Friday, November 11, 2011

The Demise of Dr. Conrad Murray

“He who covers his transgressions will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes his sins will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:12-14)

     I gasped as I heard the verdict read concerning Dr. Conrad Murray. As you know, he was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson. Shortly after the verdict was read, he was handcuffed. I shook my head in disbelief. I felt so sorry for him. Instantly, his life was in ruins. His sentencing is scheduled for November 29. He faces four years in prison, the loss of his medical license, and a wrongful death suit the Jackson family threatens to file. Everything he’s worked so hard for all of his life has gone up in smoke!
     While a large part of me feels great compassion for Dr. Murray and hopes he doesn’t go to prison, I can’t ignore the evidence that was stacked against him. He was involved in egregious malpractice. Michael was addicted to narcotics and Dr. Murray ordered a great deal of these drugs to give to him, and he administered propofol, a powerful anesthetic that’s to be used only in a hospital surgical setting, so Michael could sleep. Propofol isn’t a sleep aid. It’s absolutely unheard of for a doctor to administer such a drug in the home setting, and Dr. Murray ordered four gallons of the stuff to give to Michael over time. He left Michael unattended while he was on propofol; he didn’t have the appropriate equipment necessary to keep Michael’s airway open in case of an emergency; and he failed to call 911 in a timely manner to save Michael’s life. This was considered criminal negligence, and for this, among other things, Dr. Murray was found guilty of manslaughter. 
     Throughout the trial, Dr. Murray wore a perpetual frown. His eyes were puffy and bloodshot from lack of sleep, and he cried on several occasions. It was during those moments that my heart broke for him. He didn’t mean to kill Michael. He believed Michael was his friend, and that he was trying to help him.

Chance to Make Different Choices
     Instead of walking down such a destructive path, Dr. Murray could’ve made other choices. The moment Michael asked him to be his private doctor and get him the drugs and propofol he needed to sleep, Dr. Murray could’ve said “No.” Secondly, Dr. Murray could’ve contacted Michael’s family to tell them about the state Michael was in and what Michael asked him to do. Thirdly, he could’ve worked with Michael’s family to stage another intervention to get Michael the help he needed—if he really wanted to help him. But that didn’t happen.
     Michael shopped around for a doctor who would do anything he asked—even the unthinkable. And he found that doctor in Dr. Murray. Dr. Murray named his price, and Michael agreed. Or, maybe Michael offered the high price, and Dr. Murray agreed. Whichever scenario occurred, Dr. Murray was having financial difficulties, and he saw this as an opportunity to get out of debt and get back on his financial feet. Unfortunately for Dr. Murray, and Michael, their plans didn’t work out.

Michael’s Culpability
     I’m a big fan of Michael Jackson. I grew up listening and dancing to his music. He and his brothers were woven into the fabric of my daily life. I own every album of his. I still listen to his music: Every chance I get I listen to his oldies but goodies and his more recent hits. In fact, I listen to his music now more than ever since he died. I dedicated a page to Michael on this blog, called Remembering Michael, in which I wrote a heartfelt article about him. He will always have a special place in my heart. 
     But No matter how much I love and miss him, I believe that Michael had a huge hand in his own death. Despite how many times his friends and family pleaded with him to get help, he refused. He went into rehab for his addiction to painkillers some years ago at the urging of Elizabeth Taylor, and he ended up taking those same drugs again. He shopped for doctors who’d write him ongoing prescriptions, and when some refused to do it any longer, he used fake names to get those prescriptions renewed. His drug habit was out of control, and he went to great lengths to sustain it. I, and millions of others, wish he’d gotten the help he so desperately needed. I wish he’d spent $150,000 a month on seeking help instead of on dishonest, greedy doctors to take part in his dark world of addiction. Maybe Michael would be alive today, and he’d be well, or at least on the road to wellness had he taken that path.
     Here’s an unfortunate but sobering truth: If Dr. Murray had said no to Michael, Michael would’ve found another doctor to agree to his proposal, and that doctor would be behind bars today for his death instead of Dr. Murray.
     As Christians, let’s pray for Dr. Murray's mind, soul, and well being as he awaits sentencing, and for God to do a miracle in his life. In Jesus’ Name.

** This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays and Brag on God Friday.
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