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Tormented by the killer headaches.

LIKE a waking nightmare which leaves sufferers contemplating suicide they strike.

Cluster headaches are a little known condition which are more agonising than childbirth.

And the crushing head pains have left Lisa Elliot unable to work and miserable.

The mum-of-two suffers from the condition which can leave her in unbearable pain for up to three months.

Lisa is now speaking about her illness, dubbed the suicide headache for its intolerable symptoms, for the first time since her diagnosis five years ago.

"I get an excruciating pain like a poker behind my eye. It is three months of agony. The first time I had a bout I phoned an ambulance because I thought it was a brain tumour Noun 1. brain tumour - a tumor in the brain
brain tumor

neoplasm, tumor, tumour - an abnormal new mass of tissue that serves no purpose

glioblastoma, spongioblastoma - a fast-growing malignant brain tumor composed of spongioblasts; nearly always
. "I can understand why people call it the suicide headache.

When I'm going through a bout it Bout It encompasses a gamut of musical styles: soul and pop as well as traditional gospel. Featured are covers of the Stevie Wonder gospel composition "Have a Talk With God," along with the Jackie DeShannon-penned inspirational classic, "Put a Little Love in Your Heart.  is something that crosses my mind, and the only thing that keeps me going is my kids and knowing that in two hours it's going to be gone for a while."

Cluster headaches effects 0.1 per cent of the population and is more commonly found in men although women like Lisa are occasionally affected.

Intense pain is felt on one or both sides of the head which comes in cycles each year, followed by a pain-free period. Lisa's headaches last for up to two hours several times a day for three month between January and March and July and September every year.

"It is like clockwork clock·work  
n.
A mechanism of geared wheels driven by a wound spring, as in a mechanical clock.

Idiom:
like clockwork
With machinelike regularity and precision; perfectly:
. The week before I have a cycle my nose will dry up and then the pain starts. I've banged my head against a wall and I've ripped through pillows biting into them to muffle the sounds of me screaming when the kids are in the house," said Lisa 28.

The former sales representative had her first headache attack while working for Sky TV but her condition made it impossible for her to carry on.

Her partner of 12 years, David Hetherington, 35, has also been unable to work as he cares for their children Bailey, 9 and Luke, 5, when Lisa is ill.

"I can't really go out on my own when I'm in a cycle, because if I had an attack it's so serious someone would probably call me an ambulance. "Whereas David knows how to look after me and takes care of the children when I can't. Although I have my OK times it's very difficult to find work and tell my employer that in three months I'll be ill again."

Lisa now gets support from charity Ouch which helps eight other sufferer on Tyneside.

Lisa said: "I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. The pain is so bad it has led people to kill themselves in the past and Ouch has been there to literally talk people down off buildings.

"I really value their support and just hope that my story can raise awareness for the illness. It really is worse than childbirth, it's some of the worst pain you can experience and most people haven't even heard about it."

Despite Lisa's condition she has been turned down for the treatment she needs on the NHS NHS
abbr.
National Health Service


NHS (in Britain) National Health Service
 in the North East because she is a smoker.

After years of using pain relief injections to counter the agony she asked her GP to try high concentration oxygen treatment which can ease symptoms within 15 minutes.

But when her request was taken to be rubber stamped by the Newcastle Primary Care Trust, she was turned down because of her smoking.

Safety guidelines in the North East rule it is unsafe to have oxygen cylinders in a house where they may come into contact with a naked flame.

Outraged Lisa said: "I just couldn't believe it when they turned me down.

"I felt as though doctors were being ignorant to the pain I go through.

"I know smoking is bad for you but the last thing I can think of when I'm having an attack is lighting a cigarette.

"People with emphysema emphysema (ĕmfĭsē`mə), pathological or physiological enlargement or overdistention of the air sacs of the lungs. A major cause of pulmonary insufficiency in chronic cigarette smokers, emphysema is a progressive disease that commonly  who smoke get oxygen treatment so I don't see why cluster headaches is different."

A spokeswoman for NHS North of Tyne said: "We want to ensure that all patients receive the health care and treatment they need - and the main concern for any treatment prescribed, including high dose medical oxygen, is safety - for example smoking could be a safety risk."

After enlisting the help of cluster head ache charity Ouch, Lisa was able to see a consultant neurologist in London who finally sanctioned her to have oxygen treatment at home.

Chair of Ouch, Mike Pollock Michael B. "Mike" Pollock (Born March 9, 1965) is an American actor, famous for playing characters in anime dubs by 4Kids Entertainment. He has appeared as the narrator for 4Kids shows like Pokémon and some promos on the original Fox Box and 4Kids TV. , said: "The irony is that a lot of cluster headache Cluster Headache Definition

Cluster headaches are characterized by an intense one-sided pain centered by the eye or temple. The pain lasts for one to two hours on average and may recur several times in a day.
 sufferers are smokers.

"Some research has found that people who suffer from cluster headaches may be predisposed pre·dis·pose  
v. pre·dis·posed, pre·dis·pos·ing, pre·dis·pos·es

v.tr.
1.
a. To make (someone) inclined to something in advance:
 to certain traits like smoking.

"It seems so unfair that this authority would penalise Verb 1. penalise - impose a penalty on; inflict punishment on; "The students were penalized for showing up late for class"; "we had to punish the dog for soiling the floor again"
penalize, punish
 this woman and outrageous that we had to take her to London to get the treatment she needs."

They strike leaving many sufferers to consider taking their own lives

What are cluster headaches? [c] A cluster headache is where pain is felt on one or both sides of the head in attacks that can last between 15 minutes to three hours several times a day. The headaches arrive in cycles followed by remission periods often lasting months or years. [c] It is commonly known as the 'suicide headache' for its unbearable pain, considered to be worse than childbirth. Sufferers are known to have killed themselves during an attack. [c] Attacks have a regularity which can see them come at precisely the same time of day on the same date every year. [c] They effect 0.1 per cent of the population, 90 per cent of sufferers are male. [c] Treatment includes an injection of Sumatriptans taken as soon as an attack starts or oxygen therapy which can see symptoms fade within 15 minutes. Over the counter drugs have no effect on the pain. [c] Smoking, alcohol and exercise can trigger an attack and many cluster headache sufferers are smokers. Some think that people who suffer from cluster headaches may be predisposed to certain traits, including smoking or other lifestyle habits.

CAPTION(S):

AGONY Lisa Elliott Lisa Elliot was a fictional character in the Australian soap opera Neighbours, played by Kate Straub for several months in 1997.  suffers from cluster headaches; above, with children Bailey, nine, and five-year-old Luke
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 21, 2012
Words:1036
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