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All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache

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All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache Cover

ISBN13: 9780738210391
ISBN10: 0738210390
Condition:
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

At the age of twenty-four, journalist Paula Kamen's life changed in an instant. While putting in her contact lenses, the left lens set off a chain reaction, igniting a constellation of nerves that radiated backwards from behind the surface of her eye. The pain was more piercing than with any other headache she had experienced. More than a decade later, she still has a headache — the exact same headache.

From surgery to a battery of Botox injections to a dousing of Lithuanian holy water, from a mountain of pharmaceutical products to aromatherapy and even a vibrating hat, All in My Head chronicles the sometimes frightening, usually absurd, and always ineffective remedies she — and so many like her — was willing to try to relieve her pain. Beleaguered and frustrated by doctors who, frustrated themselves, periodically declared her pain psychosomatic, Kamen came to understand the plight of the millions who suffer chronic pain in its many forms. Full of self deprecating humor, and razor sharp reporting, All in My head is the remarkable story of perseverance, acceptance, and patience in the face of terrifying pain.

Review:

"Imagine the sensation of a fishhook lodged behind your left eye and tugging backwards. Now imagine that you live with that pain 24 hours a day for 15 years. That is Kamen's headache, one that she attempted at first to cure but finally learned to accept. Kamen (Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution) first tried all sorts of drugs — some were addicting, others made her gain 70 pounds in six months; none had any effect on the pain. She turns to alternative medicine: cranial-sacral adjustments, acupuncture, gluten-free diets, magnets, yoga. Kamen intersperses her account of these increasingly bizarre treatments with a look at how Western medicine, and even feminism, abandons patients with chronic pain and other invisible ailments: since her pain has no discernible physical cause, she has been told it's 'all in her head.' This book may not be uplifting, but it is undeniably funny. Kamen's irreverent sense of humor about her pain and herself makes the book a delight to read as she unabashedly pokes fun at the corporate pharmaceutical industry (even while she hopes for a test-tube cure), doctors and other caregivers. Kamen makes the reader understand what it is like to be happy even while one is in pain." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A darkly witty account...sharp, entertaining, informative, and blessedly free of poor-me-see-how-I-suffered-ism." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Written with passion and a remarkable sense of humor." New Scientist

Review:

"Kamen's personal story, and her quest for relief, is fascinating." MSNBC.com

Review:

"Darkly humorous." Boston Globe

Review:

"Gripping...Kamen takes us inside the world of chronic pain...a necessary book." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"Engaging, informative, and at times humorous." Library Journal

Synopsis:

All in My Head is the remarkable story of patience, acceptance, and perseverance in the face of terrifying pain due to a never-ending headache.

About the Author

Paula Kamen is the author of Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution and Feminist Fatale. Her commentaries and satires have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Salon, Ms., and the Chicago Tribune, as well as in many anthologies, including Appeal to Reason: The Best 25 Years of In These Times and Shiny Adidas Tracksuits and the Death of Camp: The Best of Might Magazine. She lives in Chicago.

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

missmigraineur, January 1, 2008 (view all comments by missmigraineur)
A generation gap perhaps?

Worth reading, but I put it down feeling profoundly irritated (perhaps even headachey.) I'm about five years older than the author but I often notice a difference in attitude between someone my age and someone from "Generation X." The thinking that "doctors know everything" and that "there's a pill for every problem" seems more prevalent with the younger generation. I'm glad I read the last chapter of this book first, so that I understood right away where she was coming from.

I've read a few medical memoirs, and many of the writers showed a sense of humor. So when I read reviews where people said this this book was "funny," I got it thinking it would be a book of _humor._ That is incorrect. This book is yet another in the field of medical memoirs. The author veers between the memoir genre and the research genre with some feminist theory thrown in; she is not the first author to have done so despite claims to the contrary, and she does none of it justice. If you are a person who is just beginning your search for some answers to chronic pain, it might appear to you as if the author has done a _lot_ of research, and granted, she has done quite a bit of research. She is, however, not a trained medical journalist much less an educated medical professional, and it shows. The number of times she dismissed a professional's words because as she petulantly explained "I didn't understand it" was shockingly numerous. If she were to say "at the time, I didn't understand what the physician was saying about cytokine response, and here's how I felt about it. Later, I did further research, and here it is--" it would have been far more helpful.

As a researcher, she leaves huge gaps. One instance I remember is when a doctor asked her about hormones she had taken, and the author's response was bascially "but what did that have to do with my headache?" Another of her attitudes was "there's a lot of bla bla about toxins in the environment out there but what can we do about that, let the Greenies handle it, my head hurts." Well, I'm glad the Prozac is helping you my dear but as you get older, you're going to have to educate yourself about estrogen and endocrine disruptors. I don't consider myself to be all that informed about my own chronic health problems compared to other people I know, yet I can think of at least five books/resources which are serious, comprehensive, and readily available, from the time the author first was stricken, which would have easily informed this book rather than some of the lighter, more fluffernutter resources she mentions. (I'm not talking about her fancy bibliography, I'm talking about her demonstrated understanding of advanced medical concepts which pertain to her own illness.)

As to the tone of the book, frankly, I found it to be whiny, childish, and filled with a sense of entitlement. Her actual statements are valid: yes, doctors need to be more upfront about what they know and don't know, and they need to respect the person with chronic pain. Yes, there needs to be more research done on the nervous system in regards to pain. Yes, the alternative health movement is filled with treatments which will drain your wallet (just like the standard medical movement, but you'll notice it less if you have insurance which is paying for the standard treatment.) Yes, the alternative health movement can have a "blame the person with disease" undertone which can be cruel, when all the diets and supplements and bodywork don't give a magical cure as was claimed. But the attitude of wanting Big Brother I mean Big Pharma to take care of you and give you a pill, is just going to get you to the dead end with which the author ends the book.

People throughout history, and currently in most countries of the world, have lived and do live with chronic pain until they drop dead. If your argument is that the American lifestyle does not allow for a person like that, well then, that's a valid argument. But Ms. Kamen, if your problem is that you didn't like it when your chronic headache got much worse after you were on a prescription medication and then had a heavy bout of drinking with your buds -- then it's really _your_ problem, not the problem of "society." If you got the first headache after continual contact lens usage, when you clearly were being irritated by using contacts, yet never thought to stop using them because (my words) "everyone wears contacts don't they?" then you display, in my opinion, the kind of TV-brainwashed, passive, entitled view of the average upper middle class American young person, and that's _your_ problem.

You state that you developed compassion for others with little-understood chronic pain syndromes, yet your book consistently displays the same kinds of put-downs which you deplore in your own case ("fibromyalgia, whatever that is" or even worse, "I call them the Tired Girls." Hon, the word "tired" applies to someone with the chronic illness I have in addition to migraine like "peckish" applies to someone on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean. Your desire to appear on Oprah armed with your quippish sobriquet is showing.) The author's sense of entitlement means that she thinks someone at birth promised her a rose garden --- that no obstacles should ever come in her way. When I was a child, young men on my block were being drafted into the Vietnam war and I quickly learned that "life's not fair." This view informs how I handle the chronic pain in my life.

I've read other user reviews of this book by migraineurs, and it seems they feel that she described their lives. However, when she describes her own "migraines," and then describes her level of functioning during her headaches -- that's not a migraine. I'm not saying "whoo hoo my pain is more severe than hers" -- she has a disabling headache and deserves medical treatment and work accomodations and the compassion of others. My disgust with the book comes from the author's lack of empathy for anyone not in her exact situation -- I truly hope her pain does not get worse, but God forbid it does, I feel that her lack of awareness of her situation will not stand her in good stead. Not everyone with a chronic illness must follow a spiritual path, indeed, there _are_ atheists in foxholes, we are free beings and may choose to believe what we will. But the snide tone towards people who choose to have a spiritual path, which helps them literally survive, where others have chosen to take their own lives, -- it is unhelpful at best.

May the author live well and prosper. . .she's still young, and perhaps one day we'll get a more well-informed "part two."
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
the Drunken Housewife, January 16, 2007 (view all comments by the Drunken Housewife)
Kamen has written a fascinating and bizarre memoir of her years of headaches. Here she explores both western and eastern medicine, with a feisty feminist outlook and a severely aching head.

No matter how much her poor head aches, the woman keeps a dark sense of humor. Kamen also makes us confront our own prejudices towards women with perpetual headaches or other mysterious, questionable diseases like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. How can she prove to her doctors that her head really does hurt all the time? Why are diseases primarily found in men not questioned but instead treated, whereas chronic headache (primarily an affliction of women)
is dismissed?

"It's All In My Head" made me laugh and made me think, and it made me heartily ashamed of my dismissive remarks about a woman I know of who has been in bed with a headache for a decade. My women's book club is reading it for February '07, and you should, too.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780738210391
Author:
Kamen, Paula
Publisher:
Da Capo Lifelong Books
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Headache
Subject:
Pain Management
Subject:
Chronic pain
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
General Health & Fitness
Subject:
Biography - General
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20060431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 16.6 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Women
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General Medicine
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Headaches
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Pain
Science and Mathematics » Physics » General

All in My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$17.25 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Da Capo Lifelong Books - English 9780738210391 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Imagine the sensation of a fishhook lodged behind your left eye and tugging backwards. Now imagine that you live with that pain 24 hours a day for 15 years. That is Kamen's headache, one that she attempted at first to cure but finally learned to accept. Kamen (Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution) first tried all sorts of drugs — some were addicting, others made her gain 70 pounds in six months; none had any effect on the pain. She turns to alternative medicine: cranial-sacral adjustments, acupuncture, gluten-free diets, magnets, yoga. Kamen intersperses her account of these increasingly bizarre treatments with a look at how Western medicine, and even feminism, abandons patients with chronic pain and other invisible ailments: since her pain has no discernible physical cause, she has been told it's 'all in her head.' This book may not be uplifting, but it is undeniably funny. Kamen's irreverent sense of humor about her pain and herself makes the book a delight to read as she unabashedly pokes fun at the corporate pharmaceutical industry (even while she hopes for a test-tube cure), doctors and other caregivers. Kamen makes the reader understand what it is like to be happy even while one is in pain." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A darkly witty account...sharp, entertaining, informative, and blessedly free of poor-me-see-how-I-suffered-ism."
"Review" by , "Written with passion and a remarkable sense of humor."
"Review" by , "Kamen's personal story, and her quest for relief, is fascinating."
"Review" by , "Darkly humorous."
"Review" by , "Gripping...Kamen takes us inside the world of chronic pain...a necessary book."
"Review" by , "Engaging, informative, and at times humorous."
"Synopsis" by ,
All in My Head is the remarkable story of patience, acceptance, and perseverance in the face of terrifying pain due to a never-ending headache.
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