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Friday, May 9, 2014

Learning at the Master's Feet - Attending a Lecture Given by Dr. Esselstyn

On May 3rd, DH and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a conference lecture given by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. in person at the Iowa Osteopathic Association Conference.  I had heard he would be coming here so I e-mailed him and asked if there was anyway we would be able to attend his lecture.  Not only did he say yes, but he invited us and our cardiologist to be his special guest.

Later on accompanying the invitation to our cardiologist, a request was made by the cardiologist to have some time to meet, himself, with Dr. Esselstyn. Fortunately, for our Iowa Cardiologists, Dr. Esselstyn made himself available to lecture 200 local cardiologists the night before his lecture to the Iowa Osteopathic Association.

Following May 3rd's lecture a panel was also set up featuring four doctors, including Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Martin, our doctor.  

I have seen Dr. Esselstyn's lecture on YouTube many times, but to hear him lecture in person was truly a once in a lifetime experience.  He is an amazing person.  He really, really cares about people and their health, and you can just see that he is not out to get rich over what he is bringing to light.  

The panel was interesting.  I could hear cardiologists under their breath from behind me sass him as if they were teenagers.  One in particular had come in late to the lecture and had brought in her plate of scrambled eggs and sausage to eat while he spoke.  Not only did she miss the compelling evidence part of the presentation, but she was defiant and rude through the whole lecture.  This is not something I was expect in Iowa, but what I learned from this experience is a hardened heart (no pun intended) can not be reached.  

"Why was she even there?"  I wondered.

My Dh and I were amazed at the questions that were asked during the lecture.  Some of the doctors asked excellent questions like, "Have any of your patients had side effects when going cold turkey on animal protein and immediately starting a vegan diet?"  Dr. Martin turned that question over to me for the answer.  Yikes!  I'm not a member of the panel, and not a doctor, but thank you for the respect, and trust!

"Other questions were, how do we convince our patients to embrace this lifestyle?"

Many of the questions were "How much saturated fat is beneficial?"  "What types of oils provide the most heart health benefit?"

Excuse me?  Were you not listening?  No saturated fat is beneficial.  No oil.  No oil.  No oil.  

They couldn't get out of their Mediterranean diet studies and hear what the good doctor was saying.

Other questions were "How much meat can be eaten before damage is done?"  

Uh.......  No meat.  All meat is harmful......unless you eat one piece of steak out of being a vegan for decades and don't ever eat another piece.

The doctors were just not getting it and they were taking the discussion down the wrong path, trying to take the role of convincing Dr. Esselstyn that what he was suggestion just couldn't be done, saying they would never be able to get their patients to do this, that moderation had to be in the program, and so on and so forth.  

I got so fidgety I couldn't stand it any longer and finally raised my hand and told our story so that they would know that patients would do it, and that they would see a benefit.  I felt as if they were saying what they were saying because they themselves did not want to take on the lifestyle change, thereby making themselves hypocrites. I can understand that, but I had to let them know that patients that don't have options, or future options, will take on the challenge.

 The room erupted in applause afterward, and whenever a patient perspective question came up, then Dr. Martin would turn the panel to us because he has worked with us for 18 months and knows we are in it 100%.  I appreciate him for his respect and trust in us, we being two of his five patients that have tried the lifestyle.

The lecture and panel did have an influence, and our involvement did also have an influence as five doctors came to us afterwards and asked us for more information.

The most thrilling part of the day, however, was getting to shake hands with Dr. Esselstyn.  He is every bit as much of a good and generous man as I had assumed he was.  He has the most warm blue eyes, a firm handshake, and happy disposition.  To talk to him, finally, in person after several phone conversations the past 1 1/2 years was a dream realized, something I will never forget.  Dh was equally impressed. 

Dh was so encouraged by the lecture, we are now making plans to go through Dr. Esselstyn's training in Ohio.

I don't want to trample on the meat, dairy, and egg industries of the Heartland.  I don't want to dash the generational family traditions of the Midwest.  I just want to help those people who were in the same situation as my husband's.  Those who have no more options.  These are the people that are most open for change and in need of the most hope.  

Iowa needs proven dietary options and education for treating heart disease.  Going to the lecture gave me the view of what a struggle making this wonderful information available is going to be.  Even the doctors who believe the science doubt that their patients will take on with the lifestyle change.  

When the questions was asked in a room of 100, "How many of you, here, vegetarians?"  Dh and I were the only ones that raised our hands.  Not one doctor, with exception of the panelists, have taken on the lifestyle. 

Also, I just want to say that the day before the lecture I fretted that people would judge me for being fat.  I still have 30 pounds to lose, even though I have lost 50.  However, when I got into the lecture, I was amazed to see that I was the skinniest female in the room, except for the two vegan cardiologists on the panel.

Dr. Martin has lectured me on being overweight.  I know I am, that's why I was self-conscience of going to the lecture in my current state, but I didn't expect to be on the skinny side of the group!!!!  

Do we have a healthcare crisis because we are not practicing what we preach?  How can patients become well when their doctors, themselves are sick.  

The lecture was held at breakfast time and we saw several doctors eating a full plate, probably two days worth of saturated animal fat.  There was no portion control, and probably 1000 calories consumed for that one meal.  I was amazed. 

It was a very educational day for DH and me.  We could see a vision of what we can do to help other heart patients in Iowa, just by making our story available.  We had a chance to reinforce the knowledge we have obtained from reading Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and watching the lectures on YouTube.  We had a chance to meet and chat with one of the greatest nutritional experts in our country, a true gentleman who is helping many in humanity because he cares about relieving suffering and giving hope to others.  

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