Las Vegas entertainer Danny Gans died of a toxic reaction to painkillers, plus high blood pressure, according to the Clark County coroner.
Gans died in his sleep on the morning of 1 May 2009; his wife called 911 from their home to report that Gans was having trouble breathing. He was pronounced dead at the scene. It later came out that Gans was taking hydromorphone, an opiate more commonly known as Dilaudid.
The death is not considered an overdose. What’s not clear (to us) is what exactly Gans was taking the medication for. The Las Vegas Sun calls it “chronic pain syndrome.”
eMedicine defines that as “a constellation of syndromes that usually do not respond to the medical model of care.” It seems, loosely defined, to be curiously persistent pain in people who have had past injuries — injuries that normally wouldn’t cause such lasting pain.
USA Today’s health encyclopedia has an even more sinister take:
Soon the person becomes the victim of a vicious circle in which total preoccupation with pain leads to irritability and depression. The sufferer cannot sleep at night and the next day’s weariness compounds the problem, leading to more irritability, depression, and pain. Specialists call that unhappy state the “terrible triad” of suffering, sleeplessness, and sadness, a calamity that is as hard on the family as it is on the victim.