The title of this post is “Finally…A Celebrity Gets Celiac Disease”.
But let me write it a bit more phonetically.
“Finally…A Celebrity GETS Celiac Disease.”
As in understands; takes it seriously; advocates.
If you’ve followed this blog for some time (I love you!), you know my relationship with celebrities and gluten/celiac isn’t a pretty one.
I’ve railed on Kim Kardashian (a few times).
I’ve wondered about Channing Tatum.
I’ve spewed about Miley Cyrus (and the media).
I questioned Lady Gaga.
I pleaded with Gwyneth Paltrow.
And I unloaded against Dean McDermott.
But finally, we have a celebrity with celiac disease who sees this crappy disease with the same eyes that most of us do.
Her name is Jennifer Esposito.
Confession time: Up until a few months ago, I did not know who she was.
I do not watch TV unless it involves Jon Stewart or the New York Giants.
But this past summer, I was invited to Schar’s first U.S. facility opening and it said Jennifer Esposito, who has celiac disease, would be a special guest.
I was interested in hearing her story. I wanted to make sure she would be a good advocate for us; that she really understood the devil in this disease.
When she began to speak, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
She began to tell a story of a hospital visit when the staff didn’t even know what celiac was.
She said “We have a lot of work to do.”
Sadly, after what I think was less than a minute, she was done.
And the next two hours were spent listening to a bunch of suits verbally orgasm over each other about how awesome Shar and the new facility is.
There was not another word spoken about celiac disease.
And I said “We have a lot of work to do.”
But Jennifer is doing her part and I couldn’t be more pleased. (I know…how often do you see me pleased??)
Please take two minutes and read this interview with Jennifer on Huffington Post.
Here are some highlights:
– “My symptoms were all over the board. From stomach upset, exhaustion, joint pain, sinus infections, dry skin and hair, panic attacks, depression, back pain — the list could go on.”
– “It took 20-plus years for a proper diagnosis, not to mention countless […] doctors and specialists. To this day, I still deal with the side effects of being a celiac and repercussions of improperly being diagnosed over the years.”
Dude note: Dang lazy-ass doctors…that’s all it is.
– “When the doctor called me with the results, she said ‘You have the highest case of celiac disease I have ever seen, and I don’t know how you are existing.'”
– “There is a misconception that if you remove gluten from your diet, you dramatically feel better. This is not true. Yes, many of the stomach issues and other ailment start to subside, but this is an autoimmune disease. Like any other autoimmune disease, it needs your attention everyday!”
Dude note: As a fellow celiac, YES! The mainstream opinion seems to be if we eat gluten-free, we’re fine. That’s what I thought upon my diagnosis. But as story after story on this blog can attest to, that just ain’t the truth.
– “I am determined to educate and make people aware of the truth about this disease.”
– “I believe that the medical industry needs to focus on treating the individual person, the whole person, body and mind and not about money and mass studies of a disease.”
– “For a full-blown celiac patient there is no magic pill for this disease, not even a gluten-free diet. You must constantly be aware of what you are eating and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
– “Now we are also faced with a bigger problem. Gluten-free dieting is becoming a fad thanks to high-profile individuals who are removing gluten to achieve weight loss. This makes me want to scream! Going gluten-free may be a trend now, but there is a medical need, a dependency on being careful about not eating gluten and having meals properly prepared to prevent cross-contamination for the millions of people [who] have to deal with celiac disease. I’ve experienced odd looks at me from wait staff when I say I need my meal to be completely gluten-free with a “yeah right” kind of attitude now. People are becoming cavalier about gluten-free, because they believe it’s the new quick fix to getting skinny. Well for the people whose lives depend on it to live, lets just say we are not too happy about this.”
Dude note: Is it possible to love somebody you’ve never met??
So fellow celiacs, let us welcome Jennifer into our community with extremely open arms.
Let’s work together to continue to be the best damn celiac advocates that we can be.
Let’s join hands in denigrating the gluten-free diet and putting the focus back on the disease itself where it belongs.
And to you Jennifer I say this: I’m sorry you’ve been afflicted with this disease. It’s a journey I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But by playing the advocate instead of the victim; by taking it seriously instead of half-ass; by going public instead of staying quiet; you are doing more good than you could ever imagine and hopefully that will give you as much satisfaction than a closet-full of Emmys and Oscars.
One final note: Jennifer has a nonprofit organization, Jennifer’s Way, to help educate the public about celiac disease. She is currently running a celiac campaign that will simply rock. And you get to be on camera. So put on your best celiac face and be a part of the campaign. Thank you.