Keep That Knife Away From My Chest

This article is being written at Dr. Robert Cathcart’s chelation facility in Los Altos, California. I sit in Lounge chair #4 and this is my 23rd session out of 30. Please forgive any typos as the IV is in my right arm and I’m writing left-handed. (Note: my pal and Lew’s Tom Dorman also does chelation, but in Seattle.)

Having a cardiologist as a friend can be rather comforting. If you’re dining together in a restaurant, and you keel over, there he is, your cardio-pal, kneeling over you-no teenage ambulance drivers-no strangers probing your vital parts. This is what friends are for.

Actually, I’m twice blessed: My cardiologist buddies are husband and wife. She heads up the Coronary Care Unit at San Francisco General Hospital, and he is a successful practicing cardiologist in San Mateo County.

I must admit — aside from the frustration of dealing with their neoconservative politics — there was a secure feeling when I was with my “cardio-docs.” It was like driving through the worst part of town in a Sherman tank.

That was until recently.

“You’re overweight, you don’t get sufficient exercise, blah, blah and more blah and it’s time you quit those cigars,” he said. “I’m scheduling you for the works — we will start with a stress test and then, blah, blah and more blah.”

He’s fatter, more sedentary than I and wears an awful hairpiece. As to the cigars, he never noticed that I stopped smoking years ago when those delicious Cubans plummeted in quality becoming as unsmokeable as the garbage from the Dominican Republic and other points in the Caribbean. (For this sin alone, Castro should burn in hell.)

But I digress.

While he droned on, all I could think of was that dreaded “rite of passage.” A straight line, without detour, starting with the stress-test, next an angiogram, leading almost inevitably to Open Heart Surgery.

“No,” I said to myself, more out of fear than conviction. “I’m starting chelation therapy instead.

For those of you unfamiliar with chelation, I’ll leave the detailed explanation to experts like our own Bill Sardi, but following is a short description from the Internet:

Chelation Therapy consists of slow-drip I.V. injections of EDTA (ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid) a synthetic amino acid, combined with aerobic exercise, special diet and no smoking. The word refers to the alleged removal of plaque and calcium deposits from arteries and veins by EDTA.

I have scrupulously avoided my cardio-pals since I started chelation therapy four months ago. The instant I set foot in the world of anti-orthodoxy, my friendship with the cardio-docs was in jeopardy.

But I could only avoid Cardio-doc for so long — and the inevitable chance encounter occurred at the local sporting goods store. He was examining traps for large animals, and I was having small success finding waterproof boots that were truly waterproof.

The snippy clerk darkened my mood when she advised: “Why don’t you forget about waterproof boots, stay home and just keep your feet dry.” “Oh yeah,”‘ I quickly retorted.

The deep voice of my soon to be ex-cardio pal boomed: “Well, Blumert, your chelation therapy certainly hasn’t improved your wit.”

What follows is the transcription of the last exchange between Blumert and the cardio-doc:

Cardio-doc: “You realize that the entire medical establishment views chelation as witchcraft. If there’s any “leeching” of calcium that takes place, it will be from your skeleton, not from your arteries.”

Blumert: “The medical establishment has been wrong before, and there’s lots of testimony from thousands of folks who have been helped.”

Cardio-doc: “It’s all anecdotal, means nothing.

Blumert: “But I actually feel better.”

Cardio-doc: “No, you don’t feel better.”

Blumert: “But I actually do.”

Cardio-doc: “You only think you feel better. Anecdotal evidence doesn’t count. Only double-blind research studies count.”

Blumert: “Oh? Do they use double blind studies with open-heart surgery? Is there a control group?”

“Do you open everybody’s chest but perform the surgery on only half the subjects?

“When do you tell the folks from the control group that their chest was opened but that no open-heart surgery was performed?

“What happens if years later the placebo group does better than the open-heart surgery group?

“How in heaven’s name would you find subjects to participate in so absurd a study?”

Cardio-doc: “A typical, specious Blumert-libertarian argument.”

Blumert: (now on a roll). “Furthermore, isn’t it sad the average working fellow cannot afford $100 per chelation session which totals a bit over $3000, but a $40,000 open-heart surgical procedure is within almost everybody’s reach. I’ll respond to that myself.

“The insurance company does not accept chelation as a legitimate procedure, and therefore doesn’t cover it, but there’s not a health insurance policy that doesn’t embrace every technique used in open-heart surgery.”

Cardio-doc: “Hmff. That’s because insurance companies recognize what is valid and what is not.”

Blumert: “And that’s the problem, isn’t it?”

As the Cardio-doc left the sporting goods store he carried no large animal traps and I failed in my search for waterproof boots.

I wondered if he would ever talk to me again.

If chelation helps me, I’ll happily share my experience with him. Poor guy, he has been immersed in heart surgery and the like all of his professional life. On most issues he thinks clearly, but when it comes to Medicine the roadblocks appear.

I’ll wager that you know physicians just like him.

It’s basic libertarian philosophy that the individual is free to seek out any path to good health without interference from regulatory agencies, governmental or private. (AMA). This view is so entrenched that I have never heard any disagreement among libertarians.

In the struggle for liberty, I have shared the trenches with the folks from the world of alternative health-but this time I was not dealing with abstractions. My life is at stake.

Why is the establishment so venomous towards chelation?

The statistics are overwhelming that, at least, chelation doesn’t hurt anybody, and if it delays some folks from rushing into surgery, what’s wrong with that?

The war against chelation continues. A recent Canadian study indicated chelation as ineffectual, although the sampling was small and some chelation advocates questioned the procedures used in the study.

The worst news for physicians who use chelation in their practice came several weeks ago when they learned that their malpractice insurance was canceled. All sorts of theories explained the action of the carriers. Some suggested ugly motives on their part — Others were more understanding.

At this writing the Chelation Docs have been unable to find an alternative insurance carrier.

It’s hard to predict what the immediate future holds for these courageous doctors.