time Michael had to work – sing, dance, record and give shows to the public? And it was because of the need to make him survive through this agony of a treatment that they introduced him to Demerol? So this is how Demerol started?
Besides finally realizing what a nightmare this torture must have been for Michael I now begin thinking that this kind of doctors should be sitting on the same bench as Conrad Murray for doing irreparable damage to Michael – and not even in terms of their unsuccessful treatment of his burn but in terms of a careless, unnecessary and forceful putting him on the hook of Demerol.
I don’t want to give any names here but I think you know what plastic surgeon Klein was talking about when he said that he “fired him” – even now they are at war with each other.
Klein acknowledged that Michael developed a problem with Demerol but said that he managed to beat it:
KING: Did Michael have an addiction you were aware of?
KLEIN: Michael, at one time, had an addiction. And he went to England and he withdrew that addiction at a secure setting, where he went off of drugs altogether.
Demerol shouldn’t be confused with Diprivan (Propofol) which sounds similar but is not a narcotic drug. Diprivan is an anesthetic given to most patients undergoing operations and used to help Michael’s severe case of insomnia – which is a separate problem that doesn’t surprise me in the least given his life experience and all mental and physical tortures he had to go through.
Since Michael must have been subjected to this totally inhuman scalp treatment for quite a long time they evidently kept giving him Demerol on a regular basis thus forcing him into the Demerol addiction – and all this due to a completely useless treatment which shouldn’t have been done at all or even started considering Michael’s lupus.
Whatever their intentions were their ‘treatment’ didn’t work and Michael had to wear wigs thereafter, but it left him with a much bigger problem in life – that of drug-addiction, which he wasn’t responsible for, never wanted and which he to his great credit stoically fought and even defeated!
Yes, despite the fact that he had to wage this battle in the midst of all that media harassment, non-stop suits and horrendous accusations he managed to do the impossible – he beat the addiction for Demerol as the autopsy report proved it. There were no narcotic drugs or their traces in his system and this makes Michael’s exploit in coping with one of the worst problems a human being can face simply awesome.
Those of us who don’t know what it’s like to fight a narcotic addiction can learn about it from Michael’s incredible song called “Morphine” which is probably the best anti-drug propaganda tool I’ve ever seen. The song should indeed be used as a powerful argument against using narcotics and should probably be taught at school. Its essence is a stark contrast between two extremes – the soothing lure of the drug which promises you momentary bliss, calm and no repercussions and the monster which strikes you with all the power of it if you ever give in to its false attraction. The song is a pure work of genius as it takes you through the hell of a fight Michael had to wage in order to get back to normal life.
It is so strong and powerful that it helps you realize the horror of narcotics without ever trying them and shows how desperate and honest with himself and the public Michael was. And how determined to win the fight too – otherwise he wouldn’t have composed and shown it to the outside world at all.
The fight was a deadly one – but he did win. The toxicology report is proof of it as it never mentioned not only narcotic drugs but even traces of them and referred only to that damned Propofol and some regular sleeping pills found in every ordinary household.
The police specifically noted that there was no hard drugs in Michael’s system:
- “Law enforcement sources said that neither marijuana, cocaine nor heroin were found in Jackson’s system.” http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/28/local/me-jackson28
Here is the song. Michael screams of people kicking him in his face, accusing him of hating his race and being a liar… The drug seems a way to dull the anguish of it all, but only until it shows the horrible face of its high-voltage and almost undefeatable power. The song gives you the feel of what it is like to fight this monster:
Well, let all of us, haters or non-haters alike, accept the truth at last.
Michael did not take Demerol of his own free will. He was forced into taking it by the not-too-responsible doctors who subjected him to many months of inhuman treatment and lavishly prescribed him the drug to let him still drag his feet throughout the process.
It was them who formed his habit for Demerol and it is them who should face all the music now. The patient is not responsible for the course of treatment chosen for him by his doctors and the medicine they prescribe him in order to dull the pain they so willfully inflicted on him.
Michael didn’t use any Demerol or other narcotic drugs in his later years of life. The media wanted us to think otherwise and told us huge lies about Michael when he died. However whatever they wanted to see in his body – Demerol, Xanax or anything else – there were none in his system. He was not only clean of any drugs but was even found a healthy man for his 50 years of age.
Let us be honest with ourselves at least for once in our lives and accept the indisputable fact – Michael won the battle with Demerol and did it in order to live, raise his kids and enjoy life. He was killed by something totally different – by insomnia and someone who wanted him to sleep forever…
DISCOID LUPUS TURNING SYSTEMIC ?
There are several signs pointing to the fact that Michael could have developed a graver form of lupus which affected internal organs of his body. It is called systemic lupus or SLE. This conclusion is made by many patients who compare their symptoms with what was so often reported by the media about Michael Jackson’s health. One of these patients quoted above found many points of similarity between his (her) own symptoms and Michael’s condition.
This patient’s account is extremely interesting as besides many other points it expressly shows how a lupus patient feels every day of his life (for the full story please go to: A.D. Odom http://stateandlake.net/wp1/2009/06/did-michael-jackson-have-discoid-or-systemic-lupus/ ).
Here is a slightly shortened version of it:
“Over the years I have heard the words “Michael Jackson has lupus” over and over again but I had never heard or read anything confirming MJ having systemic lupus. Not a thing. There have been some hospitalizations that have raised an eyebrow for me in recent years but the only confirmation I had or heard came in 1984 when MJ was badly burned when his hair caught fire during filming of a Pepsi commercial. While MJ was in the hospital, doctors and the media reported lupus lesions were found in his scalp and it was said he had Discoid Lupus.
About Lupus Generally
Discoid lupus, or Lupus DLE, is a separate and different animal from systemic lupus or Lupus SLE. According to WebMD’s eMedicine:
Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) is a chronic, scarring, atrophy producing, photosensitive dermatosis. Some patients (<5%) with discoid lupus erythematosus progress to SLE1. Patients with DLE rarely fulfill 4 or more of the criteria used to classify SLE. Serologic abnormalities are uncommon. Therapy with sunscreens, topical corticosteroids, and antimalarial agents is usually effective.
Note that less than 5% of patients with discoid lupus go on to develop Lupus SLE. Though 5% looks like a pretty small number, that 5% represents thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people. When you hear a person has lupus, it is never noted whether that person has Lupus SLE or DLE. You just hear the word lupus and that could mean anything from skin lesions only to kidney, lung or heart disease.
In MJ’s case, the lesions were found in his scalp after the accident, while he was in the hospital and unfortunately, much of what was done subsequent to his accident to repair his scalp was never quite successful. There were reports that the scarring never fully healed which is common with discoid lupus. MJ wore a host of wigs and some said this was done to cover up gray hair. If the surgeries to repair his scalp were unsuccessful or, if he had discoloring alopecia – which is common with Lupus DLE – then wearing wigs makes sense.
Note, MJ walked around with a hat, facial coverings, and an umbrella to shield his body from UV light. That is a must with discoid lupus.
Lupus DLE to SLE
Here’s where Lupus DLE and SLE gets tricky. When the lesions fall below the neck there is a chance the patient will develop Lupus SLE. If a patient develops what is known as acute or subacute cutaneous lupus, doctors will watch their patients closely and will begin testing for high levels of ANA proteins in the blood, protein in the urine, and joint pain. They will look for nonspecific skin lesions displaying anywhere on the body and of course any rash that occurs below the neck will be cause for suspicion.
MJ was diagnosed with vitiligo which is another autoimmune disease. Where some will develop splotchy discoloration over parts of their body, MJ saw the disease spread over his entire body. This would place MJ in the category of skin disease that passed the neck line and now the question, could this have put MJ in that <5% category of those who go on to develop Lupus SLE? In my opinion, it could have. MJ began having lots of health problems after this.
In 1990, MJ was hospitalized with something called costochondritis. This is one of many disorders associated with autoimmune diseases. You can also experience this very painful condition if you have been doing strenuous exercise. I experienced this in 1989 and called an ambulance to my house because I thought I was having a heart attack. The paramedic asked me if I had been doing the “rough & tumble” or strenuous exercise. When I saw my doctor later I was told I had experienced costochondritis which is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone (sternum). It causes sharp pain in the costosternal joint – where your ribs and breastbone are joined by rubbery cartilage. The pain caused by costochondritis can mimic that of a heart attack or other heart conditions.
If MJ’s bout with costochondritis was brought on by dancing and singing, that’s one thing. It could have been a sign of something more sinister happening within his body which would represent one more thing to add to the shopping cart for Lupus SLE. If the costochondritis was brought on by Lupus SLE, it would mean either MJ had undiagnosed Lupus SLE – which is possible and happens often – or his discoid lupus went systemic around this time.
In December 1995, MJ collapsed in New York during rehearsal for a TV special and was described as “dangerously ill”. According to his doctors, MJ had a viral intestinal infection that led to nausea and dehydration and he spent nearly a week in the hospital. I will say intestinal problems are common with lupus and there are numerous autoimmune diseases that affect the intestines. If this was an autoimmune disorder we have yet another item for the Lupus SLE shopping cart.
Another curious thing MJ did was tape his fingertips. In 2005, I too taped three fingers on my left hand. Why? Raynaud’s phenomenon. From MedicineNet:
Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP) is a condition resulting in a particular series of discolorations of the fingers and/or the toes after exposure to changes in temperature (cold or hot) or emotional events. Skin discoloration occurs because an abnormal spasm of the blood vessels causes a diminished blood supply to the local tissues. Initially, the digit(s) involved turn white because of the diminished blood supply. The digit(s) then turn blue because of prolonged lack of oxygen. Finally, the blood vessels reopen, causing a local “flushing” phenomenon, which turns the digit(s) red. This three-phase color sequence (white to blue to red), most often upon exposure to cold temperature, is characteristic of RP.
I had this bad in both hands but, when the hands were not purple or discolored, the fingertips were red, inflamed and sensitive to touch. I taped my fingers because this protected me from touching something and going through the roof – or to the moon – with pain. Was this the case with MJ? I don’t know. He taped the fingers on his right hand, I taped fingers on my left hand. He could have turned his painful ordeal into a fashion statement, like the hats and aviator sunglasses he needed to wear to protect his scalp and eyes from UV light.
In December 2002, MJ began walking with crutches and his left foot was wrapped in bandages. He said this was due to swelling from what he described as a spider bite. It’s possible or was this something else. With Lupus SLE anything is possible, gout, swelling of the ankles or heels of the feet, and if the immune system is in overdrive, any infection will go in to outer space in a New York minute. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Again, if he had Lupus SLE, this would be another item to add to the shopping cart
Stress And Lupus
Now, let’s go to 2005 and the trial in Santa Maria. Stress will shoot Lupus SLE into orbit as well. Flares are a lupus sufferer’s worst enemy and I suspect MJ had many of them during the trial. I was there the day he jumped atop the SUV and began dancing. That day was the beginning of the trial, however, as the trial wore on, MJ got sicker and sicker. He had back pain, was hospitalized briefly and appeared at court in his pajamas. At that time I had been diagnosed with Lupus SLE and wondered if the talk of MJ having Lupus beyond Discoid Lupus was true. He was certainly displaying all of the signs of a person with Lupus SLE. By the end of that trial MJ was spent, both mentally and physically. Stress is bad on a body generally, with Lupus SLE, stress will literally kill you.
I will honestly say I took pain medication prior to my hospitalization and my pain medicine of choice was ibuprofen – also known as Motrin and Advil. This decreased my pain significantly and I was not taking 200 mg of the drug. I often popped 800mg at a time. The joint and muscle pain can be overwhelming and if you have to work, you do what you need to do. Today, I live with the pain because the alternatives are Vicodin and opiates like OxyContin. I have chosen to leave all of them alone.
In MJ’s case, being a performer, I can see why someone would go for the stronger drugs. Again, joint and muscle pain can be overwhelming if you don’t know how to deal with it. With lupus, particularly when you are around those who do not understand the disease, you will be labeled lazy, uncooperative, and so much more if you complain of something no one can see.
Getting up in the morning for a person with severe Lupus SLE can be one hard road to tow. You’re tired, you have joint and muscle pain, you feel as if you haven’t slept in days, there is this 40 pound or more weight on your body and gravity is the heaviest of the weights. You really would like to stay in bed all day and not move. Anyone with the means to do this will start their day with an upper of some sort to get them going and then a pain pill of their choosing to silence the pain. If you are a performer, business person, or someone who has to move and do every single day of your life, this is breakfast.
With lupus, you have to stay under a doctor’s care. You cannot self medicate because what worked last week or last year may cause you great harm today. Depending on where the flare is attacking your body, particularly if you become severely anemic as I learned earlier this year, something you thought might work might kill you.
Then There’s The Food Thing
To add something else as well and again, this is pure speculation. I don’t eat much either. Some of the medications I take cause me a lot of stomach discomfort and I’ve been hung over the porcelain throne throwing up meals. I am not anorexic or bulimic but you just don’t want to eat when you think you’re going to suffer stomach upset as a result. Food becomes less appealing. You can only swallow so many Tums a day and if you are an active person, eating on the run can present one horrible set of circumstances when you’re feeling queasy. Not eating is also bad for your heart. We have to force ourselves to do it.
I heard MJ had a personal chef at one point, don’t know if he could afford it in recent years but some of the food out here will kill you too and MJ seemed very aware of this. You really become a funny eater after being diagnosed with Lupus SLE. If you’re not, you could do great damage.
I have to give MJ a lot of credit for incorporating fashion and function. He taped his fingers and made it a style. He might have been masking the redness of his fingertips or protecting his fingers from the pain one would feel from Raynauds when handling microphones. Dropping the mic and screaming would not have been cute. He also wore hats and sunglasses to protect himself from harmful UV rays and he incorporated these into his fashion garb. He wore casts, braces and kneepads to possibly protect against the pain from arthritis. It makes good sense to me, particularly the knee pads, I’d like to have a few of those myself.
In closing, Lupus DLE and SLE is not nice. There’s a lot of suffering with this disease. You will have good days and bad days and the bad days can be rough. Depending on how you manage the disease, you can either live a long and healthy life or a life filled with pain and discomfort brought on by other medications like opiates or excessive use of painkillers, uppers and whatever else is out there. If you are a person who has a stressful profession and you cannot and will not slow your role as they say, the stress can and will kill you.
You have to watch fats, sugars, caffeine intake, the amount of protein and sodium, and other chemicals that can be harmful. Depending on what medications you are taking, you may not be able to eat or drink certain foods or juices. Over-the-counter remedies must be looked at carefully along with exercise and the amount of exercise you are doing. Then there are days when you will just have to stay in bed and get plenty of rest. Then there are the days when you will have to cancel all commitments because the body can’t take it.
Additionally, you have to learn to not listen to a lot of folks, particularly those who don’t know a thing about Lupus. Folks may call you lazy, uncooperative, crazy, faking, and God only knows what. They are not paying your bills and they are not living in your body. Distance yourself from them. Others will tell you it’s mind over matter and will try to make you feel bad for not going with them somewhere. Limit the amount of poison in your life and that includes people. If you’re married to them, lock them out of the house.
Today, I’m feeling well thank you and I’m on a chemo drug called Cytoxan. In seven months, if all is well, I’ll probably still feel well. And then, I may not. I may be on another drug then and I’ll be tired and listless again. Who knows. But, in the end, I do know what I need to do for me and that’s what matters, not what others say or think. There are folks right now who are very angry with me for not performing or doing at the level of what I was once able to do. I ain’t doing it and I ain’t killing myself for someone else. I cannot do a lot of things now and no amount of verbal pushing will make me do it. The answer is no. I am thankful I was able to live long enough to appreciate the word “NO”.
If only Michael could have said “NO” to that beast Randy Phillips who insisted that Michael rehearsed every day as if it were any of his business! Michael knew his songs inside out and didn’t have to dance and sing at every rehearsal – instead he needed to save up his energy for the 50 concerts they forced on him and deceived him into! If Phillips hadn’t demanded an everyday rehearsal, Michael would have been saved from the mounting stress and would have slept at night, and if he had slept he would still be alive now. I pray that the Heavens avenge Michael, and that Randy Phillips’ deeds fall on his own head one day. Simple justice is all we are asking for.
The above patient’s account answers lots of questions about Michael. Do you remember his complaints about pains in his back which no one really believed and Rabbi Schmuley ruthlessly advised him not to medicate? Doesn’t it remind you of the pains in the joints lupus patients suffer from?
And do you remember everyone thinking him weird for using umbrella in broad sun-light – though it is a complete must for all lupus patients whether it is DLE or SLE?
Or him being sometimes confined to a wheelchair which was probably due to flares which are also typical of lupus?
And even taping his fingers which everyone thought was a stage whim while the reason for that could the unhealthy color of his nails or even dealing with the pain when he was holding a microphone!
I was also wondering about those nails and remember the media screaming about them being “a manicurist’s worst nightmare”. They attributed it to everything including AIDS and skin cancer except the most probable cause for it which is lupus.
This piece has been selected out of many as it presented the problem in the most decent way:
Dr. Klein Makes a Statement, February 1993
After Michael Jackson eluded to Oprah in 1993 that he had a skin disease, Jackson instructed his dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, to release an official statement disclosing the King of Pop’s Vitiligo pigmentation disorder. The New York Times quoted from the statement that Dr. Klein gave the Associated Press, stating that Vitiligo is not contagious, but results from a loss of skin pigmentation. In the months prior to Jackson’s death, Michael made frequent visits to Klein’s Beverly Hills offices. Dr. Klein’s website states that the Dame Elizabeth Taylor was a dear friend of his. Incidentally, Debbie Rowe was a nurse for the skin doctor around the time Michael became a patient.
Author John Randall Taraborrelli attempts to explain Jackson’s course of treatment in the biography entitled Michael Jackson: The Man and the Madness. He says that Michael Jackson had been diagnosed with Vitiligo and Lupus; however, the Lupus apparently went into remission at some point. These conditions perhaps lowered Jackson’s tolerance to the sun. This would explain why Michael was seen dressed head to toe, wearing gloves (not the glitter glove) and sunglasses. He also carried a Mary Poppins like umbrella at times. Allegedly, the doctor combated these illnesses with Solaquin, Retin A and Benoquin.
He also had hydroxychloroquin injected directly into his scalp regularly. The treatments he used for his condition further lightened his skin tone. That combined with skin leveling makeup made Jackson appear relatively pale.
An outward indicator of Michael Jackson’s Lupus, Vitiligo, and other possible health problems can be seen in his fingernails. They appear brown or dark beneath the nails all the way back to photos of his Thriller days. In the last six months or so of his life, news reports actually attested to the dastardly state of the pop singer’s hands.
Changes in the fingernails can signify a fungal infection or a systemic disease like Lupus or anemia.
If you have a closer look at some of Michael’s photos you will indeed see that his nails are an unnatural brown which might indeed be a sign of systemic lupus.
Doctors state that even the malar butterfly rash seen on the face of Michael Jackson sometime in 1983 may be a sign of systemic lupus:
“The malar rash or butterfly rash occurs in association with systemic lupus erythematosus. It is seen in up to 2/3 of patients with systemic disease and may be the presenting feature in up to 40%. It may vary in degree from a mild redness or “rosy cheeks”, to multiple swollen red areas or plaques.
The ‘classical’ skin problem in lupus is the butterfly rash. This type of rash tends to occur in the systemic form of the diseasetoo where other organs in the body are also involved.
In fact out of the main symptoms of systemic lupus Michael surely had at least half:
The symptoms of lupus differ from one person to another. Some people have just a few symptoms, while others have many. Some of the more common symptoms of lupus include:
- Achy joints (arthralgia)
- Unexplained fever (more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Swollen joints (arthritis)
- Prolonged or extreme fatigue
- Skin rash
- Ankle swelling and fluid accumulation
- Pain in the chest when breathing deeply (pleurisy)
- A butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose
- Hair loss
- Sensitivity to the sun and/or other light
- Mouth or nose sores
- Pale or purple fingers or toes from cold or stress (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
The majority of lupus patients are intolerant to sunlight:
- The main way in which lupus sufferers can help themselves is to avoid sun exposure. This means covering up with long sleeves and trousers in the sunlight and wearing a hat if out in the sun for any length of time. The use of UV film on windows may also be necessary for those who are particularly sun-sensitive. If a rash develops that does not clear up rapidly then it should be reported to the doctor as soon as possible as a delay in treatment may result in scarring. http://www.uklupus.co.uk/fact8.html
Scarring, always scarring… Even a simple stay in the sunlight could result in scarring! And these demanded cosmetic procedures again and again… How often did the media and general public laugh and call Michael weird when they saw him wearing long sleeves and trousers even on the beach? If I were in their place I would die of shame for what they said about him then and keep saying of him now.
A terrible thing about lupus is once a person falls ill with it, it NEVER goes away. Only some 6% of patients may have achieved that goal and Michael couldn’t fall into that category as his condition was aggravated by vitiligo as another autoimmune disease. This means he suffered from lupus till the end of his life.
See this question from a hopeful lupus patient and the flat “no” given to him by a doctor:
- Q. “Does lupus always eventually go into remission?
- A: The simple answer is no. The more complex answer is that, for the majority of patients, the disease is characterized by periods of flares (i.e., active disease) and periods where things are relatively quiescent (i.e., inactive disease). In the latter situation, quiescence is usually achieved with medication. Remission may be harder to define. One definition is that there are no symptoms, the patient is taking no medications, and all tests — including the antinuclear antibodies — become normal. In my study published 20 years ago, fewer than 6 percent of patients achieved that goal”. http://www.lupus.org/webmodules/webarticlesnet/templates/new_communityexperts.aspx?articleid=604&zoneid=96
When Michael died some of the media finally acknowledged that Michael was indeed ill with these diseases he always said he was ill with. Dr. Robert Lahita of the Newark Beth Israel Center was invited to Good Morning America on July 9th, 2009 and explained to Diane Sawyer that what all of us considered to be Michael’s “weirdness” was actually the natural result of his vitiligo and lupus:
THEY WANTED HIM WEAK. BUT HE WAS STRONG
We all knew how much psychological pain Michael had to go through due to media harassment, ridicule and unjust accusations but after learning how many maladies Michael had to fight and how much physical pain he had to put up with I will fully agree with Arnold Klein that Michael was one of the strongest persons we have ever seen:
KING: Do you think, Dr. Klein, that he could have done 50 concerts?
KLEIN: I think he was in great physical condition. I think the autopsy showed that he was in great physical condition.
And I think he was — you know, he was not this person without a nose that was portrayed initially in the press. The press has been hysterical and the press has been so sensational about me, about everything. There is no truth in the press anymore. I mean there’s no truth anywhere anymore in what you read.
So I think he was totally capable of doing this. But they wanted to show him as a meek individual. Michael was far from meek. Michael was probably one of the most talented, and strong people I’ve ever met.”
Michael was indeed one of the strongest persons all of us have ever seen. He went through 30 years of unheard of media harassment, was hounded as an animal, dealt with grave injustice every instance of his life and lived with the anguish of constant human betrayal – however he stoically faced it all and still managed to survive.
It was in these impossible circumstances that he managed to beat his addiction to Demerol which wasn’t his choice but was forced on him by irresponsible doctors who didn’t give a damn about the consequences of the drug they were giving him.
And now we have finally noticed that Michael also had to live with two terrible diseases which gave him extreme embarrassment and lots of physical pain, scars and suffering, all of which he concealed from us by his hat, wigs, umbrella and a smile.
Frankly I cannot even imagine that anyone could cope with so much in his life. No, none of us would have been able to take even a fraction of it – including those haters who boast that they are really tough guys in comparison with a ‘meek and pitible’ creature they think Michael Jackson was. No, if these ‘tough’ guys ever encountered a small fraction of what Michael had to go through, they would have broken down long ago and would be crying like babies in situations where Michael Jackson staunchly kept going - dancing, singing, writing fantastic music and helping others to survive.
Will it be a decent question to ask now how many plastic surgeries Michael underwent after we learned about a double operation on his broken nose, scars from a burn on his scalp, texture expanders under his skin, cutting out balding spots in his hair, treating a butterfly rash on his face and taking away the thick crust from his head?
Will it be still okay to make fun of his nose now that we know that lupus could have resulted in a necrosis of his skin and probably cartilage which is probably why he often appeared in public with a tape on his nose?
Should we still doubt that by the year 2003 when Michael was interviewed by Bashir the most number of his cosmetic surgeries had been two or probably three – while the rest of them were devoted to minimising the damage done by the accident, lupus and the very limited number of plastic operations proper he really had?
Even the above enumeration of Michael’s health problems shows that the number of surgeries, cosmetic procedures and other instances of necessary and unnecessary meddling with Michael’s health must have been innumerable – only I would like to look in the face of a person who will dare make nasty jokes after being confronted with so much human suffering.
And all those questions about “Michael having surgery out of “black self-hatred” somehow fall off by themselves too, don’t they?
The photo comparisons made by Anne Valle show that there wasn’t any dramatic difference between the way Michael looked in the early 90s and the later years in his life – so I hope this will close the subject of the “50 plastic operations” he had.
Michael could have had 50, 100 or 200 cosmetic procedures due to his terrible skin condition but it doesn’t mean he was having that much plastic surgery!
The majority of it was just a necessity. Everything he did had a reason for it and was not done just for fun …
Let us be human and accept the truth of it at last.
UPDATED March 5th, 2012
Sanemjfan made the following addition to VMJ’s post:
Here is a video I recorded last week from a story on ABC’s 20/20 about America’s obsession with plastic surgery, and in it the doctor talks about some phony nonsense about blacks not wanting to “erase” their ethinic features because of the “Michael Jackson phenomenon”, and my good friend LunaJo67 combined it with a story from Nightline that aired shortly after he died where a very unprofessional doctor passes “judgement’ over MJ’s surgeries, and just goes overboad in her analysis! They should all be ASHAMED of themselves! That doctor is the LAST person who should be judging the ways other look!
And here is a clip from “Life of an Icon” documentary where a doctor thoroughly explains the extent of MJ’s scalp burns, and the ballooning procedure used to treat it!
And here’s a photo to really put MJ’s scalp burns into perspective!