Last July, out of the blue, I developed a disruption to my heart rhythm.
The arrhythmia continued to the point where I was aware of it for most of the day. I also experienced disturbances to my sleep, waking in the early hours and then being unable to fall asleep again. From the tightness of my chest, I knew I was not getting enough oxygen.
I linked the onset of my symptoms to our acquisition of a laptop with a wireless modem. This 'base station' had been transmitting microwaves 24 hours a day at a frequency of 2.4 GHz, extending to a radius of 150 feet.
We disconnected the base station and replaced it with a fixed line. Within three weeks, I was totally free of any abnormality; my sleep and energy levels settled back to normal.
On looking back, during that summer, others in my family had been abnormally fatigued with disturbed sleep patterns. My 18-year-old daughter had an episode of dizziness lasting a whole day after close contact with the transmitter. My 22-year-old son experienced vomiting and vertigo after spending two hours within feet of the apparatus.
The base station is marketed by NET GEAR and is called a Wireless ADSL Modem Gateway DG824M. They are being placed in the foyers of airports, hotels, in GP surgeries, coffee shops and students' halls of residence so that individuals can use their laptops with the minimum of fuss.
From March 2004, a number of airlines will have introduced them on their planes, following trials by BA and Lufthansa.
If this is how it affects a healthy family of adults over a short period of time, what will be the consequences on the general population, let alone those with recognised heart problems or pacemakers, the pregnant and the young?
What is the real price of convenience? - Francesca J. Fox, via e-mail