I'm Paola, a 43-year-old woman from Italy, and I have been an EHS sufferer for 20 years, though I have "only" been aware of it for three and a half years.
From the mid-90s, I had hormonal disturbances, an acne-like skin rash that later on turned into a sort of cystic acne, irregular periods, frequent infections, urinary and gastrointestinal problems, frequent headaches, blurred vision, chronic fatigue, hair loss and alteration of circadian rhythms, just to mention the main symptoms.
They didn’t appear all at once. My health condition got worse year after year, but for almost 20 years I didn't make any connection between these symptoms and my exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs).
After the introduction of 4G, they became unbearable and, to investigate the possible cause of one of the symptoms, I underwent a MRI scan - the second one of my life (I underwent the first one because in the end of the ‘90s, I started having frequent headaches accompanied by dysesthesia in the right arm).
After the MRI scan, I had a sort of nightmarish acute phase; the headache was constant, I couldn't sleep at night, I had a fast heart rate and a bad skin rash on my face, my movements were uncoordinated, and I lost balance easily.
Just by chance, and this really saved my life, I sat next to a WiFi router in a studio. I'd never used WiFi before, and my symptoms peaked. That's the day when I started making the connection.
I searched the Internet, and conducted some tests - by leaving the polluted areas, and then by moving back in.
Within a month, it was clear that WiFi caused me problems, but I still ignored the fact that other sources of EMF pollution were also harming me - specifically those that I had been exposed to since I was young (for example, mobile phone masts).
I tried to ask my neighbours to turn their WiFi routers off, at least at night - there were on average 25 WiFi signals invading my flat. They refused to do this, and I was forced to flee.
I moved to my parents’ flat on the top of a building where, luckily, no one was living downstairs and irradiating me from below. But most of the flat was still penetrated by many WiFi signals (an average of 20), coming in from the surrounding flats.
Again, I tried to ask the “new” neighbours to turn their WiFi routers off, at least at night, but I was either ignored or bullied.
In the end, I had no other option than to start living in a less polluted one square meter area in the kitchen of my parents' flat. There (or I should say here) I've spent the last three and a half years, living and sleeping on a chair, as there isn't enough space for a bed.
When I started living in my current low-EMF area, ALL my signs and symptoms, after almost 20 years of agony, disappeared completely! My body started working like a Swiss watch, and I even stopped having blurred vision; it was amazing.
That’s when I realized there was a relation between my longstanding problems (hormonal disturbances, skin problems, irregular periods, frequent infections, etc.), and EMF exposure.
I decided to carry out a further investigation and assessment of my problem by contacting an engineer to have an EMF survey done in both my and my parents’ flats. It emerged that I had been exposed for years to high levels - though allowed by the Italian safety limits for EMF exposure - of microwave radiation.
I had been living in a very polluted environment, being completely unaware of the fact (I was on the upper floor, with mobile phone masts around), spending a lot of time at home to study hard for a better future.
Now, I can no longer go out. I’m a prisoner at home, because my current symptoms when I’m exposed to wireless radiation are: headaches, concentration lapses, dazed state (to the point that I no longer understand where I am and what I am doing), dizziness, lack of coordination, difficulty finding words, tinnitus, itchy skin rash on trunk and limbs, cardiac arrhythmia, lymph node swellings, extreme fatigue, sleep problems, irritability, visual disturbances, joint and musculoskeletal pain, and numbness.
Needless to say that I can't work, I don't have a private life and I have nothing to live on, apart from what my parents give me.
I’m tied to my one square meter area: it’s extremely painful to spend just a few minutes in the other rooms of the flat - so painful that it has become impossible, for instance, to shower as much as I would like to. I feel ashamed by writing this, but people have to know what it is like suffering from a severe form of EHS, which takes everything away - including dignity.
My family doctor, when asked to visit me at home (I couldn't go there in person), told my parents to look for another doctor in order to have primary healthcare, because he didn’t believe I had a real disease.
Italy has a universal healthcare system and he shouldn't have refused to treat me.
During 2015, the first signs of MCS appeared in the form of respiratory crises when someone was using chemicals in the kitchen. During one of these crises, I had a multiple costal fracture, but - being severely electrosensitive - I couldn’t go to the hospital. I had no family doctor to come and help me (see above), and I was obliged to manage the thing on my own…while living and sleeping on a chair!
Now my chest cage is deformed on one side and does not expand normally.
I changed to a new family doctor and, being in pain, I went to his surgery for an initial meeting. He didn’t listen to what I was telling him about my disease and he treated me as if I was a crazy woman - making me feel humiliated. He then asked me to return two days later at 1 p.m., to discuss my “discomfort”.
Though it’s hard for me to go out, I decided to make the effort, and go to his surgery again - armed with some information about EHS. When I arrived, the surgery was closed. I decided to stop try looking for a family doctor. I'd had enough.
I spend every day hoping that I don't become seriously ill, because, being unable to go to the hospital, the only possible option would be to die. Is this acceptable in a country like Italy?
I'm currently battling not to have a smart meter installed. It would be placed two meters away from my “safety area”.
I'm a strong person by nature, but lately it has become extremely hard to endure all of this. I don't want to be a burden on my parents and I’m worried about my future, because I’m alone, and I couldn't have a family of my own due to my living conditions.
The level of pollution is increasing and my “safety area” is being invaded more and more each day. In fact, my condition is steadily getting worse.
Being sick since such a young age, my life has been greatly affected.
A huge moral, biological and material injustice has been done to me. My everyday life is torture, and I have lost my dignity as a human being. Nothing will ever be back to normal; I feel like I am compromised forever.