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All in My Head

All in My Head, the headache released memoir earlier this year, is not the self-indulgent rant that the New York Times summed it up as. Instead of taking center stage, author Paula Kamen’s experience with chronic headache frames medical information and cultural critique. Her critical approach encourages readers to question what they think they know, what they’re told and what they read.

In her more than 15 years of pain, Kamen has tried a vast array of treatments, from mainstream medicine to alternative treatments. She’s learned why some work, why others don’t, and why so many stop working over time. Kamen has also figured out ways to cope with the pain without denying the reality of it, but without wallowing in it either.

Reading about her journey, your headache knowledge will increase and you’ll laugh a lot. Like when you read the conversation she had with her therapist in the mid-1990s about finding support in online chat rooms. (One of the therapist’s responses was, “Your computer has rooms in it?”)

ChronicBabe’s review examines the models of coping that are traditionally available to those with pain and praises Kamen’s new approach. Links to more reviews and snippets of praise are at the end of the article. If you’re still not convinced, maybe these bits of wisdom that I gleaned from the book will win you over.

  • Headache sufferers are considered to be more disabled than people with arthritis, about equal to those with severe congestive heart failure and only slightly less disabled than people with AIDS
  • A majority of preventive meds have little evidence of efficacy
  • Elvis Presley had migraines and the drugs that were in his system when he overdosed were common migraine treatments in the 1970s

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