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Thread: Elvis' health--my opinions

  1. #1
    Backstage Pass cutiepie's Avatar
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    Elvis' health--my opinions

    Greetings! I hope the weather is nice where you are--it is amazing hot here!

    This is a long post--hope it makes sense!

    I took a break from reading "Careless Love" to read "Child Bride." I'm back to reading "Careless Love," after which "Child Bride" provided yet another facet of Elvis' life. It is still difficult fo rme to read the last half of "Careless Love," which details Elvis' physical and emotional (mental) decline. It makes me feel really sad for Elvis--not pity--just that he seemd to have declined so quickly and radically. This just begs the question "What happened, Elvis?" after all.

    I think I have formed an opinion--or at least part of an answer. This may have already been hashed over, but Elvis is still relatively new to me--please bear with me, if I'm repeating another's thoughts!

    The books say Elvis' eccentric behavior (public and private) stems from his use of prescription drugs, burnout, Priscilla, etc. And that his death was basically all his own fault. That is not true!! I think it may have more to do with genetics, and his physiological health, vs. him going "losing it" or going "crazy".

    According to the autopsy, the M.E. reported that Elvis had the arteries of an 80 year old. The books seem to imply that only his heart arteries were clogged, which caused the heart attacks, precipitated by drug use, etc. HOwever, when a person has bloodvessel issues, ALL the arteries are bad, in ALL areas of the body, including the brain and nervous system.

    Poorly functioning arteries may have been the cause of Elvis' dramatic emotional decline. His brain might not have gotten enough blood/ nutrition for him to function soundly. He had mood swings and headaches, and depression, which leads back to arterial disease.

    Elvis' diet of southern foods, rich in fats and cholesterol definately played a role in his health. HOwever, looking at his genetic history--at just his parents--the progression of disease may only have been a matter of time, regardless of how much he ate and exercised.

    The books say that Elvis was obsessive compulsive with eating, especially during the final years. This may not have been a "mental" issue. Rather, I think it was due to his uncontrolled diabetes, which may have increased his body's need to generate energy by taking in more "fuel" through "junk" foods. Junk foods provide a quick fix to the body's metabolic system. But in the long run, junk food is bad.

    Should Elvis had made a better choice in his diet? Given the context of that era and place, Elvis may not have had a lot of access to whole grains and healthier food that are available today. Besides, when the cells in the body don't get the energy it needs (because of the diabetes), the body compells the mind (the person) to reach for something that will give it a quick fix.

    Elvis' pain--in his neck, joints, etc., may have been due to having hyper-flexible joints in the first place. From just watching a few performances, I can see that Elvis can slide across a stage on his knees, kick high (karate), etc. He was very flexible, especially for a man! I even saw one picture of him at some picnic with Priscilla, sitting cross-legged. His hips and knees were all the way to the ground, whereas another person with "normal" flexibility would be hitched up at the hips...

    So the way that Elvis moved around, especially on stage, could have lead to arthritis and a lot of bone damage--compressed joints--that will show up later in life, which is painful, and lead to a dependence on prescription drugs.

    Then there is the issue with internal organs, like the colon or intestine, which leads back to the diabetes...

    Gosh, I know this is getting too long--but there is so much more I can point to. I think the books are too harsh when it comes to criticising Elvis during his final years. Much of what he experienced was out of his control. While it's true that he could have been more proactive about his heatlh, the context of time and place did not allow the insight we have about preventatiive health care we are familiar with today. So I guess my conclusion is that, while Elvis certainly had responsibility for his health, not all of it was within his control

    Thanks for listening to my theory!!

  2. #2
    Walking In Memphis Sonny's Avatar
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    Interesting story, cutiepie...

    Sonny

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    Coming On Strong iloveelvis05's Avatar
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    I totally agree with you Cutie pie!!! Not only are some books harsh, but movies about Elvis, TV personalities, magazines, and even just ordinary people are also very harsh when it comes to Elvis. A lot of people (non-Elvis fans) seem to only talk about Elvis' bad times in his life...in other words...his later years. He was SO much more than that! They don't understand. So many people are so naive and clueless these days, I've grown tired of trying to correct them or at least giving them a better understanding. It frusterates me. I just have to ignore people's rude comments/opinions. They obviously don't know what they're talking about!
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  4. #4
    Too Much Monkey Business Jumpsuit Junkie's Avatar
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    Personally I have to agree with the outside looking in, only because as an Elvis fan, I can find so many reasons to stick up for why Elvis ended up the way he did!

    The reasons can be complex i.e . personal reasons (State of Mind), Health reasons, Prescribed medication & Boredom, whatever the reasons, the end result will always remain the same. all we can add from our perspective is conjecture!

    On a personal level, I think we should look to find solice in the fact we never have to put ourselves in such a position as to find ourselves in such public scrutiny.

    Elvis was an Icon who lived in a time where there were no rules and guidelines to be followed, he made them, hopefully lessons can be learned.

    Matt

  5. #5
    TCB Mafia Joe Car's Avatar
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    cutiepie, I agree with a few things you say and will add this. In the seventies when EP had his toughest battles with his weight, crash dieting was in and often people would literally starve, or eat only 500 calories a day which as we know now was and is probably the worst thing we can do. Now they have low-fat this, low-fat that and that coupled with better weight control methods has made things much easier. Also, judging by Elvis' yo-yo behaviour as mentioned by several of his closet friends, he might have been suffering from bi-polar, which means happy one minute, sad the next. Obviously the over consumption of pills did not help but EP was not alone as in the seventies as many people abused prescription drugs as there wasn't a proper monitering system as there is now. I also think Jumpsuit Junkie hit the nail on the head.

    "Elvis was an Icon who lived in a time where there were no rules and guidelines to be followed, he made them, hopefully lessons can be learned". This is very true.

  6. #6
    Roustabouts
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    THAT IS VERY TRUE WHAT YOU SAID JUNK JUIT JUNKIE HE WAS BORED HE HAD POOR MANAGEMENT IF HE WOULD HAVE DONE WEST SIDE STORY I THINK THAT WOULD HAVE HELPED HIM IN ACTING PAKER MADE ELVIS A SIDE SHOW TO MAKE A FAST BUCK ELVIS NEVER NEEDED PARKER HE JUST HAD RAW TALENT / TCB
    BEFORE ELVIS THERE WAS NOTHING
    PROUD ELVIS COLLECTORS CLUB MEMBER SINCE 1997

  7. #7
    From Elvis Presley Blvd Lonniebealestreet's Avatar
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    Great points by all in this thread. I think there is surely some truth in all points made here.

    I just wanted to add one thing. Regardless of the reasons for the "bad times", I think we also need to recognize that all the books that we have read and the things we have heard have concentrated on the negative aspects of his life during his final years and give everyone a skewed impression.

    While I am sure that things were worse during those times than the years before, I think it goes without saying that the good times were there then too and for obvious reasons are not the focus of the accounts of that period.

    Some books just jump from one drug-related incident to the next when covering Elvis' last five years or so, and that's pretty preposterous, even if there was a really bad problem there.

    I think that seeing through that is important.
    ...you won't forget me when I go.

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    TCB Mafia EnigmaticSun's Avatar
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    Oh yes!

    You are so incredibly right, Lonnie B. Goode...! A lot of stories do concentrate only on lies, assumptions and use words as harsh as possible.. This is being said while we all know that Elvis had a genetical predisposition due to the social and cultural climate out of which he was born but also because of the way things were during his childhood in the Southern States in the 30's, just after the great depression set in.. Let's not forget that. And IMHO opinion it is never right to be prejudiced without taking a person seriously while trying to take advantage.

    It's hard to understand that Elvis overall archetype matches the Christ's .. The Wounded King, carrier of Holy Grail consciousness. That's the main problem these hard earning hippies have got: internal conflict with Jesus. I do not agree on everything with the current Pope Ratzinger, but he is right with his statement that a lot of people these days seem to live in a state of self-hatred.

    It's kind of strange that some folks in the heavy metal/punk genre deify Jimi Hendrix / Sid Vicious while depreciating Elvis.
    Last edited by EnigmaticSun; 07-28-2005 at 01:09 PM. Reason: minor error

  9. #9
    Too Much Monkey Business Jumpsuit Junkie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnigmaticSun
    It's hard to understand that Elvis overall archetype matches the Christ's .. The Wounded King, carrier of Holy Grail consciousness.
    I would hardly go along with these sentiments, Elvis himself would never assume himself as a deity, he saw himself as a man, a human being and an entertainer to the masses.

    The above comment is more a view given by a fan! even if the comment is being used as a metaphor to be descriptive.

    I come from a religious background and find these comparisons a little uncomfortable.

    Matt

  10. #10
    From Elvis Presley Blvd Lonniebealestreet's Avatar
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    Glad you agreed with what I wrote, Enigmatic.

    I just wanted to comment on that last thing you said. It is unfortunate that someone who had a problem with prescription drugs would not be "forgiven" for his bad habit in the way that Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and the like have been. It seems ironic, but in a way, it's understandable, even if the reasoning is not so respectable.

    Elvis' drug abuse involved legal substances and he didn't flaunt it or promote it through his music (OK, so he did sing about "twilights trimmed in purple haze" ); in fact he fought against street drugs. The other people you refer to couldn't have cared less about who knew that they were using or who may have been influenced by their doing so and flaunting it like that.

    But perhaps Elvis' well-intentioned desire to keep his problem to himself, as respectable as that was in comparison to the antics of the drug "promoters" in the music business, was the very thing which made his problem less acceptable to many people.

    For one thing, Elvis wasn't promoting drug use--either blatantly or more discreetly--when it was socially acceptable to do so; his pro-establishment ways went against popular culture.

    For another, despite it not being common knowledge back then that Elvis carried a federal narc badge, there was definitely a projected image there of his being a clean-cut, clean-living model American. So near the end of his life and beyond when a picture was painted that didn't quite jive with that of this sweet, religious boy who loved his mother (or whatever), I think a lot of people felt deceived.

    So Sid Vicious and Kurt Cobain et al, to those who choose not to be sympathetic to Elvis, at least were up front about their lifestyle flaws. And beyond that, a lot of their followers see those flaws as cool, unfortunately.

    Elvis' flaws do endear him to us in a way, in their making him seem more human and his life a more tragic and intriguing story.

    Getting back to my previous point of people dwelling on the negative, I'm certainly not trying to do that here.

    In fact, I know the good outweigh the bad.
    ...you won't forget me when I go.

  11. #11
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    I think jumpsuit junkie, hit a very important point, there as such was no guide in verbal or bookform, as how to be an icon rock'n roll star. Elvis had a disadvantage to the many superstars of the latter days, he was the first true iconic star, and by living his day to day life, in what ever manner , was how he lived it. Many stars now look back at the archives from elvis' time and see the area's he did not avoid, but maybe should have, learning about his life is what has enabled them to avoid disaster. His mental state, is an issue that no one can fully draw a conclusion on, it has to be said, if you read the good biographies, it is written that there was members ie; cousins and suchlike who where unstable, at least odd characteristics, this in no way means Elvis sufferd the same disability, i don't think he would have become the Legend he is, where he mad in any sense, but it has to be rememberd that the family did have as some authors put it '' odd tendiences''. The reason i personnally beleive, caused Elvis much problems in his life was the loss of Gladys, the only one who Elvis would have found it impossible to say NO to. On her demise, i feel Elvis may have became a loose canon, Elvis to some degree lost some respect for his father after Vernon re-married. Vernon in the 75-77 years i beleive was just a guy on the payroll, and in the end could not tell Elvis anything to do. The guy's who surronded Elvis, let's face it, where in it for the Vacations, Money,Girls,Gifts. They where in essence YES men, not a healthy enviroment to be surronded by, but Elvis felt a need to be surronded by them, and to a geat extent needed and liked their always positive YES answers, to live in this enviroment would eventually have the Main point of interest Elvis, beleiving all they said. I like many wish if it was possible, that Elvis in the latter days had not demised as he did, it is sad, but the books and articles, well they make money for authors who possibly are not that interested in Elvis as such, they write about Elvis, then move on to thir next book about Marilyn, then on to Brian jones.. jimi hendrix. The general public have a morbid curiosity for the darker ,weakness' of Stars, and many writers see this and take the oportunity to make fast bucks. I adore elvis concerts from 69-77, i particularly like his 73/74/75 years, when yes, problems where setting in in, but the pure talent for entertaing an audience with that voice, never failed, i think we all have are thoughts on the various aspects of the latter years, but we all except that it was for good or bad a part of what is ELVIS. A. PRESLEY.

  12. #12
    TCB Mafia EnigmaticSun's Avatar
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    what'd i say

    Quote Originally Posted by Jumpsuit Junkie
    I would hardly go along with these sentiments, Elvis himself would never assume himself as a deity, he saw himself as a man, a human being and an entertainer to the masses.

    The above comment is more a view given by a fan! even if the comment is being used as a metaphor to be descriptive.

    I come from a religious background and find these comparisons a little uncomfortable.

    Matt
    I'm not saying that Elvis would have wished to be seen as a deity - he was a very human person, quite shy actually.

    But no matter how terrible it may seem, archetypes have been around for a while and they will not suddenly cease to be in human consciousness. It's also true that many seem to see Elvis as being a messianic figure (especially in the southern states), even if Elvis himself may not have wanted to be regarded as such, just being 'an entertainer'.

    Of course everyone is entitled to have their own opinion and as such I do not wish to insult / offend anyone. I'm also from a religious background so I'm sorry I did not foresee you being uncomfortable with this matter.

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    TCB Mafia EnigmaticSun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonniebealestreet
    So near the end of his life and beyond when a picture was painted that didn't quite jive with that of this sweet, religious boy who loved his mother (or whatever), I think a lot of people felt deceived.


    In fact, I know the good outweigh the bad.
    Hmm isn't it that a lot of disinformation is to be blamed on bad and cheap journalism..?

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    Too Much Monkey Business Jumpsuit Junkie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefrankfortspecial
    The guy's who surronded Elvis, let's face it, where in it for the Vacations, Money,Girls,Gifts. They where in essence YES men, not a healthy enviroment to be surronded by, but Elvis felt a need to be surronded by them.
    Agreed, and if you look at the transcript from the Elvis/West telephone coversation and Elvis states: -

    Elvis: I think that I?d become a dollar sign to him, red. I think in the process he lost sight of Elvis, first, yunno. That can easily happen.

    Red West: oh, yeah, I guess so, um.

    Elvis: yunno, ah, when that happened, red, I?d become an object, not a person.


    Red West: yeah.

    Elvis: but ah, yunno, I?m not that sign, I mean that rouge touring down there. I?m not an image to build up. I?m myself.
    So Elvis was aware that people were playing him for who he was and not the person.

    Another quote from Elvis from the Madison Square Gardens Interview: -

    "The image is one thing, the human being is another. Its very hard to live up to an Image".

    How do you live up to peoples expectations when your Elvis Presley?

    All those years of denial finally cought up with Elvis and he dealt with it the only way he new how!

    Matt

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    Backstage Pass cutiepie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefrankfortspecial
    The reason i personnally beleive, caused Elvis much problems in his life was the loss of Gladys, the only one who Elvis would have found it impossible to say NO to. On her demise, i feel Elvis may have became a loose canon,...
    Wow--your analysis is very profound! I can only elaborate upon it--

    In "The Inner Elvis," the author drew a similar conclusion. Elvis had his equilibrium, or inner gyroscope knocked out, never really coming close to recovering. I think the trauma of losing Gladys went beyond "normal" grief into pathology pretty quickly.

    As I understand it, the complications from pathological grief had manifested (according to accounts of Elvis' behavior in books) in substance abuse (did he smoke before, or after?), self-medication, impaired daily function--agoraphobia, as time wore on, insomnia (although this seemed to have been existing from childhood), and irritability, loss of social support--the lack of social intergration with "real" people; Elvis, as you mentioned, surrounded himself with "yes" men

    All of this, along with his genetic disposition, hastened all of Elvis' illnesses. I guess, back then, it was not "in vogue," so to speak, to seek therapy, like it is today.

    What makes the issue even harder to bear was that Elvis suffered a lot. And in public, where his detractors dismissed him, made fun of him, etc. Dying, perhaps, was a form of relief--or release. But, I hope that Elvis knew that no one would forget about him. I recall reading somewhere that he had been afraid that no one would remember him.

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