Jennifer Esposito, actress, gluten-free advocate and fellow celiac. I first remember her on Spin City but on TV she has also acted in shows like Samantha Who? and Blue Bloods. The Movies Crash and Son of Sam are also on her resume.
But over the last year or so, I have most heard about her regarding her celiac diagnosis. She is a staunch advocate for celiac testing, the gluten free diet and raising awareness among the public and medical community. It’s no wonder when you consider what she explains she went through in her detailed new book Jennifer’s Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease– What Doctors Don’t Tell you and How You Can Learn to Live Again.
In this book she describes 20+ years of lack of diagnosis and her spiraling health (although celebrity news this week wants to skip the celiac part and tell the greater masses about her failed relationship with another celebrity who is mentioned in the book, but since she didn’t mention any names it really didn’t stick out to me during the read.)
Her book talks about growing up with a mother and grandmother who had health troubles. As Esposito ages, her symptoms come to fruition. Between her extreme fatigue (being in bed for days and over lunch breaks), anxiety and panic attacks (especially debilitating going into New York City for appointments and work), brittle, dry hair leading to hair loss during Samantha Who? (Pictured right photo during an interview with Craig Ferguson as she promoted Samantha Who?), and joint pain.
You learn about the extremes she would go to cope and live a “normal” life, the doctors she saw (most of whom missed her celiac diagnosis) and medicines she was prescribed. She had decades of misdiagnoses that were making her symptoms worse as each year passed.
She talks about her eventual diagnosis, going gluten-free (and dairy free) and learning how to do it correctly! I personally loved a moment in her book when she really turned a corner and things turned more positive. I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say baking was involved.
Her life is about the first two -thirds of the book. The last section is more about helping the reader, whether you are diagnosed with celiac or undiagnosed and wondering about it. There are some areas in this part of the book that I have heard conflicting facts (GMOs and gluten-sensitivity, shampoos/conditioners and gluten).
As a reader, I would also like to see sources of where she gets her facts. It’s not that I don’t believe the information, but the journalist in me thinks facts should be credited with their source whenever possible.
But what I find extremely valuable in that last section are the things no one really talks about — how to pick a doctor and what questions to ask or how to handle celiac at work (and what if you get sick?). She offered good advice that will get you prepared for when that time comes.
I liked this book enough to breeze through it over a weekend (and that’s saying a lot since I have been stuck on chapter 7 of the Hunger Games since late January). If you feel alone or lost with this disease, Esposito’s book might just make you feel like you have a friend in all of this.