Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book Review: Chocolate and Vicodin by Jennette Fulda

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go AwayChocolate and Vicodin by Jennette Fulda
Publisher: Gallery
Publish Date: February 22, 2011
Trade Paperback, 304 pages 
Non-fiction, memoir
ISBN: 978-1439182024

My Review:
Why I read this: I was sent the blurb and offered the book.  This sounded like my life in so many ways except I don't have a non-stop headache, but I am a chronic pain sufferer.  I lost 60+ lbs and was in the best shape of my life in January 2008 and I was also training for a half-marathon and had run 8.5 miles one weekend.  The next week I could hardly get out of bed.  It felt like I had been hit by a truck and I knew it wasn't the running as I had built up from 5 minutes of running to the 8.5 miles in over a year and a half.  I started going to a slew of doctors who said I was the model of perfect health.  But I was still exhausted and in pain.  I have gotten a couple of different diagnosis now and have prescriptions to help with various things.  I am better than I was in 2008 but I still do not go a day without pain.  So I thought I would be able to relate to Jennette and of course I was hoping she would tell me something magic that might fix me :)

My thoughts:  Chocolate and Vicodin is a must-read for anyone suffering with chronic pain or those that live with someone with chronic pain.  Ms. Fulda will not solve your problems for you but she will make you feel much less alone with your pain and make you smile at the same time.  I am honestly afraid of support groups because who wants to be around others complaining.  Ms. Fulda is able to explain her situation and all that she goes through without sounding like she's complaining.  She just shows you the real side of herself and how she is pulling herself through even though she still does not have a diagnosis.  I understand the not-knowing.  I can somewhat name my problem, though there is still some gray area to mine as well, but to not know at all has to be tough.

The book is written in a real yet a humorous manner.  I love when she gets snarky at times (mostly in her mind), that is the same way I feel at times and to be able to get that out would be wonderful.  Ms. Fulda proves that you can get through it like she does and there are days when you will be down but sometimes you just have to adjust your reality, change your life to suit it and move on.  I think this is the core message.  Another things I took away - it is normal to feel alone when suffering from something that others can't see.  Like she says - it's easy for someone to see you are in pain when you are curled up in a ball, but when you are going on with everyday life the best way you can, then the pain is harder to see (I paraphrase).

I loved this book, I felt like I was talking with a friend when I was reading it and I saw so much of myself while reading it.  I would like to thank Ms. Fulda for this excellent book and for showing me I'm not alone and also for teaching me some ways to express myself around others so they understand what I am feeling.  I think she does a great job of showing all the different doctors and procedures she had done just to try and find a diagnosis and giving her real feelings.  That is what I really loved.

I think Jennette is an amazing woman, to first lose 200 pounds, run a half-marathon with a headache and to continue to plow through life.  She has given me hope that I can continue on as well and maybe one day I will run my half-marathon as I originally planned in 2008. I think her ideas of laughter as medicine is the best suggestion and I will go on trying to find the positive on the tough days and looking to my wonderful husband for laughter on the bad ones.

One quote I loved and could relate to from the book:

I’d read about other people’s experiences at these institutes on the headache forums online.  I’d been surprised that people in that much pain had been able to set up and maintain online forums but there they were. I was a lurker on the forums and never posted or interacted with others. I wasn’t sure why I’d never struck up a conversation with my fellow pain sufferers.  It was just easier to lurk, read up on the information I needed, and then log off without getting too involved in other people’s misery.  When I’d blogged about my weight loss , I didn’t start commenting on other peoples blogs until I’d lost almost one hundred pounds.  I wasn’t sure how long I’d have to have my headache before I felt comfortable to raise my hand in front of the class and talk about it.  
I often feel the same way - I have lurked on forums for my problems but never post - I just don't feel right for some reason.

Some other quotes that resonated with me:
Not having a name for my disease was almost as frightening as the disease itself.  How could I fight something I couldn't name?
My headache no longer seemed like a big deal. I clearly wasn't the only person in the world in pain. I probably wouldn't even make the list of top ten most suffering people in the building. A dose of perspective might not be a cure, but it made me feel a lot better about my own situation.  No matter how bad your life was, there was always someone whose life was worse.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

About the Book:

Jennette Fulda went to bed on February 17, 2008, with a headache, and more than three years later, it still hasn’t gone away. Yes, she’s tried everything: intravenous drugs, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, subliminal messaging, marijuana (for medical purposes only), heavy drinking (which just made it hurt more), and lots and lots of chocolate. A pint of ice cream makes her feel better, but her insurance doesn’t cover mint chocolate chip.

In this painfully honest, smart, and funny memoir, the popular blogger who chronicled her nearly two hundred pound weight loss in Half-Assed shares her incredible journey to find relief from a chronic headache. As she visits countless doctors, indulges all manner of unsolicited advice from the Internet, and investigates every possible cause, from a brain tumor to a dead twin living in her brain, Jennette considers what it means to suffer, how to live with pain, and why the best treatment might be the simplest: laughter.

About the Author: 

Jennette Fulda is a writer, web designer, weight loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, blogger, and overall busy person. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Jennette was born weighing 8 pounds 5 ounces, but eventually tipped the scales at 372 pounds before losing almost 200 pounds through diet and exercise. She chronicled the experience on her blog, PastaQueen, and in her book, "Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir."

In 2008, Jennette got a headache that still hasn't gone away, regained 50 pounds, and wrote about the ordeal in her second book, a humorous headache memoir called "Chocolate & Vicodin: My quest for relief from the headache that wouldn't go away."

She chronicles her life after the "after" photo in her blog, PastaQueen, and does freelance web design at Make My Blog Pretty.

FTC Information: I received this book from Ayelet Gruenspecht, Associate Publicist for Simon and Schuster for a honest review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.


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