When I became an Elvis fan, it was not very long before I was trying to sort out fact from fiction, and to put the pieces of the informational Elvis World into some semblance of proper order. But first and foremost, I have remained a fan since then, and I am still a fan today. My goal is truth and accuracy, though I have learned over the years that sometimes fans don’t like truth. The footnote to the “If Linda” analysis is necessary, though, even if it might be a tough pill to swallow.
On the morning of August 16, 1977, Elvis and Ginger Alden were in his bedroom, reportedly reading and trying to settle in. At some point, Elvis excused himself and went into the bathroom to read. Before this point, however, Ginger had been experiencing pain from menstrual cramps, and wanted some sort of pain reliever. Elvis called Tish Henley and requested something for Ginger, and Ginger states that a Tylenol with codeine was brought up (though she does not say by whom). Now, this presents us with a problem: in her 1981 testimony during Dr. Nichopoulos’s trial, Tish Henley stated that she sent up a Dilaudid tablet for Ginger, not a Tylenol with codeine tablet, and not a Quaalude tablet. What was the thinking here, to give a 20-year woman, who has no experience taking this type of powerful medication, a tablet of Dilaudid, which is a Schedule II narcotic?
From page 303 of “The Death of Elvis”: “In the early morning hours before Elvis’s death, [Henley] remembered sending one Dilaudid tablet up to Ginger Alden for menstrual cramps. (Ginger identified the drug as Quaalude.)”
[From dea.gov: Schedule II: “Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are: Combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin.”]
So, did Elvis specifically ask for a Dilaudid for Ginger (it was his favored medication, after all), and Henley complied? Or did Elvis ask for a pain reliever and Henley chose Dilaudid? Either way, between Elvis and Nurse Henley, Ginger was given a Schedule II narcotic for menstrual cramps (while Dilaudid is used for moderate to severe pain, a powerful opioid did not have to be the first medication they tried). Ginger states that she was groggy and then was asleep for several hours, leading up to the 2:20pm discovery of Elvis’s body on the bathroom floor. In keeping with the pursuit of truth, then, isn’t it true, and tragically ironic, that Ginger may have been rendered incapacitated by a drug given to her by the very person whose life she was supposedly in charge of at that moment? According to everyone involved in this story, save for Ginger herself, “the girlfriend” was responsible for Elvis’s well-being while she was with him, and on this one day “the girlfriend” was zonked out on a powerful pain medication. Do Elvis fans not see the problem here? Elvis had to have known that Ginger was provided Dilaudid…not Quaalude and not Tylenol with codeine. He was an expert in drug prescribing and usage, wasn’t he? That’s what so many fans say. “Elvis knew the PDR like the back of his hand!” And yet, he gave his 20-year-old fiancée a powerful narcotic, and then she was out like a light. As I discuss in “The ‘If Linda’ Fallacy,” there was no safety net or contingency plan for keeping an eye on Elvis’s well-being twenty-four hours a day, so at this point he was on his own. And look what happened.
How can anyone say that Ginger Alden is at fault for anything here…?
[Also worth noting is that this Dilaudid tablet was dispensed without a doctor’s exam of the patient, and without a prescription for the patient. We’ll perhaps go over this a bit more later.]