Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn’t Go Away by Jennette Fulda
“Well, that’s not good,” was my silent understated response. I’d had manageable headaches, both sinus-related and migraines, since my teens. I knew how awful a headache could be. As a internet voyeur to her life, I was concerned and curious about her treatments and her stories about coping with it. Fulda is an entertaining, honest writer. She was amazingly sensible about her weight-loss. But blog posts about her headache were few and far between. It’s a few years later now and I understand why, even before reading Chocolate & Vicodin, she didn’t blog about it much.
Chronic pain is a difficult thing to savvy. Everyone has pain once in a while, but we *know* that it goes away. Except, sometimes it doesn’t. Like really huge numbers, it’s hard to wrap your brain around the concept of constant pain. This goes for sufferers and non-sufferers alike. We immediately want to know why the pain exists and what can be done to make it go away. The answers (if there are answers) are not simple, but we want them to be. Jennette writes about the anger, guilt, and depression that goes along with suddenly being thrown into a situation that’s confusing and literally painful.* Well-meaning people, bent on finding solutions for her, do not really help. The nature of the internet is one of interaction; sometimes, it’s counter-productive to be interactive. Plus, when you live with something that constantly takes attention, you don’t really feel like mentioning it as much as you deal with it.**
Jennette also touches on the nature of narrative in this memoir, and I think maybe that’s where human beings get stuck. We want an ending, preferably a happy one. Chronic illnesses don’t have an ending. As far as I know, Jennette still has her headache. By the last page of this memoir, she’s learned to deal with it somewhat, to use the good days, to not spend her time waiting for the headache to go away. But there’s no real end to her story. Chronic is the antithesis of story and we’re left dealing with how unnatural that seems.
This book was a quick read. Fulda is still entertaining, honest, and sensible.
* Unlike Fulda’s headache, the arthritis pain I deal with has been slowly creeping up on me for the past fifteen years. I don’t know if that’s better or worse.
** I don’t write much about my RA. It’s boring to me to write about it.