Name: Leesa Heffler
On 17th June 2009 I spoke on a NOKIA 6120 mobile phone for the duration of the battery life as part of my job as a Project Engineer, while working for the Road and Traffic Authority of New South Wales (RTA).
Previous to this period of working for the RTA, for many years I had only used my personal mobile phone, which was one I had purchased while living in Switzerland (when I was a student there). For years, I infrequently spoke on my Swiss mobile phone and never for long periods of time. But I regularly used it for texting my friends.
On the 17th June 2009, I started to feel unwell during all the phone calls I made on the NOKIA 6120.
It’s difficult to describe the initial symptoms towards the end of those phone calls which occurred over an approximately 2 hour period. But it was like I felt a loss of energy in my whole body.
Then about half an hour after I finished speaking on the NOKIA 6120, I started to feel that my brain was being squeezed and my vision was being affected. I also had some difficulty breathing.
That night, I was feeling very dizzy, I had terrible visual disturbance, continued to feel that there was a pressure inside my head, and I had terrible head pains, especially at the front of my head, as well as a feeling of numbness at the back part of my brain.
The next morning I woke up with terribly loud ringing in my ears and horrendous dizziness, visual disturbance, nausea, confusion, pressure in my head, head pains, brain numbness, generalised body weakness etc.
I could describe some of my sensations as being a combination of feeling very drunk and feeling sea sick on a boat at sea in rough seas.
I had trouble driving the car safely as I felt very disorientated. I could not sense motion in the car. I had trouble putting together and speaking coherent sentences.
I went to the hospital over the weekend and the ER doctor sent me away saying that it was just a migraine. The next Monday I went to another doctor and he ordered me a CT scan of my brain. It showed brain swelling and what they thought was a pineal cyst.
After the CT brain scan, the symptoms got even worse. The doctor wanted to do another CT brain scan with contrast immediately after the first one but I refused due to the worsening of my symptoms with the first CT brain scan.
The doctor sent me straight to the John Hunter Hospital where I was admitted and remained for about 6 days. A few days after I was admitted to hospital the doctor ordered an MRI of my brain. By then the swelling had gone down as it was not evident on the follow up structural MRI. The doctor was unsure as to the cause of my symptoms.
I told them I thought it was from the mobile phone radiation and they said they hadn’t seen anybody experience this before. Finally I left the hospital when there was nothing more they could do for me.
After I left hospital, I continued to suffer debilitating symptoms of dizziness, extreme tiredness and extreme fatigue, constant disabling nausea, chronic head pains, brain numbness, memory loss, confusion, generalised body weakness, difficulty putting together and speaking coherent sentences etc.
Just taking a shower was extremely difficult because of the mental effort and physical effort required (with these symptoms) to get my clothes out of the wardrobe and physically take a shower.
I could no longer work with this degree of disability and my parents drove down and collected me from Newcastle and brought me back to live with them on their rural property in Queensland.
In Queensland, I persuaded another doctor to order another structural MRI of my brain but I realised after that MRI that my symptoms became even worse.
The brain MRI scan showed no structural damage. I’ve since learnt that functional damage does not show up on a structural MRI.
By the time I realised that structural MRIs were futile in revealing my brain and body dysfunction, I no longer wished to submit my brain to any further MRI microwave radiation anyway.
I was desperate to understand what had happened and how to help myself, but no doctor I went to could help me and often when I went to see male doctors, they’d just say my symptoms were psychological.
I’d explain that I have a first class honours degree in Civil Engineering from the Queensland University of Technology and a Masters by Research in Structural Engineering in a very difficult subject from the University of Newcastle and I had travelled the world studying.
I was not crazy, I had just become very sick and disabled due to the radiation exposure I’d had from the mobile phone.
A couple of doctors diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.
It’s true that these medical diagnosis, as well as “Electromagnetically Hypersensitive”, described my constellation of symptoms.
For the first year after I came to live with my parents, I got sicker. I had uncontrollable chronic migraines 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
As well, I had severe fatigue, chronic, uncontrollable nausea, memory loss, dizziness, visual disturbance, brain numbness, generalised body weakness and muscle tightness. I also became highly, highly chemically sensitive to everything in my environment.
The breathing difficulties continued. I also struggled to do simple tasks like read due to the visual disturbance, brain/physical fatigue and generalised brain dysfunction issues I had.
All medications doctors would try to prescribe me only made me sicker and more sleepy. I could not drive my car anywhere and rarely ventured away from the property.
Mum became my carer. Obviously I would not allow a mobile phone, cordless phone, microwave, wifi etc near my body. I was terrified of them and their effects on me.
To this day, if I go near a cordless phone, my brain feels like it’s been electrically shocked, and I feel disorientated and my brain becomes more numb. If I’m exposed to too much mobile phone tower radiation, I feel like my whole nervous system is burning and my brain feels more numb, and the nausea and headaches increase.
After a year of living with my parents, I moved into their granny flat. I radically changed my diet to eliminate all oils, salt, processed foods and animal products.
Lucky for me, we do not get mobile telephone service here and the microwave radiation levels on the property are very low.
I had to eliminate all chemicals from my food, water and living environment. I also had to buy an air purifier for the flat and change all my clothing to natural fibres to try to deal with the breathing issues.
I found that I had to also eliminate plastics and metals from coming into contact with my food. Plastic and metal contamination of my food and water would trigger chronic migraines. Even eating certain certified organic fruits and vegetables would leave me with a terrible migraine and increased nausea. I learnt the hard way that “certified organic” does not mean chemical free.
After a number of years of living in this low toxic environment, my eyesight improved, as did my memory. The dizziness also reduced as did the sensation of brain numbness that I felt.
I attribute these improvements to rarely being exposed to radiation from mobile phone towers, wifi, cordless phones, mobile phones etc; and my chemical free diet and living environment.
But still I was plagued with chronic, disabling fatigue, easily triggered chronic migraines, muscle tightness and uncontrollable, daily nausea which in combination, made activities of daily living very difficult.
For this reason, I have rarely ventured away from the property in these last 7.5 years.
Now 7.5 years later, at the end of 2016, I am still highly, highly sensitive to the radiation from mobile phones, cordless phones, mobile phone towers, wifi, microwaves etc. From just a small exposure to any of these things, I become extremely nauseated and my brain feels more numb again, with increased incidents of migraines, nausea and a fatigue which makes it difficult to perform activities of daily living, let alone anything else.
I bought some special shielding material which contains metal in it to protect my brain from the radiation when I have to go into town but it doesn’t help much. I still feel worse after I’ve been into the local country town for about 2 hours. And unfortunately, due to the permanent damage I believe my nervous system and body has sustained from that 2009 mobile phone “over-exposure”, removing myself from radiation exposure doesn’t eliminate these neurological symptoms immediately or even after a few hours.
I am left with feeling increased nausea, fatigue, brain numbness, and even sometimes with bouts of vomiting after these exposures for many weeks afterwards. Never, ever in these last 7.5 years, have I felt that I’ve gotten back to my “pre-17th June 2009 mobile phone exposure” level of wellness. If nothing else, nausea, fatigue and muscle tightness are constant companions plaguing my body.
I have to avoid larger populated areas because of all of the mobile phone towers everywhere. These days, when I’m exposed to mobile phone radiation towers, wifi etc, not only do I become more nauseated, fatigued and headachy, but my sensitivity to foods also increases, and I can’t even eat fruit or a green smoothie without becoming sicker.
I wondered for a long time how this could be, but from the research done by Professor Leif Salford and my personal experience, I believe that not only does the blood brain barrier become more “leaky” when exposed to microwave radiation, so does the whole body – including my spinal cord and digestive system.
I believe that microwave radiation increases generalised permeability in the body and that allows undigested foods to more easily be absorbed by nerve and other tissue that would not normally be exposed if the blood brain barrier and gut lining were intact.
My parents have their house under contract at the moment and the place they are considering moving to will not be safe for me to live as there are 5 mobile phone towers within a 1.3 km radius of that house, and many more within several kilometres of the house.
Finding a safe place to reside away from mobile phone towers is a living nightmare for me to deal with given that I have limited financial funds due to dwindling savings, and an inability to work due to this radiation induced illness.
I’m wondering if it’s possible to somehow shield myself at the new house using aluminium and aluminium fly screen mesh or some physical shield. I fear the radiation levels will be too high for me to reduce to a safe level with these means. Because for me, very close to zero environmental microwave radiation is the only safe level.
I have to figure out how to grossly reduce my exposure to this ridiculously high level of microwave radiation while also having to deal with daily chronic fatigue, nausea and body pain, as well as the chemical sensitivities.
This predicament I find myself in is just devastating when you consider how much time, money, effort and sacrifice I put into obtaining a first class honours and a master’s degree in engineering.
From an approximately two hour exposure on that NOKIA 6120 on the 17th June 2009, I’ve gone from being a productive member of society, to having a life that is just honestly not worth living. I live now only to suffer, and to try as best I can to reduce my suffering, with all the health, financial and environmental limitations that I now have to deal with.
The level of microwave radiation allowed here in Australia is not safe. I and many other people whose health has been adversely affected by unsafe levels of microwave radiation here in Australia are the evidence for this.
I know me and others have contacted ARPANSA to complain of microwave radiation induced illness and ARPANSA’s catch phrase is that “there is not enough evidence” to reduce the levels of microwave radiation they allow here in Australia. That is what I was lead to believe by ARPANSA until I became the evidence.
(Editor's note: ARPANSA is the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, which is the "Australian Government's primary authority on radiation protection and nuclear safety")