Chocolate and vicodin? No, it’s not the latest Ben & Jerry’s flavor. “Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest For Relief From the Headache That Wouldn’t Go Away” is the latest book by author, blogger, web designer, and busy woman Jennette Fulda.
I became acquainted with Jennette’s blog during BlogHer 2008, where I had purchased her first book, “Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir.” When she asked if I would like a copy of “Chocolate & Vicodin” to review, I jumped at the chance.
In “Half-Assed,” Jennette chronicled her journey to a near-200 pound weight loss. Just prior to that book’s release, she began another journey — one whose goal proved elusive. On February 17, 2008, Jennette went to bed with a headache. She still has the headache.
Name a diagnosis, she’s heard of it (brain tumor, dead twin in the brain, etc.) Name a treatment, she’s tried it (meds, massage, marijuana, mint chocolate chip ice cream, etc.) In “Chocolate & Vicodin,” Jennette is on a journey to find relief from chronic headache. Writing in a comfortable style, Jennette has a subtle humor that will have you laughing out loud. Trust me, her description of using marijuana “for medicinal purposes only” will have your beverage of choice coming out your nose! (Cover the book!)
But it will also choke you up. Under the humor, under the crazy e-mails from readers that suggest the crazy remedies, this is a serious story of chronic pain disrupting life. Persistent, excruciating pain and the work of coping with it takes a toll on Jennette, and when it becomes too much you find yourself sobbing with her.
But it’s not a pity party. As Jennette struggles to find answers — and comes to terms with the fact that there may not be an answer — she deals with the concept of pain vs. suffering, how to live — not just exist — with pain, and finds that humor is therapeutic.
I loved it. I now have insight into what a patient with chronic pain experiences on a day-to-day basis, and just how devastating chronic pain can be mentally and physically. I know what to say and what not to say (“Hope your pain goes away” is a BIG no! It’s like saying, “Hope your foot grows back” to an amputee! Sometimes saying “This just sucks” is okay.)
I am a better, more empathetic nurse for having read this book.
*This blog post was originally published at Emergiblog*