Photo: John P. Filo/CBS ©2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc.

This is the headline I read yesterday on Twitter:  Lawyers for Jennifer Esposito are trying to negotiate a deal with CBS to get her back on “Blue Bloods.” She was written off the show after recently collapsing on the set due to celiac disease, an auto-immune disorder caused by a reaction to gluten. The axing prompted her to criticize the network’s “shameful behavior” and accuse the higher ups of “implying I was not truly ill” on Twitter.

On Saturday, CBS released a statement saying the actress, who plays Det. Jackie Curatola on the Friday night Blue Bloods, “informed us that she is only available to work on a very limited part-time schedule. As a result, she’s unable to perform the demands of her role and we regretfully had to put her character on a leave of absence.”

Esposito, who has been very public about her battle with Celiac Disease, quickly shot back on Twitter that “CBS put me on unpaid leave and has blocked me from working anywhere else after my doctor said you needed a reduced schedule due to Celiac. CBS didn’t listen to my doc and I collapsed on set. Which everyone saw! After a week off my doc said I could return to work but CBS implied that I was not truly ill and this was a scheme to get a raise! It’s been almost two months without bringing me back to work + keeping Me from working anywhere else!… Absolutely shameful behavior.”

Why this is personal for me…

When I was in the throes of poor health issues and working with every doctor I could find to try to understand what was wrong, and being tested for everything from Lupus to Cancer, I was thrilled to learn of the diagnosis. I assumed that I could simply cut out the allergic foods, take some thyroid medicine, add in some supplements to address some dangerously low vitamin and hormone levels, and I would be fine. Little did I realize what the true implications of an auto-immune condition would be, nor did I realize that I might not get the support and encouragement from friends that I had expected.

To be honest, I’m still working through what it means to have an auto-immune condition, and how to make sure I make smart health choices to protect myself. And while there’s a lot more to come on this subject, today I raise the issue to plant a seed of thought.

If you’re not familiar with what an auto-immune condition is, or what it means to deal with one, here’s a basic definition pulled from pubmed:

Autoimmune disease: An illness that occurs when the body tissues are attacked by its own immune system. The immune system is a complex organization within the body that is designed normally to “seek and destroy” invaders of the body, including infectious agents. Patients with autoimmune diseases frequently have unusual antibodies circulating in their blood that target their own body tissues. Examples of autoimmune diseases include systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren syndrome, Hashimoto thyroiditisrheumatoid arthritis, juvenile (type 1) diabetespolymyositisscleroderma, Addison disease, vitiligopernicious anemia, glomerulonephritis, and pulmonary fibrosis.

I’ve written quote a bit about Celiac disease and my own auto-immune condition (Hashimoto thyroiditis) and what it means to my personal health journey, but one thing I rarely bring up here is what it means in regards to the support of friends and family members. One of the biggest challenges we face is that Auto-immune patients often appear healthy on the outside. Perhaps they are under or overweight slightly, suffer from irritability and/or fatigue, but so do many Americans (more on our typical American grain and dairy-ful diets and how they contribute to poor health to come in later posts). So because we don’t appear to be outwardly ill, it’s common to be met with judgments and criticisms about how our mental state may have more to do with it than an actual physical condition. In other words, I was told I was burnt out, depressed, suffering from PTSD, anxiety, etc. Very few people wanted to get to the root of what was truly wrong with me; including my Docotor who literally threw her hands up in the air after exhausting every test she could think of, telling me “there’s just nothing else I know of to do for you.”

Some of you might know exactly how I felt at that moment; alone, scared, confused and totally unsure of what I was supposed to do next. I mean, if a Doctor couldn’t help me, after a year and a half of running tests, then who could? In fact, the Doctors visits had actually been going on since I was 10, and had progressively grown more frequent with age. And when I could no longer perform my high stress, Executive level job anymore, I was offered a resignation package. That was 2 years ago, and while I wouldn’t trade any of the knowledge, clarity, healing or personal health journey aspects of my life today, it’s still sometimes hurts to know there are some who still think it’s as simple as changing my diet.

In fact, it wasn’t long ago that I was told that a family member still thinks that it’s just as simple as cutting out a certain food, stating that they know plenty of people who are gluten-free and do just fine. That might be true, but it brings up the very reason I’m writing this today, after seeing the Twitter comment about Jennifer Esposito. No matter how healthy we appear on the outside, those of us with an auto-immune condition dance a very fine line between health and sickness. Our fragile immune systems are in a constant state of teetering on an immune attack, and it’s decisions like reducing stress, changing our diet and taking an abundance of natural supplements that help us stay healthy and safe. Yes, I say ‘safe’ because ultimately if you continue living in a state of immune attacks, your body will eventually have destoyed its organs, and you will be weakened to the point of a degenerative disease.

As I often state, I’m not a Doctor. Hell, I’m not a nutritional expert at all. I’m just a girl who got really sick, and healed herself with dietary and lifestyle changes. I created Inspired Eats to help those of you like me out there who can’t get access to the medical help you need to heal. For the millions who suffer from a food allergy, sensitivity and/or auto-immune condition and have more questions than answers. The reality is, this is a project of love because it certainly doesn’t provide an income for us that would even cover one night out to eat. But what it does give is an outlet for me to share my journey in the hopes that it will help you along yours too.

I have a vision for the site that will allow me to connect you with healing providers to help answer your questions, and who can guide you to the right resources to help you start your healing path. To offer help in going gluten-free, grain free, dairy free, etc thanks to an abundance of recipes and meal plans. To offer you product samples to try before you buy them, so you can be sure to know you love them before investing in them. And most importantly, I have a vision that this will become a community where you can all share your thoughts, struggles, successes, recipes, and detail your allergy-free journeys with each other.

So for those of you suffering along your poor health path; feeling like crap and unsure of what to do, I hope it helps to know that I’m here. And I’ve met some pretty amazing people along the way that want to help you too. And for those of you who know someone suffering, please try to love without judgement, and help them to heal by guiding them to the answers they seek. Help them find resources to help with the hundreds of questions they have, and  work through the very real fears they have that they will never feel better. It took my 5 year old son standing  by my bedside, tears in his eyes, asking me when I was going to stop feeling sick for me to drag my sick, exhausted butt out of bed, call a nutritionist and start my healing journey.

I would love to hear from you in the comments section below – it’s the best we’ve got for now as far as a community, so start connecting by sharing your journey with us. I hope you have your moment now and hope I have been of help!

Live inspired,