“Headaches were ruining my life!”

15-year-old headache sufferer Rachel Caldwell shares her story of the painful and debilitating effects headaches have had on her life and how a visit to Apex Headache Clinic gave her new hope.

Rachel, tell us about when your headaches started.

My headaches began four years ago when I was 11. I had been playing with friends at an indoor playground when I felt a twinge in my neck after using one of the slides.

Some time after this, I started having bad headaches that would last all day long and felt like a tight band circling my head with a constant pain at the top of my neck. These got worse and worse until they became a daily occurrence and suddenly this horrible pain was consuming my life.

How have headaches ruined your life?

During my first year of high school I was absent a lot and to this day, I can’t say I have completed one full year of school. My headaches have caused me to fall so far behind that I am now repeating year 11. The last few years have been particularly hard and frustrating for my family too. My parents took me down every route they could think of to find an answer, including GPs, paediatricians, neurologists, osteopaths and orthodontists. I ended up being more and more housebound and isolated.

One neurologist prescribed me very strong drugs originally used for epileptics. I remember each time my Mum and I would leave his office in tears feeling worse than we did before because he just didn’t understand. The drugs lowered my mood to the point I had completely given up hope of getting better. At this point I was in too much pain to even leave the house and I felt as though I had lost all my friends. I had no life; I was just lying in bed, crying and wishing the pain would end.

What was it made you come to Apex Headache Clinic?

Last spring we came across an article about a new headache clinic at Apex Clinic. We decided to give it a shot as this really was our last chance. Rebecca Nelson treated me and assured me that she knew from her own personal experience what I was going through.

I felt like she was the first person I met who really listened to me. Unlike the other places we had been to, I left Apex Clinic feeling hopeful and positive, trusting completely that Rebecca would get me better. After my initial consultation in August, my headaches really cleared with just intermittent relapses. I have been totally headache-free since Christmas and this has been life-changing for me. I can now live my life like any normal teenager for the first time in five years.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Rebecca and her team. I never thought I would end up where I am now with my life back on track and looking forward to the future again.