July 1, 2009 in Nation/World

Nurse: Jackson begged for drugs

Entertainer sought relief from insomnia
Lynn Elber Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Cherilyn Lee, a nurse specializing in nutritional counseling, says she received a frantic telephone call from Michael Jackson’s staff four days before the entertainer’s death.
(Full-size photo)

LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson was so distraught over persistent insomnia in recent months that he pleaded for a powerful sedative despite warnings it could be harmful, says a nutritionist who was working with the singer as he prepared his comeback bid.

Cherilyn Lee, a registered nurse whose specialty includes nutritional counseling, said Tuesday that she repeatedly rejected his demands for the drug, Diprivan, which is given intravenously.

But a frantic phone call she received from Jackson four days before his death made her fear that he somehow obtained Diprivan or another drug to induce sleep, Lee said.

While in Florida on June 21, Lee was contacted by a member of Jackson’s staff.

“He called and was very frantic and said, ‘Michael needs to see you right away.’ I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ And I could hear Michael in the background … ‘One side of my body is hot, it’s hot, and one side of my body is cold. It’s very cold,’ ” Lee said.

“I said, ‘Tell him he needs to go the hospital. I don’t know what’s going on, but he needs to go to the hospital … right away.”

“At that point, I knew that somebody had given him something that hit the central nervous system,” she said, adding, “He was in trouble Sunday and he was crying out.”

Jackson did not go to the hospital. He died June 25 after suffering cardiac arrest, his family said. Autopsies have been conducted, but an official cause of death is not expected for several weeks.

“I don’t know what happened there. The only thing I can say is he was adamant about this drug,” Lee said.

Following Jackson’s death, allegations emerged that the 50-year-old King of Pop had been consuming painkillers, sedatives and antidepressants. But Lee said she encountered a man tortured by sleep deprivation and one who expressed opposition to recreational drug use.

“He wasn’t looking to get high or feel good and sedated from drugs,” she said. “This was a person who was not on drugs. This was a person who was seeking help, desperately, to get some sleep, to get some rest.”

Jackson was rehearsing hard for what would have been his big comeback – his “This Is It” tour, a series of performances that would have strained his aging dancer’s body. Also, pain had been a part of his life since 1984, when his scalp was severely burned during a Pepsi commercial shoot.

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