Struggling off the bus in agony, Deborah Ogg barely knew what was happening.
She had never suffered from headaches, but suddenly she was in such excruciating pain that she had to lie down in the street, utterly overwhelmed.
Her worried partner Peter looked on, helpless, and even the taxi driver he summoned offered to take them straight to hospital. But Deborah, 40, hating to make a fuss, insisted on going home to bed.
“I felt like somebody had hit me over the head with an iron bar,” she recalls, “It was massive pain.”
The pharmacist recommended migraine pills, but they didn’t help. “I tried getting up to go to the toilet but as soon as I got up the pain was even worse and I was on my knees, I just crumpled,” she says.
It was April 1 last year, and the start of a long and painful journey with what she eventually discovered was a rare condition called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak.
Affecting around one person in 50,000, it occurs when the fluid, which cushions the brain and spine, leaks out through a hole in its protective sac. This results in a drop in pressure, so that the brain can no longer float in fluid.
The brain cannot feel pain, but the resulting “brain sag” pulls on tendons and muscles across the head, causing extreme pain, which is slightly relieved when sufferers lie down.
It is most common after epidurals or spinal operations, but in some cases, such as Deborah’s, occurs spontaneously, which makes treatment harder, because the location of the leak is not known.