Trapped in my homemade cage: Meet the woman who is allergic to modern technology

Velma can't use a mobile phone, satnav or WiFi, or even use a hairdryer to blow dry her hair.

Velma Lyrae spends up to 18 hours a day confined to a cage because she is allergic to modern technology.
 
The 51-year-old can't use a mobile phone, satnav or WiFi, or even use a hairdryer to blow dry her hair.
 
Instead she spends her days reading books, doing artwork and writing letters, all from the comfort of her Faraday cage
 
She suffers from an increasing common condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome (EHS) which means she cannot stand to be near electromagnetic fields.
 
Velma's condition emerged with the arrival of 3G mobile phones, although having a previous electric shock is believed to make people more susceptible.
 
As a teenager Velma suffered a shock when she touched the switch of an electric fire in her bathroom.
 
At first the symptoms were barely noticeable but they have become progressively worse over time.
 
Now, unable to work Velma suffers agonising head and nerve pain, memory loss, tinnitus, heart palpitations, vertigo and aching joints if she goes anywhere near technology - and is forced to spend every day in a makeshift cage in her flat in Blackheath, London.
 
Velma made the cage herself from second hand material costing £300. A brand new cage would have cost her £800.
 
She claims metal fibres in the netting reflect the electro-magnetic waves and stop her from suffering EHS symptoms.
 
She said: "I can't do anything that normal people do without my symptoms showing. I have to do everything in my cage - eat, sleep, read, write.
 
"I always wear a shielded scarf round my head when I leave the house to protect myself from radiation signals.
 
"It's made my life a living hell."
 
Velma worked as a secretary for a number of firms in the 1980s but was forced to quit her job.
 
She said: "Even back then I could feel a huge agitation when using the computer, but I thought it was just because I didn't have the technological skills.
 
"Now I know that I was starting to feel the symptoms of my EHS.
 
"I don't have a job and my social life is non-existant.
 
"My friends are very supportive but there's only so much time you can spend with the woman that can't go anywhere or do anything.
 
"I used to love going to festivals and experiencing live music, but because everyone has a mobile I can't even go near a gig now.
 
"The last gig I went to was Radiohead. I knew I was getting worse and wouldn't be able to go to any more so I wanted to make it a good one.
 
"It's so sad that I can no longer do the things I enjoy."
 
Electrical Sensitivity, also known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity, is recognised in Spain and Sweden but so far Health Authorities in the UK have not formally recognised the condition.
 
Velma said: "I've been to my GP countless times begging for tests, but they say there's people worse off than me and do nothing.
 
"It is so frustrating that medicine isn't keeping up with the technology.
 
"Independent Experts say in five years time 50 percent of the population could be affected at current exposure levels.
 
"We desperately need a white zone - an area where there's little or no emissions - where we can go to relax and recuperate."
 
Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe said: "The symptoms of EHS can cover a broad range of systems, often start subtly and can be mistaken for other medical  conditions.
 
"Adults and children today are exposed to very high levels of electromagnetic fields (EMF) that no life on the planet has ever witnessed before.
 
"It is no surprise that the numbers of those with EHS and other conditions linked with EMF exposure are rising."
 
Dr George Carlo, from Washington, added: "One of the tragedies is that folks use these approaches - cages, shades, necklaces - to try to protect themselves, but those are not long-term solutions.
 
"They are simply survival mechanisms. The long-term solution is building the internal adaptive capacity that enables those with ES to be like the rest of us - living our lives without the incumbrance of awful ES-triggered symptoms."