Michael Jackson suffered from crippling bouts of insomnia and pleaded for the powerful sedative Diprivan, despite warnings that it could be harmful to his health, according to a nurse who was working with Jackson for his scheduled 50-date run at London's O2 Arena.
Cherilyn Lee, a registered nurse and nutritional counselor, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Jackson repeatedly asked her for the drug — also known as Propofol — but she denied his requests.
"He wasn't looking to get high or feel good and sedated from drugs," she told the AP. "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."
Lee said that though she refused to give Jackson the drug, which is given intravenously and is widely used in operating rooms to induce unconsciousness, she became worried that the singer had somehow obtained it from someone else. She said she received a "frantic" phone call from a member of Jackson's staff four days before the King of Pop's death.
"He called and was very frantic and said, 'Michael needs to see you right away,' " Lee told the AP. "I said, 'What's wrong?' And I could hear Michael in the background [saying], 'One side of my body is hot, it's hot, and one side of my body is cold, it's very cold.'
"At that point, I knew that somebody had given him something that hit the central nervous system," she continued. "He was in trouble Sunday and he was crying out."
Jackson died on Thursday after suffering cardiac arrest, his family said. Autopsies have been conducted, but an official cause of death is not expected for several weeks.
TMZ reported that Propofol was found at Jackson's house, along with the drug Lidocaine, which is used to reduce the pain associated with injecting Propofol. The Web site also quotes an unnamed source as saying that the drug is "so inappropriate and reckless for home use, if a doctor facilitated it for Jackson and it caused his death, he or she could be prosecuted for manslaughter."
A University of Chicago psychopharmacologist told the AP that Propofol has been implicated in drug abuse and even suicide. It has a "very narrow therapeutic window," meaning that it doesn't take doses much larger than the medically recommended amount to stop a person's breathing.
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