Please read the enclosed news article from this week’s local news paper. It is about my dear friend and neighbour Lynn Insley, vice chair for SCRAM, //www.scram.uk.com
. Lynn is an unsung hero and deserves credit for her hard work and continued dedication working on this campaign in the background supporting many people in Sutton Coldfield and throughout the UK, despite suffering with her own disabilities.
Trustee – EM Radiation Research Trust
Sutton Coldfield News Friday 14th 2006
by Steve Bradley
Victory in six-year fight to recognise condition
Anti-mast campaigner Lynn Insley is finally getting sick notes from her doctor telling her and others what she has known for six years - that she suffers from electrosensitivity.
Former Further Education lecturer Lynn, 53, has long described herself as "virtually unemployable" but has faced a hard battle to convince the medical profession that her condition is anywhere other than in the mind.
The former Riland Bedford pupil is now hoping to find work on her own terms - based at home in Wishaw in her carefully controlled environment, away from mobile phones, wireless computers and a certain type of fluorescent lighting.
All of the above send her off balance, impair her concentration and coherence, and give her electric shocks, tingling sensations and numbness. They sap all of her energy and up until recently, allowed her to set off shop alarms simply by walking into shops.
Now, after facing years of scepticism and even ridicule from "experts", Lynn and fellow sufferers have belatedly won the backing of the UN's World Health Organisation.
The WHO has recognised "electronic smog" as a new form of pollution, added to by countless household gadgets.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer - part of the WHO - classes the smog as a "possible human carcinogen".
One part of the smog comes from electrical fields, created by wiring. All electrical equipment, from toasters and hairdryers to electric blankets and clock radios, gives off another component of the smog - magnetic fields.
Radio frequency fields - a third component - come from microwave ovens, TV transmitters, mobile phone masts and phones themselves.
The WHO said that the smog could interfere with the tiny natural electrical currents that help to drive the human body.
It added that "everyone in the world" was exposed to the smog and that "levels will continue to increase as technology advances". Items close to people's beds produce the strongest dose due to the long-term exposure during sleep.
Both the WHO and the domestic Health Protection Agency have now accepted that an allergy to electricity - electrosensitivity - exists, although they remain uncertain precisely as to how it is caused.
Sufferers' symptoms vary, with others reporting nausea, pain and depression. Up to three per cent of the population may be affected, the WHO claims.
Mother of two Lynn said: "In July 2000, I was forced to give up a full-time job. I ran a health and social care NVQ programme for a college of further education, which at its peak had 15 assessors on the team.
"At the point of leaving I was hardly able to function. My capacity to think and make decisions was virtually non existent. I began to call things by the wrong name: paper clips one day became "sausages" and students "soldiers", when the mistake was pointed out, I could not recall their correct name without a huge effort.
"I had difficulty remembering colleagues' names, and confused people and situations. I could not manage to dial my own or office number without careful thought.
"I developed symptoms of extreme fatigue, experienced pins and needles and numbness throughout my entire body and clicking sensations in my head.
"My GP in Erdington dismissed this at first, then called it stress, implying that it was psychosomatic. He told me and my husband during my last visit to his surgery, that we all get tired, he did too, and when he does, he goes to bed early; he also pointed out that he was very busy and must move on to the next appointment.
"I changed doctors. My new GP at Walmley was more supportive: he had been my aunt's and my father's GP, and knew them both quite well. My aunt came along with me on the initial visit to endorse what I was saying, and to confirm that, although the symptoms may seem bizarre, would he please take me seriously, because she had known me from the day I was born, and that I was not an ‘ill’ person, that I was usually very level-headed - and that clearly something was happening, because when I said that I was tired, I was actually describing the inability to stand or communicate.
My new doctor actively listened, he referred me on to a Consultant Neurologist, who referred me on to a specialist who would investigate whether or not I had damaged my nerve ends. The specialist found my nerve ends to be fine, and suggested it may be stress (all in the mind).
"I went back to my GP who referred me on to a Teaching Hospital for a bone density scan. Again no problem was found, and MS tests also proved negative. I went on to another Consultant to investigate the possibility of Fibromyalgia, but the symptoms didn’t really ring true, so again there was no conclusion.
"My symptoms worsened, I kept falling over, my speech and vision were affected and I became touch sensitive - in other words, if I touched my skin on occasions a sharp pain would shoot through my body. My GP prescribed HRT, I had gone through the menopause at 47, my immune systems were not working properly, I had had a cough for four years and x-rays showed nothing. My neutrophils (white blood cells) were hovering just above zero."
The following year, eight of Lynn's neighbours also found they had low neutrophil counts, with an alarming number developing similar symptoms to hers, plus skin rashes and cancers.
The erection of a mobile phone mast in Bulls Lane was blamed by the villagers for the sudden onset of their illnesses.
Sutton Coldfield Residents Against Masts (SCRAM) was formed, a small upstairs room in Lynn's house, with protective, foil-lined wallpaper and coated glass deflecting any beams from the mast, serving as its nerve centre.
She and husband Steve moved into a back bedroom further away from the antennae.
Lynn found that she was becoming something of a hermit, as most social situations made her feel uncomfortable.
"A huge amount of investigations took place and it was then that I discovered that I had become electrosensitive," said Lynn, who visited private consultant Dr David Dowson - an early advocate of the existence of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME).
"With this newly-found knowledge I was able to research my illness and protect myself and my home. I began to recover. However I only remain well if I avoid excessive electromagnetic fields, which is easier said than done.
"By meeting other electrosensitive sufferers, I realise that our symptoms can differ, it's all about what actually caused the exposure in the first place. My symptoms are triggered off by some fluorescent lighting, computers, mobile phones, mobile phone masts, and microwave and wireless technology. I can only tolerate exposure on a short-term basis, when in contact with this technology for longer periods my symptoms return.
"I now preserve exceptionally good health because I limit my exposure to electromagnetic fields.
"Going out to shop or to bank is a living nightmare as is travelling on public transport, because every other person, if not talking drivel on a mobile phone, has got one on standby. "If phones don’t zap me, lighting does. I’ve lost count with how many shops I have to run in and out of quickly if I want to remain well.
"I am virtually unemployable; a modern workplace is the worst place for me to be, at home I have a purpose-built office with protected screening, but my profession is not easily worked in the home environment.
"It is estimated that over two million people in Britain are electrosensitive. This has immense implications for the economy, considering extra pressure being put on the health service, coupled with a reduction in pensionable earnings and tax."
Lynn, whose belated sick-note coincided with the publication of the WHO report, said campaigners like those in SCRAM and the Radiation Research Trust had helped to persuade the medical authorities to recognise her condition.
"I've got mixed emotions. I'm delighted that they have at long last acknowledged that electrosensitivity exists, because we can now use that as our bolster against people who are being dismissive, like employers and other medical practitioners.
"We have tirelessly spoon-fed them with information and I don't think they were able to avoid it any longer. They've finally had the courage to speak out after years of sarcasm and stonewalling."
For more information contact Sutton Coldfield ElectroSensitives on 0121 308 1549 //www.sces.info
. National support group ElectroSensitivity-UK can be contacted on 01353 778151