The Charity for Environmental Illness

My Story: Computer Problem


bout 6 years ago, aged 16, I used the computer about 10 hours per day for a number of years. I wanted to be a software programmer and dedicated most of my time to achieving that goal. I was a geek! Not only did I use the computer but I also had a television in my room and a stereo which were often both on at the same time.

After a few years of computer-usage, I developed a cluster of large, extremely painful to the touch, red swellings on my left temple. I assumed it was just a phase of acne, even though it was extremely painful, and just ignored it, hoping it would go away. About a week later still, it developed it on my right side - very strange. I continued to get these painful clusters of lesions for several weeks before realizing that whenever I stopped using the computer for a day or two, they started to clear up and it gave me great relief. Could it possibly be the computer that was causing it? I didn't think so, it seemed too weird. I didn't think that was possible. I assumed it was down to poor air quality or something similar and just hoped it would go away sooner or later.

It continued, and I began wondering if it really could be the computer monitor, or perhaps some sort of radiation or electricity leaking from it, that could be causing my symptoms. I started asking around. The reaction was pretty-much unanimous: 'Computer monitor's can't possibly harm you!', 'It's just acne, you'll grow out of it', 'I've never heard of that!!!', 'There's no way computer monitor's can emit radiation!'. And my doctor? She thought I was fairly crazy!!!

That was that then! I still felt as though it was being in front of the computer monitor that was causing it, but I didn't exactly have a choice - by now I was proficient in software programming and had just enrolled on a 2 year computer course. I couldn't exactly just stop using computers - people would think I was mad & I would have no career!

BIG MISTAKE! In the numerous years that followed, it gradually became worse and worse. Not only was I getting these painful lumps, but my skin started to feel like it was burning - like a sunburn type of feeling. The whole of my face began to itch and tingle. I had a horrible icky feeling all over my face and my cheekbones began aching severely. My skin was a mish-mash of horrible problems - lumps, blisters, lesions - call them what you want. It was horrendous.

After 2 years I'd had enough. I remember waking up one morning, my face burning horrendously from using the computer the night before. It was itching intensely and covered in various lesions, spots, blisters. My cheekbones were aching, my skin hot and prickly. My forehead felt extremely thin and delicate and horrible. My eyes were bloodshot, and I had zero energy. I couldn't take it!!!!! I made the decision to quit college & stop using computers there and then.

One day, a few weeks after quitting college, and purely by chance, a friend came across an article about 'ElectroSensitivity' from a support group in Sweden. Under the heading 'Warning Signs', were a list of symptoms one after the other that virtually exactly matched mine. And the cause? VDT's - the common Swedish term for a computer monitor! I couldn't believe it!! For the first time in my life, I realized that yes it was possible to be 'allergic' to computer monitors. Not only had I been vindicated, there were thousands of people dotted around the globe going through exactly the same thing! Suffering the same problems, the same lack of belief from people, and the same hardship of being forced into relinquishing their careers in favour of relief from their symptoms.

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