an occasional book review
as one of the "tired girls", the name the author gives to us, most of us women, who suffer from illnesses that are difficult to properly diagnose, treat, or cured, I read this book with interest. even though headaches are not part of my personal hell I found much I could relate to in this book – going from doctor to doctor, trying drug after drug (all of which worked. for a while), trying alternative therapies, and reaching a state in betwixt acceptance and resignation.
Paula Kamen makes her journey fun to read. she is immensely self-aware of her situation and of her privileged position – her parents pay for excellent health insurance that Kamen as a free-lance author could never afford; her parents also provide a place to retreat to whenever she couldn't handle the pain of her headaches or the hassles of her daily life.
in between the relation of her personal journey* Kamen discusses pain – the medical understanding of it, of its causes, of its management. she also discusses how pain as suffered by women is perceived differently than pain as suffered by men, both by the medical establishment and by society at large. Kamen also brings up the point that women are more likely than men to suffer from diffuse, chronic, cause-not-easy-to-pin-down pain, and the frequency with which the patient is dismissed by doctors as being 'difficult', 'non-compliant', and the kiss of death: "it's all in your head".
*and lest you think it has a happy ending – it doesn't. the headache remains; at times worse, at times somewhat bearable.