UK woman 'allergic' to electricity
Published 18/05/2011 | 11:25
A British woman cannot use an electric kettle, keeps her washing machine in a concrete outhouse and cannot have neighbours with wireless internet because she is allergic to electricity.
Janice Tunnicliffe spends every night playing Scrabble by candlelight with her husband because she claims to have a rare condition called electrosensitivity.
She cannot bear to be anywhere near electromagnetic fields of any kind and, as a result, she cannot watch television, listen to the radio or talk on a mobile phone and has been left completely isolated from the modern world by her condition.
Mrs Tunnicliffe, 55, was struck down with the illness after receiving chemotherapy for bowel cancer three years ago.
Since then she has suffered constant headaches, chest pains, nausea and tingling in her arms and legs whenever she is near electrical devices or items that emit a signal.
Her only relief in this time was when her village, near Mansfield in rural Nottinghamshire, suffered a temporary power cut.
She said: "Different things give me different feelings but it's mostly headaches and nausea. iPhones make feel really sick within about 20 minutes of being near one so even though I might not realise someone has one straightaway, I soon find out.
"Wifi makes me feel like I have a clamp at the back of my head which is squeezing the life out of me. It's completely draining and a home hub can totally immobilise me - I'm left unable to move my arms and legs."
Mrs Tunnicliffe’s normal existence was turned upside down when in February 2008 she was admitted to hospital with severe abdominal pains and vomiting.
After three days of tests, it was discovered she was suffering from cancer and surgeons operated immediately to remove a six-inch tumour from her bowel, plus 14 lymph nodes.
Fortunately, despite the size of the tumour, her cancer had not spread, but it was decided that she should have chemotherapy after the surgery as a precautionary measure.
But it was then that her unusual problem started and she began to feel ill whenever she was near the myriad electrical and wireless items in her home.
She said: “Personally, I think there must be a link with the chemotherapy and the ES, but no one is going to admit that.
“I used to go for long walks every day and while I was out of the house I would be okay. But when I came back I would start to feel unwell again very quickly and slowly I started to put two and two together.
"After the cancer, the doctors recommended we enjoy a nice holiday somewhere and the whole family went to the Greek island of Kos for two weeks in September 2008.
"While I was there was I was fine, but when I got home I felt ill again almost straightaway. It wasn't until afterwards that I considered it might have been because of all the 'electrosmog' we were experiencing at home.”
Mrs Tunnicliffe has even had to cover her windows with a special metallic material to deflect errant electromagnetic waves.
Graham Lamburn, technical manager at Powerwatch, an independent organisation which promotes safer environments, said so far the medical profession has been slow to recognise electrosensitivity as an illness as its causes are as yet unknown.
The Council of Europe Committee on Monday called for a dramatic reduction in exposure to phones and other wireless devices.