Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)
"A darkly witty account...sharp, entertaining, informative, and blessedly free of poor-me-see-how-I-suffered-ism." Kirkus Reviews
"Written with passion and a remarkable sense of humor." New Scientist
"Kamen's personal story, and her quest for relief, is fascinating." MSNBC.com
"Darkly humorous." Boston Globe
"Gripping...Kamen takes us inside the world of chronic pain...a necessary book." Chicago Tribune
"Engaging, informative, and at times humorous." Library Journal
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.