Michael Jackson died, aged 50, on the 25th June 2009, which shocked the world, and he’s still as well-loved as ever. But, even though he was planning to perform again, he was a very private person, and when he appeared in public, he was heavily disguised and wrapped-up.
Why? What was he hiding?
mj01Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s Disease, is still rife in the world. The symptoms can lay dormant for up to 15 years. It affects the skin and peripheral nerves.
Light patches appear on the skin.
Michael Jackson admitted that his skin was turning white.
It can be severely painful. The skin can thicken and become dry.
Eye problems can lead to blindness. Dryness means that the patient doesn’t blink much.
At one of his concerts, Michael Jackson stood, statue-like, for several minutes without blinking.
He wore dark glasses most of the time.
Fingers and toes lose their feeling, so they have to be very carefully protected.
Michael Jackson wore bandages and gloves on his hands.
Hair loss, including thinning of brows and lashes, and alopecia is common.
Apparently, Michael Jackson wore a wig due to hair-loss. It was said that he was completely bald when he died.
Scarring of the testes and infertility often happen.
It is rumoured that Michael Jackson’s children had a different father. Whether this is true or not, I wouldn’t like to say.
One symptom of leprosy, especially in Mexico, is known as Pretty Leprosy because it makes the victims look younger by ironing out their wrinkles.
Michael Jackson certainly looked younger than he was!
Then there’s the nose. It can collapse. Nasal stuffiness is common. So is destruction of the nasal cartilages.
We have all seen the headlines about Michael Jackson’s nose through the years, saying that it was collapsing. Once there seemed to be a hole in it!
Could his plastic surgeon really have been that bad, or was he waging a secret war against the effects of a dreadful disease, and constantly rebuilding the nose, fighting to save it?
Where could Michael have caught It?
mj02The Jackson 5 toured most of the world in the 70s, visiting many of the worst-infected countries.
January 1974 was their African tour.
Many African countries have a large problem with leprosy.
South America in September 1974 included Venezuela and Brazil.
Brazil is one of the most highly-infected countries, next to India, and Venezuela is close behind it.
October they were in Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and the Philippines. And they went back to the Philippines in 1976.
Leprosy is quite rife there.
Later in 1974 was Dakar and Senegal.
The family lived in California, which is the worst-infected state in the USA, mainly brought in by immigrants.
The cause of leprosy is still unknown, and it’s still a mystery how it spreads, although it’s supposed to be caught through droplets, mainly through the nose, or on broken skin.
It is not sexually transmitted.
How come none of the other Jackson children caught it?
About 95% of the world is naturally immune to it. It’s caught mainly by the poor and undernourished.
Michael was grossly underweight when he died, and very thin for most of his life.
Maybe he had a cut or a graze at the time.
Three species of animals carry it, and there have been cases of it being passed from animal to human.
The animals are the nine-banded armadillo, the mangabey monkey – and the chimpanzee.
Everyone knows about Michael’s pet chimp Bubbles. He took it almost everywhere with him.
Leprosy has been known to affect man for over 4,000 years.
In 1995 the World Health Organisation estimated that 2-3 million people are permanently disabled from leprosy.
mj3In the past 20 years, 15 million people worldwide have been cured.
The main problem is that very few people come forward and self-report. They try to hide it for as long as possible, especially if their children have it.
Syphilis has the same symptoms and the two have been confused.
Although it’s curable now, the damage is irreversible.
A cocktail of drugs cures it, including Dapsone, Rifamin, Clofazimine, Ethionamide, Aspirin, Prednisone, and ironically, Thalidomide!
Who would have believed that the drug that caused so many disabled babies could help to prevent the same thing in others?
If Michael Jackson had caught leprosy, it could almost certainly have been cured.
Was he waiting for the All Clear before performing again?
Another problem with leprosy is that it makes the patients susceptible to other illnesses and bad health. They can often feel unwell.
Who would have known about it? Would he have told his family? Probably. But they would be sworn to secrecy.
His doctor would have known, of course.
If the doctor had given his word not to disclose it, would he now eventually admit it to save himself from charges of malpractice?
And finally, when celebrities are diagnosed with serious illnesses, they usually use their fame as a chance to raise a lot of money for charities connected to that illness.
Michael admitted that he had a skin disease when he couldn’t hide it any longer, but he shrugged it off and didn’t publicly support any charities connected to it.
He said that he had vitiligo, a skin disease that causes lighter patches of skin.
Lupus has also been suspected.
Many blown-up photos of Michael reveal a lot. Some of them are terrible, showing scabs and broken skin. In one photo, his hand is enclosed in a strong bandage, and his knuckles look gnarled. He often wore plasters on several fingers.
mj4Maybe he had something completely different.
So why didn’t he tell the public?
There is still a huge amount of stigma connected to leprosy. People shy away from it in horror. It’s one of the cruellest diseases in the world.
and ringing a huge bell, calling, ‘Unclean!’ to warn everyone that he/she was coming, so they could get out of the way.
Was Michael afraid of being shunned by the public?
Well he needn’t have worried. His fans would have loved him even more for his suffering. And whatever disease he had, vitiligo, lupus, or maybe leprosy,
we’ll probably never know the truth.
There was obviously something seriously wrong with him. Leprosy ticks all the boxes.
But whatever faults and problems he had, there’s no denying that Michael Jackson was a highly-talented superstar. His eccentric way of life and his ailments will be discussed for a long time to come.
His family are still cashing in on his fame. Maybe they could use some of their profits to help a charity so that others don’t have to suffer like he did.
It would be interesting to see which charity they would choose!