Is Dr. Drew Anti-Celiac?

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That’s the question I was left with after watching his truly astounding interview with Jennifer Esposito.  If you are in the dark about the backstory of why he was interviewing Jennifer, here’s your quick recap:

Jennifer has celiac and was an actress staring on CBS’ Blue Bloods TV show.  She was hired to act in a part-time role, however her hours were much more than her physical self could endure (think 80 to 90 per week).  She had been undiagnosed for many years and had a lot of health problems which eventually caught up to her and led to her collapsing on set.  After going on a leave of absence, CBS ‘fired’ her.

I don’t personally know Jennifer nor do I know all the details of the story, however what I can tell you is that the media has not been kind.  And though she’s clearly a very strong woman, this entire situation is surely a huge thorn (at the least) in her side.  It underlines how completely uneducated the general public is about celiac and living gluten-free.  And though I’ll never claim to understand what’s like to walk in Jennifer’s shoes or anyone else with celiac (as I myself am gluten sensitive), I can tell you from personal and professional experience that it’s no walk in the park.

So to get the latest scoop, Dr. Drew (yes of Celebrity Rehab) interviewed her on his show about what happened and, in my opinion, it wasn’t pretty.  Actually it was a horrible train wreck for both the lack of true, informed journalism on the show’s part as well as for the medical community since Dr. Drew kept insisting that since he’s a doctor, he knows about everything.

I get that in this day of instant news, headline grabbing is important.  The public’s attention span is short and you want to hold them on your station for as long as possible.  But at least do it with some level of integrity and empathy for guests.  Jennifer’s not (as far as I know) a raging alcoholic or drug addict that’s gone on benders and needs rehab.

Why treat her with contempt and ask her questions trying to trip her up?

Why focus on details that frankly aren’t all that important to the overall story?

Why take the perfect opportunity to real bring compassion to a health concern (for many out there) that is incredibly misunderstood and make a mockery out of it?

I guess so people like myself would talk, blog and carry-on about it to keep Dr. Drew’s name in the headlines.  Ugh.

Should this blog ever end up in front of the folks at Headline News or Dr. Drew himself, just know that you’ve done a real disservice to yourself and the celiac/gluten-free community.  That people who are brave enough to come on TV and talk openly about serious health concerns don’t need to be bombarded with rather stupid questions so you can get your angle.

You are what’s wrong with the Western Medical community…

  • unable to listen to your patients and hear what they are saying
  • unwilling to acknowledge that maybe the patient knows their situation better than you do
  • assuming that the problems or issues reported are overblown or worst, all in the patient’s head
  • minimizing the struggle, shame and frustration that patients experience.

For those of you out there who might be a a part of the Western Medical community who don’t fit this mold and actually show true empathy and care for your patients, kudos to you.  However the horror stories from people I work with and even from my own life are rather shocking.  It happens all too often (especially to women) that doctors will blow off your problems and say it’s all in your head.  Doctors like Dr. Drew (or the “doctor” he decided to show up on set as during Jennifer’s interview) are why so many people go undiagnosed.  They assume they know everything about everything and are unwilling to allow room for the unique personal journey that a patient experiences daily.

As I’ve clearly stated, I’m gluten sensitive and I can’t tell you how many physicians have laughed in my face and told me that my digestive and other physical woes were all in my head when I described my intolerance to them.  My father (a physician) has always been the first person to point out how little food and nutrition is taught in medical school and that continuing education is focused around the topics sponsored by drug and surgical instrument companies.

So this all said, I ask you to sign this petition that will express the outrage and dismay of our community to Dr. Drew and the folks at Headline News and request an apology to Jennifer Esposito.  That says we won’t tolerate being minimized or walked on simply because we look fine on the outside.  That says we don’t appreciate our message getting lambasted because of sheer ignorance or for the sake of making something dramatic and eye-catching.

I’ve already signed… it only takes a minute!

CLICK HERE to sign the petition

Please share it on Facebook and Twitter!  Let’s get our voices heard!!

Leave a comment below sharing that you’ve signed the petition and tell me your doctor horror story as you try to get the help you needed to better your health.

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  1. Lisa says

    Let’s not forget:

    “After the show, the producer called Jennifer and said he was concerned because he sensed she wasn’t happy with the show (quite a perceptive guy).

    He then said…and hold on to your hats for this one my fellow celiacs…”Dr. Drew just felt you didn’t have celiac disease and thinks you weren’t tested properly because if you did have celiac disease and ate gluten free, you’d be fine.””

    Seriously? And this guy calls himself a doctor?


  2. Samantha Gieseke says

    What a jerk! He was interrupting with this high and mighty attitude… I’m not even gluten intolerant/sensitive or anything, but I am aware of this disease and it is appalling that a “medical professional” could possibly act that way about something so clearly unclear in many people’s minds!

  3. Esther says


    I and two of my children have celiac disease. I consider us very lucky, especially my children, becausea gluten-free diet has made us well again. None of us have intractable celiac or leaky gut syndrome. We eat GF and we are well. Simple as that. My heart aches for JE because of the damage celiac disease wrought on her body, and the LONG journey back to wellness that she has yet to tread.

    However, I did not think Dr. Drew was lambasting her at all! I completely disagree with your interpretation of this interview. She told her story, he asked questions for clarification, and she explained the whole story. He asked her if she had syncope, as that is normally what one thinks of when they hear “collapsed” that’s not immediately followed by “from a heart attack” or “from a stroke”. He thought she fainted, and it took some additional questioning and discussion to elicit “My legs went weak and gave out from severe dehydration”. That wasn’t severe or mockery or lambasting. It was Q and A for clarification.

    I realize time has passed since this was current news. I couldn’t “watch” the video. I could only listen to it. I heard the two people have a discussion. I suggest you listen (not watch) it again now that time has passed. His voice is neutral – not attacking, not mocking, not lambasting. He is simpky asking questions to elicit all the details. He asks. She answers. She is very excited to tell her story but I don’t hear in her voice that she feels attacked or mocked. Listen again. Just listen. Don’t watch. Keep an open mind and ascertain if you can hear what I hear.

    I don’t watch the show. I don’t follow the stars. I have nothing to gain either way. I just encourage you to give the interview another chance with an open mind. They are both neutral. She is excited but he is neutral, not attacking.

    • says

      Esther, though I really appreciate your well-thought out response, I have to politely disagree. Perhaps you missed one of the first comments in this thread… I knew from reading the blog about this incident over at my friend’s site (the Gluten Dude), that Dr. Drew’s staff didn’t think that Jennifer was on a GF diet and they really had a lot of doubts about where she was coming from. I’m not sure why his ‘angle’ was newsworthy. He never discussed what Celiac was to viewers out there who may be unfamiliar with it (as so many folks are) and he never gave her a chance to really have a discussion. The amount of questions about her passing out or falling down was ridiculous and not the point. In fact, most of his questions were poking around the issue, but not directly getting at it which felt evasive moreso than helpful in shedding light on why she was ‘fired’.

      Nothing new was learned from Dr. Drew’s line of questioning and that’s what truly bothers me. In fact, it’s quite similar to those who do not understand why having celiac is so difficult. Listening to it rather than watching hasn’t changed my mind one bit.

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