Julie Edwards, Clinical Nurse Specialist for Headache

Everyone has had a headache, whether it was a niggling pain or a hangover from the night before. But what happens when that headache is so overwhelming that you are in bed for days? That’s where Julie Edwards steps in.

Julie, 47, from Kinver, Staffordshire, is a Clinical Nurse Specialist for Headache and runs clinics helping to diagnose around 650 new cases a year.

She said: “I enjoy my role, I meet new people every day from all walks of life and it is not often that making small changes can make such a difference to someone’s life.

“I don’t really have a typical patient, each headache story will be individual and my role is to pull from the picture the relevant details to make the diagnosis. With 350 different types of headache my patients cover all ages, personalities, job roles and personal circumstances.”

Julie doesn’t just treat patients, she also contributes to valuable research into headaches and the reasons behind it, and effect of her role has been provided as evidence to an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Headache Disorders. She has also recently completed a Master’s degree and is rewriting her Master’s paper in order to get it published.

She commented: “We underestimate the effects of headache. Most people can appreciate a headache to some extent even if it is only a hangover from the night before. Daily or severe headaches impact on life at every level.

“A bad migraine can put you to bed for several days with nausea and vomiting but can also cause vision loss, pins and needles and numbness in the arms and legs and may even look like a stroke, which as you can imagine is extremely frightening if you don’t know what this is.

“A cluster headache is excruciating and known to be one of the worse pains people experience, but it often takes years to get to the right people to make the right diagnosis. Daily headaches cause difficulties with sleep, depression and work.”

Away from work, Julie, along with her fireman husband and two children, is a bit of an adrenaline junkie, but also finds time to relax in the country.

She said: “My kids are adrenaline junkies so Mum gets dragged along. I’ve rock climbed, abseiled, canoed, gone paintballing, coast steering (a combination of rock climbing, sea swimming and cliff jumping) and even gone into a mine where we rafted across a lake, went on a zip wire, walked up a waterfall and climbed a 100ft shaft to get out.

“I live in the country so it’s great just to walk out my door and within ten minutes be in the country lanes and fields, it certainly helps to clear my head.”