“I am finally starting to live my life again, thanks to Apex Headache Clinic”
For 41-year-old Elaine Sokanovic, life was a struggle. Having suffered severe migraines from childhood, vertigo (dizziness) and tinnitus (ringing in the ear) as an adult, she visited Apex Headache Clinic, desperately seeking a cure. Here, Elaine talks about the devastating effects her symptoms were having on her life, and how Apex Headache Clinic helped her to finally start enjoying life again.
Elaine, tell us how your headaches began
My first memory was a headache. As a child I suffered from frequent migraines, which continued throughout my childhood. At the age of 14, I was diagnosed officially as having migraines. My mum has multiple sclerosis so I was referred to neurology for further investigations. I was sent away with painkillers and told to avoid dairy products, and that was it. Migraines were just something I was going to have to learn to deal with, but it wasn’t easy. Sometimes the pain was so severe that I was physically sick. I’m the sort of person who pushes through things so I was determined not to let it beat me. I always tried not to miss school or work as I knew that if I lay down it would be harder to get myself up again. Of course, there were times when I had to admit defeat.
Over the years I realised that stress, or the excitement of a life event or celebration would be enough to trigger a migraine. I was always extremely sensitive to light and sound so that ruled out a lot of activities, such as concerts, which was hard as I love music.
Then, in 2007, I woke up to the feeling of extreme pressure and hearing loss in my left ear. It might sound a bit over the top, but I thought my head was going to explode. I was really dizzy so I couldn’t stand or walk and as the symptoms were new, I didn’t connect them to my migraines. I had tinnitus in my left ear which also spread to my right. I was sent for more neurological tests, which all came back clear. I was at an all time low. It went on for years and was absolute torture.
How did the pain affect your life?
My entire life was turned upside down. I was so annoyed that I couldn’t find out what was wrong with me. I couldn’t drive and when the vertigo was at its worst, I couldn’t even walk in a straight line, so everyday tasks such as collecting my son from school were impossible. I had to cut down my hours at work and work from home so that I could hide my condition. I was able to sit in a chair and work but as my job involves solving problems, it wasn’t easy, especially since I had a constant headache and dizziness. For two or three years, I shut myself away from the rest of the world. I used to be a singer and I had to give this up due to the hearing loss. I was truly devastated.
What led you to Apex Clinic?
In 2009 I was diagnosed with a blood clotting condition, which was believed to be the source of my vertigo and tinnitus. However, following this diagnosis and medication, the symptoms continued. I was sent to different consultants before I ended up seeing an ENT consultant in the Royal. He diagnosed my condition as Ménière’s disease. I was so thankful that I finally had a diagnosis. Both the ENT consultant and one of the school mums mentioned Apex Clinic. I didn’t think my symptoms were neck related but I was willing to try anything.
In April, I attended my first appointment with Michelle at Apex Clinic. At this time, my vertigo was at its worst and I was vomiting every couple of days. I attended once a week and Michelle worked on the left side of my neck. Within 6 weeks, the symptoms started to clear. I couldn’t believe it! I knew the treatment was working because one day I had a really bad headache. This was actually a good sign because I had been living with the devastating symptoms of vertigo and tinnitus for so long, that as they subsided, a headache was welcome, and much easier to manage.
Then, after another 3 weeks, the headaches started to clear too. My dizziness stopped, my hearing began to improve and my balance was back to normal. I was in shock. To have literally spent decades living with the debilitating effects of headaches, vertigo and tinnitus, to finally finding relief was incredible.
My treatments are now spread further apart and I just have the odd, mild headache, which I know will also become a thing of the past.
How has Apex Clinic changed your life?
For the first time in years, I was able to recently go on a holiday. I was also at a family celebration at the weekend, which I would have avoided in the past, because the noise levels would have triggered my symptoms. Not only did I not have a headache the entire weekend, but I was actually able to get up and sing for the first time in years. It was emotional as I honestly never thought I would be able to sing again. I’ve got my social life back, I can actually do normal everyday activities with ease and I’m back working full-time.
What advice would you offer someone suffering from headaches or vertigo?
I was at the gym last night and I heard a lady discussing having severe migraines. I felt so happy being able to recommend Apex Headache Clinic as I know just how bad the effects can be. I also met the school mum who recommended Apex and I gave her a massive hug for suggesting it. So my advice is definitely to seek the help of the professionals at Apex Clinic. I now feeI like I am finally beginning to enjoy my life again.