Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn’t Go Away
Jennette Fulda went to bed on February 17, 2008, with a headache, and more than three years later, it still hasn’t gone away. Yes, she’s tried everything: intravenous drugs, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, subliminal messaging, marijuana (for medical purposes only), heavy drinking (which just made it hurt more), and lots and lots of chocolate. A pint of ice cream makes her feel better, but her insurance doesn’t cover mint chocolate chip.
In this painfully honest, smart, and funny memoir, the popular PastaQueen.com blogger who chronicled her nearly two hundred pound weight loss in Half-Assed shares her incredible journey to find relief from a chronic headache. As she visits countless doctors, indulges all manner of unsolicited advice from the Internet, and investigates every possible cause, from a brain tumor to a dead twin living in her brain, Jennette considers what it means to suffer, how to live with pain, and why the best treatment might be the simplest: laughter.
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What People are Saying
“In search of relief from the headache that wouldn’t go away, Jennette Fulda shares her grueling journey through the mad, mad world of modern, managed-care medicine. Smart, unflinchingly honest, and laugh-out-loud funny, Chocolate & Vicodin kept me turning pages, hoping to find her cure on the next one, or maybe the next one.” – Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Left Neglected
“This book is sharply observed, weirdly suspenseful, and refreshingly honest. Jennette Fulda helps to bring the long-misunderstood and inherently absurd illness of chronic daily headache out of the closet, exposing the devastation it wreaks on every part of one’s life – and she’s really, really funny in the process. But you don’t have to be battling an epic headache or other wily chronic illness to appreciate it; I also recommend the book to anyone who just enjoys being in the intimate company of a talented storyteller with a strong, original voice.” – Paula Kamen, author of All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache
“Lively…entertaining.” — Publisher’s Weekly
“A humorous and eminently accessible account of one woman’s struggle with a headache and the modern American health care system. Anyone with chronic illness will laugh and cry along with Ms. Fulda. All people whose lives are touched by chronic illness should read this book.” — Emily C. Deans, M.D., author of Feeling Better: A 6-Week Mind-Body Program to Ease Your Chronic Symptoms
“Chocolate & Vicodin will resonate deeply with anyone blindsided by pain. Using her trademark humor and grit, blogger and author Jennette Fulda unmasks invisible disease with equal parts insight and skepticism. As she wades through doctor treatments, tests, and the steady flow of comments from the blogosphere, Fulda’s memoir emerges as more than a quest for healing but a hard-fought journey to reclaim her identity, a triumph so many readers facing chronic pain will appreciate.” — Laurie Edwards, author of Life Disrupted: Getting Real About Chronic Illness in Your Twenties and Thirties
“I was sucked in to the story from the very first chapter. Her writing is so strong, honest and raw. I loved her first book but I feel the writing is even stronger in Chocolate & Vicodin. Twice she had me in tears – from pure compassion from the hell she’s gone through then also, very selfishly, from relating to her musing on depression. She writes about her chronic pain with honesty, humour, grace and poignancy. It is a fantastic read.” — Shauna Reid, author of The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl
If you’ve got a headache that won’t go away, or if reading about mine gave you a headache, here are some resources that might help better than chocolate and Vicodin would.
The National Headache Foundation
The world’s largest voluntary organization for the support of headache sufferers. They maintain a list of headache specialists around the country and provide headache information and support.
An online community for younger women with chronic health issues created by Jenni Prokopy.
The Daily Headache
A blog by Kerrie Smyres that provides a candid look at managing and living with headaches and migraines.
Insightful blog written by another women with a headache that won’t go away.
Somebody Heal Me
A blog by Diana Lee that blends news, information and experiences about life with migraine disease, depression, chronic pain and other chronic and invisible illnesses.
Information on antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics and other mind-altering drugs written in a funny, conversational tone by people who’ve taken them. (The original site is no longer up, but you can view a version on Archive.org.)
A registry of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the United States and around the world.
IHS Classification ICHD-2
A listing of the different types of headaches recognized by the International Headache Society.
WebMD: Headaches and Migraines Center
WebMD’s resources for headaches and migraines.
Verywell Health (formerly About.com): Headaches & Migraines
A listing of information and articles about headaches.
All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache by Paula Kamen
An in-depth, darkly funny account of the author’s battle with an unrelenting headache. Provides in-depth information about headache treatments and society’s attitudes towards chronic pain while also recounting the author’s personal story.
Life Disrupted: Getting Real About Chronic Illness in Your Twenties and Thirties by Laurie Edwards
Reveals 44 tips on how to cope with chronic illness drawn from the author’s experience with a genetic respiratory disease. Reading it is like getting advice from a smarter, more experienced, big sister.
The Truth about Chronic Pain: Patients and Professionals on How to Face It, Understand It, Overcome It by Arthur Rosenfeld
A collection of interviews with dozens of chronic pain experts and sufferers. Provides a broad cross-section of the different ideas and attitudes people have about chronic pain.
Pain: The Science of Suffering by Patrick Wall
A look at the biological mechanisms that determine how and why we experience pain written by an expert neuroscientist. Informative, but somewhat technical.
The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering by Melanie Thernstrom
A thoroughly researched look at pain through the filters of metaphor, religion, science, history, and the author’s personal experiences. A must-read for anyone who suffers from chronic pain or knows someone who does.
Here’s the article I refer to in Chapter 6 about headache caused by teratoma of the ovary: “Diagnosis: Brain Drain,” Sanders, Lisa. The New York Times. 7 Nov. 2008.