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|Cellphones and Wi-Fi drove me to a life on the run|
|South Africa||Created: 4 Jun 2013|
An agonising aversion to electromagnetic frequencies has plunged one man into a invinsible hell, writes Oliver Roberts
AT 8PM every night, Alwyn Lewies knows it is time. He tells his two young children that he is leaving. At the front door, standing half in light, half in darkness, he kisses his wife, Adri, goodbye and tells her that he will see her in the morning. Then he gets into his double cab and sets off for a farm 47km away. It is the only place where he can sleep.
When he is on the road, he can feel them pursuing him. When he passes some spots, he senses their presence edging closer, then they fade from him. Coming, going, coming, going. He looks for them in his rear-view mirror, but it is pointless. For 13 years they have been shadowing him, yet he has never seen them.
"The only way I can explain it is like putting clothes pegs on your ears and keeping them there," he said of his elusive huntsmen.
"I feel like I can't breathe sometimes. I get heart palpitations. "
The thing is that they are everywhere. They are with you right now coming out of your cellphone, TV, light fittings except that you do not feel them. Not like Alwyn Lewies.
Since 2000, when he lived in Pretoria, he noticed he could detect the strength of cellphone signals like some kind of human radiation device. Later, he would come to know the exact moment anyone within reasonable distance of him switched on their Wi-Fi
He was in constant pain. He could not sleep. His skin tingled. He heard buzzing sometimes inside his burning head. He had tests done, scans. Nothing. They gave him antidepressants. The symptoms got worse.
Lewies, 39, began to monitor his pain. Soon he realised his headaches and extreme discomfort existed only when he was on his cellphone, near a television or electric motor, and especially near Wi-Fi.
In 2004, after seeing more than 100 doctors, he was finally diagnosed as having electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHS. Basically, he has an allergy to electromagnetic fields, exacerbated by heavy-metal poisoning, the result of working with petrol for many years.
EHS currently has no diagnostic criteria, so it is not regarded as a medical condition. However, it is estimated to occur in about 5% of the world's population. In 2004 the World Health Organisation held the first of several seminars devoted to EHS, at which the biological and health effects of electromagnetic frequencies were discussed.
Lewies ' s "diagnosis " assured him that he was not mad or touched by demons.
He had to leave his job at a construction company because he could not work near cellphone towers. He and his wife had to sell their house and move in with his parents. The only spot in the house where the pain subsided was a small area on the dining-room floor. He lived and slept there for weeks, like an animal chained to a block.
There was an opportunity to stay on a sheep farm in the Karoo. His wife and young daughter settled in Cape Town. His son was born. On the farm, the pain subsided, but he had no family.
"I had to get closer to them," he said, "but I couldn't move back to the radiation."
So he went back to Cape Town. In an attempt to be normal, he put up with the pain during the day, disappearing at night to drive around alone, searching for concealed pockets of respite so that he could get some sleep. But vagrants came with weapons and torches. One night a drunk driver crashed a few metres away from him while he was dreaming.
The family moved into a small cottage in Gordon's Bay in 2007. Lewies had to sleep on the kitchen floor, but at least the radiation was fairly low. Two years later, in the manner of a medium discerning a paranormal entity, he felt a new signal in the area. It was strong. His head, his whole body, might explode.
"I had to leave my family again. My two small kids were too young to understand why I was abandoning them.
"The idea of me having to sleep in my car once more was unthinkable. I didn't know which pain was worse the burning sensation in my head or the heartache."
And so the wicked pact continued. If Lewies could detect an opening, a hole that the electromagnetic waves had not yet filled, he would be able to sleep.
Next, Wuppertal in the Cederberg. No cellphone reception there. His family lived 400km away and travelled every second weekend along a dangerous dirt road to see him.
But then the waves returned, tugging at his ears. He imported special radiation-blocking steel mesh. He built a cage in the garden of his Somerset West home. It failed. The waves somehow got in. He had no job. His wife was battling for money.
Back to Pretoria. He found a farm close to Polokwane with no signal. For nearly a year he lived in a tent and saw his family sometimes. His mattress and belongings, were flooded by summer thunderstorms.
Today he is back in Somerset West, still jobless.
He has a bed in his double cab where he still sleeps every night on a farm in Hangklip. He guesses that he has spent more than a thousand nights on that mattress. He wakes up drowsy for lack of air; he dare not sleep with his windows open.
The farm belongs to a psychologist who is allowing Lewies to use it for the time being. "I don't know what I'm going to do when he tells me I can't sleep there."
Not knowing what to do. This is nothing new, nothing daunting. At one low point during all of this, Lewies slept underneath some protective wire mesh, on a section of rocks, in a cold, dark crack of the Hermanus coastline.
At his home in Somerset West, he took out a piece of paper and a pen. On the coffee table, he started scribbling his next solution: an underground bunker.
When he is at home, almost all the electricity is permanently kept off. It is switched on only to cook food. When night falls, only low-wattage lamps are permitted.
He said he knew of at least 100 other people who suffered from EHS, some with even worse symptoms than him, and almost all of them are divorced.
He and his wife have been married for 10 years and he estimated that only three of those have been spent sleeping by his wife's side.
"Life is tricky," said Adri. "For us it's becoming normal, but when we're in a conversation with someone and they're talking about the braai or the school play they went to, we realise we ' re not normal.
"It's a miracle that our marriage has survived. There are times when we fight because he's frustrated or I'm frustrated. I expect certain things from him, but I know I'm not allowed to expect normal things because he's not a normal man."
Lewies has many times considered suicide. But his faith in God has maintained him.
In the garden, he pointed out the small, shallow hole that he has dug in preparation for the bunker, the last resort.
He has experimented. He has put a cellphone in the hole and covered the opening with an aluminium sheet. No reception. Impenetrable. They cannot get in.
"I think this is how hell is going to be," he said, recounting the despairing years spent roaming the countryside for a place to lay his head, for a place to feel normal.
"In hell, you're not going to find a place to rest. You'll just keep going, and going, and going."
By Oliver Roberts
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|Source: Sylvie/Agnes Ingvarsdottir|
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